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As most of you know, I had an eating disorder for 4 years (last 2 years of high school and first 2 years of college). The first year I had Bulimia Nervosa. In an attempt to force myself to stop the binge/purge cycle I found myself hopelessly caught in, I began to eat less and less food whenever I was hungry. This slowly led to a fear of "eating too much," which eventually slipped into Anorexia Nervosa. In 2004, at 82 lbs., I entered Monte Nido Treatment Center with an official diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa with Binge/Purge Tendencies. The professional psychologists told me I had the hardest case in existence to treat and that I would need 3-4 months of in-patient treatment and years of out-patient. Because of insurance reasons, I only got 7 weeks of in-patient and 1.5 years of out-patient. When I had to be released early from in-patient treatment (round the clock therapy, 24/7 observation, planned meals and snacks, etc.) my therapist called my mom and told her she "didn't think I was going to make it." *Eating disorders have the highest morbidity rate of any other mental health disorder and I was in bad shape* I believe the therapist was kindly trying to prepare my mother for what they believed to be inevitable. My mother's response was spot on. She said, "You don't know my daughter...and you don't know my God." That was the truth. God had put a fire in me to get better that I cannot explain. But I know this - that God is good and has brought me so far. I struggle every day...even today...but He has proven over and over that I will not die to this and that I will be a testimony of His love, His faithfulness, and His grace.
At the time I entered treatment, I was in the photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University. When he heard about my situation, a friend of mine from the program asked if he could do his final project (a photostory) on me. I said yes. This was his final project and I made a few notes underneath each photo.
*Church a few days before leaving for treatment
I had no idea I was sitting underneath this picture*
*At a women's bible study that took place in my dorms*
*At the same women's bible study*
*Walking into my dorm room. 82 lbs.*
*Praying with a pastor from my church*
*Packing to leave for treatment*
*Holding hands with my mom in prayer at the airport*
*Waving goodbye at the airport*
Random photos - some from treatment, some from right before treatment:
*This was in treatment - the first time they allowed me to exercise*
*A couple weeks into treatment. At "family weekend."
*At school before entering treatment*
Let me just reiterate something here - God is good. By His grace, I am now in my 6th year of recovery. It is a battle, I won't lie. But God has been good and kind to see me through. I have never fully 'relapsed' or needed to re-enter treatment. I have certainly had my hang-ups, bad days, bad months, slip-ups, and sometimes I fall flat on my face. But God is always good to pick me back up. I'll end my little post here with the 'Eater's Agreement' I wrote as I faced an early graduating from treatment:
"I hereby agree, that from this day forward, I will view my life and myself in a more positive light by valuing and respecting God as my Creator and myself as His unique creation. In doing this, I will welcome God to dwell in me in a more honest and relational way.
I acknowledge that I am not perfect in word or deed and to judge myself for this is only hurtful. I acknowledge that to strive for that perfection is futile and detrimental to me as a person.
I acknowledge that my body is a precious gift from God and that proper nourishment is the only way to protect it.
I vow not to let my emotions control how I nourish my body nor let how I nourish my body control my emotions.
I promise to work towards a life centered around love and not food and to participate in life with love and compassion not only for others but also for myself. Because I cannot give what I have not first received, I promise to receive every blessing that I can.
I promise to actively participate in trust and relationship without judgement or giving up.
I promise to let God carry me when I am too tired to walk. And most of all, I promise that I will stumble...that I will fall...but I will always find a way to stand back up."
*This was me at the annual Monte Nido Alumni Reunion. Year 2 of recovery*