The Daily Gamecock

Eating disorders brought to light

Panel including students discuss anorexia, bulimia

The concept of beauty was evaluated at the conclusion of Carolina Beautiful week during the forum on eating disorders in Russell House Thursday afternoon.

Two students, an alumnus, two dieticians and numerous psychologists and doctors helped to educate students on these sicknesses and begin the fight to help other students struggling with anorexia or bulimia.

The forum opened with an overview of the services offered in the Thomson Student Health Center for eating disorders. It was noted that USC has one of the most comprehensive eating disorder facilities in the state.

In order to aid students in their conflicts, the university has made two full-time dieticians available along with two psychologists and Dr. Monica Stone in Women's Care to tackle not only the food-related aspect but the physical and mental battles as well. All of the students who spoke asked that their last names not be printed, to protect their privacy.

Allie, a fourth-year psychology and sociology student spoke for the third year in a row about her struggles with anorexia. She explained that her problems began in eighth grade but truly began to accelerate in high school and especially in college.

"I'm a control freak, a perfectionist and a people pleaser," Allie said. "While those are endearing qualities separately, they are a lethal mix together. I was trying to be not human by expecting all of the things that I did of myself, and it became not about the food but about the feelings. I had an inability to accept what was going on in my life."

Nalini, a chemistry undergraduate student and a public health graduate student, shared a similar story about recovering from bulimia. She was most expressive about her support system throughout her endeavors and noted that without her parents, her friends, her boyfriend and the help available at USC, she would not have been able to accomplish all of the things she has so far.

"I always associated being skinny with being pretty. They have helped me to realize that I'm still funny and smart and that being skinny does not make me me," Nalini said.

The final speaker was a graduate of USC. Over the past year, Tina, 23, has been recovering from her six years of bulimia.

Her reality check, she said, came when the doctors she was seeing told her that she had only one year left to live. She noted that physically she was 85 pounds, had grey skin and her heart no longer beat at a regular pace.

She was not even physically strong enough to fly in an airplane.

"The other side of recovery has been so much better for me," Tina said. "The path with an eating disorder is a dead end. But now, I have a road to travel."

All three speakers emphasized support. They strongly advised learning more about how you can help someone struggling with body images in the most productive ways possible. They also noted that if a student were to have a friend with such an illness, the student should be advised to simply learn as much as they can and be as supportive as possible.

"People should educate themselves on eating disorders. If you saw a picture of me when I thought I was pretty, you would cringe," Tina said. Students can make have free consultations with Registered Dietitians by making appointments through the Thomson Student Health Center.


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