This is my own personal story with my recovery process from my eating disorder. It is a letter that I wrote to my late grandmother who was very dear to me.
I hope that my story will give you hope that you can overcome your eating disorder, it is possible. I am living proof!
Hi how have you been? I miss you terribly! I’m writing to you to tell you a few things that I didn’t share with you before you passed on.
I would have told you when you were alive, but I was ashamed of what I was doing and didn’t want to hurt you, or for you to think less of me.
It all started the summer after sixth grade when I wanted to lose weight because I wasn’t happy with my image and I was fed up with all of the fat jokes that my peers directed towards me.
I started to lose weight by exercising and watching what I ate, that summer I lost 5lbs and it felt good. From then on I stayed focused to lose weight. I wanted to be thin and beautiful thinking that would bring me happiness, a boyfriend and more friends.
By my sophomore year I was still dieting and loosing weight. At that time I was obsessed with fat free eating and loosing weight. I was determined to reach my goal weight that I had set for myself.
I was receiving many comments on how good I was looking and that I was growing into a beautiful young lady. I started to become interested in nutrition and began learning about eating disorders.
Watching after school special and shows on Anorexia and Bulimia gave me new ideas on losing weight. I was only going to practice these, until I met my goal weight. I started to restrict my diet even more and skipping meals. Eventually, I was eating no fat and Grandma, your baking that I use to adore was forbidden in my diet.
My junior year, I wanted to lose weight for prom and that is when the Bulimia started. I could not possibly restrict anymore and when I began to eat I felt guilty and felt the need to do something about it. I was so scared of gaining the weight back that I had worked so hard to lose.
Senior year was one of my best and worst years. That year remember I got Homecoming Queen, something that I was so shocked to get. You were in the hospital the night of Homecoming, sick from complications with your kidneys.
I went and showed you my dress before the game and you told me how beautiful I looked, you always made me feel like a princess. Because of you, I feel that I won. I wanted to give you the crown, you were my idol and I strived to be like you.
Shortly after homecoming I received my first real boyfriend. He was a nice kid, a real charmer. After dating for awhile I told him about my eating disorder, as a cry for help.
That night he broke up with me. Oh, I was so heartbroken and hurt; I thought if I was thinner and prettier he would go back out with me. I refocused myself to lose weight. At that point I would go days even weeks of barely eating anything.
Mom then started to catch on to what I was doing to myself. She made me an appointment to see a psychiatrist to receive help. The psychiatrist told me that my problem wasn’t much to worry about because I was healthy and looked it, which I took as being called fat.
After that session I told mom that I didn’t want to go back reassuring her that I was getting better. Those were only lies, I continued to starve myself and participate in Bulimic behaviors. By the senior prom I was almost to my goal weight and I was receiving many comments on how well I looked.
That summer I started to gain weight from the excessive Bulimic behaviors that I was participating in. At that point everyone thought I was doing better and that my eating disorder was fading away.
I started college at Siena Heights in the fall and loved it. I rarely participated in my Bulimic behaviors except occasionally when I came home or was highly stressed.
I continued to eat fat free and my friends would comment continuously on how healthy I ate. I thought for awhile I was growing out of my eating disorder until you became sick again. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you and I didn’t know how to handle the feelings that I had inside. My eating disorder developed to be a way of handling stress and my feelings, no longer was it a way to stay thin.
The last summer that I was with you is one I will never forget. I came home in May and you were getting worse as well as my Bulimia. I hated dealing with it when you were ill because it took up so much of my time and less time with you.
Right before your last few days that you were with us, I wanted to tell you about my eating disorder, but I couldn’t. I wanted to tell that you were my idol and that everything I do and who I am is because of you.
After you passed on I vowed to myself that I would not participate in my Bulimic behaviors because I didn’t want you to find out about my eating disorder when you were in Heaven. That lasted for two weeks and the Bulimia started once again.
My friends at this point started to question and worry about me. I reassured them that I was fine and doing a lot better. In reality I was wishing that this would take my life so I would no longer have to continue to live in this “Hell” that I created for myself.
