National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Hope on the Wall
By Patrick McCaslin


As a child, I dreamed of doing something extraordinary with my life. At the time, I had no idea just exactly what that dream would become. Growing up, I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up very happy, and filled with joy. I would spend my summers under the sun, and chase lighting bugs under the shine of the moon. I never felt negative thoughts about my body, or worried about food. It was not until my freshmen year of High school, did my struggle begin. I was bullied every day, and would cry often. I started to feel very weak as the rest of the school year went on. So my father took me to the hospital, and I met with my doctor. The next thing I knew, I was told I had anorexia. I was blindsided and really had no idea what anorexia even was. Two day later, after my sixteenth birthday I was hospitalized. I was so overwhelmed by bullies, food, and worrying, I forgot to take care of myself. While at the hospital, I found out what exactly I was dealing with. I felt hopeless, and really did not know what to do with my life. One night, I watched the sun set from my room in the hospital, and that is where I found hope. I cried that entire day, because I was not home with my family on the 4th of July. As the rays of the sun twinkled in my tears, I took a deep breath and found courage in my heart. I promised myself that evening, that I would do whatever I could to overcome my eating disorder. After some time in the hospital, I transitioned to an outpatient program. I was finally able to sleep at home with my family. I continued to do my best every day, and after a few weeks I was able to be on my own again. Two years later, I had to go back to outpatient treatment again. I found that I was struggling with my eating disorder again. I refused to quit though, and told myself to never let go of hope. I missed a semester of school, and would have to come back a 5th year to finish up high school. After a few months of treatment, I was once again able to be on my own. Several years went by, and during that time I kept things in control. I had very difficult days, but also ones that were easier. Last year at this very time, I was once again in an outpatient setting. I started to let go of hope, and felt myself slipping away. I hit the bottom, and was upset that I was struggling again. I told myself I would never fall again, and being in treatment another time really was rough. During one rainy afternoon, I was sitting in a chair at the treatment facility and I had an idea. I cut out some letters, and put them up on the wall. It spelled out "hope", and I looked at it whenever things became difficult. Every single day, I looked at that wall.  After a few months, it was time for me to get my life back again, since I had to quit my job, because of my state of health. So I was not sure exactly what to do with my life at this point. For four months I continued to recover and search my soul for that dream of doing something extraordinary. A job opportunity came up, and I felt it was time to work again. I was terrified to go to the interview, and was scared I would get sick again and have to quit another job. I told myself that was not an option any more, and showed up to that interview. Two days later I got the job, and now I'm working at a job I love. I'm a Rehab Tech, and I help patients in an in-patient setting. I help with people learning to walk, and recover from things like strokes and brain injuries. A year ago I was hopeless, and was fearful I would never be able to work again. I now wake up every day, and look forward to living life. I look in the mirror and tell myself to be proud of just how far I have come.  When I was young, I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I don't think that anymore, I'm doing what I believe is my purpose in life each day. My extraordinary dream has come true and I have won my battle with anorexia. The last ten years have had moments that felt truly impossible, yet I made it, with the support of friends, family, and some great staff during my time in treatment. I now watch the sunset each day, and smile knowing that recovery truly is possible. Hope has, and will continue to guide me to the days ahead. Never give up on your dreams, and never ever let go of hope. 



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