By Jennifer Capelli in News
March 1, 2012
In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness week, LHU student and Hope Center Volunteer Cierra Guest shared her personal experience with anorexia and body-dismorphic disorder with over 20 students and faculty on Monday.
Her eating disorder commenced after she was sexually assaulted at the age of 12; she suffered for over a year before her parents recognized the disorder and sought help.
Guest’s presentation came on the three-year anniversary of her diagnosis; since overcoming her disorder she has shifted her focus to helping others in similar situations.
Guest described how—after the assault—food became the only aspect of her life she felt she had full control over. She gradually began to consume smaller amounts of food until she was only eating once every three to five days.
Lying to friends and family about when and what she was eating helped to hide her developing habits. She would tell them she had already eaten if they asked, and, at times, she used school activities as an excuse.
She said that at her lowest point she was 5’3” and weighed only 89 pounds.
“I could never be skinny enough,” Guest said in relation to her shrinking size.
She recalled the summer before starting high school when avoiding food became difficult under her parents’ watchful eyes. She was forced to eat and remembers gaining weight by the summer’s end.
“I was absolutely disgusted with the amount of weight I had gained,” Guest said.
Upon coming to college, she continued to eat as little as possible. Eventually, Guest’s roommate Amanda Adkinson and friend Brianny Bergey—both LHU students—noticed her disorder and encouraged her to eat more regularly.
“They never stopped, no matter how annoyed or angry I got with them,” said Guest.
Her friends’ advice and support helped her overcome the illness. She said that she could not imagine where she would without them.
After nearly fainting at the Student REC Center in her sophomore year, Guest began to fight the disorder.
“When I looked over at her, her lips were all white,” Bergey said. She sat Guest down and got her some food and water to stop her from passing out.
Guest described that experience as the “wake-up call” that prompted her to start eating more frequently.
“I let this thing control me for so long,” said Guest, “I had to make the decision not to let it control me anymore.”
Guest said she intends to work with persons who have been sexually assaulted or have eating disorders.
She said her experience with body-dismorphic disorder encouraged her to help others in similar situations; it also helped promote her own personal growth.
“I’m a lot stronger and a lot better because of it,” she added.