Running Without ED’s Recovery Warriors!
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*DISCLAIMER: THESE STORIES MAY BE TRIGGERING. However, we have removed any numbers or calories from these stories as to make these stories beneficial rather than harmful. Any and ALL people who have an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, etc of any kind ALL suffer equally! Even if you do not use symptoms as often or less than these stories, it DOES NOT mean you aren’t sick. Please get help, recovery is possible!
Eating Disorder Stories
|Dr. Nina’s Story + Recovery Tips!
An Anonymous Story
Self Harm Stories
Drug Addiction Stories
Growing up, I was always smiling. I had the happiest childhood anyone could ever ask for. I had so many dreams and wishes that I hoped would come true in the years to come. Once I got to high school, however, everything changed. I developed my eating disorder. All my dreams were gone. The only hopes I had were ones that encouraged my eating disorder; getting to this weight, fitting in these jeans, etc. I starved, I binged, I purged. I was diagnosed with both anorexia and bulimia. I was miserable and lonely. My eating disorder was the only thing that really kept me much company. After being admitted inpatient four times within two years, I realized I was watching my life pass by so sadly through the shell I buried myself in. It seem as though my peers were able to enjoy their life without the burden of an eating disorder. So why couldn’t I? I asked myself that so frequently but I was never quite able to find an answer. After a little over two years, I figured out there really wasn’t answer. I COULD. And I needed to devote myself to recovery to achieve this life, a life without an eating disorder. After intense therapy and support, I made significant milestones in my recovery. I started making friends and going out much more and by no means do I feel as though this was a coincidence. I let go of my eating disorder and welcomed in a new life with of friendships, motivations and new dreams. Going to restaurants is actually enjoyable. Calorie labels, which once stood out to be like fireworks against a dark night sky just camouflaged to whatever it was posted on. I am now pursuing a nursing degree and am no longer consumed with eating disorder symptoms. Recovery is possible. I am walking proof.
Taken from: https://www.facebook.com/jazzmins.journey
“At the age of 19, Jazzmin had a heroin overdose October 22nd, 2012, two days after she buried her father. She is now a C5-C7 quadriplegic complete. We are believing in a miracle. Jazzmin believes this happened to her because she is the only person she knows who could stay positive and help others. Straight from Jazzmin’s mouth: satan tried to destroy me/our family and Jesus stepped in and Blessed us immensely. Jazzmin’s plans are to be a public speaker, she has several engagements already. We are excited about her journey. From a trouble teen who had been arrested 23 times to a Young Lady, Christian Motivational Speaker”
Exclusively From Jazzmin:
In a nutshell i overdosed on heroin, I snorted it, my mom walked into a mothers worst nightmare, her baby dead, literally I was dead, she immediately called 911, did CPR, everything she knew to do. It was a recorded 33 min without a heartbeat. At the hospital they said I was going to make a full recovery but then they called her at 3am and told her I was paralyzed. I had a spinal stroke. They said I was going to be ventilator depended. I got off the vent, but then they said I was always going to have the tracheotomy and need oxygen. But God had a different plan. I was at a rehabilitation hospital, and it was two days before my release when I asked if I would ever walk again and that’s when I was hit with the brutal, scientific truth, you’re not. I feel into depression, i felt bad for myself, poor me. Then I asked God to comfort me, which he did, he revealed to me I will walk again. So now I’m sharing my story to help others and it makes me happy to see them happy and realize miracles do happen.
Dr. Nina’s Story + Recovery Tips
An earlier version of this article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com. Recovery Tips at the end was written exclusively for Running Without Ed.
“If my legs were thinner, I’d be perfect.”
Certain that skinnier legs would somehow make me a better person, I prayed for transformation with the same fervor that my friends wished for new Barbie dolls.
I was five years old.
A Battle with the Scale
This got worse as I grew older. Throughout adolescence and into college, my last thought at night was, “What did I eat today?” I fell asleep counting calories and fat grams. I calculated every bite and sip, wondering if I’d lose weight by the next morning or gain it. The scale was my most welcome friend and my biggest enemy.
If that scale registered an added pound, my day was ruined. A lost pound made me feel euphoric. When I hiked with friends, I focused on how many calories I was burning instead of how much fun I was having. I alternated severe restriction and deprivation with bingeing.
I was thin, but in a constant state of anxiety. Eventually I began therapy. I shared my boyfriend issues, my goals and dreams and fears. I was open with my therapist about every aspect of my life – except one.
I never told her what was going on with food.
In truth, I did not want to give up my relationship to food. Starving gave me a sense of strength and superiority. I felt secretly better than other people because I had the will to deny myself.
Eventually my willpower failed and I binged, then used laxatives, or vomited to get rid of the food I had consumed. My struggle was too shameful to admit to anyone, including my therapist, so I waged my war with food in private.
Several months into therapy I noticed some changes. Restricting food no longer made me feel superior. It made me feel deprived.
I started to feel hungry – for food, for love, for life.
