Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Humans of Oxford: Gaby Fleming: Making her own way a semester late

For Gaby Fleming, move-in day came a bit later than the rest of the incoming freshmen.

In fact, the big day came a whole semester late.

She committed to Miami University during her senior year of high school and made plans to room with her friend since kindergarten.

But come summer, Gaby's plans changed. She would not be spending her fall semester in Oxford.

Instead, she spent what would have been her first semester of college receiving treatment for anorexia.

It began with a partial hospitalization program in which she spent six hours each day, five days a week receiving intense eating disorder treatment.

She continued her treatment at The Renfrew Center, a residential treatment facility in Florida. It involved eating meals under staff supervision, group therapy, cooking classes and yoga.

She spent her 19th birthday there.

She graduated from the center on Jan. 5, 2017, after about five months of treatment.

She came to Oxford after winter break along with all of the returning students.

While everyone was settling back into their dorms, she and her new roommate were arranging the furniture.

While everyone was reuniting with their friends after five long weeks, she was just learning the names of the people in her corridor.

During the first few weeks, Gaby struggled to find friends in people who had already found theirs.

"I'm still in the 'forming friends' phase when everyone else has formed friends and now it's the 'get to know you better' phase," Gaby said.

She has to find her own eating schedule, and make sure she doesn't get "too busy" to eat.

She has to meet regularly with a therapist and a dietician to keep her mental health and diet on track.

She wanted to find an eating disorder support group on campus. When she couldn't find what she was looking for, Gaby decided to form her own group: MADE (Miami Against Disordered Eating).

The new organization aims to provide a community similar to the one Gaby had while in treatment: a group of people all going through the same thing.

"[MADE is] a support group for people who have eating disorders so they can have a community here in college where it's especially important because there are so many stressors," she said.

Even after two months into the semester, every day poses new challenges -- whether that's finding someone to eat lunch with or setting aside time to eat lunch at all.

But Gaby has begun to find her stride and her place. Oxford has finally started to feel like home.