Progress Over Perfection

“Take it 1 day at a time. One meal at a time. One snack at a time. Then put it behind you. It’s over, it’s done.”

It’s no secret that I am a perfectionist. Anyone who knows me at all knows that. I love everything to be exactly in the right spot, I triple check my homework, I practice one measure of music for an hour, I calculate what grades I need to get to keep my 4.0, I sort everything, whether it’s by color or alphabetical, or sometimes both. It’s just who I am. Now did you know that perfectionism is linked to eating disorders? Perfectionism is about control, and controlling how much or how little you eat is just another way to feel like you are in control. Before I actually had a diagnosis, I began researching like crazy. Some people had mentioned to me that this could be an eating disorder, but I wasn’t ready to accept that. I was going to read everything about them to prove to myself that I was “fine.” Then I read one article that changed everything. I found out that it is very common for people with eating disorders to be major perfectionists. Talk about a major callout. Reading that sentence changed my whole perception. That link to such a major part of my personality really got me worried.

That’s what made fighting so hard. I had to fight my ED voice AND my perfectionism voice.

The first few days at TK were some of the hardest days of my life. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never done anything like this, nor had I known anyone who had. I didn’t have any kind of reference point. I just knew that I wanted to get better, and I was going to do whatever it took.

After a few days or a week or so, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I felt like I was getting nowhere. If I didn’t eat, I was disappointing the staff and myself. If I did eat, ED Voice was mad, and I felt physically sick because my body wasn’t used to food. There was no way to win. One night I stayed up later than I usually liked because I just felt so lost and so hopeless. I waited until one of my favorite BHS’ was done helping everyone else so I could talk to her. The conversation we had in one of the group rooms at like 10:30 at night changed the rest of my recovery. (10:30 is pretty late when you wake up at 5:30 everyday)

She introduced a totally new concept to me: baby steps. While I was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, she was proud of me. She was proud of the baby steps. She printed out a quote that I continued to read throughout my time at TK, and I even return to it now in the new struggles of recovery.

“Sometimes falling down is part of the process. That uncomfortableness is where change happens. Where we evolve. Where we turn that weakness into strength. This struggle that you’re going through is part of the process. And you will make it through.”

Process, not perfection.

I realized that I had unintentionally set unrealistic expectations for myself. I felt like I was in treatment, and the only thing I could do was eat everything they gave me. 3 meals, 3 snacks, 100%. That just wasn’t realistic. And no one was expecting me to do that right away, except me. When I was asking that much of myself, of course I was going to be disappointed. I was setting myself up for failure. When I decided to shift my perspective to the baby steps, everything changed.

We decided to set more realistic goals. We started small. The new goal was to attend every meal and snack and sit with the food in front of me. Then eat 50% if I could, and finish with a drink supplement if I needed to. Just lowering the expectations made me feel so much more confident. By setting realistic goals, I was able to meet them and have the strength to surpass them. It wasn’t about eating 100% at every meal. It was about showing up. Taking the baby steps to eventually reach those 100%s.

Baby steps are just as important in recovery. It’s easy to get discouraged when I slip up or when ED thoughts creep back in. It’s easy to focus on the negative, or focus on what we can’t do. What if instead, we focused on what we can do?

I still get anxiety in unfamiliar restaurants or with big groups. Ok, but I can cope through it. I used to say no and not even go.

I still see my body in a negative way. Ok, but I’m learning to love it instead of finding every way to change it.

I still don’t have normal hunger/ fullness cues. Ok, but I am able to push through those and stay on a 3 meal/ 3 snack schedule.

Recovery is hard. It’s going to be hard. Recovery is up and down. There are good days and bad days. But no matter what happens, I am still fighting.

I am not perfect, but I’m still fighting.

What baby steps have you taken to become the person you want to be? No matter what they are, you’re doing it and I’m proud of you.

You are More than what You’re Feeling Right Now

“Today is going to be a good day and here’s why: Because today at least you’re you and that’s enough.” – Dear Evan Hansen

Emotions. Everyone has emotions. Sometimes, they come out of nowhere. Emotions rise and fall. Some are more intense than others. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they are just our bodies natural response to events. We can’t control what we feel, but we can control how to handle it.

