It was an unseasonably sweltering fall day at Michigan State. As I entered the auditorium that housed a room full of college students, I looked around to find a seat. Six hundred students were assigned to this particular biology course for that fall semester of 2003. We were in an overpacked room, sitting elbow to elbow. Students were using their sleeves to wipe the dripping sweat off their foreheads and drinking water like they had been sitting for hours on a scalding beach. Let’s put it this way – it was evident that people were uncomfortably hot, sweaty, and parched.
I looked around and noticed the surrounding students dressed in shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, and sandals. I sat in the middle of the enormous lecture hall, dressed in what one would consider winter apparel. I looked down at my discolored, bone chilling fingers, and wondered why my hands were turning colors and freezing. I wouldn’t even think to wear flip flops because my toes were always equally painfully cold. So shoes and socks were a constant at that time. My lower lip had turned from being a healthy pink color to a permanent purple hue. The goosebumps that appeared down my arms and up my legs became a norm. I was always cold.
I was cognizant that others stared at me wondering how I was not dying of heatstroke as I was dressed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants in such warm weather. Instead, I felt I was going to die of hypothermia. This was the first major sign that I had an eating disorder. A result of malnutrition and low body fat, feeling cold is extremely common in anorexia.
I became the typically perceived anorexic sufferer. I was dressed in oversized clothes, to hide the weight loss, and clothed as if living in Antarctica. Without my winter coat, I was miserably cold, and hats and gloves became my new best friend.