Eating disorder survivor shares experiences at WKU

Whitney Allen

National Eating Disorders Week is a week dedicated to the education and the prevention of eating disorders. The WKU Counseling and Testing Center sponsored “Stories of Hope from an Eating Disorder Survivor.” Elizabeth Aldrich is a survivor of an eight-year struggle with an eating disorder.

Aldrich opened up to students about the bullying and self consciousness that built up to her eating disorder as well as her three year long journey to overcome this disease.

She described the beginning of her recovery as a time in which she learned to lie really well.

“All this time I didn’t want to let go of my eating disorder,” Aldrich said. “I was miserably comfortable. I was in such misery but I was so comfortable with that. It was all I knew.”

From an illness that began in middle school, Aldrich said she never fully recovered until her senior year of college. Now she has turned that struggle into strength.

Aldrich is pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at the University of Tennessee at Nashville, with hopes to help others overcome the same battles she once fought.

Betsey Pierce, a counselor at the WKU Counseling and Testing Center added that eating disorders are more common than people may think. The theme for National Eating Disorder Week this year is “I Had No Idea.”

“That’s why I love this week because I think doctors need to become more aware of it,” Aldrich said. “Because I think eating disorders go unrecognized in hospitals just because doctors don’t really know or don’t know how to talk to somebody about it. I think a lot of education in the hospitals needs to happen.”

One of the purposes of National Eating Disorders Week is to address the stigma surrounding eating disorders as well as increase awareness about eating disorders.

Bowling Green freshman Brianna Moore attended this event for her Developmental Psychology class.

“I thought it was really great that she went through that and she can come and talk about it,” Moore said.

Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Aldrich expressed that eating disorders aren’t something that are easy to recognize in others.

She encouraged anyone who may know someone with an eating disorder to approach them about it in a compassionate and understanding way.

Pierce said anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder should go to the Counseling and Testing Center or to Health Services.

“You can get through it. I think sometimes people think when they’ve struggled for years and years they can’t get out of it, but you can,” Pierce said.