Choosing to Thrive

Stephanie Bagby-Stone MD Medical Director at McCallum Place Columbia

Making the decision to go to eating disorder treatment is sometimes very difficult when you are in college. Especially when you are an excellent student with career goals and worry about what might happen if you take time away from school. That choice can be challenging, even if the eating disorder is taking away your energy and focus, undermining your strengths and grades, consuming all your free time, making you feel anxious and depressed, isolating you from your friends and family, and hurting your body. Although some may do okay academically when their eating disorder takes control, it is often a daily struggle with work being much more difficult, time consuming and not as nearly as enjoyable as before the eating disorder.

Colleges and universities are generally very willing to work with students who need to take time for their health. Depending on the level of support you need, you may be able to do intensive treatment and still go to school. You may be able to arrange your classes, choose online course options and/or reduce your course load to accommodate your treatment needs.

I often explain to my patients who are concerned about taking time off that going to intensive eating disorder treatment is actually not really leaving school. It’s getting a very specific type of education, one that is specialized in helping you restore your health and vitality so that you can pursue your academic and life goals now and in the future.

Positive psychology tells us that we all do our best work and are our most successful when we are have a deep sense of well-being. Additionally, well-being has positive effects on your mind, mood, body and performance. Making the decision to take time off school or reduce your course load for treatment supports your well-being and increases your potential to be successful in all aspects of your life.