Alumni Testimonial: Writing in Recovery Goodbye Anorexia, Hello Life: How God Helped Me Finally Find Myself and Embrace Living Loved, Healthy, and Whole
February 17, 2015 by Castlewood Treatment Center in Alumni and Family, Anorexia Nervosa, Eating Disorder Relapse, Eating Disorder Treatment, Testimonials My name is Allison Bryant. I am 37 years old and have suffered from anorexia most of my life. It all started around age 11, continuing as an ongoing nightmare for 25 years, and at age 36 nearly ended my life. However, with God’s help, I am now in recovery and have finally embraced living loved, healthy and whole.
I was in and out of eating disorder treatment centers numerous times since age 21. I went to inpatient treatment centers all over the U.S., some multiple times even within the same year. Although these were all good treatment centers, the pattern was always the same. I entered treatment, usually below 80 pounds, and received the usual regimen of psychological counseling, medical interventions, and of course, eating a lot of food. However, despite all this, my relapses started almost immediately upon discharge.
My last inpatient treatment ended in March 2013, but by November of that year, I was very sick again. I was so emaciated that I resembled a skeleton. I had no energy. My period was gone. My skin was gray and dull. I could see the bones of my spine sticking out from the skin on my back. My arms looked like sticks. My eyes were sunken and lifeless. My hair was falling out in clumps in the shower. I had osteoporosis with bones as frail as an 80-year-old woman.
Near the end of 2013, I had reached rock bottom. I became so depressed and scared about the thoughts I was having. I started to ask God to just take me to Heaven. But only then did I realize that I did not want to die of starvation. I desperately wanted to live life fully here on earth. I wanted to reach God’s calling for me, and His plan for me to really live a purposeful, positive life and that people would remember me for the good that I’ve done. In short, it was now urgent that I choose between life or death. I didn’t want death. I was now fully aware that anorexia is Satan trying to destroy me and capture my soul. So it now came down to a choice between Satan and God.
My recovery began in January 2014. It didn’t come to me in a single “aha” moment, but more like an awakening that occurred over several weeks. The first thing I did was quit my job. The stress of the job and the inability to give quality time to eating, were both bad for recovery. I now committed myself to focus 100% of my energy on recovery. Recovery became my full time job. It was the most difficult job of my life. However, the more I committed myself to it, the more successful I became, and gradually the struggle got easier.
In all my years coping with anorexia, I had kept my secret from everyone except my parents. However, the secret only kept me further steeped in shame and isolation. When I finally saw that I was completely powerless, I gave my entire self to God, asking Him to help me overcome anorexia. When I did this, things started to change. It was gradual at first and I didn’t feel as anxious if I ate more food. I learned that the addiction of anorexia cannot be tackled with resolve alone. The only way to face addiction is with humility, to recognize that I was powerless against it and admitting that I needed God’s help to break its power over me.
I am now nearly a year into recovery and can report that I am successful. I still struggle at times, but this journey cannot be done perfectly. I let go. The rewards of health, emotional stability and freedom, are remarkable and keep me going. I’ve learned that when I decided to face my greatest fear (pain), I received a wonderful gift. Experiencing pain and learning how to deal with it in a healthy way has enabled me to grow up and mature. What I have discovered and am experiencing now, is the real pay-off, so wonderful and sweet that I had never imagined it would be so worth it.
I felt so inspired with my success at recovery from 25 years of the destruction of anorexia , that I just recently published a book entitled: Goodbye Anorexia, Hello Life: How God Helped Me Finally Find Myself and Embrace Living Loved, Healthy, and Whole. My story is one in which I share my travels to reality's darker side and my decision to find my way back on my own terms. I hope my story will provide inspiration, hope and encouragement to those who are struggling with eating disorders.
Learn more about Allison by visiting her personal blog. http://allisonbryant.net/Keep the conversation going by commenting here, and then sharing your personal affirmations on Instagram using hashtag #WhatIsRecovery. Your affirmation may be what someone else is seeking as a guide in their own recovery!