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End-of-Semester Reflections

By Danielle Lowe--This is the first semester since my sophomore year of high school that I’ve been mentally and physically healthy without the support of an intense number of hours of treatment or therapy.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

Last spring/summer, I was convinced that, to secure my recovery, it would be best for me not come back to the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. “Too many triggers, too far from home, not enough accountability, you already fell hard and fast, it’s too competitive, study something that won’t be as demanding,” were all comments I heard over and over again.

Everyone seemed to want me to take the safe route, while I had just embarked on the most unsafe journey I will ever go in my life: recovery. Why had I spent so many hours in therapy facing my past/future, and my biggest insecurities and fears…only to not do exactly what I wanted to in my life?

I had run to my eating disorder so that there would be no expectations or potential failures—how could I fail if my worth was solely what went in and out of my body? That was easy.

This semester was hard.

Also by Danielle: 5 Ways to Establish Boundaries with Loved Ones with Body Image Issues

I can’t tell you how many times I sat at meals with friends and had to listen to talk about how “bad” the food we were eating was, weight loss, weight gain, how much they were going to exercise over said meal, how many calories they ate in a day. In the beginning, I would just excuse myself from the table, but I’ve slowly gotten better at tolerating the talk, making a joke out of the discussion or changing the subject.

Being a college student in Miami, many weekend events involve beaches or pools. Not to mention that it’s almost always hot here and so more revealing clothing is almost always a shoo-in—no baggy sweater days here. So unless I wanted to boil over, I usually had to wear clothes that prominently showed my arms and legs.

Honestly, some days were fine. Other days, I would have rather just stayed inside than have my arms be seen. The hardest part was ungluing myself from the thoughts that stuck to me that said I was not worthy of being seen. Almost every time that I pushed myself outside and onto what I needed to do, I felt better. I also knew that staying in would have just given me free time to obsess over my body even more.  

Also by Danielle: 5 Reasons Why BMI is a Waste of Time

When I was in my eating disorder, the dining hall was a pool of lava.  Nothing was “safe” and I never knew where to go or what to get. I also struggled with having judgments about how the food was prepared, portioning, comparing what I was eating to others. When I came back to school, a lot of these thoughts still came up. The best way for me to combat these thoughts was to remind myself that that was my eating disorder talking, and I needed to listen to myself. I asked myself questions like, “What am I truly in the mood to eat?” or, “What is an appropriate amount to eat?” I also learned an intuitive eating tool in treatment: checking in and rating my hunger before and after meals. 

This semester has been rewarding, draining, frustrating, magical, fun, full of adventure and just outright annoying. But it’s also been an actual life. I’m so thankful I can smile, cry, laugh, exercise, not exercise, impersonate Miranda Sings, hate myself, dance around in a bikini, be disappointed, eat cookies for lunch,  get an A, get an F, be completely mediocre and still treat myself well at the end of the day. 

I always thought I was the exception when people told me recovery was possible. I’ve done what I thought would never be possible in my entire life. Recovery is real.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

About the blogger: Danielle Lowe is a 19-year-old LA native going to the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Danielle is currently studying music therapy and contemporary voice. In the future, she hopes to bring music therapy to more eating disorder treatment centers. In her free time, she enjoys petting any dogs she can find, going to concerts and eating ice cream sandwiches.

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