Mar 30, 2011

The Cosmos Throw Another Curveball

I have some very sad, very unexpected news.

Despite me acquiring a letter from my primary physician signing off on me studying abroad in Tanzania this summer, the University Physician, who holds the ultimate okay, said no. I received an e-mail today saying that my acceptance has been rescinded and that I am being withdrawn from the program. They cite “health concerns” as being the reason my withdrawal despite me sending them the letters that the office requested.

So, I will not be traveling this summer. As if this was not heart-breaking enough, it also looks like there is still $700 that I will not be able to be refunded, which is a very hefty chunk of change. I’m trying to be positive and think of it like “At least I’m getting most of it back, or anything back for that matter”, but it’s hard. I always thought that I would study abroad while in college, and now that won’t happen. This is not a matter of “Oh, just go next summer”. This was my one chance.

I had my heart set on this trip. I was counting on it, not just for the college credits, the honors credit, or even the chance of getting to climb one of the highest peaks on our Earth. No, what I most had my heart set on was the experience. To get to see first hand the people I read about in my textbooks. To finally make myself let go of my anorexia and allow myself to heal. I’m saying it “out loud”. My name is Ellen, and I am an anorexic and I have been for the past 6.5 years. It is not nearly as bad as it was when it first surfaced when I was 13, but it is still very much a part of me.

In my head, I feel like this is an attack against me. A punishment. But, in my heart, I know that this is happening right now for a reason. Right now, the only thing I can think of is that I’m supposed to run in that half marathon this September. The Tanzania trip would have taken me 4 weeks out of training. Now with the trip called off, I still plan on taking a few credits toward my degree, but also to continue, without interruption, my training to compete in the Capital City River Run Half Marathon and live at home while continuing to work with therapists, doctors, and counselors to make this possible.

I had to do a serious re-haul of my life for the next two years in a very short period of time, because I schedule for next year this Friday. And with my summer plans changed, I decided to enroll in more classes this summer than I had originally planned.

This is going to happen. I am determined. This is the year that I let go. I hope that you all stick around and offer me your advice, support, and stories throughout this entire process. I need your help. I can’t do this alone, nor do I plan on doing this alone.

On another, unrelated-but-still-related note, I found out this past week that my father has been diagnosed with stage II primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (stage I being the least severe and stage IV being the most severe). Without medication, he may have another 6-10 years left, and with medication the doctor says that he will probably die of some other cause first (he turned 61 this March). PBC generally does not show any symptoms and is detected from abnormal blood tests. It is also 10x more likely in women and there appears to be some sort of genetic factor. So, starting in the next 10 years, in addition to being tested for breast cancer, I need to be tested for PBC as well since I have an elevated risk of both.

The only one in my family who seems to be doing well is my mother, who decided to rejoin Weight Watchers as a Christmas/New Years gift to herself. I could not be more proud of the changes and progress that she has made in the past 3 months. I’m trying to convince her to compete in a 5K some time in the next year, even if it is just walking one.

For those of you who stuck it out through this post, thank-you. It means a lot for me to be able to write this all down, but it’s another thing entirely to actually have someone read my words and digest my thoughts and provide feedback. You guys really do mean more to me than you know.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. Dear Ellen,

    it seems like the biggest clichè to say that "everything happens for a reason"... but perhaps this isn't entirely untrue. It sounds like you need this trip not to happen right now, and I really hope you'll be able to move forward with your recovery and come out stronger, despite the disappointment of not being able to travel.
    I think you're very brave to verbalize your thoughts with regards to your anorexia; I know it is far from easy. I think it's all in your favor, though - a step in the right (healthy) direction and a way of asking for support which I'm convinced a lot of wonderful people out there will gladly provide.
    I'm sorry to hear about your father and I hope it all works out with his medication and that this disease is not something you yourself will be affected by.
    You're such a determined person and I'm convinced that you're capable of beating this eating disorder to the ground - and you've got my support anytime you need it.
    Take care of yourself.


  2. I'm really sorry to hear that you can't go - I feel so bad for you. I was rooting for you the whole time too. I'm also a firm believer in the "everything happens for a reason" thing and maybe this is just what was meant to be. I know that moving back home for that one week for spring break helped me out with recovering a lot, and maybe just being home and having some time to work things out is what you need more at this time in your life.

    I really hope that your dad pulls through this as best as he possibly can and both of you are in my prayers. If you need someone to talk to about any of this I'm more than happy to listen. I'm here to support you 100% of the way through your ED and I look forward to seeing you get better. Take care!