I became aware of feelings that I had denied. I learned to process those emotions, rather than deny them. I began using words to comfort myself, and talking to myself in a supportive way, instead of criticizing myself. By the time I left therapy, I no longer engaged in any eating disorder behavior. Not once did I reveal to my therapist what was going on with food.
How was this possible?
My eating disorder was a symptom of the actual problem, my mean relationship with myself. In therapy, I learned to cope with difficult situations, instead of using food to distract from them. I learned to soothe myself with words instead of using ice cream or cookies.
Today, I am a psychoanalyst in the Los Angeles area, specializing in disordered eating. I started my blog Make Peace With Food and podcast Win The Diet War to bring information and inspiration to as many people as possible. I know from experience what it’s like to struggle with disordered eating but I also know that complete recovery is possible.
There is always hope.
Tips For Recovery
If whatever is going on with food is a symptom of the problem, how do you identify what’s really going on? For one thing, it’s important to recognize the symbolism of disordered eating. This can involve a number of emotions and conflicts, but a good place to start is to ask yourself:
How are you deprived in life? What is most painful to you right now?
Your relationship to food can be an expression of what is missing in your life. Many expressions utilize food metaphors to describe a feeling of yearning: Hungry for love. Starving for attention.
• Loneliness can register as emptiness, and food symbolically fills the void.
• If you feel sad and in need of comfort, you may turn to food to provide a feeling of comfort.
• If you’re in an unsatisfying relationship, you might turn to food to satisfy your unmet needs. Alternately, you might restrict food to express the deprivation.
• If you’re in a situation you can’t control, you may focus on your powerlessness over food instead of feeling powerless in the situation. Or you might restrict food to give yourself a sense of control.
Physical pain can express underlying emotional pain. Sometimes the way we talk about our bodies can reveal a lot about our emotional conflicts. When your emotional pain is too much to bear, those feelings can be converted into physical sensations.
• “I ate so much that my stomach hurt.” (I’m in a lot of emotional pain)
• “Just thinking about dating gives me a headache.” (Thoughts of dating make me feel scared, upset, and vulnerable)
• “I like purging. I like the feeling of being empty.” (I don’t want any messy feelings)
• “Being hungry feels clean.” (I don’t want to need or want anything or anyone)
Recognizing the symbolism of disordered eating can help you identify the underlying issues that drive the behavior. When you do that, and learn new ways of relating to yourself, you can make peace with food and feel good about yourself.
Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. is a psychoanalyst specializing in eating disorders. Dr. Nina writes an award-winning blog called Make Peace With Food and hosts a popular podcast, Win The Diet War, available on iTunes and on its official website.
Imagine a world full of darkness. Imagine a world full of pain. Imagine a struggle so powerful that it takes over one’s life. This world is a life bound by the chains of an eating disorder.
Anorexia is a life-threatening disease, and one that I struggled with for many years. It was a hell on earth kind of existence. Well, actually, it wasn’t even an existence at all! I functioned daily in a zombie-like state, only caring about how much I ate, how much I weighed, and how I could get out of eating my next meal. Every thought and movement I made in my life was encompassed by anorexia. It had become my world, and one that almost took my life. I had fallen so far down that my family, my doctors and everyone else around me started believing that I would lose the fight.
What saved my life was my love and lifelong passion for horses. I’ve always felt an extraordinary and safe connection to them. They never expected anything from me, my love and kindness was always enough. I felt that they understood me when no one else did. I would look into their eyes and feel that I was alright… simply loved for who I was. They never judged that I was starving myself to death, that my life was slowly slipping away from me.
Feeling their strength, love and warmth became the foundation for
The unconditional acceptance of equines provides what most people with eating disorders long for. If you are kind, loving and respectful to the horse, they give the same in return. Horses don’t judge you based on physical attributes like size and weight, socioeconomic status or any other esoteric trait. This unconditional acceptance is a very powerful piece in the recovery process that was life-giving for me.
Horses are master teachers of unconditional love and acceptance. They’re very sensitive, intuitive animals, and thus they mirror the motions we display with our body language. This can be a very helpful tool for people with eating disorders, making them aware of the energy they’re putting out and how they’re thus perceived by others.
My journey into recovery was a slow one. I’d spent years identifying myself as anorexic but now needed to re-identify as an intelligent, capable, kind and loving woman. It took time to discover “who” I really was, rather than who I thought I was. My negative self-image was false, self-imposed. I discovered that it was actually not what others saw in me at all!
Because of the monumental affect horses have had on my recovery, I believe that there is a purpose for me, that I do deserve love, happiness and a new life. I just know that if I hadn’t had that horse connection, I probably would not be here today.
I now want to share the same opportunity that I was given – the chance to bond with a horse. That is why I’ve created Raise Your Wings, Inc, to create that experience for others in need.
Raise Your Wings is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. There’s no charge for our services; the only requirement is that participants must be under the care of a licensed professional (therapist, physician, etc.). We’re located at Lakewood Equestrian Center in Los Angeles County’s Lakewood.
We welcome volunteers who believe in our mission and we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website: http://www.raiseyourwings.org. (Our 501(c)3 status is currently pending.)
