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Ever since I came to Quinnipiac I’ve noticed that my roommate has been losing weight. At first I thought it was because of the stress of starting a new school, but recently I have been noticing more and more how much she skips meals. She seems to always have an excuse when its time to eat. I’m starting to get really worried about her health. I dealt with this once with a friend from high school as well. I’ve only known her for this year, so I’m not really sure how to bring it up to her.
Your roommate sounds like she suffers from Anorexia Nervosa. She is basically starving herself out of fear of gaining weight. It is sad to say but I have noticed that it is common among college freshmen because of the myth “the freshman 15.”
First I think you need to find out a little more about your roommate. You have only known her for a couple of months, so I think you should have a sit down talk with her. Try asking her questions about her life before college. In some way, you need to find out if her eating problem has been going on even before college started.
Either way, this is a serious problem, but I just want to make sure you find out a little more about her before you approach her with your thoughts. Bringing it out into the open is going to be difficult but worth it.
Start by talking about high school or her friends from home. Once the talking begins, things might start to just come out. Make sure to talk about yourself as well, which will make her a little more open and trustworthy towards you.
My advice would be to talk about your high school experience with your friend. Maybe if she knows that you have helped someone before, she will seek out your help.
So start there and see what information you gather.
She might not open up at all, or she might explain that she knows she has a problem and just doesn’t know how to stop.
See what happens. If she opens up, great. start from there and make her feel comfortable. Tell her you do not judge her and you want to help her. Someone that suffers from an eating disorder needs all the support they can get. Once she realizes that she has a problem and she has someone supporting her, hopefully she will realize that this is life threatening and she will make some changes.
Remember, it is a difficult process and it isn’t all about her having to eat more. She needs to get the mental part on track. She needs to gain confidence in herself and her body.
If she doesn’t let you in on anything, you can wait a little while longer and see if you catch any more signs. If you do, you need to tell her how you have been worried about her health and bring up your experience from high school, then go from there.
I found Web sites that might be helpful to you: www.something-fishy.org helps you learn about eating disorders as well as gives you hotline numbers and many other links to look at: www.focusas.com focuses mostly on teens and their problems and goes very in depth about eating disorders.
Good luck and remember to not be judgmental or aggressive towards her. She does not need someone telling her to eat more, she needs someone helping her with her self image. She needs your help and support and she needs to understand that she has a problem.
Want to ask Alicia a question?
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off questions in the anonymous folder outside the Chronicle office.