National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Another Day Forward
By Mary Guilbeault


In March, I celebrate ten years in recovery from my eating disorder. Ten years ago, I drove to residential treatment, scared out of my mind, but so desperate for help. My life had become completely unmanageable. The night before I left, I told my parents that imagining my life without the destruction of a never-ending cycle of bulimia, which was part of my life every day for three years, seemed like some sort of fantasy. I nearly lost my life because I saw no way out and I was so, so tired. Treatment was the best thing to happen to me. Although I wasn’t completely out of the woods after the two months in treatment, it stopped the cycle of my behaviors, and after years of social anxiety, I formed close bonds with the girls there. To this day, I still use many of the tools that were introduced to me. Like many survivors of eating disorders, mine was closely linked to emotional trauma and years of struggling with my mental health. I didn’t know at the time that my eating disorder had become my only coping mechanism to deal with the pain of my life. For the first time, I understood my emotions. If someone were to ask me how I got through this, I would say the journey began there, in treatment ten years ago. However, that was the start, and I’ve been blessed with people in my life who’ve supported and stayed with me through it all. I saw a therapist for five years who had also recovered from bulimia. My brothers and sister have seen me in crisis, in the worst moments of my life, and even though they were scared and had no idea what to do, they were strong for me and found something to do to help. Most importantly, this experience has given me a bond with my parents that will never be broken. I know that they, more than anyone else, understand what this anniversary means. I am so grateful to my support system along the way. However, what I would say to anyone living every day with an eating disorder, in complete despair, feeling like there’s no way out. That the most important relationship you can possibly cultivate is with yourself. At the end of the day, no one can save you if you don’t think you’re worth saving. You have profound strength within you and although it will maybe be the hardest thing you ever do, you can recover. Day by day, you will cultivate confidence and skills and awareness that will be with you for the rest of your life. It doesn't take ten years to feel accomplished, small victories are what get you there, one day at a time. You can be a survivor.

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