Then you came into one of my dreams and asked me how much more weight I was going to lose? You stated that I was to thin. The funny thing is Grandma, I didn’t think I was skinny, I felt that I looked the same that I always did.
That fall Bulimia controlled my life. I was skipping classes, had very little energy and I began to be scared for my life! I truly thought that there would never be an out from this “Hell” and that this is what was going to take my life.
That winter I had to move back home to concentrate on my health. I began seeing a therapist once again. This was my third therapist Grandma.
The last one told me that eating disorders scared her so that was the end of that therapist and the one before that didn’t feel that I had much of a problem.
This therapist I was able to connect with and he helped me get to some of the issues that I was covering up with these behaviors. Even though I was beginning to take action towards recovery I was not ready to give up the behaviors and they still were a big part of my life while I was home.
The end of the summer I moved up to East Lansing to live with my friends. I was going to attend Michigan State and begin their Dietetic program.
I was very unhappy in the choice that I had made that semester and my behaviors were present in representing this unhappiness. The next semester I returned to Siena Heights and finished up my degree in Social Work.
My first semester back at Siena I was more serious about recovery and I started to seek out help on my own. I found an organization named EDEN on the website and contacted them.
I made an appointment to meet with them and shortly after I started to participate in their support group. This was a blessing from you that I had found them. My facilitator was so encouraging to me b/c she was the first person that I met that had fully recovered from an eating disorder.
This gave me hope as I had always heard, “once you have an eating disorder you will always deal with it.” The support group was very comforting as I was able to talk to others that were experiencing similar feelings, I no longer felt like I was weird for having these behaviors and feelings.
The group really challenged me to think about other things besides my eating disorder. It was always nice to go each week because I knew for at least an hour my mind could think about something else beside my eating behaviors and the way I looked.
After graduating from Siena Heights I moved out to Colorado to attend the University of Colorado and begin my graduate work in Public Health. This was a scary move as I had never been to Colorado and I did not know a sole out there.
Mom and dad were very supportive of my decision and off I went. At that time my Bulimic behaviors were sporadic and I was definitely making significant progress in my recovery. The Bulimic behaviors once again became apparent after my move there.
I continued to pray to God to take these behaviors away, I was so sick of dealing with this and I just wanted them to end. Then it occurred to me that they were not ending b/c I was not giving it to God to handle. I was expecting him to do all of the work, that he would magically just take them away from me.
After this discovery I began to challenge myself more in recovery and really worked hard on recovery. I was beginning to really use the healthy coping skills that I learned from my EDEN group and started to put them to use. I really worked hard on building my relationship with God and became more involved in the church.
I was beginning to see the end of recovery and saw myself getting stronger with each challenge I overcame in my recovery process. Often I had glimpses of what it was like to be completely free from this disorder and those glimpses started to become reality.
Still not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I took a job in Florida where I worked as a therapist for kids that were in foster care. I loved this job. I discovered through this job I had a strong desire to pursue counseling, so I began my Masters in Social Work part-time at University of Central Florida. After working for a year in a half I decided to move back home to finish my Masters program at UofM full time. I moved home and got a part-time job with EDEN.
After graduating with my Masters I am now working for EDEN full-time. I just opened my private practice, Family Dynamics, where I am going to counsel and specialize in the full-spectrum of eating disorders. Graduation was an emotional day because I never thought years ago I was going to be alive to experience such an accomplishment. It was so nice to accomplish something that I had always wanted. But to tell you the truth Grandma recovering from my eating disorder has been the hardest thing that I have had to do so far.
It was years of hard work to get where I am. I had a lot of ups and downs and many times I was going to give up on recovery. I am so glad that I didn’t because I love life!! It is so nice to be able to truly experience God’s blessings and the plans that he has for my life!! I am so blessed that I am working in the population that I was once in.
I want to encourage others to come join me in living life fully recovered. I know now Grandma, that my eating disorder was trying to teach me something, I just had to learn to listen and when I did I learned and discovered the woman that I am today!!
Grandma thank you for all the love, prayers and support you gave me and are still giving me. I love you with all of my heart and miss you, until we meet again.