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Stories of Hope and Recovery

Overcoming an Eating Disorder

We believe that recovery is possible for anyone struggling with an eating disorder. It’s not always an easy journey and it takes time, but it is possible and it is worth it. We invite you to read these recovery stories from ERC alumni in hopes that you can be inspired and have hope that one day you’ll be able to tell your own story of recovery.

"I tell everybody, you don't have a choice to be sick, but you have a choice to recover. I've seen things on both sides and I don't want to go back to the other side because it wasn't good.”

Jenifer, 30

Houston, TX

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Bulimia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Houston.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

My family. I became bulimic when I was 16 and I was pregnant with my first daughter. I hated myself and the mother that I was. After going through treatment at ERC, I learned a lot about myself and I learned who I was. I learned that I do deserve recovery and I do deserve a chance at life and living a healthy life.

Since leaving ERC, I worked extremely hard and put myself through school to study as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. I’m now working as an Admissions Counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment center. I’m also enrolled in college and working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services so I can work in the field of mental health or social work. It was a dream of mine as a child to someday be a counselor and without ERC, those dreams would have never come true.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

I would say it’s a process every day and it gets easier. You learn a lot of tools and a lot of skills and you have that choice. It’s a beautiful opportunity.

For family members, I would say that it’s very important to be supportive. Just to hang in there and don’t give up hope. You can’t do the work for the person that’s struggling. You can only be there to support them, gain knowledge, be aware of the signs, and be aware of what the person is going through. Try to be empathetic of what they’re going through and what they’ve been through.

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"I left ERC a completely different person. I haven't had one slip, or binge or purge since the day I walked in there, November 12th of 2014. It was a great experience. It literally saved my life.”

Alexandra, 27

Kansas City, MO

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

I struggled with anorexia, and then when I entered ERC I was restricting, but I was also binging and purging and I was over exercising. I also struggled with alcoholism.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I have recovered my voice. I have learned to set boundaries. Every day is still a struggle. I don’t think I’m in recovery anymore. I like to call it that I’m on a path to healing myself. I have a better relationship with my body and my body image. I still have some disorder thoughts, and some disorder images about my body, but I’m aware of that. I know that any time I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I don’t have to go binge and purge.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

That’s always a tricky question, because I always think, “How did I do it? How have I not had one binge and purge? How did I stop?” Think about it, almost a year and a half ago I could barely go two hours without doing my eating disorder, and now I don’t think about binging and purging. The advice that I would give is just to keep holding on. If a person wants recovery that bad, then they will make it happen. Honestly, for me, I had to hit my rock bottom. My advice would just be patient, and to keep reminding yourself that it is a marathon and not a sprint.

"If there's even a question that you might need some help, go ahead and get the help. The longer you wait, the harder it is to separate the disorder from who you are.”

Jordan, 28

New York, NY

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

I was first treated for anorexia when I was 13. I then relapsed and became an anorexic bulimic …  a bulimic … a binge-eater … every different type of eating disorder that you can have, I had.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Dallas.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

There’s a severe amount of anxiety and depression that goes into eating disorders and a lack of faith in yourself, and in your future, and in the fact that things can get better for you. There’s a foundation and a background that you really need to recover. That’s how it was for me. I gained a security that I didn’t have before. I learned skillsets that I, for some reason, didn’t have before.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

The sooner you get into treatment, the better. I got into treatment within 6 months, which is probably a huge reason why I’m doing better now. I couldn’t imagine waiting or thinking you can fix it yourself, or getting a nutritionist or things like that. That’s just delaying the inevitability of getting sick.

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"I felt like people at ERC cared about me, and not just what I did. They really were concerned about who I was as a person. They loved me until I could love myself again.”

Kelli, 49

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia. I’m a recovering alcoholic also.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

Recovery has been really exciting for me because so much of my life was based in shame. No matter how good I was, no matter what I did to impress people, I always felt shame. It has been a huge burden lifted off of me.

