How I saved a friend from an eating disorder

Essay by eleventhirteenHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2004

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During my stay at Appalachian State University for Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics, I met many talented and outgoing students in my dorm building and became friends with them. The exciting weeks there were overshadowed by my worries for a girl who lived across the hall. She was a vibrant student whose health was endangerd by a serious eating disorder.

During the duration of program, all the students dined together at the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After a long day of brainwork and walking around the campus, everyone looked forward to a satisfying meal. But this girl never expressed joy on our way to the dining hall; sometimes she even avoided meals and social situations where food was present. When she ate with the rest of us, she always looked for low-calorie, low-fat or fat-free items to eat, and constantly expressed concerns about counting calories. The students were instructed to do one physical activity everyday as part of our curriculum; this girl jogs for more than two hours every single day yet had very little enthusiasm for our other activities in the evenings

After the first week, her symptoms worsened.

Several times, I noticed that she ate huge amounts of foods rich in calories and fat, and disappeared after the meals. She began to look sick and fragile. Her symptoms of bulimia worried me so much that I went to her dorm room and talked with her privately concerning her eating disorder. I purposefully brought a bag of chips along to share with her, but when I offered the food; she expressed guilt about eating and complained how fat she was. I was careful not to accuse her of anything when I asked for her reason to diet. After several visits, I realized that she believed that...