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Speaker digs deep about disorder

Activist Troy Roness spoke on the struggles and perseverance of his journey to combat his eating disorder Monday night in Neumiller Hall.

During the event, Roness discussed several personal aspects of his life, including battling both an exercise disorder and eating disorder, family relations, attending a rehabilitation facility and discussing the loss of close friends due to the same struggles he and many others faced.

Roness described how each of these facets adversely affected his battle with his exercise and eating disorders, leading to his description of the hardship as one where “biology loads the gun; the environment pulls the trigger.”

The lifestyle in his hometown of Crosby, North Dakota, became a catalyst to his eating disorder through overwhelming amounts of group perception placed upon him, according to Roness.

“My graduating class was about 30 students,” Roness said. “Because it was such a small community, everyone had to compete in sports. It also meant that everyone gossiped and knew the personal lives of each and every person. These two things, with the addition of my parents getting a divorce when I was 5 years old, led to me being put under a spotlight of tremendous pressure. As I grew older and became introspective, it became clear that I subconsciously felt I was never good enough.”

According to Roness, describing his disorder is confusing and difficult to comprehend sometimes.

“I felt like I didn’t have a problem,” he said. “It’s hard for me to explain that what you see in me is different from what I see in the mirror.”

Enduring a lonely battle for a few years after high school, Roness said his disorder left him “emotionless,” which led to a life changing decision. After a half-hearted recommendation from his mother, Roness wrote to the popular therapy show Dr. Phil.

“I walked into the show without thinking anything different was going to happen, which could have been from my stubborn attitude towards the problem or lack of emotion,” Roness said. “I don’t remember much that went on during the show, mostly due to the condition I was in. I do, however, remember one thing in particular. During the commercial break of the show, Dr. Phil leaned over to me and said, ‘This is the last chance to get your life back.’”

Enraptured by Dr. Phil’s words, Roness signed up for a rehabilitation facility, which he described as the best decision of his life.

Roness discussed the importance of understanding that these disorders do not simply just “go away.” The disorder permanently affected his life, but he said he now knows how to recover.

“It pains me to tell you all that I have had a heart attack before the age of 25 because of my disorder,” Roness said. “I call myself a survivor, but I still struggle. Others are not as lucky as I have been. Three of my close friends from rehab have passed away from similar disorders – they felt their appearance was not good enough. One of them passed away just two weeks ago.”

Roness said his road to recovery was fueled by rediscovering his faith, and he participates in discussions about his experiences because he feels it is an “act of paying his blessings forward.”

If any students have experienced the harmful effects of an eating or body image disorder, they can contact Health Services by dialing (309) 677-2700 or emailing the center at

Students can also contact The Body Project at its email or call the organization at (309) 677-2469. The group’s office is located in Bradley Hall room 369.

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