It is so common to beat ourselves up for what we are feeling. We belittle ourselves for feeling emotions that are usually generalized as “bad.” Feeling things like anxiety, pain, and frustration is a part of being human, not a sign that you’re doing something wrong. It is impossible to get through life avoiding difficult emotions. Avoiding the tough stuff makes those emotions even harder to deal with.

Today I had an appointment with my therapist, like I do every week. My therapist is wonderful, and I look forward to seeing her every week. She has been such a vital part in my recovery. Today when I went to my appointment, I was feeling a lot of emotions. I knew I was feeling something, but I didn’t really know what I was feeling. It was kind of like a “funk.” My therapist, bless her heart, tried so hard to figure out what I was feeling and what I needed. I got so stuck on the negative things I was feeling that I couldn’t process through them and figure out why I was feeling that way. Recovery is learning new, healthy ways to cope with emotions. For so long, I turned to food as a coping skill to ignore those things I didn’t want to deal with. Sometimes you can’t explain what you’re feeling or why you’re feeling it, and that’s okay. What is important is to accept that you feel what you feel. Don’t try to run from it, deny it, or change it. It takes a lot of courage to simply face difficult feelings and let yourself sit with them.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Instead of beating yourself up for feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, or any strong emotion,  look at it as your body is just reacting to life’s challenges. Don’t label emotions as “good” or “bad.” Everyone has hard days, and everyone gets overwhelmed with emotions from time to time. There is always tomorrow and another chance to try again.

While I was at Timberline Knolls, we were given many different worksheets from all the different groups, and I kept them in a giant binder. When I didn’t know how to feel what I was feeling today, I got out the binder for help. I found this worksheet on self-compassion. It lists four questions you can ask yourself:

1: Can I be more gentle or compassionate with myself and what I’m experiencing? If not, what’s getting in my way?

2: What am I afraid might happen if I stop beating myself up and start cutting myself some slack?

3: Am I more understanding of people I care about and what they’re going through than I am with myself? If yes, why do I think this is?

4: What are the costs and benefits of being so hard on myself?

When you start to feel that uncomfortable emotion – you know, the one you can feel in the pit of your stomach, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Be kind to yourself today. You are a work in progress that is constantly learning and growing. Emotions are meant to be felt, but they do not define your character. Embrace them, learn from them, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to feel them.

You are so much more than whatever you may be feeling in this moment.

An Open Letter to my Eating Disorder

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Joshua 1:5

June 2 is World Eating Disorders Action Day. The vision for this day is to unite eating disorder activists, professionals, parents/carers and those personally affected to promote worldwide knowledge of eating disorders and the need for comprehensive treatment. The theme for this year is “Eating Disorders can’t afford to wait.” I decided to do a special blog post from my time in treatment. This is a letter I wrote to my ED on my 2nd day of treatment. Day 2 of TK and I was ready to kiss ED goodbye. If you wrote a letter of freedom to that inner critic or that inner demon, what would it say?

Dear Eating Disorder,

Screw you. You have taken over every aspect of my life. Who gave you the power to rule my life? You came in out of nowhere and started taking everything from me. You took everything good in my life. And what did you give me? Nothing. You’ve made me destroy myself. You have made me a person I never wanted to be. When will you be satisfied? When is enough? I’ll tell you. Listen up.

Enough is enough.

You have taken enough . Do you want to be reminded of everything you’ve taken from me? Fine. You took my happiness. You took my health. You took my hope. You took relationships. You took the possibility of Miss Missouri this summer. You took the ability to memorize music. You took me away from some really cool events at school, working at Music Fest, singing at ACDA with Chorale, going on band tour. You took school, my favorite place on Earth. You took my happy place. You took me out of the best environment I’ve ever been in. You took away me getting a little in SAI. You took peace from my friends and gave them worry. You took my power. You took my focus. You took my desire to work hard. You took over my mind. You took 1st priority over everything.

Well, guess what? You’re not taking my future.

And everything you’ve taken from me? I’m taking it back. All of it. You will no longer have control over me. You will no longer be the #1 priority in my life. I’m getting rid of you and you will not be welcomed back. There is no place for you here. I can thank you for a few things, ED. I can thank you for teaching me that I don’t need you. Did you hear that?

I don’t need you.

