March 12, 2015 by Castlewood Treatment Center in Anorexia Nervosa, Body Image, Eating Disorder Treatment For many who struggle with an eating disorder, there can times when it’s not clear if they’re going to make it. Despite this, people sometimes still think of anorexia like a phase. Anorexia Nervosa is a very serious mental illness that carries with it dramatic physical effects and catastrophic mental and emotional distress.
Alicia Nickelson, who shared her story with the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, can attest to the seriousness of the condition. Officially diagnosed at the age of 15, she can date her behaviors back to age 12 when she began limiting sugars and fatty foods. But it wasn’t until she was seriously ill that her behaviors became noticed as being a problem.
Alicia spent the summer of her 16th birthday in a residential treatment center on life support, followed by more hospitalizations and even court-ordered commitments to mental facilities over the next ten years. In her doctor’s visits, counseling sessions and rehab stays, Alicia describes feeling under attack, and retreating with her eating disorder for safety and comfort.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Surviving an eating disorder requires support, a strong commitment from the individual suffering and the desire to change. For Alicia, she says a combination of factors came together and contributed to her finally being willing to adopt a new way of life.
Alicia, who has spoken on college campuses to raise awareness, says: “Take one day at a time and do the next thing that lies before you. Be kind to yourself. There’s only one of you out there, and chances are good someone else wants to see the light you have inside!!”
Alicia’s story illustrates the potential of recovery for individuals who struggle with an eating disorder. It is possible to adopt a new way of living, and to stand as a positive example to others who are struggling.
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