I have also gained the ability to authentically connect with people. I had never, ever sat down and had coffee with somebody until I had been through treatment at ERC. I might go running with somebody, I might work on a project at work with somebody, but to sit down and have an intimate conversation with somebody, sharing about our lives, was extremely scary for me.

That’s one of my favorite things to do now, is to sit down and have coffee with somebody and be like, “Who are you, really?” Being able to look someone in the eye. Shame doesn’t cover everything that I do.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

My biggest piece of advice to somebody considering treatment is to have even just a little willingness. A little bit of willingness to say, “You know what? Maybe I don’t have all the answers for how I think life should be.” Be willing to think, “Yeah. Maybe there’s something better out there. Maybe there is somebody who can help me.”

"I can't make other people want to recover but I can show them what recovery looks like. That's also been a gift for recovery, as well. I can't live other people's journeys for them, the best that I can do is show them what it looks like to be in recovery.”

Eric, 27

San Antonio, TX

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Originally anorexia and later on bulimia, as well.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

San Antonio, TX.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I have recovered connection. I have recovered grace. I have recovered possibilities. There’s so many things that I’ve recovered, it’s so hard to pin it.

The first thing is, the ability to be gentle and experience grace in my life. Whatever you want that word to mean. For me, it’s so many things. Possibilities to understand that when I think it’s over, or when I think it’s hard, or when I think it’s impossible, the gift of recovery is that anything is possible. I’m not going to live a damaged, messed up life. I really can recover so many things. I really can experience so many things. Especially healing. Remember that nothing is impossible. That I’ve come this far. Anything is possible. I’ve recovered the ability to say, “You’re worth it.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

As far as families go, I tell them this is supposed to change you, so face the idea that things are going to change and you’re going to recover together. Especially, if it’s a child and a parent. Trust your child. You’re dealing with this, too, this isn’t just your child. This is supposed to change you, as well. Don’t be scared of that.

So often shame of having the disorder, or shame for a lot of the behaviors that go with the disorder, they scare us from recovery. The biggest gift you can give as a person in recovery is the ability to look someone in the eye and show them that you get it. There is just something about someone else who is going through that journey that you connect on such a different way. They’re not going to lie to you. They tell me sometimes, “This sucks. This is going to suck for a while and you’re okay.”

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"My second admission at ERC was the most challenging yet rewarding experience. I was more willing to give recovery a chance this time. I was finally ready to work through things.”

Lauren, 24

Denver, CO

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I definitely feel more independent now. I’ve been able to let a lot of things go that would normally bother me, or stuff that I used to worry about that wasn’t a really big deal. Now I can focus on real life problems like school and dating and figuring out my finances, not how much I’m not going to eat today or how much I’m going to exercise.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

It is a very long process. Nothing is going to happen overnight. I feel like it’s okay to go back to treatment if it’s necessary. It’s not a shameful thing. It’s better than sitting at home and letting yourself die. Admit that you do need help and let go. Allow people to help you and have them worry about your issues so you can focus on getting better.

"It really is worth it to be able to hug my friends and not have them worry that they were going to break me or that this might be the last time that they hug me. It's worth it to just be able to be in my life.”

Megan, 34

Spokane, WA

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Washington.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I am able to be honest with my family and friends instead of hiding things. If I’m having a difficult time, I let them know instead of hiding things until I’m in the hospital. It’s a value of mine, but the eating disorder really takes that away. And I’m able to be home and be in my community … be a part of my community … be with my friends.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

My advice is to stick with it when you feel you can’t go anymore. Just one more step is all you need to take. One bite at a time. You don’t have to do everything all at once.

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"I didn't get to where I was without the support and help from Project Heal and Eating Recovery Center. When insurance started balking at covering treatment, Project Heal stepped in and made it possible for me to continue. I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be with my fiancé and getting married next year. I wouldn't have my daughter. I wouldn't have my step-son. I would probably be in my own little dark place, hiding, counting calories, looking at food, looking at labels. Not fun. I enjoy my life now.”

