Why I'm Thankful For Project HEAL

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By: Jessica Koller

What I thought was the end, was just the beginning.

I cannot pinpoint one event or reason that sparked my eating disorder at the very young age of 11 years old. However, I can talk about the one and only reason I was given a second chance at life in my most crucial time getting help. Project HEAL is an amazing non-profit organization that helps fundraise costs for individuals who desperately need and want treatment with eating disorders that cannot afford it themselves. It costs $30,000 for an individual to receive only one month’s inpatient care. That is a godly amount especially since those suffering almost always need more than a month in treatment, and health insurance companies often times kick the person out of treatment way before they are ready to be discharged.  Now, I want to briefly share my story and why I chose to blog for Project HEAL.

Briefly after I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in the beginning of the fifth grade, I was told I needed hospitalization due to my drastic weight loss. I had gone to therapy before and I did not think I had a problem at all. The day I was hospitalized at Princeton’s eating disorder unit I was simply a terrified 11 year old just wanting to go back home with my family and friends. All I remember was my parents leaving me with doctors and specialists who were there to help me gain my health back. I began having a breakdown and extremely upset and nervous was with what would come. Although I desperately needed to be there, I was notified after only a week of inpatient that my insurance company was kicking me out due to a small weight gain.

At the time I was so happy hearing this news because I just wanted to go home and get back to school. I was covered for one month stay in outpatient and then I was discharged. What we all hoped was the end of my illness, turned out to be just the beginning of a very scary relapse. In the beginning the 6th grade, I slowly began losing weight due to complications in school and was then homeschooled that year. I remember constant doctor appointments and therapy sessions I had no desire going to. By the time I turned 12 my eating disorder had taken a drastic toll on my life as well as my entire family, and everyone I was friends with I became so isolated from.

In February of that same year, my family reached out to Dr. Phil, in hopes of getting me help, and a miracle happened. Project HEAL saw my story and immediately reached out to my family. At this point in time my family no longer could afford health insurance so the hope was gone from all of us. After Project HEAL contacted Princeton’s eating disorder unit, my doctor at Princeton readmitted me informing me if I was willing to put in the hard work and dedication to the healing process, this organization was offering to fund my treatment stay for the time I needed.  I now knew I had little time left to live and wanted the help.

I dreamed of my happy life back with sports involved again and engaging in parties with friends. I put in a lot of work throughout my therapy sessions, groups, and nutrition. It was not easy one second but after my one month stay inpatient, followed by two months outpatient, I was confident in leaving the treatment center. The co-founders of Project HEAL will forever be my inspiration in recovery and I can’t thank these two incredible girls enough for saving my life. They dedicate their lives in showing people recovery is possible and there is light on the other side of an eating disorder. What I thought was the end at only age 12, was just the beginning. I am living happily and healthy today at 20 years old, thriving in my recovery journey. Thank you, Project HEAL.

About the Author: Jessica Koller resides in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Jess works as a daycare teacher for infants and young toddlers.  At Project HEAL, Jess is working on monthly blogs for our site to help share with others her story in hopes of inspiring individuals who are currently struggling or in recovery as well.  Jess is passionate about helping others, animals, and playing sports. Her favorite icecream is mint chocolate chip and loves spending time with friends and family.