National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

Imagine you take one of those vibrating back-massagers (the kind that look like little plastic squid creatures you might find at a CVS) and place it on the back of your head. Then, use duct tape to secure the massager to your head by wrapping the tape around your jaw - kind of like a birthday party hat. Go ahead and turn the device on.

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I can vividly recall my first day at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital clinic. I had already been sick for 3 years, in which time I had seen more treatment providers than I can count on two hands. I was beginning to lose hope that I would ever get better. My EKG showed my heart beating at a measly pace, just 1 beat above the cardiac hospitalization threshold.

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When I began my recovery from my Eating Disorder (ED), Anorexia Nervosa (AN), I had a lot of momentum. I was sprinting towards a “recovery finish line” that I had imagined for myself within a self-imposed timeframe of a few months. This was in stark contrast to my 23 years of living with AN. At the 6 month recovery mark, I hit what I thought was a huge roadblock. For the first time in years, my weight had been restored to a point where my periods returned. I had a lot of mixed emotions surrounding this; happiness and excitement, but also distress and fear.

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This one’s to you, anorexia – 

For changing my life. 

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I want to open this with a personal share – 

The other day, I went to post a picture on my recovery Instagram account. I was by the pool – one of the first warm Spring days here in Denver, and I posed with my new swimsuit perfectly positioned – the light-infused filter chosen – and I had my caption ready to go.

“Soaking up rays – living my best recovery life." I planned to write to followers. 

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In honor of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAM), as a result of the dedicated efforts of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), I wanted to share my personal experience of the connection between sexual assault, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anorexia Nervosa (AN), and recovery. 

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Her eyes flickered as they made contact with mine. Finally, she exclaimed, “I’ve never seen anything like it; your dexa-scan is like that of an 80-year-old, or even older! As her words sunk in, I looked down at my hands, ashamed at the state of my 29-year-old body. “So, then what happens as I grow older?” I nervously questioned, unsure if I really wanted an answer. 

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If struggling with an eating disorder has ever left you feeling isolated or “different” than the people around you, or if you’ve ever looked around and realized that you’re recovering into a culture that can be unsupportive and even hostile to the healthy attitudes and habits you’re working to adopt, then give yourself the gift of attending a NEDA conference.

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“Let’s go out to eat.” The words immediately used to trigger a thousand thoughts. Which excuse do I use this time? Do I have homework? Am I busy? Maybe I don’t feel well? Or maybe this time I should just go so no one gets suspicious? 

Those were only a very few of the thoughts that went through my head when someone would ask me to go out to eat when I was in the darkest place of my eating disorder.

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Here at NEDA, we find it vital to recognize the unique experiences of individuals from different communities who are affected by eating disorders and sexual assault. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we've compiled a list of helpful resources, support posts, and self-care tips catered to those who have been affected and/or have loved ones who are survivors. 

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My eating disorder has had a significant impact on my life, as most eating disorders do, and it has caused me to miss out on a lot. One of the aspects of my life that has suffered due to my eating disorder is my education. Although I have struggled with food and body image since I was a kid, my eating disorder didn’t begin to fully form until my freshman year of high school.

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