Student, Rebecca Wojturska, writes for students seeking support while at university.
Anglia Ruskin student, Rebecca, wrote this article to show care to any student in need of it, please read on and share to spread the word. Eating-disordered students should not be ignored, but offered the support they need while at university.
In true group-style I am going to start by introducing myself. My name is Rebecca Wojturska and I am a recovered anorexic (with a bulimic sub-type). The difficult part is over because anyone who had or has an eating disorder knows the hardest part, aside from recovery, is admitting not only to yourself but to others that you have, or have had, a problem. Allow me to tell you what has led to this admittance and why I became a fully-trained Ambassador for the UK’s leading eating disorder charity b-eat.
I first developed an eating disorder when I was 12 years of age. I gave my lunch allowance to my friend who didn’t get any and after a while enjoyed the feeling of starvation. This seemingly simple act saw the beginning of twelve years of ups-and-downs, and these past particularly harsh two years has seen me in and out of the hospital which led me to lose my full-time contract, contact with many friends, and most importantly, the best of my health. My closest friends and family stuck by me until I reached the point where I could take no more and realised that the only way to keep living would be to get better for myself. And I did.
Fast-forward some months (that’s the heavily over-simplified version!) and here I am at ARU studying for my masters whilst in full-health both weight and mind-wise. It’s still hard and feels strange being so far away from my family and friends and, although I’m now recovered, it struck me that given the chance I would have loved access to a safe space to spend time with others affected by the illness whilst at University, or even just in general. It may have prevented the lonely spiral I was subjected to.
What I’m proposing is creating a safe space where a group of us can talk to each other in order to gain support. As an Ambassador for b-eat I have to disclaim that this is not a recovery programme as there is no medical aid involved – just information on who to contact for help and a base for those affected to come and talk about their struggles and receive support from others who truly understand. beat recently found that 58% of sufferers don’t talk to anyone because they are unsure how to approach it, 65% wait over six months to confide, and 87% don’t ever seek medical help after realising their problem. SPACES will provide support and care not only for those still unable to seek medical help, but for those in recovery and those who have recovered but still need a bit of support. There are no pre-set definitions to join. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating, EDNOS – there are a variety of eating disorders and all sufferers are welcome – any age, any gender.
It is time to not only raise awareness, but start at the core issue; us. Some of the statistics are shocking. B-eat also found 30% of sufferers had to wait over 18 weeks to obtain access to outpatient treatment, 26% experienced a wait of longer than 6 months, and 8% longer than a year. This combined with The Royal College of Psychiatrists stating “there is a relatively high prevalence of eating disorders in student populations...Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are widely recognised in the student population” has made me realise that it’s time to create spaces where sufferers can access help where it may not be available elsewhere. It could determine the difference between life and death.
For more information and support I have created a facebook group where there is 24/7 access to help and discussions from each other – to join please add me on facebook or send me a message in my inbox so I can add you to the group (Becky Elizabeth Wojturska). For those who don’t have facebook just e-mail me on email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you. No matter your problems, you ARE worth the time and space.
For more information on the statistics and prevalence of eating disorders visit http://www.b-eat.co.uk/
The university has Wellbeing and Counselling services for anyone looking for further support and also there is a Mental Health Support Group for anyone looking to go down the route of speaking in person. See this message below from the team for information:
“As a service we offer individual counselling sessions, mental health advice, group work programmes such as stress and anxiety management, self-esteem and confidence, a gym group and a body image group. We also offer workshops, depending on student need and demand and offer training and consultations to staff.
Students can come directly to Student Services reception at Hel 341 (Cambridge) or TIN 2nd floor (Chelmsford) to register with us or send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 196 6700/6701 and we will get back to them within two working days to arrange an initial assessment. Alternatively, we have a Drop In session that runs daily from 11 until 12 where students can have a twenty minute slot to ask questions and decide if they would like to access the service. Our Crisis Intervention appointments are for students who are in crisis and can’t wait for a scheduled session.”