Eating Disorder Stories of Hope
“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Watch and read about outstanding women and men who exemplify substance, character and are shining examples of using their unique gifts and talents to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to a better world. All have battled eating disorders and are doing well in their recovery.
Want to share your story of Inspiration and Hope? Email your story in 700 words or less (word doc format) and also a picture of yourself (jpeg or gif) to: Jacquelyn@EatingDisorderHope.com. We will review your story and be in touch with you shortly thereafter!
Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President of Eating Disorder Hope and Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, Special Projects Coordinator of Eating Disorder Hope share their real life eating disorder recovery experience. Find Hope!
“You guys did a wonderful job!! You are both very well spoken but what impressed me the most was your willingness to share about your past and current struggles. It takes a great deal of courage and confidence to put yourself front and center in hopes of helping someone you do not even know…The gift of Hope is priceless, thank you for sharing it with all of us.” ~ Frank Paulina
Dr. Jennifer Ashton interviews Liana Rosenman of Project HEAL and discusses the organization’s mission and Liana’s personal story. As posted by: CBS
I read somewhere that you can survive without food for three weeks.
That’s almost a lie. I know from experience that you can survive for months on nothing but iceberg lettuce, lowfat yogurts, and endless reruns of The Food Network.
But that’s all you’ll be doing: surviving. The existence you’ll be reduced to will be marked by routine and obsession. By scars and self-hatred. Read more…
The first 18 years of my life I worked to maintain a daily facade, afraid to let anyone see my fragile self. Indeed, it was not until the summer of 2013 that I began to understand I am not broken or defected—I am a warrior, and I am worth it.
The initial foundation of shame, pain, and self-loathing upon which I constructed my sense of self is the product of my childhood, leading to my development of anorexia nervosa at a very young age.
My name is Kimberly and I am a survivor. I am no longer a victim of ED and refuse to let him back into my life. My life has been controlled by my eating disorder (ED) for the past twenty years. It wasn’t until just recently that I started living again. I feel like my life has said “Welcome Back Kimberly!”
I have put in many years of hard work in individual therapy, group therapy, working with a nutritionist and even inpatient therapy. Read More.
Jacquelyn Ekern, EDH Founder
Our brains are not fully developed until about age 25, so imagine the potential for error as I sorted through these painful experiences and tried to make sense of it all. I had not had any counseling at this point, and conventional wisdom at the time was you just “suck it up, get through it, and make the best of it”.
So, this is what I did while also drawing some fundamentally erroneous conclusions about myself and life. Read More.
Speaking out about anything you’ve struggled with is not easy. There’s the risk of judgment, the fear you’ll be misunderstood, or that people just won’t care. Being vulnerable is hard, but often, openness, honesty and self-disclosure can lead to strength and empowerment – not only your own, but others’ as well.
That is the lesson I learned from sharing my story of recovery from an eating disorder. Read More.
Recovering from an eating disorder is no easy task. No matter how hard and no matter how long your battle, however, it is worth it.
My name is Sparklle Rainne and I am a singer/songwriter living in Los Angeles, California. I have suffered from an eating disorder for twelve years. Read More.
Waking up isn’t an obstacle for me to face every morning- it’s sleeping that’s my problem. As if my nights count as sleeping. Tossing, turning, shivering, and slipping in and out of dreams. Not even five blankets and a heating pad can warm my body into a comfortable state.
I slip into my old gymnastics sweatshirt and jeans my mom bought me last month. The waistband is at least two inches too large. Read More.
Dr. Kim Dennis
I started my college career in 1992. As a freshman at the University of Chicago, I was full of fear. I felt like a fraud, like I did not deserve to be there because of where I came from.
My peers came from families where their mothers and fathers went to college and were professors, business people, lawyers and doctors. My mom finished high school. My dad did not, he was a welder, an alcoholic and died when I was 11. None of my five siblings completed college. Read More.
Hope once seemed bleak and distant- a word so impossible that the name wounded my soul. Hope seemed like something so out of reach. Hope was the light at the end of the tunnel, but I felt trapped in the darkness with no way out.
Hope became masked in years of every variation of the eating disorder realm: starving, bingeing, purging, swallowing laxatives and diet pills in hopes that the pain would go away. My hope was focused on and about me. My hope was in myself, and I was drowning. Read More.
My name is Callie C. and my eating disorder started when I was 12. I grew up in Orange County, feeling constantly surrounded by beautiful, thin women on the beach. My mother was always on a diet and she instilled in me from an early age that fat was the enemy and not something that you should show off.
She was always trying to hide what she called fat, even though I thought she looked great. She refused to take me to the beach on days where she felt bloated due to her embarrassment and shame. Read More.
