Campus Warrior Stories

Danae Mercer

After her mom died, Danae Mercer became incredibly ill with an eating disorder. Her campus helped save her life. Today Danae speaks with over 2.3m women daily about self love. Here’s her story.

I started dieting in my teens — right around the time my mom started coughing up blood. Then when she passed away, food became an obsession. 

At university, I started counting calories, restricting, and doing all those awful things that eating disorders convince us are normal. 

For a long time, I didn’t know I was ill. I knew I was behaving strangely with food, but figured I had everything under control. My grades were high and I was involved on campus. 

I was fine, I kept telling myself. Then suddenly, somehow, I was not. Things went downhill during Christmas break my junior year. I restricted heavily and lost a lot of weight very quickly. All the family stuff that was bubbling in the background had escalated, not to mention the stress of school, research, work, and other things. I didn’t understand this at the time, but I was using food to cope. When staff came back to campus in January, they saw how physically ill I looked, and they acted quickly. Two Creighton faculty sat me down and explained I needed help. 'We’ll be here to guide you through it,’ they promised. ‘But we need to start today.’ They booked me appointments with a nutritionist, a doctor/nurse, and a therapist — all provided by the campus and entirely free. 

They saved my life. 

It took a long time to heal and many, many meetings with all three professionals — but I’m so thankful we started. Today I feel healthier in my body and heart than ever before. I’ve learned how to cope with my emotions without relying on food. And none of it would have been possible without Creighton University. I strongly believe in the power of campuses to help. It’s why I started talking about my eating disorder on my platforms. And it’s why I’m so passionate about NEDA’s Campus Warriors program.

Students might struggle, but they don’t have to navigate the fight alone; they deserve to know a whole community is right there beside them.