Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 2 | Page 10




An eating disorder thrives in silence , shame and secrecy . For most of my time in medical school , being alone in my apartment meant my eating disorder had all the power . Thoughts could run rampant in my mind ; they had so much opportunity to overwhelm me with the obsession to rid my body of calories and win . Those were the times when my ED was the loudest , the most unrelenting . I was beginning to honestly confront my eating disorder when COVID-19 shut everyone inside .

I suffered with bulimia for just over two years , but my life before had formed the perfect environment for an eating disorder to plant its seed and grow . I was an obese pre-teen , had a significant weight loss , and grew up with a fat mother who hated her body and most parts of herself ( not to mention the billion-dollar health and fitness industry that shoves diet culture down our throats at every turn ). I drank that Kool-Aid for a long time . That lifestyle took me down the dark , obsessive road that led to an eating disorder . I began medical school in 2018 just a few months after the eating disorder came into its full form . During my whole first year of school , I was able to compartmentalize the ED and separate it from school pretty successfully . I tried therapists on the side , but I was not ready to face my illness and I feigned my way through recovery attempts .
By the fall of 2019 , my spirit could no longer separate the ED
from the rest of my life . My days were almost entirely consumed by the thoughts and behaviors of my ED , and my life as a medical student only existed in its shadow . I was numb all the time , yet aware that I was in distress . I perceived my inability to stop my own eating disorder as weakness and I continually punished myself for it . I was the lowest version of myself . The only thing that pulled me through at that time was knowing I would be a stronger person and an even stronger caregiver one day because of my struggle . Once again , I sought help and this time landed a therapist with whom I felt comfortable . By early 2020 , I was consistently seeing my therapist and she had connected me with a psychiatric nurse practitioner who started me on medication . Things seemed to begin gradually improving , until our collective way of living drastically changed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic .
Suddenly the most stressful environment for me to be in was my only option . There was no place to go to be distracted or surrounded by other people to avoid my ED . I was trapped at home with all my thoughts and urges , all of the parts of myself that I had been struggling with for years . The months of April and May were particularly difficult . I started dedicated study for my first medical board exam . During that time , I found out a friend and coworker of mine had died in a house fire . Eventually many of our exams were cancelled due to COVID-19 , throwing my whole medical school class into chaos . I went through my first breakup . By that point , the pandemic was the least of my worries .
Maybe it was the Prozac , maybe it was the therapy , but somehow in the middle of my worst nightmare I found recovery . When