Amie Shields and Her Eating Disorder Recovery Story

Contributed by Canopy Cove

Amie Shields PhotoIt was a cold, wet Monday in Tallahassee, Florida. I stood trembling at the end of the long hallway of a residential eating disorder treatment facility called Canopy Cove; clothes damp from the light rain, cheeks streaked with black mascara and drenched with tears.

I found myself surrounded by women who were just like me – broken and hurting, unsafe to be living on their own.

I could hear the ladies introducing themselves, and I respectfully returned their consoling embraces. But I was somewhere else, far away.

Images of my sorrowful children being driven away from me earlier that day haunted my mind and pushed the thorns of shame even deeper into my aching heart.

It was hard to concentrate. I’d had a permanent headache for months, but the accumulated hours of constant crying with little sleep made it feel like my head would explode any second. My eyes were so swollen, red, and scratchy. They pulsed with every throb of pain, keeping time with the steel-grey veins bulging from my temples.

The space in my head and lower arms tingled from dangerously low glucose levels and blood pressure. Fear and anxiety welled up within me with the realization that the familiar hum in my head that aided in dissipating difficult emotions was soon to be silenced by proper nutrition. There would be no way out of eating anymore.

Nevertheless, I did my best to don my familiar masks of kindness, confidence, and professionalism, despite the anguish within me. I attempted a resolved demeanor, but what I wanted to do was turn around and run as fast as I could to catch my husband before he drove through the gate so he could take me home where I belonged.

The familiar voice in my head began its relentless trolling. You wretched, pathetic woman. You’re a horrible wife, a miserable friend, and a sorry excuse for a mother. You’re weak. Selfish. You deserve to die a slow and painful death. They’d be so much better off without you.

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It seemed my heart would shatter any moment and the tears would never end. In so many ways, it was the worst day of my entire life. But it was also the beautiful beginning of the rest of my life. My treatment team literally held me up – mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually – as I began the painful process of pulling the eating disorder out by its roots. One day at a time, one memory at a time, and one bite at a time.

We started with the earliest time I could remember, being abducted at the age of three. The years that followed were stained with emotional neglect, multiple counts of sexual assaults, a divorce and remarriage, self-injury, an overdose, and the imprisonment of a precious brother. Growing up in a home cultivated with guilt and shame gave me a reason to keep it all buried deep inside.

In my junior year of college, life’s road became extremely rocky for me, creating the perfect storm for an eating disorder. The unprocessed trauma, the abuse, the violations – all of it came to a head when a boyfriend resented and shamed me for some of the things that happened to me involving my body.

The catalyst was a physical education class, for which part of our grade was dependent upon our BMI. We were required to document all intake and daily workouts. That was all the eating disorder needed to wrap its tenacious tendrils around me. It drew me into its pit of horrific slavery by becoming my emotional anesthetic. Over the summer, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

I agreed to go to counseling for a couple of months. Soon after, I met my husband and felt genuinely safe for the first time in my life. But instead of recovering, I just got really good at managing symptoms. I never dealt with the immense pain of my past or what it taught me to believe about myself and the world around me. Embracing a facade of perfectionism in all areas of life ensured that the embers of the eating disorder were well contained and safely concealed.

Get help now from Canopy Cove.
Call 855-338-8620.

Seventeen years and four children later, with lots of life tucked in between, that safe and perfectionistic facade was compromised. I sought counseling and began exposing the unprocessed trauma for the first time, reigniting the fire from the embers glowing within me. Extreme eating disordered behaviors rapidly returned, right in the middle of full-time ministry, marriage, and motherhood.

It was soon determined that a higher level of care was necessary, which is what brought me and all of my brokenness to Canopy Cove. I know that God used the people at this place, alongside my home team, to save my life.

They helped me bring into the light and appropriately process the ugly pieces of untold experiences and the feelings that left me so desperate for an escape. They helped remove the scales from my eyes that kept me blind to the truth about who God says I am.

Piece by piece, He’s redeeming the brokenness. In the redemption, He’s strengthening what once was so weak – my mind, my heart, my soul, and my body.

Today, I praise God that I’m able to say I’m walking in freedom, choosing to keep a firm grasp on truth, regardless of feelings. I’m learning more every day about this marvelous person in me He created for good things.

I’m a writer and the founder of a ministry called Bring Your Brokenness. I lead recovery groups and am working towards my certification in Biblical counseling. We are planning to open a residential facility for women with eating disorders on Amelia Island, Florida.

This is my joy! To proclaim to you that even in the middle of the pain, regardless of the issue, God is always faithful. To testify that the same Redeemer who gave me hope and restored me wants to do the very same for you. By the grace of God, no matter how dark it may seem, there is always hope!

Reach out and take hold of it. Don’t let go, because your very life depends upon it! You will see the beautiful grace of a faithful God unfold before your eyes. You will learn that what others meant for evil, God wants to redeem for so much good. That because of the cross, there is no place for shame. And that in the hands of a sovereign, almighty God, any life can be miraculously and wondrously transformed.

Amie S.

About Our Sponsor:

Canopy Cove Eating Disorder Treatment Center is a leading residential Eating Disorder Treatment Center with 25 years’ experience treating adults and teens who are seeking lasting recovery from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and other related eating disorders.

We are a licensed rehabilitative provider accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Trusted and recommended by doctors and therapists throughout the country, our program provides clients with clinical excellence and compassionate care.

As one of the most experienced Eating Disorder Centers in the nation, we’ve developed a highly effective program that incorporates solid evidence-based therapies which have been shown to increase recovery rates.

  • Each person we treat receives a customized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.
  • We increase recovery rates by simultaneously treating co-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression. (We also accept clients with an Eating Disorder and co-existing Diabetes).
  • We provide family education and family therapy throughout the recovery process. (Offered by phone for out of town families).
    Our Christian-based eating disorder treatment program warmly accepts all clients from various belief systems.

Get help now. Call 855-338-8620.
[email protected]

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on November 14, 2018.
Reviewed & Approved on November 14, 2018, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.