So pack up your things. Pack up the shame, the guilt, the anxiety, the disgust, the fear, the sadness, the shame, the guilt, the shame, the guilt. Oh, don’t forget the shame and the guilt. I don’t want them anymore. I don’t need them anymore. Do you know what my life is going to look like without you? Man, it is gonna be good.

I’m ready, are you?

26 Things I learned at TK

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9

So, 26 has kind of become my number. On February 26 I was admitted to TK, and one month later on the 26th, I was discharged. Now it’s May 26th, and I have been in recovery for 2 months. I learned more at Timberline than I ever would’ve imagined. Since there are also 26 letters in the alphabet, here are just a few of the things I learned:

A – A little laughter goes a long way

B – Be proud of yourself

C – Coping is not the same thing as healing

D – Don’t give up on yourself

E – Everyone’s recovery matters

F – Feelings are temporary

G – God’s voice is louder than ED voice

H – How you feel is more important than how you look

I – I don’t need ED

J – Just for today, I choose harmony

K – Keep going

L – Let go and let God

M – Make every day count

N – Numbers don’t define you

O – Other people’s reactions are not your fault

P – Progress over perfection

Q – Quiet times are everything

R – Recovery is a process, relapse is part of it.

S – Surround yourself with people you love

T – There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow

U – Urges pass

V – Validate what you are feeling

W – Weight does not measure worth

X – eXpect the unexpected. Like when you can’t think of any words that start with X.

Y – You are more than what you are feeling right now

Z – Zipper (my fish) can make everyone smile

Everyone’s Recovery Matters

“You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.”

Eating Disorders love to convince you that you’re not “sick enough.” That’s one of their favorite lies to plant in your brain to keep you engaging in behaviors. I know for me, it was one of the biggest battles. I always felt like there was someone who had it worse, or someone who had struggled longer. I thought I had only been struggling for a few months, that’s just not fair to people who have battled this for years.

When I got to Timberline Knolls I met a lot of different women. Women my age, women older than me, mothers, wives, widows. I met women with anxiety, depression, bipolar, multiple personalities, and many different types of trauma and addictions. But I knew instantly that these were the strongest women I would ever meet. That only proved to be more true as I got to know them and their stories.

During my first few days at TK, my heart began to break for the women there. As I learned more of each of their stories, I couldn’t believe the horrible things they had all been through. I began to feel guilty, my life sounded like a breeze compared to them. I really let it get to me for awhile. I felt like I didn’t belong at TK, it should be used for people that “really deserved it.” I felt guilty for not being on any medication. I felt guilty that I had grown up with both parents. I had felt guilty that I “wasn’t that sick.” ED voice had taken so much of my self worth that I didn’t even think I deserved to get better. I felt like I didn’t deserve treatment.

Here’s what I had to realize: Everyone deserves recovery. No matter your background, no matter your mental health history, no matter what led you there, everyone deserves treatment, and everyone deserves recovery.

The comparison game is one you will never win. There will always be someone better off, someone worse off, someone who has been through more, someone who has been through less. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you. ED voice loves the comparison game because it’s another way to tell you you’re not enough. But here’s the thing, you don’t want to “win” at having an eating disorder. There’s no way you can win at having anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. The only thing you can do is recover, and that’s something everyone deserves. It doesn’t matter if you’ve struggled for weeks, months, or years. No one should have to deal with an eating disorder or any other mental health struggle. Recovery is possible and recovery is worth it.

You were put on this Earth for a reason. You were put on this Earth to be a loved, cherished, child of God. It doesn’t matter what everyone else has been through. It matters that God has crafted a beautiful, unique story for your life, and you deserve to enjoy it. No matter what the voice in your head tells you, you matter. You matter to this world and you matter to me.

More than a Number

“The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, life force, possibility, strength, or love.”

Today’s society loves giving power to numbers. Whether it’s calories, clothing sizes, BMI, current weight, or goal weights, we love to let numbers define our worth.

What does it look like to give power to numbers?

