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The Eating Disorder Beast Can Be Beaten

Popularity was never a problem in High School, but I never had a boyfriend either. Something was in the way. My weight continued to decrease. When I got down to 80 pounds, a group of girls, who to this day I don’t know who it was, saw my silent cry for help and got the school nurse and my parents involved. I began to see a psychologist twice a week and an eating disorder specialist, too.

It was time to plan for college. My Mom had gotten remarried to a man with three children of his own, my brother and I were getting along better — and at 95 pounds, I felt that my weight was under control.

I was headed in the right direction, or so I thought. But as I packed my bags for college, the beast was packing, too.

I was happy at school. I was in a sorority, had men paying a lot of attention to me, and was still getting good grades.

I was also engaged in bouts of bulimia and night binge eating. I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat large amounts of food to put me to sleep. I over-exercised and was constantly getting sick. I was silently killing myself. The beast was at college, doing great, too.

Sophomore year I took another turn downward. I was absolutely still dependent on my mother. She had always been there for a hug or comfort, and now she was leading a new life of her own — I could not interfere with that. Then my father had a child with his new wife — my half sister was born — I was no longer daddy’s little girl. I had competition. I was jealous and felt cheated. My grandmother, who was one of the closest people in my life, died of cancer the same year. I felt so smothered with pain and loneliness that I began to have anxiety attacks that would lead to my heart racing constantly. The thoughts came like bullets.

What do I want to be when I grow up? What should I major in? Why don’t I have a boyfriend? I continually blamed myself for every incident in my life – for not being perfect. That’s was the beast’s rationale, and it made perfect sense. Perfect.

Junior year at college I fell in love. I was able to share myself with someone for the first time in my life. I began to feel pretty, desired, and my self esteem started to come to the surface. I was still obsessed with food, weight and exercise, however. My regimented struggle for independence had backfired.

Insecurity, loneliness, and fear of abandonment overtook me, and when I graduated I did the easy thing — I moved in with my boyfriend hoping for marriage somewhere down the line. I was working as a nutritionist in a hospital during the day and waitressing at night. Quality time between us was limited and I was not a priority. The bingeing and over-exercising started again, and intensified. Every night I called my mother crying. I was unhappy. I needed to move back home.

No sooner than I was back home, did my stepfather suffer a severe brain hemorrhage — this crisis was almost too much to bear, watching this man become completely debilitated. My mother became overburdened , money was tight, and tension came between everyone in the household. For me, who had been punishing myself anyway, I felt like we were now all being punished, and I couldn’t stop it.

But there was a turning point. After my stepfather returned from Gaylord Rehab Hospital never to walk again, my mother moved down South. Time to grow up and take responsibility for myself! Therapy helped me realize what a tremendously strong woman she is and how much of a role model she has and still is for me. She became my best friend.

The Eating Disorder Beast Can Be Beaten

Lisa Tiell

Lisa Tiell holds a BS in Nutrition and is a AFAA-certified cycle and Pilates instructor. She works as a Nutrition Lifestyle Consultant specializing in disordered eating. Lisa used to work with eating disorder specialist Ira Sacker, M.D.. Lisa grew up on Long Island, NY, but now lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children.

APA Reference
Tiell, L. (2018). The Eating Disorder Beast Can Be Beaten. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.