I think about where I am in starting The Cashmere Foundation, an organization that brings spa experiences into hospitals, one year in. And honestly, I compare it so much to where I was one year in my recovery. It was 11 years ago when I was 18. I had just reached my goal weight and was getting ready to move to New York. I was this new person, the person I was meant to be, someone who would continue to evolve, but the foundation was there.
Ahead of me was a lot of uncertainty but I held tight to what I knew was important to me: persistence, self-care, self-love, authenticity, confidence, and most importantly, a treasured group of individuals to share my path with.
One year into The Cashmere Foundation, I feel that way all over again.
I have an amazing organization, just as it was always meant to be. We have seen over 1,000 patients. 95% of the patients we touch report a better hospital experience, and over three-fourths report decreased anxiety and pain. This is something that I could uniquely offer, just like a person who is recovering from an eating disorder is cultivating something only that only they can uniquely offer.
That, THAT, is the beauty of recovery. Strength channeled into something extraordinary.
Most important though is having a hand to hold along the way. We cannot do it alone. And here’s the irony: the lie that we are “alone” is something the eating disordered mind truly believes. We aren’t, we have each other.
There are countless moments at my desk, 12-hour days in, hair in a messy bun, and I think, “It’s only you here; this is all on you.” The dread of loneliness seeps in. It’s then that I remember where I have heard that one before, from my eating disorder, and I know instantly that it’s a lie. It’s those moments when I think about the importance of community. I think about the incredible network of support I have, reach out for help if I need to, and keep going. Always keep going.
Now, we are headed back to New York for the NEDA Walk on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of Cashmere. We’re spending the day with over 1,000 individuals who are struggling or recovering or recovered from an eating disorder, or loves someone who is. And that is truly inspirational.
As Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Rachel Happ is an eating disorder survivor, advocate, and founder of The Cashmere Foundation. She received her degree from Parsons School of Design, where she created a program focused on healthcare innovation strategy and environments for wellness.
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