This past weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to represent TK at the first New England University Eating Disorders Awareness walk at Boston University. And to boot, I had the gift of bringing my step son along. Some of you have seen him with me at the Chicago NEDA walks…never too early to get them involved in the cause!
The Boston event was profound for a number of reasons. The three other speakers were inspiring and wonderful company to be among. Doris Meltzer and her husband spoke about their daughter who died of bulimia at the age of 19. Their message is always heartfelt and an incredibly powerful reminder that eating disorders kill — and that the need for expert care, and adequate amounts of care, are critical, both for sufferers and their families.
College is a time that most people associate with freedom, independence, socializing, “partying” and maybe even a little bit of learning. I had such aspirations when I set off to attend the University of Chicago.
But my bulimia started my freshman year in college, and sadly, my whole college experience was affected by this terrible illness. I maintained all A’s, competed as a college athlete on the softball and basketball teams, and even got accepted into one of eight spots in medical school offered each year through the early acceptance program.
My bulimia was a deep, dark, terrible secret. The few attempts I made at student counseling to get help for it were futile. “It’s not that bad, yet.” Or, “We can’t really help you with that, since you get six visits and that’s all.”
Not until my third year of medical school did I finally find a treatment team who knew how to help me (not only with my anorexia and bulimia, but the alcoholism, trauma, depression and anxiety that went along with it). By the time I found this help, I had resigned myself to dying of my bulimia, fairly certain that I was a lost cause and beyond help.
Now fast forward 14 years into the future. I’m standing on a stage at BU, first and foremost as a woman recovered from her eating disorder, speaking to college students, advocates and professionals about hope and recovery. Also, I am standing up there as a wife, married to the love of my life, step-mom (or step-monster as my kids like to joke), daughter, sister, friend, doctor, and CEO/Medical Director of the best residential treatment center in the world for women.
If someone would have told me 14 years ago that this day would happen, I would have tried to have them committed!
Unbelievable grace and abundant gifts have come my way in recovery.
Next week, I will blog about the biggest one yet!