Ana’s Reason 7.

Series: Under the Surface – Ana’s 13 Reasons Why

A series of posts uncovering what is really beneath my anorexia and depression.

Reason 1: Genetic Temperament Traits

Reason 2: Inheritance

Reason 3: My parents’ marriage. And divorce. And remarriage. To each other.

Reason 4: Genes load the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.

Reason 5: Mama dies.

Reason 6: Unrequited Love. Repeatedly.

Reason 7. I never left college.

Well, technically I did for about 2 years, but I LOVE ME SOME COLLEGE.

I did the fabulous 5-year plan, and truth be told, I did it simply because I loved college and couldn’t leave. So I added a major that allowed me to stay an extra year. And then…I just never left, so now it’s kind of like this:

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1996-2001

I spent my college years having a lot of fun. I was very involved at both my starting and transfer universities. Studying happened, to the extent I needed to make decent grades, but my focus in college was definitely social (it’s hard now to remember who that person was).

2001-2003

After college, I did the Journeyman Program with the International Mission Board, a two-year commitment to go to another country and serve after college. So even in doing this, I was on a team made up of also recent college graduates. And we hosted a lot of college students from the States. So, really, I did the 7-year college plan.

2003-Present

When I returned and had no idea what to do with my life, a friend connected me with a job at a local satellite campus of a university. And I LOVED being back on a college campus. I fell in love with advising students – helping them to discover their goals and turn those dreams into a reality.

So for 15 years, I have stayed on college campuses:

  • Small (150 at the satellite I started with) to large (UW and UT have 50K+ students)
  • Private (again, the satellite) to Public (almost all the rest)
  • For-profit (if you are in the education field because it’s your passion, do NOT work at a for-profit) to Non-profit
  • Two-year community college to Four-year Research I universities
  • Undergraduates (in several different majors) to graduate students

As a result of being in close proximity to college students for half of my life:

Want to know what I’ve discovered about Ana? She has used the fact that I’ve been on a college campus for half of my life (never mind middle school and high school) to abuse me over and over via the horrible process of comparison, because in case you haven’t heard, eating disorders run RAMPANT on college campuses

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  • I want to look like a college student, who at this point in my life is usually 18-22 years younger than me. Also, many of them probably have eating disorders themselves. Why else would UT have its own page just for eating disorders along with a couple of student organizations?
  • I want to look like the smallest college student (who is often not the same race/ethnicity as myself, a definite factor in body type/size).
  • I need to think I can fit into the pants of everyone I see on campus (regardless of all of the above).
  • I dress like a college student (no Mom jeans for me!), or at least like my decade+ younger co-workers. It probably just looks like I’m trying too hard.

Meet The Life Thief

In my last post, I introduced you to Christy Harrison and her podcast Food Psych. Christy, a self-proclaimed “anti-diet dietitian” speaks out against the The Life Thief. 

For Christy, diet culture is The Life Thief. In her words:

Diet culture steals your joy, your spark, and your life, which is why I call it The Life Thief.

Basically, her view on it is this:

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Having suffered with anorexia for most of the last 16 years, and gotten to a very low point around March 2018, I can say I agree with Christy. The Life Thief took a lot from me, including:

  • No energy to play with my daughter
  • Almost no social life
  • Lying to people I love
  • No sex (yep, the “better” my body looked…the less sex I actually had)
  • No anger management
  • No joy whatsoever
  • Hiding from loved ones

The Life Thief concept is consistent with God’s teaching that Satan is a thief who is out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). I believe this is true, and Satan came close to winning.

I just looked at a photo I took of myself when I was at my lowest weight. At the time, I thought I looked okay, but still had fat areas in my usual trouble spots. When I looked at it the other day for the first time in months, I started to see that I might have been too skinny. I look like I’m on my way to being the extreme stories I see on the interwebs.

Eight months later, I fight everyday between listening to The Life Thief and my God and Savior. Honestly, I cannot say which side is winning but at least, I do hear the two voices now instead of deafly following Ana (the Life Thief).

I’m still on a college campus, a huge one, working with traditional undergraduates. I believe I am meant to work with college students, so I will have to keep fighting to defeat Ana in a place where she wins most young women over. I still don’t want to leave college, but I do want to leave Ana. The second part of John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

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