For me, ED voice was fueled by numbers. All of my thoughts were centered around weight, BMI, and sizes. Knowing my weight would ruin an entire day. Every decision I made, ED voice loved to flash the number in bright lights in my head, just as a lovely reminder that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Thinking about my goal weight would intensify the restriction urges. “I’m so close. If I just skip a few more meals…..” Calculating my BMI would convince ED Voice that I wasn’t sick enough. “This person with anorexia had a BMI lower than mine, so I must not be that sick…”

I knew better than to have a scale in my dorm room. But as soon as I would go home, or go to the doctor, or visit anyone’s house that had a scale, I had to step on it. I could never just walk away, I had to know. Why? It didn’t do me any good. No matter the number, I was never satisfied. Even if it was lower than last time, it was never enough. I let numbers tell me how much I was worth. I let numbers decide if I deserved to eat or not.

Believing the lies of the numbers led me to residential treatment.

What if we gave as much power to our temperature as we did our weight? Temperature is a number that measures something about our body. What if we took our temperature every morning and if it was too high we wouldn’t eat breakfast? What if the view of ourselves was based on that number on the thermometer? That just sounds crazy, right?

So why do we treat our weight like that? Weight is just a measurement of our relationship to gravity. Weight measures how much matter your body has, not how much you matter to this world. Weight doesn’t measure how kind you are. Weight doesn’t measure talent. Weight doesn’t measure hard work. Weight doesn’t measure just how loved you are. Weight doesn’t measure character, happiness, potential, past, present, or future.

Weight does not measure worth.

You are worth so much more than anything a number could say about you.

So what do numbers look like in recovery?

I’d like to say that now that I am in recovery, I don’t care about numbers anymore. But sadly, it’s not that easy. (In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, recovery is not easy.) TK was really good about keeping numbers away from us as much as they could. In ED groups, we never mentioned weight, BMI, anything. That’s why when I share my story, I never give numbers either. Because they don’t matter. I can share my story without any of those details. When I was in the height of my eating disorder, I would read recovery stories of people who had beat that nasty ED voice. But if their story contained their lowest weight or their BMI at time of diagnosis, that just made me feel worse about myself. It made me feel like I had to keep going until I hit those numbers. So I vowed to keep number talk out of this blog, because I am no longer giving them power over anyone.

I definitely still have times where I get stuck on the number. But I have to remind myself that my worth comes from being God’s beloved child, and never the number on the scale. And yours does, too.

What Residential Treatment is Really Like

Timberline Knolls: “Making a real life difference”

I’m a planner. I plan out what I’m going to wear, I plan out my schedule by the day, the week, the month. Spending a month of my life at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center was definitely not a part of the plan. I didn’t know what to expect leading up to TK. I had never done anything like this, nor did I know anyone who had. My therapist and dietician tried to prepare me, but it’s really hard to explain unless you’ve been there and been through it. No matter how much I tried to prepare, I never could’ve prepared for how much I would love it.

I know it sounds like a weird thing to love, but a little part of my heart will forever be with TK in Lemont, IL.

So what was it really like at TK? Well, I was woken up every day at 5:30 for vitals, and sometimes blood work. (I didn’t love that part). In between vitals and breakfast at 7:15, I started a bible study with some of the girls in my lodge. Those mornings spent talking about God’s role in recovery are some of my sweetest memories from TK. The days at TK were very structured and scheduled, which is probably why I liked it so much. I think part of me will have that schedule memorized forever. Meals at 7:15, 12:15, and 5:15. Snacks at 10:00, 3:00, and 8:00. Groups at 9:00, 11:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 7:15. The groups were scheduled by the weekday. So every Monday was the same, Tuesday the same, etc. Groups varied in location, size, leader, and topic. Some groups were core groups, which all residents would attend. Those were things like process groups, self image, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), relapse prevention, and my personal favorite, yoga! Since TK treats all kinds of disorders and addictions, there were more specific groups that would be assigned by each person’s therapist.

One of the best things about TK was their Christian Programming. It was one of the things that drew me there in the first place. (Besides it being one of the only places that took our insurance, but that’s another saga.) I was blessed to have a Christian therapist who met with me 3 times a week. I also attended Christian groups and bible studies. We even had the opportunity to go to church on Sundays! These faith groups became a real backbone for my recovery, and one of the reasons I loved TK so much.

