Coping with an Eating Disorder at University
Making the decision
Upon making the decision to come to university, I was doing well with my recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. I had been discharged from my mental health team and had gone through various therapies that had got me to the best possible and healthy place. So when applying to Leeds Beckett, I didn’t think about asking for help, I felt confident I could do it on my own. I was motivated to do well, and I was excited about a new journey, as a few years before this, university wasn’t even in the picture. It was only when I got to Leeds and was living on my own, I realised the struggles I was facing.
After a few months of being here, when the buzz of freshers had calmed down and I started uni work, that was when it hit me. I was a little homesick and started to worry about whether I could achieve my degree and the challenges it faced. They’re very common struggles for any student however I feel that when you have an eating disorder it’s magnified. I didn’t cope well with food in the second semester of my 1st year. I noticed I was struggling with things I hadn’t struggled with for a long time. I found it hard watching the way my other flat mates ate or if they didn’t eat, I felt terrible for eating myself. I started binge eating and I couldn’t find a good balance. My first year was hard, and I was scared to admit I was struggling again, I felt like after years of therapy and recovery, it was hard to admit that things were bad again. I was really scared of going backwards and at first I didn’t ask for help.
It wasn’t until my 2nd year that I realised I needed to get some help with the anxiety and the habits I was falling back into. The first thing I did was I started to open up to my partner, friends and family to let them know that I was struggling again. I received lots of love and support and no one judged me, which was one thing that had scared me before. Another thing that really helped me was getting organised and keeping on top of my university work. As well as being productive towards my studies and degree, this made me feel in control, which made me worry about food less. One thing I did to reduce my anxiety was to create do lists, plan my meals and create a rough plan around my day.
To further my support system, I am now looking into receiving more help from the university as they offer a range of sources and support for anyone dealing with mental illness.
Services the university offer are:
- Wellbeing team
- Workshops for various mental health issues
- Online resources such as Kooth which I have used myself.
I have recently applied to go and see one of the university wellbeing advisors, in hope that I can get some further support. It was a really easy process to follow, by simply filling out a form and booking an appointment. I did this because I know my own triggers, and so when things are starting to get tough, I may need to reach out to the university for help. Admitting that is okay.
Ask for help – I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you are struggling, reach out the family, friends, anyone who you know can support you. Use the university services to help you through your studies and support you. You don’t have to suffer alone.
Get organised – Getting organised, keeping on top of your work (speak to your tutors if you are struggling), plan your food and your day. It will help keep your mind clear, meaning you won’t end up off track or forgetting to eat.
Look after your mind – No amount of work, assignments or exams is worth decrementing your mental health. Remember to still make time for you. Do the things you love, take a nice bath, read, go to the gym, spend time with friends. It’s just as important as studying!
Overall, studying and being at university when you’re in recovery or have recovered from an eating disorder is challenging but not impossible. With the right support and help you can overcome and achieve everything you want at your time at Leeds Beckett.
Hi I’m Hollie, a fitness instructor, blogger and Sport Therapy student. I have a passion for all things fitness, wellbeing and mental health. I am a massive advocate of self love and spreading kindness in everything you do! I believe together we can make ourselves and the world a better place.