Eating Disorder


======= Date Modified 10 12 2009 12:12:09 =======
Ok dudes, advice needed.  In the last 18months since starting a phd I have developed an eating disorder and I am severely depressed. I feel that the phd is adding to the pressure I feel at the minute and I just can't cope.

I really don't want to leave cause that would give the stigma of a quitter but I don't feel I am in the right mental state to continue.  HOWEVER, if I take a break what am i going to do? Sit around and feel sorry for myself even more?  I have responsibilities and I need a solid income. Please help with some advice.

Ok HarryPoyhead is a nickname for harry potter... nothing to do with drugs.

And yes I am on anti depressants for two months now, not only are they numbing me, I have little concentration or motivation which then leads me into a spiral of guilt and self-loath.

I am also on a 3 month waiting list to see a specialist, still waiting for that appointment.  So to answer your question the hardest thing I have done in my life is tell my doctor about my eating disorder, but I have stood up and tried to help myself but I seem to have hit a blank wall.


======= Date Modified 10 Sep 2009 12:32:29 =======
Deleting this as it's irrelevant now the original post has been modified (basically just questions Harry's now answered).


I'm really sorry you're going through this now - I went through a combo of ED and depression in my teens, and had recurring problems with depression on and off. Anyway, just writing to with a couple of suggestions - you said you need to wait three months for a specialist, but couldn't you access student counselling to tide you over in the meantime? The sort of work they do is usually short-term, but still, it might be a good source of support as you wait for that appointment. Secondly, if, by any chance, you belong to a broadly defined minority (ethnic, sexual etc) there might be community projects locally that offer free counselling, for instance, last year, when I needed it I could access an excellent counselling service for LGBT people. Finally, one thing to do during your break could be some volunteering - preferably something really low-key, but putting you in contact with other people, you could have a look at And last but not least, the break might be good to make changes in your lifestyle and get a decent amount of exercise - I know it can be tricky when you are depressed and especially with eating disorders some people have a not so healthy relationship to exercise - however, I found that for me yoga worked perfectly well, as it is non-competetive, all about body acceptance and calming your mind. Good luck with whatever you do!


Hey! I really feel for you...I have bipolar disorder which I have had to take time out of my studies to deal with and was also treated for an eating disorder back in sixth form. You have absolutely done the right thing by going to seek help, this is one of the hardest things to have to do, it sounds as though you really do want to get better and this is the most important thing. What you need right now is some support, I really would contact your student counselling service and see what they can do to help. Although they might not be specialists I'm sure they will have come across people with eating disorders before at university and will be able to help. Is your supervisor aware of any problems you are having? Even if you don't want to disclose what is happening, it might be worth making him/her aware that things are a bit tough for you right now and that you are trying your best but struggling with the work at the moment. Again, it's a scary thing to do but in my experience supervisors like to know what is going on and will do their best to support you and not put you under too much pressure whilst things are hard for you. Is there any aspect of your PhD that you feel you can still cope with whilst you put other things on hold? Sometimes when I am not so well I am unable to go out testing participants or writing papers but I can manage really mundane things like entering data or can be helpful just to keep busy and at least feel like you are doing something. But if you really need a break then take it. With the bipolar I had to drop out of uni three times and yet finally I got back and did my BSc, MSc and am now PhD-ing. You can do it, you just need to look after yourself and put yourself and your recovery first. Best wishes, KB


That's a horrendous time to wait. I was anorexic when I was younger and have also suffered depression in the past so I have some idea what you're going through. One thing to say is well done on trying to help yourself - that's a huge step. Remember that what you have is an illness and can be treated but you need to try to take the first steps to help yourself. You should try any resources available at the university. Also, have you read up on your illness? You may be able to find some self-help methods you could try. With regard to taking a break, there is a theory that completely relocating yourself (mentally and probably physically) and getting on with a totally different life may kickstart recovery. I very nearly left school to go and live temporarily with friends on a farm in NZ, although in the end I decided to help myself in other ways. For me I had to realize what it was that had led me to an ED, mainly to do with maintaining control in my life when lots of other things felt out of control, and start to understand that I was really ill and not in control at all. One thing to advise is even if you can't break the habits of the eating disorder on your own - and it is very very hard - try to stay as healthy as possible. I contracted viral meningitis as a direct result of having knocked out my immune system through anorexia, and even that wasn't quite a wake up call. You've realized your problem so continue to try and help yourself as best you can and make sure other people help you too. Finally, don't be ashamed - mental illness is surrounded by this requirement to be ashamed, but at the end of the day you are ill, you will get better, and you need help to do it. I really hope you pull through.


Hey people thanks for your responses. Still not in a good place, need a magic button to make everything better but thanks for your concerns.