Advisor: Jane McCafferty
Major: Creative Writing; Technical Writing
Giving Myself Grace
Eating disorders are the most fatal mental illnesses. We all know by now that there’s a stigma around mental illness. But most people don’t — maybe even can’t — understand how isolating and incomprehensible it is to fight against your own brain. Media representation is the best way to solve these types of information gaps: by educating an audience about less-told narratives. Media sparks conversation, moves communities, and allows one a rare immersion into an emotional, not just theoretical, experience. And for people who live in these narratives, responsible representation provides them with a sense of belonging, a safe haven from stereotypes.
My thesis is a lyrical memoir. In this project, I will tackle the complex topic of an eating disorder with nuance and attention. I will explore the realities of fighting a mental illness — how much strength it requires, how much will, courage, and grace.
This is a journey that has garnered vastly rich and unparalleled experiences. I’ve seen cruelty and apathy and deep suffering, but more often I’ve seen inconceivable kindness from strangers, professionals, and loved ones alike. I will document the stories I have heard, what I have learned about the function of diet culture in society, and the uniquely human challenges I’ve faced.
Ashni Mathuria is a double major in Creative Writing and Technical Writing with a minor in Philosophy. Outside of coursework, she plays on the CMU Women’s Club Volleyball team, drums for CMU Bhangra, and is the Coeditor-In-Chief of the Oakland Review, CMU’s literary magazine. Ashni also works at Communication and Language Support (CMU’s writing center) and at a college applications consulting business she founded called Emerging Minds College Counseling (EMC^2). Ashni also loves to foster cats. Her love for everything she does has been her lifeline through psychiatric and medical hospitalizations, eating disorder treatment, insurance battles, and all of the other challenges that this illness has thrown her way. As a nonfiction writer and poet, she uses her experiences to help others and to express gratitude for the people who have helped her in her journey.