Friday, April 26, 2013

Life With An Eating Disorder: Never stop fighting

Today's post concludes week one of the "Life With An Eating Disorder" series.

In case you missed Monday - Thursday, here you go...
A Story of Hope
A Story of a Once Perfectionist
A work in progress
The importance of recovering for YOU

Today we have Nicole who is here to share her testimony. She is from the great state of California (yes I am partial because I was born there) and loves reading, singing and making music. Nicole recently graduated from a treatment center for eating disorders, and I am SO proud that she is willing to share with all of us. Not many people would be willing to share like this, less than two months post treatment. Talk about some courage.

. . .

This past year has been a whirlwind. Let me back up though and ease you in. When I was in 5th grade I had the thought, “I’m fat,” for the first time. I wasn’t until I was in 8th grade that the behaviors started. It started off innocently enough. I thought, for whatever reason, that in order to make friends in high school I had to lose weight. So I started eating less thinking that was the only way to lose weight. By the time I was a freshman in high school I was skipping meals and I had begun self-harming. The one thing I promised myself I would never do was purge because I wouldn’t risk ruining my singing voice. Towards the end of my sophomore year I started purging because simply not eating wasn’t working. This was a turning point in my battle with eating disorders. A turn for the worse. The next two years are all kind of a blur. This beast wholly consumed me.

The summer before I left for college I consciously had the thought that I could finally lose the weight I had been trying so hard to lose because no one would be around to stop me. No one knew me. I could get away with not eating. I was excited. My eating disorder was ecstatic. I started seeing a counselor at the school’s counseling center at the request of a friend. During the spring semester of my freshman year my counselor asked me to go to an eating disorder clinic to have an assessment done. I had absolutely no intentions of admitting to the program. I went to appease my counselor. I remember the day I walked into Valenta very clearly. I don’t remember the questions I was asked. I do remember being weighed and not being able to see my weight. I was freaking out inside. I didn’t need to be there. I wasn’t sick enough. I left, never intending to go back. I went home that summer and continued on my downward spiral. I just wanted to be thin. I came back to school where my friends pleaded with me to start seeing a therapist again and go see a doctor. I found another therapist, but I refused to see a doctor. 

Finally, in December of 2011 my physical symptoms became an issue so I went to a doctor and had a complete blood panel done. When I went back for the results I was told that everything looked normal and obviously I didn’t have an eating disorder because my BMI wasn’t low enough. “See, you aren’t sick. You’re fine. You don’t need any help.” I believed this lie and continued to let my eating disorder live my life for me. In March I began having suicidal thoughts and a couple of my friends cornered me telling me that they wanted me under 24/7 supervision so that I couldn’t hurt myself. I refused and in response they contacted my RD (Residence Director). I met with her and a therapist from the counseling center and assured them that I had no plans to kill myself. They were reassured and I thought I was home free. Then they asked me to set up an assessment at the same eating disorder clinic that I had been to a year ago. I called the next day and set up an appointment for the day after that. I remember this assessment with amazing clarity. I remember being scared to death because admitting to the program was an actual possibility this time. One of the therapists came in, the one who ended up being my primary therapist, and began asking me an exhaustive list of questions. After what seemed like forever she told me I had bulimia. Shock and denial filled me. Then she told me that she would strongly recommend the partial hospitalization program. I went cold all over. I left telling her that I would think about it and give her a call. Within a couple of days I had withdrawn from a class, talked to professors, and committed to going to treatment.

March 19, 2012.

This was the day I entered treatment. 

I went in thinking that I would be in and out within 6 weeks. Little did I know that 6 weeks would turn into a year. I lived with a friend over the summer since Valenta is 10 hours away from home. I thought for sure I would be done before school started in the fall. Too bad eating disorders are relentless. I was still in program when school started. I was only going 2 days a week in order to attend classes. This arrangement started causing issues and my therapist placed before me an ultimatum. Either I came back into program full time or I discharged. I discharged. I couldn’t let myself get anymore behind in school. I had to graduate on time. Enter in 3 weeks of hell. These 3 weeks opened my eyes to an attachment I had to my therapist and to the fact that I still desperately needed help. After 3 weeks I sent my therapist a text and told her I needed to come back. I ended up withdrawing from 2 classes, staying on campus for Thanksgiving break, and only going home for 3 days at Christmas in order to be in treatment full time.

This time around something had finally shifted in me. I finally wanted recovery for me. I didn’t care that I might graduate late. Who said you had to finish your undergrad in 4 years anyways? For the next 5 months I worked my butt off. Before I knew it my therapist was talking about graduating me from the program. I was ecstatic and scared to death. How could I do this without Valenta? 

March 20, 2013.

I graduated from Valenta.

It was a day of many emotions. I had done it. I had accomplished something and I was, and still am, darn proud. Looking back over this past year, I’ve realized that despite the pain it brought, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. God made Himself known to me in so many different ways. He put me in positions that forced me to rely solely on Him. I’m not done with recovery yet by any means. I still have a battle ahead of me. But, I can now say that recovery is possible and everyone deserves help

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t silence yourself because you think you aren’t sick enough. Never stop singing. It’s taken me a long time to find my voice again- the voice bulimia had stolen from me. Find your voice again. And if you need help to do it, seek out help because you deserve it. And always, always, always, kick your eating disorder in the teeth. Take back your power. Take back your life. Never stop fighting

. . . 

See you back here Monday to continue this series and hear family member testimonials.

Have a great weekend! 


  1. I can so relate, Nicole. I love how you say, "Who says you have to do xyz in xyz time?" Our eating disorders are so convincing when they set these timelines for us! I'm so happy you broke through that in order to better serve yourself. Keep it up, girl!

  2. Very proud of you for taking the time to heal, Nicole. I know that must have been a really hard choice. Praying you're able to continue healing and experiencing freedom!

  3. Keep fighting Nicole! And keep singing, keep using that beautiful voice that you have!


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