Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Alumna publishes book about her senior year struggles with anorexia

Alumna publishes book about her senior year struggles with anorexia

Yochelson published her first book shortly after graduating AU.

Writing was therapy for College of Arts and Sciences alumna Laura Yochelson after stressful days of balancing college life and anorexia.

Six months after graduating AU in 2012, Laura Yochelson published “Sick: In The Name of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick,” about her battle with an eating disorder during college.

Last November, Yochelson published her second book, “The Hole Clicks: Hearing His Unfeeling Heart,” a novella about Jaynie Black, a sensitive young woman journeying to find herself through stressful relationships and painful life experiences.

Like “Sick,” material for “The Hole Clicks” is based off the author’s own life experiences, Yochelson says.

“I take these problems or challenges and I put it on paper,” Yochelson said. “And then I start to see myself more clearly. It’s how life makes more sense to me.”

“Sick” started as journal entries Yochelson wrote her senior year about her experiences as a college student with an eating disorder.

Whenever the mood would catch her, if a memory from her childhood struck her, or she felt compelled to write about an experience from her day, she would jot it down. She accumulated entries after many months of writing and could feel much more material within her. Yochelson said that is when she knew she would have enough material for a book.

During her struggles as a student, Yochelson did not seek help on campus at the Wellness Center or Counseling Center.

“That first semester I was really ashamed, and I didn’t want people to know that I had this problem, even after struggling four or five years,” she said.

Yochelson became a commuter student in her second semester, which allowed her the flexibility she needed to continue her college career. The college lifestyle, that included things like late nights doing homework and junk food, were not compatible with the healthy lifestyle Yochelson was striving for, she says.

“When I wasn’t living at school, I could live my own life,” Yochelson said. “And school was part of that but I also had my own world off campus. The more I tried to minimize myself and fit into the typical college life, the more it hurt me.”

Though college, Yochelson first opened up about her struggles with anorexia in AU’s Health Promotion program. She wrote a paper about different approaches to eating disorders for one of the required courses.

“When I was doing the presentations, I mentioned that my inspiration for studying these approaches was my own experience,” she said. “It was really hard to say that, but I felt so much lighter. I felt like this weight was lifted off of me, and that I didn’t have to hide anymore or be ashamed.”

Yochelson still does a lot of personal writing, but she is uncertain if another book is in her future.

“I write something, and then to move on I have to throw away what I already wrote,” she said, with a chuckle. “I am still doing a lot of writing, but I am not holding onto it, or accumulating it.”

To prospective writers, Yochelson recommends keeping pen and paper nearby at all times.

“Whenever it comes, do it. Put it on a pad then type it up later,” she said. “You’ll be surprised how much can grow out of that.”

sbermas-dawes@theeagleonline.com


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