Another thing I never expected was to become so close with the other residents. I made friends at TK that I will have for the rest of my life. Friendships at TK are on a different level. Except for sleeping at night, I pretty much spent all day with the residents of Maple Lodge. I may not have known anyone’s last name until I got their contact information when I left, but within days I knew them closer than people I had been friends with for years. Never in my life have I come to know people on such a personal level so quickly. It was truly amazing. My TK sisters are the strongest women I have ever met, and I consider myself blessed that I was able to be a part of their journeys, as well as them being such an important part of mine. I truly believe my month would not have been as successful without the genuine love and support from the most amazing, strong, inspirational women of Maple Lodge. Leaving them was harder than I could ever imagine. Luckily, keeping in touch through social media, texting, and phone calls keeps the friendships going.

What truly made TK so special was the staff. My recovery did not just happen from one person, but a combination of support and encouragement from the BHS’s (Behavioral Health Specialists), the group leaders, the nurses, the group leaders, the Eating Disorder Specialists, and every staff member at TK. Let me start with the BHS’s. So the BHS’s were the people in our lodge all day. They would be there at 6 AM (or earlier) and stay long after we all went to sleep. They were there for every meal and snack, every group, every question or problem, and most importantly they were there for every single person. There were many nights when there was only 2 BHS’s working that night and a million things for them to do. But every single time I said I needed to talk, they would stay way later than they had to just to make sure I got what I needed. Whether I was stressed at a meal, feeling discouraged, or missing home and school, they knew what I needed before I had time to ask. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices the BHS’s made for us.

From the day I was admitted to TK to the day I was discharged, I did not have my cell phone or any internet access. Something that I was a little nervous for turned out to be so freeing and refreshing. I truly think everyone should completely unplug. Whether it’s for a week, a month, whatever. It really changes your perspective on things. Of course I missed being able to text friends and family all day, or listening to music, or googling whatever random question popped into my head, but it was a truly freeing experience. I caught myself looking for my phone the first few days, but by the end of the month, I didn’t even notice I was missing it anymore. In those downtimes during the day where I would’ve been on social media or texting, I was having intentional conversations with friends, I was journaling, I was having quiet time with God, I was coloring. I was taking time to focus on myself, instead of hearing about everyone else’s lives. Obviously I am back on social media now, but I have really cut back. It becomes a fun game now to decrease my screen time day by day. It taught me that building yourself up through self care has so much more value than seeking worth through social media.

The best way I have found to describe TK is like a different kind of school. I had roommates, just like in a dorm. My room had 4 beds. Since everyone is at TK for different amounts of time, I had 5 different roommates in a month. Our rooms were actually pretty nice. We each had a bed, a dresser, a side table, a closet, and a bulletin board above our beds. Each room also had its own bathroom, with a shower. The showers were only unlocked between 6-7 AM and 9-10 PM. When you have one hour for 3 girls who all shower at night, you learn to shower pretty quick. Since I’m used to dorm life and a busy schedule, I adjusted to this new “school” pretty quick.

With how much I love school, it’s really no surprise that I loved TK. It became my security blanket, my safe place, my temporary home. I expected TK to give me my life back, but I didn’t expect for it to give me my life and more.


“In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” Isaiah 66:9

February 26 – Admitted into Timberline Knolls

March 26 – Discharged from Timberline Knolls

April 26 – 1 month in recovery

It’s safe to say that the 26th of the last 3 months has been pretty significant. As I sit outside at my favorite place at CMU, I decided to reflect about the 26’s of the last few months.

February 26. Part of me feels like it was yesterday. The other part of me feels like it was months ago (which it was). After months of being pretty sick, February 26 was the first day of the rest of my life. The days leading up to this were full of anxiety, sadness, and regret. Leaving my beautiful campus and saying goodbye to my professors and friends was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do. But when I woke up on February 26, everything was different. I felt peace. Hope. Contentment. Things I hadn’t felt in months. I didn’t know what to expect or what I was getting myself into, but I knew it was the right choice. After a few hours on the train, and a half hour in a van, my parents and I got to TK. Then the nerves started to hit. But these nerves were mixed with excitement. The next few hours were spent doing paperwork and assessments. So that was fun. When it was finally time to leave my parents, I was ready. It kind of felt like going to college for the first time, but this was different. When I turned in all my luggage, I gave them my phone too. I couldn’t text my mom to tell her I had a good day, I couldn’t get my dad’s daily picture of Milo (my dog). I had to figure this out on my own. The first day of anything is always the hardest, and that was true for TK. I remember telling myself, “Just make it through today, and tomorrow will be better.” And that’s what happened, every day it got a little easier. I think I’ll always remember February 26th as the day everything changed. The day I decided to put myself first.

