‘Mentally, I’m good. I’m healthy’

One year after telling her mother she had an eating disorder, Patti Cuthbert has come a long way

Patti Cuthbert said she received supportive e-mails from readers after telling her story in a Journal article in October.
Patti Cuthbert said she received supportive e-mails from readers after telling her story in a Journal article in October.

Patti Cuthbert observed an unusual anniversary this week: Tuesday, March 27 marked one year after she called her mother, in tears, to tell her she had an eating disorder.

One year later, Cuthbert said she has come a long way.

“Academically, I’m good. Mentally, I’m good,” she said.

“I’m healthy. It’s kind of like a reflective [time] to look back on everything that’s happened in one year.” Cuthbert, ArtSci ’09, said she feels like she’s changed into a completely different person, from the way she interacts with others to her day-to-day life.

“I don’t regret any of the experience I had with that, because it’s made me the person I am today,” she said. “It does take a lot of will and strength to get yourself out of it when nobody really knows there’s anything wrong.” Last November, the Journal published an article about Cuthbert’s struggle with anorexia nervosa. Cuthbert said she received a powerful response from readers.

“It was really amazing, actually. I got a lot of e-mail responses from people I don’t even know who said, you know, ‘Thank you so much for coming forward, you’ve changed my life’ and all this other stuff. … “For me, that was really powerful—I didn’t think I could ever do anything. I thought of it more as a process for me. But obviously, if I could help anybody, then it made it all worth it, I guess.” Cuthbert said she received some e-mails from individuals saying the article helped them realize that they had a problem.

“You know, I didn’t think I had a problem for the longest time. It was just something I did and then all of a sudden it was like this realization that, ‘Oh my God, I am really sick,’ and I think a lot of people, when they’re going through and at certain stages, that’s how they feel.” Cuthbert said a lot of her friends from residence last year were shocked by the Journal article.

“They were generally concerned and wished that they could have noticed or done something, but … if I had wanted everybody to know, I wouldn’t have been so secretive about it.” Cuthbert said that after the article came out last semester, she began working with No One Fights Alone—a peer support network group on campus.

“They e-mailed me and said they wanted me to help them out, so I started helping them with a couple of fundraising type things and I went to a couple of seminars,” she said.

However, the pace of the group was too vigorous for her, Cuthbert said, and she couldn’t balance school and extra-curricular activities.

She also got involved with the Mental Health Awareness Committee (MHAC).

“About three or four weeks ago, MHAC contacted me to do a speech at the Common Ground on eating disorders,” she said.

“That went really well. It was kind of emotional, and it was very, very difficult for me, but overall it went very well.” Although she can’t commit large amounts of time to volunteering because she gets overwhelmed with school work, Cuthbert said she would be open to doing more talks or helping out in other ways.

“If I can work with MHAC further to maybe do some public talks around campus or Kingston and high schools, yeah, I’d be more than willing to do that.”

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