This February, choose recovery

Aubreanna Miller, Editor-in-Chief

Valentine’s Day came and went with an explosion of red and pink, hearts and flowers, chocolate and guys making their yearly posts about their too-good-for-them girlfriends. Just like many of you, I spent mine single.  

No matter what, I love Valentine’s Day. The fun activities, vivid colors and (though everyone should know I do not need an excuse to dress up) dressing up makes the holiday super exciting. Everything someone could do with a significant other to celebrate can be done with friends. Well… mostly everything. Making your friends cards, baking, having a wine night or just telling them you love them can bring such happiness during the dreary winter months.  

Sharing love with friends is fun and quite easy. The hard part is gifting yourself the same amount of love.  

Here is where I get to the point of this article. Sorry, this is going to take a sort of 180 turn. February does not just represent Valentine’s Day, cold weather and thoughts of changing your major. It is also Eating Disorder Awareness Month.  

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Every 62 minutes, one person dies from one of the many types. 30 million people in the United States suffer, with 95% of them being ages 12 through 25.  

Folks, us college students fit right into that category. Actually, according to ANAD, four to 10% of men and 10 to 20% of women on college campuses experience disordered eating.  

It is hard to talk about these problems with friends. It is hard to know when to ask for help. Please, for the love of yourself, choose to get help now. 

There will never be a better time than now. No matter what your body looks like, no matter what symptoms you have or have not experienced and no matter what those around you are doing, if you have disordered eating thoughts or tendencies, you are sick enough to get help. I will say that again. You are sick enough; do not let it progress anymore.  

The control you feel you have gained means nothing if you cannot remember what you did the day before. The weight lost or gained means nothing if you cannot focus on your schoolwork. The compliments mean nothing if you die.  

Just like a pendulum, the road to recovery swings back and forth. But just like anything else, this will become easier with time. Do not compare your journey to that of others. They have not experienced the same hardships as you, nor have you experienced theirs.  

There is a quote by Fannie Lou Hamer where she said, “If I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.” This beautiful sentiment rings true in all aspects of life. In the fall, you will scrape your knees, you will shed some tears and you may even break some bones. But when you get up again, you will find yourself that much closer to the life you deserve.  

The life you deserve comes to you inherently. No matter what you believe, a divine power has put YOU here. That same power has placed sunsets, forests, waterfalls, flowers and animals big and small on this Earth to just exist. There is nothing you need to do to deserve love and grace.  

Though you may feel stuck, a lack of self-love or scared to reach out, I promise you people in your life care enough about you to help you through this.  

You do not have to figure out where to begin alone. The Student Health and Counseling center takes walk-in appointments and can help you get the jump start you need. They also have a dietician who comes to campus often. If needed, the campus PA will also do tests and discuss treatment plans if necessary. 

This month, love is in the air. Self-love and acceptance should come first, always.  

The first step is the hardest but please, please, please choose recovery. Even if you must try time and time again, it will always be worth it, I promise. The world offers so much more for you to focus on. Find beauty in the journey. 

And for those who know or suspect a friend might be going through this illness, gently let them know you love them, and you will always be around if they need to talk. Though most of the journey happens within the self, outside support makes a world of difference.  

Imagine. It’s Valentine’s Day 2024. A year ago, you made the decision to reach out for help. Though filled with ups and downs, relapses and happy moments, the new year has brought you to this moment: alive and free.