I was just a normal college student filled with stress of test, homework, relationships and expectations. I was away from home living in the unknown trying to find myself. Sports management major, I was very dedicated to my field of work.
Healthy, persistent, and always ready for a work out. Better do them all so I can teach others to love their body and treat it right.
Life gets in the way of itself and sets you on the path you need to follow to become the person you truly are. Read More.
Will I ever get better? Who am I without the eating disorder? How did you get to where you are today?
These and similar questions are commonly asked by those I mentor, clients I work with, and friends struggling with eating disorders and body image concerns. The beauty of recovery is that everyone’s journey is their own.
What worked for me might not work for you. But I do know that recovery is possible: in fact, I believe that full restoration and healing is possible. I also believe that we are all in a lifelong process of recovery from something – from compulsions, distorted thinking, emotional dysfunction, addiction, pride, selfishness, codependency. Read More.
My name is Jennifer Gonzalez and I am a recovering compulsive, emotional, and binge eater. I am a work in progress and these days, I am happy to just be that. I have learned that the best thing I can do is to just BE. I have been dealing with my eating disorder since the age of ten.
More recently, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) three years ago and my diagnosis has a played a new role in my eating disorder. A desire to get a handle on my eating disorder led me to explore an online program called The Be Program, designed to guide and assist women with eating disorders. Read More.
There are a wide variety of experiences that you hear about when people describe their life with an eating disorder (ED). For some they describe the shame, for others they describe the sense of losing control and yet others describe befriending the isolation that comes along with the secrecy of having an ED.
Another difference you’ll hear is whether a person says they are in recovery or recovered. There is a lot of conflict surrounding the use of these words and yet there are so many reasons why one would choose either of them. Read More.
Those of us in the behavioral health field specializing in the treatment of eating disorders are very aware that eating disorders are lethal. We know that engaging in the behaviors of restricting; binging and or purging along with other compensatory behaviors wreak havoc on one’s body.
The emotional anguish that accompanies these pervasive disorders I believe is the worst part. How many of you reading this right now can relate to never being able to see yourself the way your friends and family see you? Read More.
It was a beautiful fall morning as an incoming freshman at Penn State University; that day, my thought process, health and chances of my very survival would take a turn for the worse. As I stared out the window of my dorm at other students beginning their journey into the future, I made eye contact with a pretty browned hair girl talking to friends in the parking lot facing my dorm window. She smiled. So I thought. It was actually a smirk. She turned to her two friends and said in what seemed like a sonic boom from god, “UGLY! UGLY!”…Read More
Brian Cuban’s Recovery Story & Keynote Speech at the 3rd Annual Media And Mental Health Awards in Pittsburgh. As Posted By: Brian Cuban
My life has not been anything extraordinary. I have not done anything worthy of achievement in the eyes of the world. I have however, loved deeply, experienced grief and loss that has buried me in the depths of despair, and known hope that has transformed me from the brinks of death to life renewed. I have experienced the unraveling of an eating disorder. I have picked up the pieces…Read More
When I was around 12 years old, however, something shifted in this enthusiasm. Rather than being encouraged that when a young woman goes through puberty, her body fat needs to increase by a dramatic percentage in order that she can begin menstruating, as a young girl entering puberty, I was encouraged not to get fat. Up until that time, I had never thought anything negative about my body. I loved my body because it was me –I was symbiotic with it and it with me; my body and I were one. Up until that time, I never realized how much the grownups in my life liked my body, not because it was beautifully and uniquely made, not that it allowed me to be alive, not that it allowed me to play piano, swim, play tennis, thrive in school, go to church …Read More
“Have you ever considered trying out for the cross-country team?” my physical education teacher asked me one day after gym class. As a junior-high student who wanted to be good at something but had tried and failed at every other sport, I gave his advice a shot. He saw potential in me, so I gave myself to become the best runner. By my sophomore year of high school, I became strong and successful as a cross-country and track-runner. I enjoyed the attention that I received, so I continued to work toward being the fittest, the strongest, and the leanest. I exercised more and more and ate less and less. What I considered being healthy was actually triggering an eating disorder.
Eating disorders.I did not know anyone who had one, and to me, they just seemed a little strange.I would wonder “Well, if they do not like doing it, why do they not just stop?”.Little did I know.My name is Jack, and I suffered with Bulimia Nervosa for over 3 years.Today, I am happy to say, I am fully recovered, and I want to give hope and encouragement to other men out there that recovery really is possible.It goes without saying, living with an eating disorder is tough. Although being a man with an eating disorder, I believe adds an extra layer of shame and embarrassment on top. Society’s image of the typical male is someone who is strong, tough, is not prone to mood swings, does not cry, and I am pretty certain, does not stress over the fat content of a rice cake.
