Written by: Jennifer Sternecker
Everybody knows somebody. There was a time in my life when I thought I was the only one. The only one struggling with this voice in my head telling me I was worthless, fat, undesirable, fat, disappointing, fat, a failure, fat, etc. and fat. No matter what I heard, fat was all I could focus on. It allowed me to not focus on those hurtful words in between. It was one thing I felt I could change. So I did. For many years. I nearly killed myself trying to ignore those hurtful words. Luckily, I grabbed hold of the hands that were reaching out for me, the hands that said that I wasn’t alone any more, and started my journey of recovery.
Recovery has changed my life. Not only has it allowed me to view myself, my world, and my life differently but it’s also opened my world to many opportunities to help others. The opportunities have come in expected and unexpected places. I have met one of my best friends in an IOP group, a friend that I feel that I can be completely honest with and stay accountable with. Others that I’ve met at therapy, or online groups, continue to reach out to me, asking for advice. I never dreamed someone would ask me for advice. My parents, who were upset to find out that their only daughter had a severe eating disorder, now tell me about friends’ daughters that are struggling. They want help so they ask my parents knowing they’ve lived through the horror but are now on the other side. Everybody knows somebody.
When I first started my journey of recovery, I had a friend from high school who opened up to me about her eating disorder. After referring her to the location in Olathe, KS where I was receiving treatment, we were both in the same group therapy and attending individual therapy there as well. No one would ever have guessed us to go down this road. We both had everything together in high school, or so it appeared. Good students, from good families, with high set goals, and many friends, why would they be emotionally distraught? That’s the lie that many people think- people who appear ok on the outside, are ok on the inside. Everybody knows somebody.
It’s when people approach me in the most unexpected places that I become so grateful for my recovery. Grateful for my ability to be that somebody. To being able to help a patient at my physical therapy clinic get connected with a therapist to help with her own eating disorder that she has opened up to me about to having a friend refer a friend of hers to me because she is struggling with the same disease that I did. The disease that isolates you and tells you that you are alone when in actuality you aren’t. When you are ready, you just have to open your eyes and you’ll see that there are hands reaching out for you. Faces in front of you saying “I’m here, I can help.” And hearts open to listen and love you, just as you are. Everyone knows someone.
After suffering for 14 years where I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, I finally decided to try to live life a new way. Today I live life one day at a time, not numbing out the anxiety and depression through anorexia and other various unhealthy coping patterns. The voice telling me that I’m not “good enough, pretty enough, funny enough, smart enough” – just not “enough” gets a little quieter each day.
After years of treatment and having the opportunity to mentor/sponsor others, I am finding my path to recovery through service to others.
Recovery allows me to live out my dreams and be a woman I can be proud of.
Believe in yourself, hang on to hope and trust and always reach for your dreams because recovery IS possible.