“She grew too weak to continue performing and had to quit,” an article referred to a collegiate dancer on scholarship at Davenport College in Michigan. “I began struggling the summer before my junior year in college.. The pressure of it all, dancing in front of a large crowd, being judged a lot, that kind of caused it a little bit,” Tylor Davis reflected on her battle with anorexia during college competition.
I, too, experienced an overwhelming amount of pressure during my college years in both soccer and school. Davis, unfortunately, quit the sport in which she had grown to love, enjoy, and excel. With hope to recover, I also “quit” playing soccer for that period of time. Between the negative associations, triggers, and traumatic thoughts at my absolute weakest moments, soccer had become an unenjoyable burden. Recovery was not only the ability to eat and gain weight, but to somehow find the joy in the game again. And to me, that was the most difficult obstacle I needed to overcome through treatment.
Davis has not yet returned to dance. But, now, two years later, at the age of 23, she has gained fifty pounds by weightlifting, and adding “firmness, muscle tone, and shapely lines.” She is using her competitive nature and exceptional athletic abilities in fitness shows. The article discusses Davis’s outlook on life has strengthened through recovery and her new diversions.
Similarly to Davis, I returned to my sport more fit, stronger, and weighing heavier than ever. Ironically, as an anorexic struggling to overcome restrictive habits, my mentality completely reversed. Scarred from my depressive moods and obsessive behaviors, I began erring on over consuming food to avoid any recurrence during treatment. This common practice often occurs as a result of severe deprivation of food for a lengthy period of time, sometimes even developing into binging.
The battle of anorexia and other eating disorders is extremely complex, and entails many obstacles to successfully recover. Just like Tylor Davis, I recognized the issue, denied support and help from family and friends, and finally conceded to being frail and withdrawn. Though acknowledgement is a critical step, the adversity one experiences while striving to conquer such a significant physical and psychological disorder is immense and complicated.
The number of female athletes experiencing comparable thoughts and issues are growing at a rapid rate. Twelve years ago, I felt alienated, alone, and distant from not only my teammates and family, but the world. It felt as though I was climbing a mountain, one step at a time, without any one around me. I realized my family, coaches, and psychiatrist were my support system during such a hardship, however, not one individual looked at me and confessed to understanding similar struggles. That is why I am here- to reach that one person who feels alone, discouraged, and helpless. According to ANAD, “91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting.” For some, dieting is a way to cope with emotions and to feel in control. Control in diet can then lead to the development of a potential eating disorder, such as anorexia. Therefore, there are many women, young and old, facing similar difficulties, but the commonality among college females is alarming.