Proud2Bme | Recovery Takes Time: Why I’m No Longer Ashamed of Taking Medical Leave

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Recovery Takes Time: Why I’m No Longer Ashamed of Taking Medical Leave

By Dana Land--This month, thousands of college students returned to classes after the summer vacation. For some students, they will be sad that vacation is over and happy to be back. For some students, like me, the return of classes brings along its own kind of anxiety.

College is a time for self-exploration and learning. It is also a time when eating disorders can thrive. If this happens, recovery is always possible with treatment. However, treatment and class schedules don’t always line up. So what do you do?

Most universities offer many administrative options to assist students when they find that they are struggling. This can range from free counseling to withdrawals and medical leave. However, the student must be willing to come forward and accept the help. I felt ashamed of myself and my disorder, so it took me quite a long time to reach out for support. Even after reaching out to the university and friends, I still hid my struggles from most and kept trying to throw myself back into classwork before I was ready – ultimately ending in my medical leave from DePaul University for treatment.

There is so much pressure on young adults to complete college within a set timeline like everyone else. A medical leave for eating disorder treatment wasn’t in the brochure for the college experience. I judged myself harshly – and now I’ve learned that it was one of the most important decisions that I have ever made.

For every person, myself included, who judged me for taking a medical leave, there were two additional people who gave me their endless support and love. Using radical acceptance, I was able to see that maybe my path was different from others, but that did not make me any less of a dedicated student than they were. In order to be the student I knew I could be, I needed to heal my body and mind.

Using a medical leave to give treatment the proper dedication was not on my college to-do list. I was hesitant and wanted to complete things as quickly as possible to return to classes. As I learned, there is no rushing recovery or expecting it to follow a timeline as well. It was difficult to watch all of my friends cheerily take one step closer to graduation while I sat through groups and therapy sessions. In the end, I left treatment with a sense of pride and strength that I will carry with me into this upcoming school year when I sit in a classroom for the first time in a year.

My path was different than everyone else’s, and it is possible that yours may be as well. Just as we give ourselves some extra time when we develop a cold or the flu, we must give ourselves extra time in our plans when our mind isn’t feeling well either.

If you find yourself struggling, or your support system expresses concern, college is not a reason to avoid treatment – it is one of the reasons to dive into treatment. Treatment will assist you in stress management and help you walk into each classroom knowing your strengths, and leave each semester with the knowledge of how hard you worked to accomplish that.

About the blogger: Dana Land is a junior at DePaul University. She is majoring in Psychology and is the founder of Recover DePaul, a student organization dedicated to spreading eating disorder awareness on campus. Dana spends her free time snuggling her cat, doing advocacy work, and sharing her story about being an eating disorder and suicide survivor.

For more on eating disorder recovery and body positivity, check out:

Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others

Tips for Fostering Body Positivity in Our Communities

Tinder Body-Shamers: Just Don't

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