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. Eventually my eating disorder became my entire identity and that is when my process of self discovery came to a halt. I thought, as author of Life Without Ed, Jenni Schaefer, would put it, that “Ed” would help me find the answer to true happiness and success in life. As you all know, the excitement and glamour of the eating disorder does not last forever. My life was consumed with food, insecurities and my outward appearance. While other kids were learning what their favorite sports or colors were, I had my head in a toilet.After ten years of slow suicide, my esophagus was eroding; I had heart burn all the time and my heart would randomly beat irregularly throughout the day. What kind of existence is that? I discovered that I wasn’t invincible and that if I didn’t do something, I was going to die. I wasn’t ready to leave this world. I didn’t know what my purpose in life was, but for some reason I knew I had to keep holding on. I was finally ready to fully commit to recovering from my eating disorder.After ten years, my relationships with my boyfriend, friends and family had deteriorated. At this point, I could not stop on my own, but I knew that didn’t make me a failure. What I needed was to be in an environment that could save me from myself. I needed to be surrounded by people who cared about my life because I didn’t. I checked myself into an inpatient facility. During that time, I was the “perfect” patient. I was an inspiration to all and the one who would reach out and become a role model for the other patients. At the same time, I was screaming and yelling at my mother in the middle of the night telling her that they were the enemy and that I was just trying to survive their evil plan to make me “fat”. Not surprisingly, I ended up signing myself out after 30 days. At the time, I thought that I was the expert in what I should weigh, and that they were just out to turn me into a hideous beast. When I got out, I thought that those 30 days had reversed the 10 torturous years with an eating disorder. It hadn’t. I thought that my little time of freedom from “Ed” gave me another identity, which I defined as “perfect recovery. ” The thing is perfection never lasts. I have now learned I am imperfectly perfect and that is what makes me Melanie Aldis.Does this story sound devastating or what? Guess what. It isn’t. I am a smart, funny, beautiful successful woman who has fully recovered from an eating disorder. I am now a representative of one of the most incredible programs I have ever seen. I work for them not because I need this job but because I chose a passion in life instead of choosing to die.When I was really sick, I was inspired to keep hanging on because I knew that I never wanted another girl to go through what I had been through. I didn’t want anyone to experience the feeling of loneliness and helplessness because it is terrifying. Knowing this is what kept me going through my very long and challenging recovery process. My ultimate dream was to help others who were living through what I had lived. After really, really, really, really hard work on myself (and I mean every really), I now have the opportunity to work in this healing profession.I thank God everyday for letting me be a part of something so pure and sincere. I hope that people struggling with eating disorders have a reliable and caring person or people in their lives to hold on to their desire to live until they can do it themselves. I was lucky enough to have that, but I don’t believe that is the only way out. If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, look within your heart to find out why you haven’t let “Ed” completely take over. There is a reason. Want to know what it is…you do want to live and you DESERVE to live, so hold on to those little daily miracles that keep you alive and use it as inspiration to reach out for help. I know you feel alone and scared, but I promise the moment you ask for help something beautiful will happen.
With love from my heart and my soul,
Melanie Aldis is a clinical outreach representative with Center for Change in Orem, Utah. For more information, please visit www.centerforchange.com.