March 26. I can’t believe this was already a month ago! The best way to describe this day is bittersweet. I had grown really accustomed to TK. I had the schedule memorized, I had my favorite groups, I knew how everything worked, and I met the most amazing people and staff. I honestly didn’t really want to leave. I knew that it was time, but I really loved my month at TK. It was the hardest month of my life, but it was the most important month I could’ve given myself. March 26th started out a lot like February 26th. I woke up really early, said goodbye, and got on a train. Leaving TK and saying goodbye to everyone was so much harder than I could’ve ever imagined. I was excited to see my friends and family (and Milo), but I was really going to miss my new friends at TK. I said bye to everyone and got my phone back! That was super weird, it felt like a foreign object. Instead of dealing with my hundreds of notifications, I enjoyed the train ride and thought about what my new life was going to be like.

April 26th. 1 month in recovery. 1 month of my new life. I’d like to say that as soon as I walked out of TK, my Eating Disorder was totally gone. But that’s not how recovery works. So what does 1 month in recovery look like? Well, it’s harder than I expected, that’s for sure. It’s appointments and meal planning and grocery shopping and homework from my therapist. Recovery is doing everything opposite of the way I used to do things. Recovery is long days of hard work. But recovery is also joyful. Recovery is spending time with friends at meals, something I used to not be able to do. Recovery is playing piano again. Recovery is not just being in a good mood here or there, but feeling genuine joy. Although recovery comes with a lot of new challenges, it is so much better than living in my eating disorder. Just like choosing harmony, recovery is something you choose every single day.

Recovery is hard, but recovery is worth it.

Just for Today, I Choose Harmony

Harmony: A relationship in which various components exist together without destroying one another

If you’ve seen any of my social media in the last few weeks, you’ve seen me mention the word harmony. I thought I’d explain where this new mantra came from.

I came across this new saying in an Eating Disorder group on a random Tuesday morning. I was the only one in group that day, but it was one of the most impactful groups in my whole month of TK. The assignment for group that day was to take the handout, “My Eater’s Agreement,” and edit it to be more personal. One paragraph really stuck out to me:

“I acknowledge that my body is innately good. I will work each day to rewrite the scripts I have about my body to include love, appreciation, and care rather than hatred, punishment, and disgust. I choose to feed my body simply because my body is a gift from God and every part of me is worthy of care and love. My body did not and does not do anything to attract badness or to deserve punishment. Rather, my body is a brilliant and resilient being that I can either choose to live in harmony with or live in war with. Just for today, I choose harmony.”

This paragraph became one of my biggest meal supports. I wrote it on a notecard and set it on my tray at every meal. I read this paragraph 3 times a day for weeks. When you read something that much, something is going to stick. For me, that was the idea of choosing harmony.

So, what does it mean to choose harmony?

Choosing harmony means rewriting the scripts I have about my body to include love, appreciation, and care.

Choosing harmony means feeding my body because my body is a gift from God.

Choosing harmony means appreciating everything my body can do for me.

Choosing harmony means giving myself grace.

Choosing harmony means self love. Self care. Self acceptance.

Choosing harmony means recovery.

Choosing harmony has gone from a mantra to a lifestyle. Now that I’m back at school, it looks a little different. It means doing whatever I need to do to stay happy and healthy. It means fighting that pesky ED voice. Choosing harmony means taking the chaos of life and turning it into beautiful music.

You can do anything for one day. Why not choose harmony?

Come As You Are

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

On February 26, 2019, I was admitted to a residential treatment facility for an eating disorder. Let me just say, that was not in the plan. Not in my plan anyway. I spent the entire month of March there, and was discharged about 2 weeks ago. March 2019 was the hardest month of my life, no competition. But it was also the most important. That month in a random town in Illinois, God changed my life in ways I never would have imagined. He took me at my very lowest and set my soul on fire for sharing my story. More specifically, sharing His story.