Hi my name is Tania, I am 37 years old, a mother of 3 beautiful girls, a Wife, an artist. I have also struggled with an eating disorder (diagnosed Anorexia) for over 20 years, but have only sought proper treatment and stuck at it in the last 12 to 18 months. I have been an inpatient at an eating disorder clinic in Melbourne for 2 1/2 weeks and have narrowly kept myself out so far. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to seek proper treatment. I didn’t want to be judged or felt sorry for. Looking back, my biggest regret is not seeking proper treatment sooner; I never thought I would be my age and still struggling. I thought I could handle it on my own. Oh how wrong I was. I couldn’t have been more further from the truth if I tried. No matter how scared, embarrassed or ashamed you feel, the earlier you get treatment the better.
This is not a glamour story of a journey to be thin and beautiful. It is a horror story of eating disorders that have plagued me most of my life. It is a journey through hell, but one I would like to tell to hope raise the understanding of what it is like to live with. A story to explain the bizarre and dangerous things I have done to my body in an effort to seek purity and perfection in my eyes. I am not proud of my behaviors nor would I suggest it for anyone else. My efforts have not been a total desire to be thin and beautiful, but more a desire to be loved and to feel like I was successful in something; an effort to numb painful feelings and an effort to find purity and perfection, something I thought would make me a better person. Little did I realize, these behaviors are a short cut to an early death. Even when I did learn this, it still wasn’t enough to make me stop. By the time I came to this realization it was too late, I no longer had control over what I was doing, yet by stopping I felt like I would lose control. I saw firsthand how Ed can destroy life. While I was in inpatient I met an amazing sweet girl, who like me had been plagued with Ed most of her life (although she was younger than me). A week after she was discharged she died of a heart attack in her sleep, the damage to her body had finally taken its toll. I always thought this won’t happen to me or anyone I know, but how totally wrong I was. Denial is a major part of ED’s. It is so much easier if you deny what you are doing. I always thought I am different, my body works different from everyone else’s. The truth is, my body works just like everyone else’s and needs adequate nutrition to function, just like all of you. Ed’s do affect how your body works and they do damage. The longer the behaviors go on the worse the damage.
Weight is not the only thing you lose with an eating disorder. I have heard a lot of girls say, “I want to be anorexic so I can lose weight”. For starters you don’t choose to be anorexic, it is an illness. Secondly being anorexic or having any eating disorder causes you to also lose your sense of self, friends, a social life, sometimes family, your health and also the ability to be able to trust yourself and your own judgments. No longer can you see yourself in the mirror as everyone else does, your perceptions are distorted. You lose the ability to be able to think clearly, concentrate, and make informed decisions and the ability to be able to regulate your own body temperature. Your skin becomes dry, your nails and hair become dry and brittle, and if you are lucky your hair may even start to fall out. Your muscles waste away, including your heart as this is one of your body’s major muscles. You get aches and pains. You can’t sleep properly, yet you are always tired. You lie to those around you so as you can hide your behaviors. You often feel dizzy and faint, sometimes you might even faint. You can no longer go out with your friends as they may try and make you eat. You have to wear baggy clothes so no one notices your weight loss, but before long they will notice anyway. You don’t have time or energy for anything other than thinking about weight, your shape, how you are going to avoid your next meal, how much you have to exercise and if you decide to eat, what that will be. Sometimes it can take you all day just to work out what to eat. You count calories and sometimes it is just easier to eat exactly the same thing every day, so you don’t have to think. You cut out major food groups and have lists of foods never to be eaten, and on the off chance you decide to or are forced to eat something off the forbidden list, you will agonize over how to compensate for it. You have an abusive voice in your head. I like to think of it like the evil and incredible nasty version of drop dead Fred. So as you can tell eating disorders is not glamorous, fun or a way just to lose weight. They are hell, and destructive and take everything possible from
**side note from Julie: As I was reading Tania’s story I was thinking to myself that throughout my eating disorder I felt like I deserved and I wanted all the bad things that an eating disorder causes. At times I wasn’t afraid to die, in fact, my depression made me feel like I wanted to die at times. I didn’t care about the medical and psychological effects; I wanted to suffer from them because I deserved to be punished. This is not normal…you MUST receive professional help to overcome this depression and eating disorder. You deserve help, and a life without ED and depression!
I don’t remember exactly when it started — when I first learned to starve myself. I know it coincided with a very difficult time in my life, and as a fully recovered adult I look back at that confused, frightened child and I weep.
When I was 14 years old, my mother finally began an excruciating, drawn-out divorce from her abusive husband. We went from having everything to being destitute, and if it weren’t for the help of my grandparents and other close family, I’m not sure we would have made it. Around that time, my depression came to a head and I began to self-harm. A year later, I was sexually assaulted and the one person I told about it didn’t believe me; I had a “reputation” after all, and probably “wanted it.”
My life was spiraling out of control. I desperately craved the autonomy over my body that I felt I had lost. It was slow at first; skipping breakfast, spending hours at the gym, giving up carbs, making excuse after excuse. I reveled at my diminishing body in the mirror, at the bones peeking through my graying skin, in the sense of control I had regained.
