Last October, TCU students Martha Moseley and Natalie Parys came up with the idea of starting a blog for young men and women struggling with eating disorders.
Their co-authored blog, Beyond Blessed, is now a fully functioning forum for people in the TCU community to talk and learn about dealing with eating disorders. Whether someone is struggling with a disorder or wants to know more to help a friend or a loved one, the blog provides posts featuring encouragement, support and religious inspiration for anyone seeking help or information.
"We wanted a place where you could get information, encouragement, a place to talk anonymously and anything else you needed in one place," Parys, a junior political science major, said, "just to let people know they aren't alone and so that other people feel the same way."
Moseley, a senior English major, is also currently and openly recovering from her own struggle with an eating disorder, which she writes about on her personal blog, Leaving Perfection Learning Grace.
Moseley said she and Parys were both going through recovery together while she was a resident assistant at Colby Hall. Parys approached Moseley with the idea to create a public forum to help raise awareness about eating disorders on campus after they both attended the same intensive outpatient treatment center for eating disorders.
Both young women cited a significant pressure for perfection they found prevalent among TCU students as the major factor behind the high number of unreported eating disorders they experienced on campus.
Last month, TCU 360 reported that TCU was above the national average of reported eating disorder cases among universities. With a national average of five percent, the TCU Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center stated that the number of reported eating disorder cases was at 8.78 percent.
However, the statistics do not include those students who choose to remain private about their disorder. For this reason, Moseley and Parys said they decided to present this forum as a blog where viewers could interact and comment anonymously.
"Unless you choose to write your name, we will not know who you are," Moseley said. "We want the message of hope and recovery out there rather than knowing who each individual is."
Beyond Blessed also provides various resources for counseling and health services. Moseley stressed that these were not faceless institutions found in a phone book but came endorsed from the TCU Mental Health Center or were resources personally utilized by Parys and Moseley during their own recovery.
Parys and Moseley covered all bases of social media in order to provide outreach for eating disorder sufferers. The blog has links for a daily encouragement Twitter account and a recovery Pinterest account.
Moseley said she hopes to create a student organization this semester that will serve as an eating disorder outreach group aimed at raising awareness about eating disorders on the TCU campus.
"The hardest part and biggest challenge of doing this is letting individuals know that this is a safe place," Moseley said. "If they choose to come be a part of this organization, this does not mean that anyone is looking at them and accusing them of having an eating disorder. Part of recovery is getting ready to talk about your problem and deciding who you are willing to talk about it with, and that's your own personal decision."
She has already been working toward her goal of making Beyond Blessed a campus organization by speaking with TCU Panhellenic Council members who are directly involved with Eating Disorder Awareness Week scheduled this February. The Panhellenic Council agreed to sponsor life balance strategist and founder of Learn2Balance.com, Lori Hanson, to speak on campus during that time.
An intern of Hanson's, Moseley said that she would like to have Beyond Blessed fully developed as an organization with its website as an official hub for eating disorder awareness by that time, so she can meet with people as they learn more about the topic. She said the Panhellenic community will now be directly involved with Beyond Blessed.
Although both bloggers understand and strongly advocate the need for the option of anonymity in outreach, Moseley stated that both she and Parys have been very public about their struggles because they believe the issue of eating disorders is not addressed on campus. Mosley even published an opinion piece for 360 last fall, shedding more light on her experience with recovering from anorexia nervosa.
"We'll talk about alcoholism. We'll talk about drug issues. We'll talk about sexual harassment, but eating disorders is a topic we don't cover, and I think it's because it strikes so many individuals at their core," Moseley said. "Because at the end of the day it's not about the food, it's about the issues behind the food and why we choose food as the coping mechanism."
Moseley said she hopes to continue with Beyond Blessed after graduation by making it into a non-profit organization that focuses on continuing to raise awareness and provide support and resources for those struggling with eating disorders.
Beyond Blessed can be accessed at: http://www.beyondblessed9.blogspot.com.
Moseley's personal blog is: http://www.leavingperfectionlearninggrace.wordpress.com.
More information on future speaker Lori Hanson can be found at http://www.Learn2Balance.com.