I need to eat: one student’s battle with an eating disorder

Editor’s Note: The name of the subject in this article has been modified to protect her identity.  Cabrini University offers free counseling and psychological services to students and are willing to help all students. Cabrini’s Counseling and Psychological Services are located in Grace Hall room 174.m

“I’d have moments where I would start shaking from hunger,” said Cabrini University student Jenna.

It all started on the day Jenna moved into college her freshman year. She was very nervous about starting at a new school. This caused her to experience a lot of anxiety.

“I forgot to eat because I was so nervous,” Jenna said. “I wasn’t used to the food that the school served and I didn’t really like it so I just stopped eating.”

Eating disorders are very serious and in certain situations, life threatening. There are many types of eating disorders, but what Jenna was slowly falling into was anorexia nervosa.

“I didn’t think I had a disorder until I spoke to a professor who said that her daughter also had an eating disorder,” Jenna said. “That’s when I realized I had a problem.”

Defined by Eating Disorder Hope, a website for education and awareness of eating disorders, anorexia is a psychological eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature, extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain and distorted perception of self-image and body.

Jenna was on the verge of becoming anorexic when she then realized that she had an eating disorder and needed to get help.

Eating disorders can lead to a weakened immune system which can lead to easily getting sick. Not long after Jenna talked to doctors about her eating habits, she became very sick with pneumonia. Because Jenna did not have enough nutrients in her system to keep up with everyday life, she got really sick.

“Getting pneumonia helped me in a way,” Jenna said. “The doctors had recommended me to start drinking Ensures to help me gain weight, but I was relying too much on the Ensures and would replace meals with them.”

The next doctor Jenna saw because of the pneumonia had recommended her to stop drinking Ensures because her body would begin to get used to the liquids.

“Partying in college also made it worse,” Jenna said. “When you’re intoxicated, you’re not going to think twice about eating; all you’re going to want to do is sleep.”

Jenna’s eating habits also made her fall behind in her school work because she would not feel well enough to go to classes. Her grades slipped, and it was a struggle to for her to get her grades back up.

“It’s crazy how not eating can affect so much around you in life,” Jenna said. “The best advice I can give to someone struggling with what I had is to tell someone close to you about it so that you can get help quickly.”

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