Dear Annie: By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had already been diagnosed with an eating disorder and was recovering with support from my family and several health professionals, including a therapist and a nutritionist. We all thought I was doing very well.
At college, however, I found myself without the accustomed support network. With the added freedom to plan my meals as I wished, I became increasingly anxious and confused, thinking, "What do I want to eat? Am I full? How can I manage my dining hall anxiety?"
I also discovered that living with 18-year-olds unexpectedly triggered issues for me. It was too easy to get caught up in the body-shaming, diet-dominated rhetoric of my peers. Combined with the "normal" anxiety of freshman year, these things quickly overwhelmed me.
I was already battling insurmountable anxiety and confusion when the unthinkable happened. I was raped. Everything I had felt prior to the assault multiplied in intensity. As the negative emotions built, I became increasingly isolated, oscillating between depression and anxiety. My eating habits became erratic, cycling between binge-eating and restricting. I felt I had absolutely no control. I was shamed by the stigma attached to eating disorders and decided to suffer in silence.
When I went home for the summer, I opened up to my parents and was able to get the help I needed. I want others to know that recovery is possible. It takes hard work and a strong support network, but suffering in silence will only hurt you more.
February 22-28, 2015, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and I want everyone to know about a great online resource: mybodyscreening.org. It offers anonymous eating disorder screenings and connects users with quality treatment resources. Taking the first step to get help requires courage, but I implore everyone who may be struggling that it's worth it. — Elizabeth
Dear Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing your story with our readers. Eating disorders are an important mental health issue that affects millions of men and women. We encourage our readers to visit mybodyscreening.org to take a self-assessment and the first step toward healing.
Dear Annie: I was introduced to a new church that I really enjoy. However, I had a falling out with the friend who brought me there.
Now I am scared to go back to the church for fear that I will run into this friend and he will cause a scene. He already told me that if I show up there, he will tell the church members that I am gay, and they will ostracize me.
I like this church and found many friends there, but I don't want the drama of dealing with the fallout. What should I do? — Just Want To Worship
Dear Just Want: Would you feel comfortable confiding the details to the pastor? The church may be more accepting than you realize, and we would not want anyone to bully you out of attending. The "fallout" won't last forever. Could you withstand the drama until things settle down? If so, attend. If not, move on.
Dear Annie: "Logansport, Ind.," complained about two rude women at a recital. Fifty years ago, I attended a performance by the famous classical guitarist Andres Segovia. Annoyingly, several members of the audience coughed and made other small noises that interfered with our appreciation of the performance.
After three such instances, Mr. Segovia stopped playing, pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket, covered his mouth and coughed softly into the handkerchief while looking around at the audience. He then returned the handkerchief to his pocket and continued playing. There were no further noises. I am still impressed with Mr. Segovia's gentle reminder of courtesy. — Boston
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.