Adam, 29

Davis, CA

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Sacramento.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I recovered the ties with my family and friends. I was really mean during my eating disorder. I never stood up for myself.  By going into treatment and being recovered, it helped me to re-bond with my parents and my brother and my fiancé.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

My fiancé (who is also recovering from an eating disorder) and I still have rough days. We’re very open and honest with each other. If she’s struggling, I sit with her, listen, and try to guide her through it.

So, if there’s anyone out there who is struggling I would say, don’t be afraid of help. I know a lot of people are afraid of help. At least I was because I thought getting rid of my eating disorder was like getting rid of my soul. It was scary.

If someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I’m concerned about you,” I would listen because they just want what’s best for you.

"It's not just an eating disorder. It's not just behaviors. There is something underlying there that is causing you to engage in those behaviors, and you have to get to the meat of it.”

Monqueescha

Denver, CO

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Bulimia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I’ve changed my perspective on the way I see things now. I’ve learned to prioritize not around the eating disorder, but around the quality of life, and how important that is to me.  I have a support system in order to continue to reach goals I set—and they can be big goals or small goals—but just doing things out of my comfort zone.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

The main thing is you have to believe in yourself, to get a great team like ERC, and try not to sabotage yourself, because you’re your worst enemy.

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"I never really knew what happiness and contentment felt like. It's something that you can never really understand or explain until you feel it.”

Nicole, 30

Seattle, WA

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

Many people will tell you that the sparkle of life is back in my eye! I had hit rock-bottom in my eating disorder and found myself sick of being sick. I told myself that I had to commit to at least one year of recovery, and the only way I would know if I would recover would be to put my heart and soul in it one hundred and twenty percent.

My main goal was to find what I was passionate about again. I began to backpack around the world. Last year I traveled solo through Taiwan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Iceland. It was so empowering doing this alone and feeling strong and capable again. I also started my own photography business and enjoy working with small children and seeing life through their eyes.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

Take some time to create a “dream board” for inspiration. Brainstorm what you need to do to fulfill some of those dreams, and put your focus on that. Find your passion, and the rest will follow. Don’t think about it all too much, just do it.

"It’s cliché, but your best day in recovery really is better than your worst day in your illness. There is no life inside of an eating disorder.”

Chris, 33

Denver, CO

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I’ve developed the ability to be present with my life. Before entering treatment, I had no real concept of my own identity outside of my eating disorder.  Since leaving treatment, I’ve discovered a new life that I didn’t think was possible.  I’ve connected with my children. I’ve discovered just how much I love kids, and have re-discovered just how deeply I love my own children.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

Have compassion for yourself and your process. Understand that recovery is a process and that it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work to overcome your eating disorder. Know that recovery is possible and that you can do it. Finally, be patient with yourself during the journey.

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"I will never resort back to my full eating disorder ever again. I've never felt better about my body. It takes time, but that time is worth it. I never thought I would say that.”

Savannh

Austin, TX

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Anorexia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

I don’t have body image issues every day. I don’t have to look at food and feel like I can’t have it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

That it’s going to be one of the hardest challenges you’ll ever go through, but it is the most rewarding outcome that you may possibly have. It’s hard. It’s hard on the family. It’s hard on the individual. There are a lot of things that have to come out … the truth has to come out. Being truthful was part of me being free and being honest. That honestly led to, “Alright, let’s do this.”

"My biggest motivators were learning to communicate with my family and taking into account all the things I value in my life. I didn't want to go back in that place where I was hurting my friends and my family. ERC helped me with all of that.”

Stacy, 28

Indianapolis, IN

WHICH TYPE OF EATING DISORDER DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH?

Diabulimia.

WHICH ERC CENTER DID YOU GO TO FOR TREATMENT?

Denver.

WHAT HAVE YOU RECOVERED IN YOUR LIFE SINCE OVERCOMING YOUR EATING DISORDER?

The trust of my family and friends. In an eating disorder you hide things and so you lose that trust. My family now trusts me more and they know that I’ll come to them if I’m struggling or need to talk. The relationship with my family and friends has been the biggest change that I’ve seen.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER?

Use your friends and family, if they’re willing. Use them for support and use your voice to openly communicate so they know what’s going on. Keep them in the loop.

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