North Hennepin Professor Releases Book on Overcoming Eating Disorder
For 12 years, Lisa Whalen has taught English at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park.
“I love seeing those light bulb moments, when you can see students really grasp something and they get it for the first time,” Whalen said.
Although these days, with classrooms virtually empty, Whalen has to witness those light bulb moments online.
But there’s something else she’d like to teach students beyond creative writing and composition.
“College students, especially female college students, are the most at-risk for any kind of eating disorder,” Whalen said. “And eating disorders are one of the highest vitality in terms of a lot of mental health issues, and they tend to last over a long period of time.”
She can say that because she speaks from experience.
“It wasn’t anorexia, it wasn’t bulimia, it was more just, I would starve myself for long periods of time,” Whalen said. “But then I would need to perform in the classroom or something, and I would get so worn down and tired. But then I would eat too much and I would get compulsive about exercise and exercise too much.”
Whalen details the entire ordeal in a new book titled “Stable Weight: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses and Hope.”
“And I thought, well, if I can put this out into the world, maybe I can help a few people, especially students, avoid what I went through,” she said.
Healing through horses
“Stable Weight” details how 10 horses in River Falls, Wisconsin helped Whalen overcome an eating disorder and depression as she worked to become a college professor.
“[Horses] really just teach through interaction and relationship,” she said. “They have to trust you in order to want to partner with you, and so a lot of what they taught me was about partnership. And with recovery, you’re really learning how to be a partner with yourself too.”
It’s a message that she hopes will resonate with others facing similar struggles who are looking to discover their voices and become leaders in their own lives.
“Learn how to live in the moment, trust yourself, advocate for yourself, and also just learn about how to build relationships and communicate with other beings,” she said.
“Stable Weight” is available on Amazon and on the website of the book’s publisher, Hopewell Publications.