“I’m still being healthy,” I protested to myself. “I’ll lose enough weight and then I’ll stop. Then I’ll be happy.” How wrong, how foolish.
When I went off to college I was thrilled — not to be at a prestigious school, not to make new friends, not to learn. I was thrilled because I could be alone, without anyone monitoring what I was and wasn’t eating. My first semester of college my weight dropped to its all-time-low. My hair was brittle, my nails wouldn’t grow, and I fainted constantly — but I was thin. It got to the point where I often couldn’t even get out of bed to go to class. My grades suffered, and so did my body.
Just as I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started, I can’t recall when things began to turn around for me. I remember sitting alone in my dorm room, catching a glimpse of my body wasting away in the mirror. I thought of all the people I loved and that loved me; I thought of the things in life that hadn’t happened to me yet. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to be miserable anymore. I didn’t want my only source of happiness to be a number on the scale.
I threw away my food journals and my three scales. I unsubscribed from harmful websites and deleted triggering files and photos on my computer. I started spending time in the sunshine, drinking coffee with whole milk and real sugar, and opening up to the friends that cared about me.
It was hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. But I did it — I gained the weight back and I learned to love myself again. I learned to look in the mirror and love what I saw there. I learned that this body is mine.
I want other women to know that recovery is possible, and that the bad things that happen to you don’t define you unless you allow it. I want the women who share my story to know that they have the strength, all the strength in the world, to overcome the things that haunt them.
Recovery is possible. Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, my heart and my strength is with you. You don’t have to do it alone.
Hi! My name is Alyssa; I am a friendly, caring 19 year-old that has been suffering with an eating disorder since I was in middle school. I was always a slightly chubby child and I never thought of myself as beautiful. In fact, I rarely ever heard that I was. My mother criticized me since before I can remember. Either my hair wasn’t right, or my make-up looked bad, or my weight wasn’t right. In fact, I remember clearly getting on the scale when I was about 10 and weighing x lbs. My mom looked at me and said “Alyssa, I weighed x lbs when I got married..” My life was changed forever after that statement. From that point on, I never felt that I was thin enough. My mom put my on weight watchers when I was in 6th grade so that I could lose weight and in my eyes, be prettier. I began to experiment in middle school with different types of ways to lose weight. I tried starving myself, but being a figure skater and ballet dancer I needed some type of food to give me energy. I actually became incredibly light headed during a dance class and thought I was going to pass out. That’s when I started turning to my bulimia. By the time I was in high school it had gotten really bad. I got very depressed. I remember crying when I stopped getting my period for 2 months and I knew I needed to get help. I went to the school counselor and told her what was happening. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I knew that I would have to stop purging and ultimately “divorce” Ed. I was rushed to the doctor where I was evaluated to make sure I was healthy and okay. Unfortunately, no one really understood what was happening and medications only go so far. I struggled multiple times from my junior year of high school until my sophomore year of college. I would go months without purging and then I would months with purging. It got so bad in college where I would purposely go to a downstairs bathroom so that none of my roommates would know. I would exercise and restrict like crazy. I can only attribute to what happened next to God knowing that I needed a support system. I had known Steve all during my freshman year and he messaged me on Facebook and reconnected with me. I still do not even know how it happened or what influenced him to talk to me, but it was exactly what I needed. I told him about my bulimia and my eating disorder. Now Steve is my wonderful and amazing boyfriend and I truly do attribute me being in recovery because of all the support he gives me. I am now 7 months (and counting!) without Ed- YAY! It is still a struggle every day, but I have the most amazing supportive boyfriend and wonderful friends and family that help me. Life without Ed…is amazing!
“In fifth grade, my life changed forever. I transformed from a happy, easy-going child to a miserable young woman. I was bullied, taken advantage of, and lonely. Although I didn’t recognize it until 8th grade, my eating disorder developed. I became anorexic. The next few years were absolute hell—I tried purging, went on extreme diets, passed out multiple times and rushed to the ER, over-exercised, and isolated myself from my friends. I counted every calorie I ate and how many I burned through exercise. My caloric intake went from a healthy number to a very low number. I wanted to starve myself to death because I despised myself and thought the world would be better without me. I was emaciated, my hair started to fall out, I had dark circles under my eyes, I was always exhausted and depressed, and I looked like I was dying. I was dying. My parents were in denial at first and my friends didn’t tell anybody. If I had gotten help sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to that point. On July 9, 2010 I was finally admitted to Renfrew’s inpatient program in Philadelphia. I faked my way through treatment and was discharged after 3 weeks. I drank Gatorade, ate my meals, got weighed every morning at 6 AM, and did the work in therapy. I relapsed as soon as I got out and spent the rest of the year in and out of treatment programs. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t going anywhere with my life—I missed half of my first year of high school, and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my teenage years in and out of hospitals. I haven’t been in any kind treatment facility other than individual therapy since freshman year, and although I still struggle a lot from time to time, I am doing pretty well.
