Back To School

School is starting and I'm feeling mixed emotions about this. The great thing is that I will be back at my university studying what I love best - nursing. The workload is heavy and tough but I love learning about my future career. I love seeing my friends and having a good laugh. I enjoy practicing my skills on dummies (it actually is pretty fun...!)

So, what could be wrong with this? Well, the first thing is obvious - the heavy workload. I love nursing so I am always on time with my work. But part of me is staring at my schedule and wondering how on earth I am supposed to have a life when I'm always at school. Balance, I guess, is key.

The problem is that once school starts, I get into full-nerd mode. I study like crazy. Last year, I did this at the expense of my health. But this year, I have to be vigilant not to let ED take control again:

Oh, look at that! It is ten minutes past when you should be eating lunch. Oh well. I guess you'll just have to skip that meal. Don't eat.

People will stare at you because you are eating. They'll call you a pig and mention how you gained weight. Don't eat.

You won't have any physical activity during school so you will gain even MORE weight and get MORE fat. Don't eat.

No one else eats as much as you do. Everyone around you is fit and thin. Do you really want to look like the biggest one and be the outcast? Don't eat.

Do you see a pattern here? That's right – ED's whole intention is to get me not to eat. He'll taunt me, saying that people will be staring at me as I eat. He'll tell me that I will be fat and look hideous. ED screams into my ears, wanting me to succumb to his commands – to stop eating, to ignore any hunger pains, and to smile as if everything is all right.

It gets extremely frustrating when I'm having a bad day, full of problems and homework, and ED is shouting at me, wanting me to restrict. But inside, I know where restricting got me – the ICU, the hospital, and honestly, nowhere pleasant. So – as hard as it is – when school starts, I have to tell ED to back off. I'm not going to listen to him anymore. I'm going to go back to school and do my homework. And eat my food.

And I won't let ED join me. Not today, not tomorrow – or even the day after that. Will he back down right away? Probably not. But eventually, ED will see that he has no place in my life. And the less attention that he gets, the more he disappears.

Marina Abdel Malak is a student in Nursing with interest in mental health and eating disorders. She has her own blog at She is recovering from anorexia nervosa.