Let’s back up a little farther to August 2018. After a long summer at home, I was finally back at my favorite place: Central Methodist University. It was the start of my sophomore year studying music education. My heart was so full. If you know me, you know how much I love school. I’m that person who gets to class 10 minutes early, lives by a planner, actually loves homework, never misses class….you get the idea. My whole life was school and music. Wake up, go to class all day, do homework, practice, and do it all over again. But I loved it. I was so excited to finally be back in my element with all my favorite people. I had a lot of hopes for the semester and the year. This was going to be my year. I was going to work all hours of the day to become the best musician I could be. I wasn’t going to have any problems or struggles (ha). Everything was supposed to go right. Right with the plan.

Pretty soon I found out that God had a different plan.

I had only been at school a few weeks when I heard this voice in my head. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from or where it would lead me. It just kind of showed up. This voice presented me with an idea. One day it whispered to me, “You should lose weight.” I had heard this voice before. A lot of times actually, but I never did anything about it. I had always just pushed it away. But this time, things were different. This time there was a new suggestion: a number. A goal weight. A weight that was not healthy for me, but it was oh so satisfying to that little voice. The plan was to get to that goal weight, and then I’d be happy. But if the past 6 months have taught me anything, it’s that nothing goes as planned.

I’ve never had a good relationship with food. My whole life I’ve been a picky eater and had a lot of anxiety towards eating. I realized that being on my own in college, I could make my own decisions regarding food. I could lose weight and avoid those high anxiety situations. It started with skipping a meal every now and then. Harmless, right? That’s what the voice told me. I can cut out breakfast, no one eats breakfast anyway. And if I physically feel fine, then I am fine, right? After breakfast was completely cut out, that little voice had a new challenge, “What else can you cut out?” Then it almost became a game. Just how far was I willing to go for what I wanted?……or what I thought I wanted. Or really, what that voice wanted.

This went on for months. Diving further and further into this sickness that I still denied having. That little voice in my head? Not so little anymore. In December, the voice I had been listening to for months finally had a name. I’ll never forget hearing that name for the first time. I still don’t like saying it. I decided to just call it “ED voice.” Even after hearing the diagnosis from my therapist, I still didn’t want to believe it. I told myself over and over that I wasn’t sick enough to have an eating disorder. To me, I was doing great. I knew that this wasn’t really normal or healthy, but there was no way I was sick enough to have a diagnosis.

After Christmas break, things really started to go downhill. My entire day revolved around food. Just about every minute of the day, my ED voice was screaming something at me. I couldn’t focus on school, I couldn’t focus through piano lessons. Professors and friends became more worried. Something had to change. Deep down I knew it, but ED voice was the one in charge. And ED voice was telling me to keep going, I was so close to my goal. I couldn’t give up now. Just a few more pounds and then this would all be over. Right?

But here’s the thing about eating disorders: it’s never enough. I never hit my goal weight. I was just a few pounds away, but I never got there. I know now that if I did hit that number, it wouldn’t have solved anything. There would’ve been a new number to hit, and the cycle would continue.

After weeks of appointments with the best doctor, dietician, and therapist, multiple draws of bloodwork, many attempts at a meal plan, and concern from everyone around me, it was time for something different. I couldn’t keep going on like this. I had started seeing a new therapist and in our first session, she recommended residential treatment. I had talked to her for 45 minutes and she knew that was what I needed. Between her, my nutritionist, and my doctor, they all were in agreement. Although ED voice was louder than ever, my healthy voice was alive, deep down. And the tiny bit of healthy voice left was what I needed.

This was not in the plan. How would I manage school? Would I have to take the semester off? What would I tell all of my family that had no idea? Where do you even go for this kind of thing? There were so many questions and fears and unknowns. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave my friends and my school. But at this point, I didn’t have a choice.

After what seemed like 800 phones calls to insurance and hours of research, I checked into Timberline Knolls on February 26, the 2nd day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The theme for NEDA Week this year was “Come As You Are.” I could do a whole separate blog post just on February 26, and I probably will. That was the day everything changed. That was the first day in months I felt some kind of hope. It was time to take care of me. It was time to enjoy life again.

It was time to get my life back.

And that’t just what I did.