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Monday, July 30, 2012

My Own Olympic Trials

   The Olympics are vastly approaching and the excitement surrounding the games is abundant throughout the media and conversations across the globe. I too have found myself on an emotional roller coaster whenever the opening ceremonies are mentioned or coverage of the Beijing Olympics are played. You’re probably brainstorming the specific reason as to why I, an obvious non-Olympian, would have any sort of emotion attached to this event. Considering I am not an elite athlete, nor do I know any personally, the turmoil that I have been feeling is not associated with the actual event; however, it is based on the events of what happened in my life four years ago during this same week previous to the Beijing Olympics and during the Olympics itself. Four years ago this week I took one ginormous step and admitted to needing help and told my mom that if I didn’t check into treatment I knew I wasn’t going to survive. Because I was an adult, compared to the first time I went to treatment and was forced at age 17, I had to admit my internal destruction and recognize that I was the only one who would be able to save myself. After much deliberation, praying, and research, I found a treatment center and the process began. I had an on the phone interview with the owner of the facility and once I was ‘accepted’ I had to make an appointment for a wellness check to make sure I was medically stable. Because the treatment center was not hospital based, there was a multitude of health standards of which I needed a doctor to inspect and sign off on. I knew I wasn’t well, but the “I’m not that sick compared to...” was in the back of mind and of course, as someone who suffers from an eating disorder, our goals are never reached and we seem to never be satisfied. I was dealing with enough internal emotions due to my treatment decision, leaving home and school, being away from family, etc. that this doctor appointment was just a simple task which needed to be done. Little did I know, within two hours of being at the doctor appointment, my life would change and I would have my first stay in the hospital. The doctor did an abundance of welfare checks and it was after I was hooked up to the EKG and my blood pressure was taken that the doctor left the room and returned with a nurse and another doctor. I was having a difficult enough time during this difficult time without the physical support of my mother (she was in Michigan), that when the doctor told me I had to decide whether I would take an ambulance or have someone drive me to the hospital my mind raced and my heart dropped. Thankfully my sister-in-law had generously took me to the doctor and was sitting in the waiting room, and I asked for her right away. She, being a doctor herself, was able to decipher what the medical professionals were trying to tell me... I was truly sick, and needed help as soon as possible. My heart rate was at hospitalization level.
My family took me to the hospital, and graciously stayed and visited with me as much as they could. And, what was on television all during those four days? The Olympics. It was a life changing series of events which had shocked me, as well as my family. The days I spent in the hospital were tough. I was left alone with my thoughts, and had never been away from my mom when a significant event in my life had occurred. My sister-in-law, Carissa, really took on a motherly role and my nephew, Brodie, spent long hours hanging out with me in my hospital bed. The hospitalization was purely to monitor my heart and to make sure I could be cleared to go to treatment the following week. When I fell asleep, my heart rate would sink even lower and the bells and whistles of my heart rate monitor would ring throughout the night. The tangled attachments and sticky pads placed all over my body as well as the IV made for an uncomfortable stay, as well as the interesting and unhelpful hospital staff.
In the four years since my hospital stay and entering treatment, I have come a long way in my recovery; however, I still have a long way to go. Though I may not have become an Olympian in the past four years, I have become a survivor of my own race-- life. Looking back it seems surreal, but the lessons I learned during this difficult time in my life will never leave me. The commitment which my sister-in-law, brother and nephew made to visit me in the hospital, as well as every Sunday in treatment, will remain in my heart forever. I never thought I would have endured the various obstacles which surfaced the past four years, but I am more than thankful that I did. In the past four years I have moved away from home, lived in my own apartment, worked three different jobs (one of which I was at for two years), met great friends, been a witness to my nephew Brodie’s entire life as well as the beginning of my nephew Crosby’s, grown closer to my family, dealt with a devastating breakup to only fall in love with an amazing man who has moved across the country to be with me, and remained a 4.0 student at The University of Arizona with hopes to graduate in the spring. I am blessed to have been able to spend six months in residential treatment and the memories, friends, and staff will reside in my heart forever. 
I may not have trained to conquer The Olympics in the past four years, but I have trained in this bout with recovery. Do not ever set limits on yourself, recovery is possible,  you are loved and lovable-- God will grant you the serenity, one day at a time!

Hannah, Intern with Eating Disorder Hope

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Recovery Role Model

Jenni Schaefer is the author of “Goodbye ED, Hello Me”, “Life Without ED”, a regular guest on various television and radio shows, contributor to popular magazines as well as the Chicken Soup series, a speaker at schools, conferences. Jenni is a member of the ambassador council of the National Eating Disorder Association and her work has been recognized in Cosmopolitan, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and Woman’s World. She is honest about her journey with her eating disorder and her recovery which she relates to as, her divorce from ED. She, in my eyes and many others, is an inspiration. She posted a blog on the Huffington Post website titled, ‘The Eating Disorder Time Suck’, which I believe is synonymous to this blog subject, anorexic hope. I think this post is important because she writes about the societal ED versus the eating disorder ED and the fact that many women are dissatisfied with their appearance and when taken to the extreme this is when an eating disorder occurs. Also, Jenni shares how she believes she is recovered, which can be a controversial topic in the eating disorder world and her take on it is quite optimistic and intriguing. If you are looking for inspiration and/or a recovery role model, please check out the attached links.
Hannah, intern with Eating Disorder Hope