When I was a child, I thought that thirty was extremely old. When I was a teenager I thought that I would have life sorted by the time I was thirty. When I was in my early twenties I didn’t believe that I would ever live to see thirty. Now that I am thirty, I don’t feel extremely old, I don’t have life sorted, but I can say that I am incredibly happy and fortunate to be alive.In my thirty years I have had all kinds of life experiences. At thirteen, I spent a summer working in a vet’s office. I mixed bright red worming powder into liquid, I cleaned out the cattery, and I helped out in the doggy grooming parlour. I knew then I was going to work with animals. By fifteen, I was less sure. I spent a summer working on the production line in a factory which made faucets. By the end of that I was certain I was going to get a college education. At eighteen I worked in the newspaper shop at my local hospital and also in McDonald’s.
It was like a scene out of a medical television show. A smiling, happy, 32 year old woman was driving her young daughter home on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. Suddenly sharp pains start to shoot in her chest and down her arm. She is so weak she has to lie on the steering wheel to hold herself up. Somehow she manages to pull off the road, stumble out of her car and proceeds to pass out on the side of the road. The scene that flashes is all about monitors beeping, doctors shouting and bright lights. The eating disorder she had worked so hard to hide for years had found a way to be the star of the show. It was now a matter of life or death. The eating disorder (ED) had got a taste of fame, attention and was now at a new level of control.Sadly that glimpse of medical drama is not a television show, it was my reality show. It was my life. It was time to change the channel, fire the director and cancel the program. It was time to get well or die.
Eating disorders are hard work. They take discipline, energy, and willpower. Looking back, I don’t know how, at my lowest weight, I was able to find the energy to maintain the illness. You have a strong constitution,one doctor told me. I guess that’s what has kept me alive for the past 19 years, because I did not think I’d live to see 30.I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 15. Spread out some pictures from various stages of my life, and you can see the illness evolve right before your eyes. I go from a chubby, happy baby to a smiling, outgoing child to a pale adolescent with a sadness in her eyes that has never left. There are very few pictures from the height of my anorexia.
Denise Folcik is in recovery from bulimia, anorexia and OCD. She has done many television, newspaper, blog and magazine interviews, as well as speaking at the Wisconsin state capitol advocating for health insurance changes. She also speaks at libraries, women’s groups and colleges. She started her own publishing company, Metafly Books, LLC, and published her first book, In ED’s Path, her story of recovering from a midlife eating disorder. Today, Denise spends her days in a healthy balance of work, family, friends and metime. This is her story.My name is Denise. I am 50 years old. I have a supportive husband, four wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren. I had been struggling with anorexia and bulimia for nearly 20 years.
Jenni Schaefer works internationally as a speaker and writer to educate about eating disorders and to provide hope that recovery is possible. After struggling for more than twenty years with food and body image issues, Jenni is fully recovered from anorexia and bulimia. Her life is now devoted to helping all individuals touched by the illness. Her groundbreaking book, Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too (McGraw-Hill), introduces a therapeutic technique that has changed the way people view eating disorders:In the introduction of Life Without Ed, Jenni writes:“I have never been married, but I am happily divorced. Ed and I lived together for more than twenty years. He was abusive, controlling and never hesitated to tell me what he thought, how I was doing it wrong, and what I should be doing instead… Ed is not a high school sweetheart. Ed is not some creep that I started dating in college… Ed’s name comes from the initials E.D.-as in eating disorder. Ed is my eating disorder. “
Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt & Vicki Kroviak
Former college roommates Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt and Vicki Kroviak are the cofounders of Oliver-Pyatt Centers, comprehensive programs for the treatment of eating disorders. Wendy, a board certified psychiatrist, founder of Center for Hope of the Sierras, and author of Fed Up! (McGraw-Hill) and Vicki, a television executive, both suffered from bulimia throughout their teen and young adult years.
How did you meet?
Vicki: We met in college. We were both volunteering at a student-run self-help center. Kind of ironic, when you figure that at the time that we were each completely consumed with our eating disorder. Yet, we were immediate soul-mates.
Wendy: Sometimes friends with food issues compete…You know, who can be the thinnest, the sickest, whatever. Fortunately, we were never like that. We tried to help each other get thin because we actually believed that thinness led to happiness. We really thought we were doing the right thing for ourselves and for each other.
