Life Despite Ed: The Importance of Friendship
The world becomes a lonely place when suffering from an eating disorder. The disease prides itself on separating you from your friends and family. It only cares about keeping you isolated because well, that’s how it thrives. During the recovery process, it is imperative that you find a friend you can lean on.
Perhaps the worst part of recovering from anorexia is the fact that it is a mental disorder, which means I can never fully recover. Instead, I’ve learned coping techniques that I turn to in times of struggle. I write down my feelings on paper, distract myself with something I enjoy doing and, most importantly, find someone I can talk to when things aren’t going well.
The power of having someone to talk to in times of need is a priceless commodity. But finding a person I can trust to share all of my thoughts with is something that can be difficult. Especially as a college student living on campus, it can be quite difficult to find someone of the same age to talk to without fear that they will share my information with all of their friends. The thought that every piece of information I share with someone could eventually be unveiled during a drunken Saturday night is something I have to take into account when deciding who I confide in.
Lately, I’ve decided that the person I could trust the most is one of my housemates. He is someone who has been through similar mental troubles in his past, and therefore has been able to give me advice that I really take to heart. Talking to someone who’s experienced this before really made me feel better. I know he will always be willing to talk to me whenever I need it.
When I chose to confide in my housemate, I took into account the fact that I didn’t just meet him, but rather have known him for years. After all, it doesn’t make sense to spill my life story to someone I’ve known for less than a semester. They would feel more awkward than anything and would probably have nothing beneficial to say.
Personally, I wouldn’t trust the college counselors on campus either. It’s not my intent to bash them or say they’re inadequate because that’s really not what I think. However, it must be acknowledged that they aren’t like the traditional counselors found in a local community. Yes, if you really need to, a college counselor could be helpful. However, keep in mind that their only job isn’t to help just you. They are responsible for talking to hundreds, maybe thousands, of college students who all have different problems. Most college campuses don’t have counselors who specialize in eating disorders either, so they aren’t the best outlet to turn to.
College counselors don’t partake in one-on-one meetings very often either (in my experience), therefore forcing students to attend group sessions. This would be fine if everyone in the group was there for the same problem, but that often isn’t the case. Students could be there for alcohol problems, relationship troubles, test anxiety and other college life stressors. Therefore, the meeting can’t possibly have the therapeutic effect that it should. I was very troubled when I learned that I couldn’t receive personal counseling. I wasn’t scared to share my story with other students, but I wanted them to at least be in the same position I was in. How would an alcoholic understand the position I am in? And how could I possibly do the same for him or her? It just can’t happen.
It definitely is tough to approach a friend with all of this personal information. But a good friend will be more than willing to sit down and listen. After all, isn’t that what friends are for? It’s not just about the parties, the social hours, and living the good life. Friends are there for you in times of struggle, and fighting an eating disorder is when you need your friends the most.
It reminds me of the song “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers. You just call on me brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you’d understand. We all need somebody to lean on.
And if any of you need to talk, just remember, you’ve got a friend in me.
– Post written by Mike Kraft and edited by Samantha Shelton
For all you Gleeks, here’s the Glee version of “Lean on Me.” Enjoy!