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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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Author tells personal story of eating disorder in new book

 

Jena Morrow, the author of “Hollow,” a book about her personal struggle with eating disorders, started showing signs of a negative body image at the early age of three. 

 

“It started really early on, but the word anorexia wasn’t tossed around until I was about 11,” said Morrow. At 12, she went into treatment and “grew out of it” by age 13. She struggled with her body image all throughout high school, and when college came around she saw it as the perfect opportunity to relapse into her old habits.

 

“Out from under the watchful eye of teacher[s] and parents, I sort of figured that if I leave college with a degree that would be a perk but my real goal was to get thin,” Morrow said. “I saw being away at school as being the perfect opportunity to lose weight, and that was my goal in college.”

 

After only two months of being away at school, Morrow went from 120 pounds to 80 pounds. With no one there to encourage good eating habits and monitor her weight, she found it easy to shed pounds. 

 

But that much weight doesn’t disappear and go unnoticed. “When you lose weight people will automatically compliment you, whether you needed to lose weight or not. But it soon turned into people being concerned,” Morrow said.

 

Her roommate was the first to ask about her drastic drop in weight and that quickly spread to the girls on her floor, and then eventually to her professors who sent her to the school’s counseling center. 

 

Morrow found little help at the counseling center, where they simply interviewed her and gave her a business card for a therapist, but she knew that she had to do something to quell the concerns of those that were worried about her. 

 

“So I just played the game,” Morrow said. “I was just treading water and making everyone happy. But I knew I wasn’t going to give it up.”

 

Morrow was eventually forced to drop out of school and go into a yearlong program at a residential treatment facility. But from the start, Morrow had decided she was not going to snap out of her disorder. She had decided that, once again, she would play the game and then descend back into a relapse. But Morrow wasn’t anticipating the level of care she would receive at the facility.

 

“I wasn’t prepared for the people I would meet there, or for the scriptural truth they would introduce me to,” Morrow said. 

 

While there, Morrow also learned what it was like to feel normal. After years of battling with eating disorders, she had no method of comparison to decide whether or not she even liked being anorexic. 

 

“After getting out of rehabilitation, I had emotions, I didn’t feel numb and a felt close to God. I just realized that I felt better when I was normal,” Morrow said. 

 

After beating her battle with eating disorders, Morrow is now on a mission to ensure that others do not fall into the same situation in which she found herself. She now works as a behavioral health specialist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, a leading eating disorder center, and is hoping that her book will inspire those that she cannot.

 

 One of the age groups that she is most concerned about reaching is college students. She says that periods in which we make changes in our lifestyle are when we are the most susceptible, and that going from high school to college is an optimal time for girls to second-guess their body image. 

 

“College is such a dynamic time; everything is changing. We are making huge decisions about where we want our life to take us,” Morrow said. “Couple this with the obnoxious idea of the freshmen fifteen and so many girls talking about their weight, and you end up with sort of a hotbed.” 

 

She says that girls who are particularly concerned about their body weight need to be careful to avoid the topic of weight when they are talking to their friends. She says that girls do not even realize the amount of time they spend talking about their body image and their weight, and that these conversations can make falling into an eating disorder even easier.

 

Morrow encourages girls who are already struggling with an eating disorder to “take off the shroud of secrecy” and tell others that you are suffering. She says that this will create a personal support group for them and make it easier for them to pull themselves out of their eating disorder. 

 

She also encourages going to support groups with girls who are also suffering from eating disorders. She acknowledges that sometimes these groups aren’t available, and says that more common groups like Overeaters Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous are also valuable opportunities for help. 

 

“Just being around people who are also personally struggling will make it easier for you to talk about your problem. These people will welcome you with open arms,” Morrow said. 

 

For more information about Morrow, or to purchase her book, “Hollow,” you can go to her website at JennaMorrow.com. Her book is also available for purchase on Amazon.com and in limited quantities at Barnes and Noble and Borders.

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