My name is Tara. Not “Ana.” Not “Ed.” I am a seventeen year-old girl, who loves to dance, sing, go shopping, play piano, model, babysit, and hang out with friends. I am not my eating disorder. I am not recovered, but I am trying my best to live a happy, healthy lifestyle. I am taking the first steps. I started a club at my school that promotes healthy body image and self-acceptance, and I speak openly about my story. I hope that one day, I can help other people struggling with eating disorders to get their lives back too.”
I’ve struggled with body image and my relationship with food almost as far back as I can remember. While my weight has technically always been considered to be within the average range, it has never been good enough for me. I have a family which is very concerned with image but especially weight. I have also always been a perfectionist and have never found myself to be good enough. I remember I stopped eating breakfast and lunch in third grade because I thought I was too fat. I skipped meals throughout elementary and middle school without anyone noticing.
In middle school I was forced onto the track team to help control my weight. Since running was something I was originally forced into doing, I hated it. It was a chore, and something I found difficult to do since I was constantly lacking proper fuel and nutrients in my body. Throughout middle school and high school I truly hated running. I was constantly too fat, too slow, and no good. Instead of using my team mates for motivation or inspiration, I compared my body to theirs. I came to the same conclusion every time; that my body was too fat and not good enough.
During my years of running in high school, I turned to my bulimia. Obviously my eating disorders continued to effect my running. My cross country team mates viewed me as somewhat of a klutz. I did things like run into garbage cans or almost getting ran over by cars. They thought I was careless, the truth is I lacked the calories to be aware of my surroundings. I was constantly dizzy, hungry, and not good enough. In addition to struggling with my ED’s I was suicidal. I couldn’t handle being the fat and worthless person I was. I hated myself for my ED’s yet couldn’t get rid of them. I was in a vicious self defeating cycle.
Throughout college I struggled with my weight and my attitudes on food on a daily basis. Despite the emotional difficulties I endured, I only had a few relapses with my ED’s. This is when I started running again. This time it was different, this time I ran for me.
Running became something I wanted to do rather than something I had to do. The more I ran, the more I found myself thinking of food as fuel rather than evil. A few years ago, I ran my first half marathon. I cried at the finish line. I gained so much respect for what my wonderful body can actually do when I nourish it. I love myself when I run. I even love the way I look when I run. I see a new person when I look in the mirror after I run. She’s tough, a fighter, determined, tired, sweaty, inspiring, and even beautiful. I become a woman who can achieve the impossible.
…Speaking of impossible, I ran my first marathon last year. I loved my body through every step of my training, but especially during the grueling 26.2 mile race. I was only able to run a marathon because I properly ran and ate my way through training. I also cried when I finished this race. I’ve never been so proud of myself. The girl who has put herself through hell, who told herself she was absolutely worthless, unworthy of life or love, who convinced herself that she was fat, disgusting, and grotesque ran a 26.2 mile race in 4 hours, 4 minutes, and 26 seconds.
I truly feel like I have already beat the odds by making it to the age of 25 alive and intact. I’m so proud of myself for still standing and still fighting. Everyday I still battle with myself. Everyday I still try to talk myself out of eating. Everyday I still have to fight against me to make sure I take care of myself. Sure I sometimes look in the mirror and burst into tears at the sight. But while I’m crying I don’t find my old friend ED (even though the temptation can get beyond difficult). I can now remind myself of all my successes in things like: consecutive days without a weigh in, meals I’ve eaten, miles I’ve ran, or paces I’ve ran. Then I’m able to remind myself I’ll be okay. Every single day of my life I’m in recovery, but the days I run I’m absolutely thriving.
An Anonymous Story
As a child, I was an active, bubbly little character. I would engage in activities with family and friends, in school and after school activities, as much as any other little kid would. However something changed when I was around 11- I was confused and unready to deal with all of the shifts in my relationships, and so I became obsessed- although I didn’t know it at the time- with becoming independent and having my own identity. Because I had yet to go through many identity- shaping experiences, I used others as a means to gauge who I was, and I began constantly comparing. The comparisons consumed me, and so I became fixated on my weight and how controlling that would give me the ‘competitive edge.’ When I was 12 I began extreme dieting, but eventually switched to binging and purging. It was so freeing to be able to consume whatever I wanted, and so comforting to know that I had something no one else could have or take from me. I let it become my identity.
The binging and purging continued for 7 years. At 19, after a dentist asked me directly if I purged, I sought treatment for the first time. I finally wasn’t in denial anymore about my disorder, but I was naïve about treatment. I thought it was a matter of just breaking the habit, and that after the completing 1 or 2 months you’re good to go. I had no idea relapse was an possibility. After leaving treatment it wasn’t long til I fell back into old patterns. Although I was using symptoms much less frequently than before treatment, it was still my safety blanket for the difficult times in life.The difference this time was, that despite using symptoms again, my weight didn’t change. I was forced to sit with that discomfort for long enough, and I eventually got used to my weight. This was a crucial moment for me. On top of reaping havoc of my body, my disorder no longer did what I relied on it to do, so I began to hate it. Eventually I sought treatment again (at age 21). I felt ready, and strong enough to finally completely let go. I gave in completely and learned to be patient, as painful as it was at times. I was selfish and curious in my recovery and made demands on those around me because I couldn’t allow anything to jeopardize my progress.It’s been almost a year since leaving treatment and I haven’t used symptoms since. I have a healthy relationship with food and exercise and the negative thoughts are becoming quieter. I still have a long way to go, but I am so very proud of where I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. My disorder no longer defines nor restrains me, and I am able to engage in life and fully embrace things as I did when I was a child and that is the best gift I could ever give myself.
