I just had a chat with a colleague.
This morning, she'd talked eagerly about a student doing a research project, how smart the student is, how driven, what a perfectionist. I know the student from a class a couple years ago, but I haven't really seen her since; she was a good student then, but has since become stellar. My colleague hinted that it would be cool if I'm around today to get a chance to see some of the results of this student's work. She's interested in going to graduate school, and my colleague's enthusiastic about her prospects. Yes, her work as an undergrad is that cool.
We chatted on, and my colleague said that she'd learned this student had health problem X recently, a serious health problem we don't usually associate with female college students that had involved a visit to the hospital. And, my colleague noted, there have been a lot of difficulties for this student's family in recent times, accidents and tragedies. I remember noting that if she was having health problem X already, as an undergrad, well, grad school didn't get easier stress-wise, right?
Later, as I was thinking, my brain clicked. Click. Click. Something struck me about health problem X, unusual in college students. Except, I recently read or heard about health problem X as a particular problem for young women with a certain eating disorder.
I stopped my colleague in the hall a few minutes ago, before she's supposed to chat with her student, and said vaguely, disconnectedly, "You know, colleague, that health problem X, I haven't seen your student, but you know women with this certain eating disorder sometimes get that health problem. And the really perfectionist thing, and stresses, lack of a sense of control over one's world, also associated with that eating disorder."
My colleague got that sick look.
I'm guessing if the student's weight's an issue, and she has health problem X, then a competent doctor at the hospital would at least think about the eating disorder, right?
Except the doctor wouldn't necessarily see the perfectionist thing, or know about the family stresses, or the other school stresses my colleague's noticed. My colleague, though, is a soul of wisdom and sensitivity, and will talk to the student well if anyone can.