Hope on the Other Side of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders consume many people and diminish their self-worth.  But Hannah Durbin, an anorexia survivor, explains that there is hope on the other side.

Embody Carolina, an organization dedicated to helping those who struggle with eating disorders, states, “Negative body image has many negative impacts on your physical, mental, and social health. People forget that every body is different and no one-size fits all.”

Durbin, 21, spoke at the Southern Smash panel at the Elon University earlier this year.  She detailed her journey through anorexia, the recovery process, and provided hope for those who also have an eating disorder.

Southern Smash is eating disorder awareness organization.  According to its website, Southern Smash tries to spread the idea of “body love.” This organization coordinates events at college campuses and holds SmashTALK panel discussions.

Durbin began her SmashTalk by admitting she struggled with anorexia for over five years.  She is currently a senior at Elon University and is in recovery.

She explains that her disorder “stole the life” out of her.

“It has tucked away the passion, the freedom, and the love that I had for everything on this earth,” says Durbin.

Durbin details that she was so sad and heartbroken that she cannot even begin to express it in words.  She details that thoughts of self-destruction consumed her whole life.

“This eating disorder took and took from me, never giving anything in return and it told me that if I listened to its demonic voice that it would take away all sadness that I was experiencing in my life,” says Durbin.

Dr. Stephanie Zerwas, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and clinical director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, explains that the world feels out of control and when you have an eating disorder.

Durbin’s freshman year of college is when she realized that this “demon” had taken enough from her.  She spent her second semester of freshman year in an inpatient facility in Princeton, New Jersey.

With the help and support of family, friends, doctors, and therapists, after five years, Durbin was able to recover from anorexia.

Although Durbin’s case is extreme, Zerwas believes that everyone to some degree does not like how they look.

Statistics show that 60 percent of college females struggle with chronic dieting and binge eating.

People can sometimes be completely unaware of their eating disorder.  Some may think they are being healthy by dieting and exercising.  However, constant dieting and over-exercising can quickly take a turn for the worse.

Many people with eating disorders feel trapped in their own body. Others may feel like they will never recover, and that a road to recovery is pointless.  Durbin says that this way of thinking is wrong and that there is hope and a better life beyond the eating disorder.

Durbin details recovery as, “falling back in love with adventure and spontaneity.”  She proclaims, “Recovery means that you’re releasing fear and accepting passion … and it’s better than your wildest dreams.”

Most experts warn that recovery cannot be done alone.  There needs to be support and a whole army of individuals encouraging and cheering you on.

The National Eating Disorder Association advises, “You should not attempt to address your disordered eating alone; discussing the feelings you’re experiencing with a loved one can provide essential comfort, support, and direction.”

Recovery will be hard and long, but the end result is worth it.

“Recovery is very scary,” Durbin said, “and I’ll be the first one to tell you about how it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done but it made me who I am and it gave me a heart bigger than anything else.”

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