Hi my name is Natasha, I am 35 years old, and have been suffering with an ED since 2000. My story begins with a marriage proposal and the need to be a skinny bride. I started out great alright. Exercising and eating right until it spiraled out of complete control into a world of insanity. First restricting and overexercising. I was asked to leave my gym for my unsafe behaviors. I starved until I had lost the initial weight I wanted to lose, but I wanted more. I exercised at home and ate less, living on low calorie food. I saw therapists here and there but it seemed as though no one understood ED’s. Just eat, take vitamin…is all I got for answers. I was getting sicker day by day. In the midst of all this I broke off my engagement so I could be alone with my disease. I eventually said no more and was assessed for residential at the Renfrew Center in PA. I was there for 28 days, and then later entered a psychiatric hospital. That was 2 years ago next month. I still struggle everyday. I still engage in dangerous behaviors time to time but I know I’m on my way to recovery. In between all that yes I have suffered medical issues. I have Osteopenia, twisted intestines which caused me to have emergency surgery. I’ve blacked out and can’t digest properly. I see a doctor and am monitored closely. I hope and pray I will be free of this totally one day. This isn’t an easy fight but its a fight worth fighting. I won’t stop until I am healthy and can truthfully believe that I love myself. If you are struggling, get help now. Don’t wait it gets worse. ED’s are the number one killer out of all mental illnesses and have the least funding. Be well take care of you!!
My name is Megan. At 14 years old, I decided I wanted to lose weight. This simple idea spiraled downward so fast I lost control of it. At first I had wanted to lose x pounds to fit into the same size pants as my friend. The next thing I knew, it was 2 years later, I was x pounds lighter, and I was dying.
It had started with running. I began running unhealthily when I was 14.This is when I should have stopped obsessing, but I couldn’t. At age 15, my body wouldn’t let me lose any more weight. I was going through puberty, I wasn’t fat by any means, I didn’t have any more weight to lose. I realized this, and instead of being happy in my own skin, I became terrified.
I began to diet. Crash dieting actually. Crash dieting is dangerous because the person starves themselves of essential nutrients in order to stay at a certain calorie allowance. I became famished. All I could think about was food. My natural instincts would take over every few days, and I would binge.
This cycle went on until I was 16. I will never forget the first day I purged. It all started because I saw an advertisement on television about losing weight, at the same time I was on a “support anorexia” website. The combination of this, added with the frustration of not being able to lose weight forced me over the edge. I had the knowledge, I’d read about it millions of times before, so I tried it that day.
A year later, I was bingeing and purging very often. I had separated myself off from my peers and was even skipping school. My face was puffy, absolutely giant, because my throat was so sore from the stomach acid that passed it every day. My eyes were red and sunken in, my skin was dry, my hair was brittle, my heart would constantly skip and I often feared I’d have a heart attack at age 16. All I did was sleep and purge.
My mother called the treatment center in Fargo, ND, begging them to take me as soon as possible, crying that her daughter was dying. Apparently I had been internally bleeding due to the side effects of bulimia and wasn’t even aware of it.
I remained in the treatment center over the summer before my senior year of high school. I grew stronger. I ate food there, my brain suddenly had nutrients again and I was able to logically think about the choices I had been making. It felt as though this ED had been a drug that had pulled me in, I was addicted to it, I would’ve never been able to let go and free myself without the help of professionals.
I have been free of my ED for over 2 full years now. Some days I still see a morphed image in the mirror, but I am able to healthily deal with that. I now have a one year old daughter that I would do absolutely anything for. One of my driving motivations to stay healthy is that I want to be a good example for her.
I don’t want to get that close to death ever again. I can now enjoy the little things in life that I overlooked during my ED. Having lunch with a friend, sitting in the sunlight, playing outside, and even being able to concentrate on homework. I am able to laugh with energy, and every day I fight to hold onto that luxury. www.lwed.webs.com
Growing up, I never really had any control of my life. Even now at eighteen years old, I still feel lost in this big lonely world. I was in need of control.
My father and mother did not have a healthy relationship at all, and I never grew up in a stable home. My father beat my brother, two sisters, my mother, and myself from when we were born up until we turned six. He also dealt drugs in and out of the house. To this day, I can still remember every strike and every bruise that my father has ever laid on us. One day, he choked my mom until she was unconscious. My sisters, brother, and I were very young. He left thinking he killed her. I remember jumping on her trying to wake her up, because we thought she was just sleeping.
