Not sure where to start with this subject, but please, if you have a few minutes to spare, I would greatly appreciate it if you could offer me your thoughts or any input you might have on how I should proceed here.
Quick recap: I know that I haven’t been very active online for a while, much less on dA, but the past few months have been a struggle for me in a number of ways. The biggest change is I started university in the fall; in the past 6 months, I’ve moved out of state and have been adjusting to dorm housing, the distance from family and friends, a different academic environment, and an entirely unfamiliar community. Although I anticipated how the transition might be difficult, and I did anticipate some trouble taking care of myself, things went downhill much more quickly than I thought they would. Losing my support system, taking charge of my own healthcare and being responsible for seeking help when needed, and having almost complete autonomy in nutrition/exercise were huge risk factors, and the social/academic stress made it too much. When I came home for winter break mid-December, I had lost a significant amount of weight beyond that which was reasonable and my health was not so good. I am now back at college, 3 weeks into the spring semester, and although I feel like I’m much more self-aware of what’s at stake now, I can already feel the backslide starting again.
Aside from contact with a few long-distance friends, the only support I have here is a counselor at the student health center; fall semester, I met with her weekly to discuss ongoing issues and immediate problems, but I have yet to meet with her this term, and I don’t know that I want to, really. She’s a good person and she means well, but meeting with her didn’t seem to be helpful overall in dealing with the eating disorder. There is a nutritionist at the health center, and I have the option if needed to make an appointment with a physician, but the former doesn’t seem like it would change anything and the latter is not medically necessary at this point. I have little to no resources on campus for dealing with mental health problems at this time.
Last November, on social media (specific to my school), I floated the idea of creating an informal support group for students struggling with/recovering from eating disorders, just as a safe place/safe community where people could seek social support, talk frankly about problems, ask for advice, feel comfortable discussing issues that aren’t really addressed elsewhere. I heard back anonymously from more than 10 students, and 5 have contacted me individually asking for more information. So it sounds like there’s a need for ED-related resources outside of my own. I really want to move forward with this in the new semester, but I am overwhelmed and not sure about how to proceed, and I’m scared of messing something up.
I can’t find any clear policy on the formation of student groups at my college, and even that sounds more formal than what I was originally thinking. I have reached out by email to administrators who might be able to advise me on any regulations or any approval I would need to form a student group as well as in relation to the logistics of meeting. I have also reached out to the director of the health center’s counseling department. I have heard back from no one. So I need to create a workable plan on my own regarding where & when a group could meet, how to schedule a room in one of the conference buildings, and how to spread word.
Regarding getting information out: Social media would not be great, because I don’t want to be the face of this issue, and a lot of people would be hesitant to respond in a highly visible environment; also, I only have posting access to the Facebook group of my class year, not the student body as a whole. Word of mouth is unreliable and also very limited. If I make a poster or flyers that I can put up on the corkboards (which is likely the most viable option), what information should I put on it? How should I word it?
Regarding the actual group itself: How can I make this a safe place, and what can I do to help myself and other students? What can we do?
In short, I need social support relating to living with an eating disorder on campus, there are at least a few other students who have expressed similar interest in that kind of resource, but no one has a clearly defined idea of what we are trying to do or how to go about doing it. The connection, the feeling of having any kind of support network, is what we need most. The details are the hard part.
If anyone has any input on any of these points, please, drop me a comment, send me a message, anything. Thanks for reading.