Laurie Glass has a Masters degree in Christian Counseling, runs Freedom from Eating Disorders at www.freedomfromed.com, and is the author of Journey to Freedom from Eating Disorders. Through her book and her website, she offers personal and practical advice to males and females, teens and adults, who have eating disorders. She also offers online Christian counseling services to adult women in eating disorder recovery. Reaching out to those with eating disorders is her heart work.Laurie is a recovered anorexic, so she understands how difficult the recovery process is. Here are some of the things she learned through her own journey.
My Eating Disorder StoryI started my first diet almost a decade ago after seeing a popular singer lose a lot of weight by following the same diet. The good news was that the diet initially worked, the bad news was that I ended up with two problems; trying to maintain the weight loss as well as dealing with the mental obsession and hell that the diet brought me.I became obsessed with losing weight, eating close to nothing and isolating myself completely from the world. I did not want anyone to see what was happening and most importantly I didn’t want anyone to interfere with this new relationship that I had developed with the eating disorder.The years that followed saw me lose the ability to stay on the various strict diets and weight loss techniques that I was attempting.
My Eating Disorder Story“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I remember the fascination I felt when food labels started being posted on many different items in grocery stores. It was the precipitating point of interest in a world that was soon to spiral out of control. As an only child who was extremely sheltered from the basic happenings of childhood and adolescence, looking back, it is no wonder that something larger-than-life would eventually consume me. Around age 12, I began limiting sugars and fatty foods. It was easy for me, made me feel like I had accomplished something out of the norm, and I received much attention from these behaviors and changes. At the private school I attended, I was considered odd by my peers’ standards so this newfound interest didn’t change that perception much. I was a late bloomer but by 15 I was starting to really hit puberty.
My story isn’t anything glamorous, sensational, or extreme. I didn’t almost die. My family didn’t have to perform an intervention. I didn’t even have to be hospitalized. In fact, like many people with eating disorders, I don’t think anyone would have known I had an eating disorder just by looking at me. I did well in school; I had a lot of friends; I had a boyfriend and a supportive family. On the surface, I didn’t seem to “have a reason” to have an eating disorder, which actually made me feel more guilty for my secret. I was bulimic. I was empty and fragmented. I was concerned more with what people thought about me than who I really was. I was a charlatan I lied to my friends and family, stole money from my roommates, and lost my “self” to the eating disorder.
Aimee Liu is the author of Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders (Grand Central Publishing, 2007). This sequel to Liu’s acclaimed memoir Solitaire (Harper & Row, 1979), America’s first personal narrative of anorexia nervosa, draws on her own experience as well as interviews with leading researchers and more than forty other women and men with histories of anorexia and bulimia. Liu picks up her exploration of eating disorders where she left it at age twenty-five. Back then, she thought recovery meant eating well. Gaining proves that healthy nutrition is only a first step.
“Leigh and Lindsey receive the Lori Irving Award for Excellence in Prevention and Awareness at NEDA conference, 2008. “Lindsey Hall Cohn had bulimia for nine years. This was in the 1970s when no one talked about eating disorders and the word bulimia was practically unknown. Like many other women, she believed she was suffering alone.”I really had no idea anyone else in the world had the problem. It wasn’t publicized at that time,” she says.Then, a dream changed her life. In it was a woman named Gurze.”I felt compelled to make a doll out of that woman from my dream. Don’t ask me why! She was very funny looking, with long legs and bright red lips, and her hands were enormous! But there was something about the creative process that touched something very deep inside me. That something became the foundation of my recovery.
Carolyn Costin, MFT, recovered herself from anorexia, has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders and exercise addiction for thirty years. Carolyn is founder and director of The Eating Disorder Center of California and Monte Nido and Affiliates, which now has three unique residential centers in natural, home-like settings. Carolyn is a sought after speaker at national conferences and is known for engaging her audiences and giving hands-on skills. Carolyn’s books, The Eating Disorder Source Book (2007), 100 Questions and Answers, About Eating Disorders (2007), and Your Dieting Daughter (1997), have helped professionals and the lay public in understanding, treating and preventing eating disorders.Carolyn’s struggle with an eating disorder started in the summer between her junior and senior years of high-school. A weight loss bet with her friend’s father started her intense dieting process, and then triggered her tendencies toward perfectionism and compulsiveness. She won the bet, but kept on dieting.
Christine Hartline, MA is a recovering anorexic and bulimic who has been working in the field of eating disorder treatment for over 12 years. She is dedicated to educating others about the consequences, treatment and prevention of eating disorders. She is the founder of the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center at Edreferral.com. She is also an ANAD Resource person who can help assist in locating FREE support groups in your area. Christine is an advocate for mental health parity and increasing research to help understand the etiology of eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex and involved complex interactions of psychological, biological, sociological, and interpersonal factors and do require professional assistance.
