Life sometimes gets so hectic. We become trapped between all the things that we have to do, and it seems impossible that we will be able to finish everything. I hate feeling stressed. I've learned some interesting things about stress during my studies... mainly, that stress has many negative impacts on our bodies and functioning. Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that breaks down our muscles to make energy from the protein. Too much cortisol can also cause memory loss, as well as suppress the immune system – so it becomes easier to get sick. I've realized that when I'm stressed, I cannot do much. I feel my body getting hot, my blood flowing faster, and a headache coming on – these are the effects of epinephrine, another stress hormone.

Soon enough, I'm so stressed that I became exhausted. I feel terrible. Have you ever felt like this? What do you do to help yourself? How do you cope?

When I was really sick, ED was my coping mechanism. Don't get me wrong – the anorexia did not make my stress go away. But for some reason, having ED made it easier to deal with stressors – because I did not think of anything else except for losing weight and avoiding food.

Problems with friends? It is alright – at least you are losing weight.
Feeling lonely? Why should you – you are thin!

See how deceptive ED is? He made me forget all my problems and only focus on him. Not eating and losing weight was all that was important - if I could not eat and lose weight everything else was manageable.

Now when I'm stressed, I do not have the option of simply losing weight or not eating. Sure, this is what I used to do to avoid when dealing with everything else, but I have seen that this is really not helpful.

Not eating = losing weight = getting sick = feeling bad = missing out on life = possible death.

Not fun. I do not want to go there. But what can I do?

I've found that going to others is really helpful. Seriously. Find someone who cares, who wants to listen to you, and who will not downplay your feelings. Tell them what is on your mind, how you are feeling, and why this moment in your life is difficult. If they are truly caring, they will understand. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear - not necessarily someone who will solve our problems.

Or, take time off for YOU. Give yourself a manicure, read a book, play a game, call a friend, watch a good movie, etc. These are examples of positive coping mechanisms.

Of course, ED will always try to get me back. He will tell me that all of these coping skills are not useful. But I know better. I am able to see that ED is tricking me, that he wants me to fall again. But I'm stronger, and I know that this is not right. I have a list of coping mechanisms that I can utilize whenever I feel stressed. And now, ED is not one of them.

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.