In the wake of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, CSUN hosted physical therapist Dr. Theresa Larson in a lecture as she shared her battle with the eating disorder bulimia and how she regained control over her life on Wednesday afternoon.
Larson took the mic, standing a little over 6 feet tall. The previous ventures as a marine and semi-pro softball player were just a couple of accomplishments on her resume.
But Larson, like millions of other people, suffered from bulimia. For years, she remained in a constant struggle to fit in and satisfy the expectations of others.
Kevin Soup, sophomore public relations major, says he doesn’t know anyone who suffers from bulimia but he has noticed the drastic change in one of his friend’s eating habits.
“[Soup’s friend] is training for a boxing weight class, but he has lost so much weight that its beginning to look unhealthy. Honestly that mixed with stress could drive anyone to pick up an eating disorder,” said Soup.
Unlike Soup’s friend, Larson was trying to make the weight class in her own household.
After her mother died, Larson was left under the care of her father and competitive brothers. The only female in the household wasn’t catered to, her father bought her clothes at good will and her brothers drilled her about what a ‘real woman’ was suppose to be like.
“I was one of the girls that was a girl scout but I always wanted to be a boy scout,” Larson said. “Boy scouts get to do cool things, they get to go camping. They don’t have to sell cookies.”
Larson’s battle with trying to be apart of the big picture eventually resulted in bulimia in College. What started as an issue inside her household, followed her through college until she conquered it in the Marine Corps.
Larson claimed that social awkwardness made it hard to find friends and an identity until people began to recognize her athletic ability. It was her claim to fame, something that everyone would like her for.
“I wanted to be as fit as possible, as competitive as possible and nothing was going to get in the way of that, not even boys,” Larson said.
Larson went straight into the Marines after she graduated from Villanova University, following the footsteps of her two older brothers. It was overseas that her illness’ strengths took complete control over her weaknesses causing physical and psychological disorder.
Under much scrutiny, Larson was able to pull away from the service and get substantial help.
That help also involved being able to every individual has a different path in life and it will never be perfect.
“One thing I learned is being okay with letting go of the control of having a perfect balance,” Larson said. ” At the end of the day, its all a juggling act and I’m okay with letting things go.”
Larson returned to school at age 29 to get a degree in physical therapy and now works with injured vets and those suffering from low self- esteem.
Warrior, a book on Larson’s life, comes out early next year and it will go into detail how much society and the social norms played a role with becoming a bulimic.
“Somebody who gets up every time they are knocked down, that is a warrior,” said Elizabeth Snow, a sophomore journalism major. “I didn’t realize what that word meant to me before I came here.”