My name is Melanie Aldis, and I am one of the Regional Directors of Business Development at Center for Change. Are you wondering why someone who works in Marketing is writing an article? Am I qualified?Well, I am also recovered from an eating disorder. I had an eating disorder for ten years, from the age of thirteen to twenty-three. I am now twenty nine years old. Unfortunately, I don’t have much memory of those ten years, only bits and pieces. What I do remember is that I felt inadequate at a very young age. I never felt like I was the skinniest, prettiest, smartest or most popular, I thought I was just plain old average or less than and that wasn’t good enough for me. I don’t remember how or when my eating disorder started, but I know that underneath it all I had pure self hatred.
Ask Shannon Cutts what helped her recover from her fifteen-year battle with anorexia and bulimia, and you won’t have to wait long for her answer: Relationships replace eating disorders.When Shannon first developed anorexia at age eleven, little was known about recognizing and treating eating disorders. Her few early attempts to ask for help were misunderstood and rebuffed, and because of this, she struggled in secrecy and silence for seven years against an illness she could not name. But she refused to give up. When Shannon was nineteen she met her mentor. Together, they joined forces against the eating disorder.
Finding My True Self and Inner Beauty…. By Andrea Roe
My name is Andrea. I am twenty-seven years old and a recovered anorexic and bulimic. I am Austrian, married to a wonderful Canadian and currently living in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I struggled with eating disorders for six long years and have finally overcome these deadly diseases-and this is my story…While I was growing up, food and weight were not a problem for me. I came from a very active and health-oriented family and never had to worry about my weight. Almost every weekend my parents would take my siblings and me walking, hiking, biking, or skiing or on a sightseeing trip to a gorgeous place somewhere in Austria. I like thinking about my childhood; it was a wonderful time, and thinking about it creates a warm feeling inside of me. Even now, while I am writing this, I have a smile on my face and a tear of joy in my eyes.
My name is Kathy Roberts and I’m a lifetime drugfree world champion powerlifter/motivational speaker/personal trainer. I hold several different World, National, Regional and State records in various different weight classes. I’ve ranked in the top 20 in the world in Powerlifting. My heaviest lifts are as follows: 400 pound squat, 270 pound benchpress, and a 450 pound deadlift–all lifetime drugfree.I earned my degree in Administration of Justice, cum laude and I’m certified in various different areas. I am an Academic and Presidential Scholar and I received an Outstanding Achievement Honors Award for Academic Work in Sociology, a Division of Liberal Arts.Throughout the years I’ve spent most of my time reaching out to others, sharing my life experience and how to overcome obstacles with those I speak to.
I walked the beach everyday, praying for help- i knew something was wrong when my own mom approached me and gently asked me, “when are you going to do something? “My mom never says much to me about changing myself as that is what made me strong up til this point and now would make me that much stronger! my mom was my angel finding me a great counselor and nutritionist. She quietly read everything she could about anorexia and prayed for me .she still let me find my ‘new’ self and grow wings again. as a poetess i found writing helped heal me . it was like therapy writing out my feelings… always has been !i had hidden it well, or so i thought… my ‘illness. ‘ i didn’t want to believe i , perfect paula’ could be sick. that was a big part of my problem , trying so hard to be ‘perfect’.
April Ballard Warren
This is my story…
I am not even entirely sure where to begin to explain my journey over the past two years. I will begin with letting you know that recovery is possible. I am living proof of this. I have battled and am currently in recovery from both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. I, too, just as you may, believed that recovery was an impossible goal that I would never attain. I believed in my darkest hours, that I would be held prisoner by my eating disorders until I eventually surrendered to them completely.
However, I want to emphasize that recovery is possible. I would like to now tell you about me. I believe that while the eating disorders have been a major part of my life, they do not define me as a person. Therefore, I would like share a bit about who I am. I am a representative for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, professor, photographer, sister, friend, lover of art, and believer of genuine kindness. I reside in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.
Food, Glorious Food! It has been my best friend and my worst enemy all my life. I believed that I only used food to comfort me, and who doesn’t need that once in a while? I thought that if I just tried harder, or was stronger, or went to another diet program, that eventually my weight would be “normal.” I prayed that someday, somehow, my body would be pretty enough, or sexy enough or small enough.
Well, my eyes have been opened. My perception of how I see myself and food is changing. It is not about the food. It was never about the food. It was about spending so much time obsessing about the food, the diet, the shame, the weight loss, the weight gain, my pant size, my waist measurement, that I didn’t have time or energy to face what was really going on in my heart.