SHARE YOUR STORY SERIES: LIVING ABROAD, PERFECTIONISM & COPING WITH LIFE OUTSIDE OF SPORT
My name is Quintin bullen & this is my story
Former D1 Lacrosse Player | University of Denver
Trigger warning: Topics of eating disorders discussed in this article.
In 2021 I graduated from The University of Denver. Today in 2023, I finally feel ready to share my story on orthorexia and anorexia as a Division 1 women's lacrosse player. I am now living a life of recovery from my eating disorder and am working hard to improve my relationship with myself, my body and my relationship with food and fitness.
My story begins when COVID hit and we were sent home in 2020. I have always been an extremely high achiever and someone who has a major fear of letting people down. Those attributes are what led me to college athletics and also became a crux in my life during the pandemic and my senior year. I thrived from freshman year until the pandemic shutdown in 2020. Being an international student athlete during the pandemic added challenges like border closures which resulted in not being able to see family or travel home during holidays etc.
At the beginning of the pandemic, our season was cancelled and I went home to Canada, the lockdown precautions set in Canada were vastly different than in the US and I felt like I lost control of my training so, I decided to focus on nutrition as that was one thing I did have control over. Once we were heading back to the US for school, my brother fell ill with cancer. I truly felt like my life was unraveling and I used fitness and food control as my coping mechanism. I hid my undiagnosed eating disorder from everyone. I felt weak, exhausted, self conscious and most importantly that I knew I was under performing to my teammates and coaches expectations. I was experiencing depression and extreme anxiety for the first time in my life. It’s an odd feeling because my actions started as a way to control certain aspects of my life and quickly it turned into an eating disorder and cyclical struggle that I totally lost control of.
Mid way through my senior year I began seeing a sports psychologist and spoke to my coaches about how I was feeling. I had to put aside my pride that I wasn’t at the level of play I’m used to expecting of myself and I wasn’t in a position to be training. I needed to focus on my overall health before I could worry about getting back on the field. So, I began eating disorder recovery with a therapist in April of 2021 and have been learning and growing through that journey since. Even though I didn’t get to end my college career the way I would have wanted to, I am grateful to be recovered today and to have so many positive takeaways from my college experience and from my lacrosse career.
I was lucky to have a great support system throughout my eating disorder recovery, as I know that not everyone who has struggled with an eating disorder has had the same kind of support throughout athletics. Even though I felt like I was hiding myself from them, the people who know and care about you the most can tell when you’re not yourself. For their patience with my journey, I feel extremely grateful. Major shoutout to my coach who had my best interest at heart, as a human, not just an athlete and for always making me feel safe enough to speak to her about my struggles.
I hope my story inspires someone who is struggling to know that recovery is possible and that your sport does not define your worth and neither does the size of your body. I hope that anyone who reads this know that hard times can get better and you will learn so much about your inner strength through vulnerability and allowing others to support you in hard times.