I started constricting food when I was eight years old. I would throw food down the toilet, behind the washer and dryer, feed it to our pets, give it away.. I would do anything so that I did not have to eat it. That young, I had already had this vision of myself not being good enough. I blamed myself for what my father was doing to us. I felt like it was all my fault. I couldn’t control him, and I loved him.
We moved in with my grandmother after my mother had finally left my father. I went to school with bruises up and down my body. Kids and teachers at school would ask me about them. When I told them, they would call me things like “freak.” It wasn’t my fault, but I was young and I blamed myself. I felt useless and worthless. I took it out on my body.
I never was the “skinny” girl growing up. As I got older, I grew more self conscious. I felt like my stomach was too big, my thighs jiggled, and my hair wasn’t pretty enough. Everything was wrong with me compared to the pretty popular girls. I started exercising excessively. I’d run miles a day, even when there was ice and snow on the ground. I WAS going to get that pretty girl image.
I would eat dinner with my family, then go run behind the dumpster at the public pool across the street and vomit. I would run the water in the bathroom so my mother couldn’t hear me. I would put my food in napkins or drop it on the floor for my pets to eat. I would throw food away in my room. I felt in control. I controlled what I ate and when I ate.
I started self-harming when I was twelve years old. I never truly felt love. I grew up in a broken home, and the kids bullied me at school. I read online about self-harm. It was only a matter of days when I decided to try it. The first cut hurt, but the next ones after that were like a relief. I was relieved to see the blood. For once, I actually felt something!
My mother found out about all of this and would make jokes about it. She sent me to the psych ward and counseling. I lied to the counselors, because honestly I wasn’t ready to give up my “ONLY” ways of coping. It was a scary thought. To this day, my mother still thinks that I am recovered.
I am still trying to recover. THERE IS HOPE. Don’t let something so dangerous define you. GET HELP. To this day, I wish that I would have talked to the therapists and doctors about how I was truly feeling. I wish they could have helped me. This is no way to live. It may seem like a simple solution and routine, but it is so dangerous.
If you ever need advice or just to talk my e-mail is email@example.com.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!Self Harm is not the answer, get help!: http://www.selfinjury.com
In 2010, at the age of 25 I was admitted to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. I was nearly 13 years older then most of the dozen or so girls in the Comprehensive Care Unit.. I was diagnosed with severe malnutrition (anorexia nervosa), Osteoporosis, Bradycardia, Amenorrhea and Hypotension. I was severely underweight and was placed on strict bed rest, was hooked up to a heart rate monitor 24/7, and was woken up multiple times in the middle of the night when my heart rate dropped in to the 20’s to be fed bottles of Ensure. My hormone levels were equal to those in the body of an eight year old girl, I was dying.
Only two years before I was the epitome of health. I was exercising healthily. I was able to run my first 10K with my boyfriend and best friend. I was training wisely, eating a balanced diet, but still allowing myself to indulge in sweets and treats. I read women’s health and fitness magazines and knew all the tips and tricks to living a fit and healthy life. I admired the women in the articles for their determination to loose weight, or achieve whatever goal they were working towards. Sadly, my goals became skewed.
Because I was old enough, I left Stanford Medical Center AMA (Against Medical Advice). I decided at that moment that as determined as I had been to become thin, I was just as determined to live. I moved back to Michigan from California with my boyfriend to be closer to my friends and family – my biggest support system. Over the course of 2 years I took my life back from ED.
When I look back at the photographs which were taken of my skeletal frame a few days before I was admitted to the hospital, I am nauseated. Today I am almost 30 years old, engaged to the love of my life and the man who stood beside me and supported me every step of the way. I exercise and run 1/2 marathons for recreational and enjoyment purposes rather than as punishment. I fuel and nourish my body to give it strength, and I love and appreciate it just the way it is! Although the story of my illness is a long and sad one, the story of my recovery is a life changing and triumphant one. I am a rejuvenated, healthy, and happy woman.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be” – Douglas Adams
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story.
– Brianne Chase
***SELF HARM TRIGGER!
Growing up, I was never happy. While most kids were carefree, I always had something in the back on my mind nagging at me. I’m not sure why; my parents were high school sweethearts, are still very much in love, I have a “normal” family, and I never had any trouble making friends. Everyone around me always just seemed so happy, and I constantly had the feeling that I was missing out. I remember writing notes in my diary like “I want to kill myself” and “I’m so ugly that I want to die”. I can specifically remember my mom sitting me down and instructing me to tell her things that I like about myself. It didn’t help. At times, I liked myself, but I couldn’t stand the person I was at other points.
