Monday 4 April 2016

The Transition from School to University

Chloe talks about her struggles transitioning from school to University whilst recovering from an eating disorder, and how she overcame these to live a happy and healthy life at University.

- Chloe Murray

The transition from school to University was a very daunting one. I went to a sixth form that was part of my secondary school, meaning I had spent 7 years of my life there, and it was a place full of both good, and bad memories. I absolutely loved Sixth form. I had finally settled into a lovely, caring and fun friendship group who I could be myself with. I loved my chosen subjects and teachers and I just felt as though I finally fitted in. Loreto was like a big family; all looking out for one another. I was so sad to leave such a school, where I felt truly supported and cared for. A place where I was happy. The prospect of moving to a different city on my own was both scary and exciting. Mainly scary. I felt slightly comforted in my decision to move only an hour away from home. Far enough to get my own independence, yet close enough to travel home easily.

I was nervous as to how I would cope at University, scared as to whether having all the responsibility to feed myself would be too much. I was on my own now and I was worried about restricting my intake and letting anorexia take control again. Despite being in recovery, and out if hospital for 5 years, I knew that if any of my previous bad habits returned, I could be heading for a slippery, downwards spiral of relapse.

However, I was determined to remain strong and remain healthy. I desperately wanted to use University as a fresh start, and continue in my path to recovery. To my relief, I settled in quickly. I felt comfortable with everyone in my flat and I managed to make some loyal friends. I was happy at University, and as my homesickness decreased, my confidence increased. I'm not saying it was easy to follow a healthy diet, and convince everyone that I was just like them. I was still so ashamed of my eating disorder that the thought of anyone finding out about it terrified me. I was scared of being judged, and losing all the friends I had made so far. This motivated me more than anything else to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. 

It was hard without the support from all my friends and family at home. Everyone at home knew about my anorexia. Not by choice; but my once fragile, skeletal body and my frequent absences from school whilst I was in hospital were a dead give-away. My family were so supportive, and my peers were understanding. I hated the fact that everyone knew about my eating disorder. I didn't want to be known as "the girl with anorexia", rather than "Chloe", but I didn't realise how much I relied on my support network, until it had gone. 

I knew that at school I had to eat my lunch, because otherwise my friends would be worried about me. Whereas, at University, I could simply lie and say "I wasn't hungry" or "I'd already eaten". It would have been that simple to skip a meal, and no-one would be suspicious at all. That was hard. Yet, to my surprise I managed to overcome those fears. I went to the gym most days but that was by choice, and I tried to make sure it didn't become something I had to do in order to deserve food. I soon got into a routine of eating a healthy, balanced diet, with a healthy amount of exercise, and I managed to stick to it. I'm so glad I did because that gave me the energy to succeed in my first year of University, and the energy to go out and meet new people! Something, in the depths of anorexia I never thought I'd be able to do!

For more information on finding support, click here

For more information on eating disorders, click here

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