Chapter 1: My Journey to Recovery
I can recall two times so far in my young life when I felt an internal shift inside. Some would say I was at a crossroads. I was - and I knew either path would alter my life forever. My name is Lauren. I’m 16 years old. And this is my story of how I came to that crossroads, and which path I bravely chose to go down. One path was anorexia - continuing to restrict my food intake as a way of coping with my emotions. The other path, the one I am currently on, is recovery.
The quote, “The light in me recognizes the light in you,” is associated with the word, Namaste. The idea of having others recognize the light inside yourself that you may not see is necessary was essential for me in recovery. I was fortunate enough to receive a lifesaving grant from Project HEAL to attend the University of California at San Diego Intensive Family Treatment (UCSD IFT) program last July.
This program gave me the opportunity to connect and relate with four other girls who were walking the same empowering path of recovery, alongside their families.
This was vital and crucial in my recovery. It gave me a sense of relief that I was not alone in my struggles. It also helped educate my family about eating disorders, and how to best support me on this path to recovery. The parents in the group developed a support team which, in turn, aided my recovery tremendously.
The turning point in my recovery was being educated on the biological aspect of my disease. Up until that point, I blamed the disorder on myself and that I had made a conscious decision to restrict. During one of our group sessions in treatment, Walter Kaye, neurobiologist and UCSD IFT program director, explained that anorexia is a brain disorder.
That new outlook showed me that I couldn’t just one day quit restricting; it was out of my control. As scary as that fact may seem, it was comforting to me. It made me believe that “my way” of fixing this wasn’t going to work, and that I must rely on tools learned in the IFT to reprogram my brain to have a positive response to food. Rather than associating food with anxiety and risk, knowing the biological aspect of this disease assured me that recovery is possible if I trusted in the program.
It didn’t take long in the program before I craved the freedom from the eating disorder that I so desperately needed. I have only been out of IFT for 3 months, and have already achieved that freedom I hadn’t even known I yearned for.
It brings me back to that same quote again that “The light in me recognizes the light in you.” Because alone, our light can sometimes be very dim. Together, our light can shine like the sun.
My hope is that we may all bask in this light that replenishes our spirits and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Project HEAL helped light a torch in me to choose that path of recovery, and surrounded me with an indestructible support system,. All which happen to be undoubtedly stronger than my disease.
Recovery is possible. There is a solution. I hope you will walk with me on this journey.
Join Lauren on her journey to recovery by following #LaurensRoadToRecovery on all of our social platforms. Each week our blog will feature a personal, intimate look into Lauren’s recovery journey from different points of view - her family, Lauren, and others.
Project HEAL is on this journey with Lauren and her family, will you join us?