I started to develop a fascination with hurting myself. It started out so gradual, that even I didn’t realize how destructive my behavior was. I would occasionally snap a rubber band on my wrist, or scratch myself in the same spot until my skin was raw. I never made myself bleed, I never left a permanent mark, and I think subconsciously, at the time, that was intentional. I was in high school; that age is such an awkward stage of our lives, when we want to feel so grown up, but at the same time, are so immature. I was never into the other reckless things kids my age were doing – speeding, drinking, doing drugs, hooking up, and I made sure to keep my secret to myself.I eventually decided that I wanted to make myself bleed and leave a permanent scar on my body. I researched ways to cut myself; I wanted to make sure I didn’t kill myself, but I also wanted to make sure that it’d really hurt. On a side-note, it seems that people assume that a girl who cuts herself wants to die. Of course that is the case with certain people; however, that was never my intention. I simply wanted to show myself that I was strong enough to endure anything life had to throw at me.I know I should have talked to someone, and I know I should have stopped trying before it got any worse. But it was such an addicting feeling. Even to this day, I hate drinking, I don’t do drugs, and I am such a careful person – this was my escape.The first time I made myself bleed was over something so trivial, but at the time was such a big deal. My iPod touch froze and I couldn’t get it to turn back on. For whatever reason, I threw it on the ground, which is something I would normally never do. After I threw it, I sat in the corner of my room in a ball, hysterically crying. Looking back, it seems obvious that there were other things going on that caused me to get that upset, but at the time, I was really mad that my iPod was broken. thats when i first cut myself.Throughout the next few years, whenever I needed relief from any pain I was feeling, I hurt myself. I did not do this because I was depressed and wanted to commit suicide. It also was not to make myself “feel” something, as cutters often say is the reason. For me, it was just so that I could feel as if I was in charge of something. Life just often felt like it was spiraling out of control, and cutting myself felt like something that I could decide, on my own.Most of the time, it was on my arms, and I think that was because the skin split so easily. Looking back, it may also have been that I wanted other people to see the cuts and question me. Every time someone accepted my answer of why I had a band-aid on my arm (I said I cut it shaving), it bothered me that they didn’t push it any further. I’m not sure why I so badly wanted my scars to be visible. Maybe I wanted someone to ask me about them; it would show that someone really cared about me. Maybe I wanted proof, to myself, that I have been through a lot.For college, I went about two hours away from where I grew up – just enough to be “away from home”, but close enough that I could go home for the weekend if I wanted to. As much as I loved having the independence of not being under my parents’ roof, I was so homesick. I loved being by myself, in the sense that what I did was solely up to me; there was no one else telling me what to do. But I hated being by myself, as well. I felt so alone. I didn’t get along with my roommates, I couldn’t seem to make any real friends, and I just wanted to move back home at times.To make a long story short, I met a guy at a frat party (so romantic, I know). As crazy as it sounds, by the time I woke up the next morning, I could tell that I wanted this guy to be in my life for a long time. We both fell madly in love with each other, and we were inseparable for the first few months of our relationship, while we were both at school. I had never told anyone before that I purposely hurt myself. He just made me feel so comfortable, and I wanted him to know about it.With his assistance, I realized that I needed help. I told my parents that I was stressed at school. To this day, there has not been a more difficult conversation to have than when I confided in my mom that I have been cutting myself. I saw a psychiatrist for a few months over the summer after my freshman year. The doctor and I talked about my anxiety. It did help, but I had such a hard time telling a stranger my thoughts. Through therapy, the most important thing I realized about myself is that, just by telling people who love and care about me that I am struggling, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders.Even to this day, I have my moments. And I don’t mean that I am occasionally sad and lethargic. I mean, I oftentimes have a hard time focusing on anything. I often don’t want to leave my room for days, because that would involve getting dressed and having to interact with other people. (I think that also has to do with the fact that I am a perfectionist and hate leaving my comfort zone, but that’s a story for a different day.)The look on my boyfriend’s face when I told him that I had cut myself again – that sheer disappointment – is not something that I ever want to experience. He did not ask me to stop hurting myself; he realizes that by doing so, he would just be putting himself in charge of me, and the cycle would start over. But he did tell me that he would like if I told him each time I felt the urge, and I have done so.It is because of him that I haven’t cut myself in over seven months. I made a promise to him that I would tell him every time I want to hurt myself, but I do not want to let him down again. I know that seven months doesn’t seem like much to most people, but it’s the longest I have gone in years without cutting. Yes, I know the exact date of the last time I hurt myself. And yes, I am going to celebrate each month that I go without harming myself.I can’t say that it’s just in my past. I would love to be able to say that I will never hurt myself on purpose again, but I honestly don’t think that I can make that promise to myself or anyone else. I don’t ever plan on doing it again, but I know myself better than to think that I won’t ever want to.
The feeling comes up so sporadically. It’s not just when I’m feeling sad, it’s not just when I feel “out of control”, and it’s not just when I want to prove something to myself, although those are all definitely part of it. The urge to cut myself will creep up on me sometimes. Truthfully, I don’t think the feeling will ever go away completely. It is always in the back of my mind, and I do think it remain there forever.
I have always been worried about people finding out about my abusive past. My boyfriend knows, and my mom knows (so I’m sure my dad and sister do, as well, although I have never discussed it with the two of them). But I am coming to realize that it should not be something I try to hide from the world. I should be proud of it; it makes me the person I am today.