Today, I’m pleased to present an interview with Laurie Glass, who recovered from anorexia and now works as a Christian counselor. Below, she talks about how her faith helped her heal.
Laurie’s story speaks to the significance of having greater values and faith, whether that’s through religion or spirituality. We’ve already discussed on Weightless the importance of identifying your values and cultivating spirituality.
Laurie’s story also speaks to the difficulty of finding treatment for eating disorders. Her rural town didn’t have any ED professionals and the people she did see weren’t helpful. While she was able to recover, please remember that getting into treatment (whether that’s seeing a therapist who specializes in ED or entering an ED facility) is our first line of defense.
Everyone’s story and recovery is different, but if you live in a place where treatment isn’t available, don’t give up! Try contacting the nearest university, which may do research into EDs, be able to give you a reputable referral or have a counseling center with a therapist who specializes in ED. You also can find ED therapists by calling NEDA’s Information & Referral Helpline. You might have to travel further for treatment, but it’s worth it.
I’m grateful to Laurie for sharing her story with us. You can learn more about Laurie at her website.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!
By the way, if you’d like to share your story of recovering from an eating disorder, ditching dieting or overcoming body image issues, don’t hesitate to email me! You can reach me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com.
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m a single woman who is down to earth and appreciates the simple things in life. I enjoy writing, especially pieces that touch the hurting or despairing heart and offer hope and inspiration. I also write about eating disorder recovery. I’ve had several poems and articles published in both print and online publications. I also enjoy my work with those who have eating disorders. I offer online Christian counseling services to adult women with eating disorders.
Q: How and when did your eating disorder start?
A: I was in my 30’s. It was a time in my life when a lot of difficult circumstances piled up. I had battled undiagnosed health problems for years, I lost my ministry through no fault of my own, and I had no idea what to do next. Also, after being there for others over and over again, no one was there for me, and after having a close relationship with the Lord for several years, I didn’t feel close to Him.
I began to restrict my food intake in an attempt to control at least one area in my life when everything else felt out of my control. I had studied eating disorders, so I knew this was an anorexic behavior, but I didn’t take it seriously in the beginning. I reasoned I would just do this to help me get through a difficult time. But it didn’t take long until I realized that I was in anorexia’s grasp.
Q: What motivated you to seek treatment?
A: During the earlier days of the eating disorder, I did attempt to recover. I seemed to do well for a time, but then I relapsed. That started a long period of time during which I simply let the eating disorder take control of my life. I was afraid that I would go to all the hard work of recovery only to relapse again.
I was over five years into my anorexic experience, and I felt sicker and weaker. I knew my body couldn’t tolerate the eating disorder indefinitely. Also, I didn’t want to end up still stuck in the eating disorder in the future. So I didn’t have much motivation to recover, but it was all I had.
Q: Eating disorders are tremendously treatable but the key is to find the right treatment. How did you go about seeking services?
A: I remember calling some toll free numbers that led me nowhere. I called a couple of local places, but no one there worked with people with eating disorders. I went back to my doctor, who I hadn’t seen since the earlier days of the eating disorder, and I asked for his help. He had been helpful earlier on, but wasn’t when I went back. Also, he told me there really wasn’t any good help available in the area.
I asked him for a referral to a dietitian, which he gave me. I saw her three times and obtained a meal plan. She was clueless about eating disorders, and I had to work through the comments she made that were triggering to me, but I determined to follow my meal plan nonetheless.
I gave over the control of my recovery to the Lord. That is what helped me the most. He led me to the key truths of finding my strength in His and changing my thoughts. He helped me keep on track even when I became weary of the battle that eating disorder recovery can be. And He helped me accept myself as His creation.
Q: What have been the toughest parts of seeking recovery and how did you get through them?
A: I felt tremendous guilt and shame over having an eating disorder at my age, especially since I had studied eating disorders and also because I was a Christian. The guilt and shame itself seemed to keep me bound to anorexia. For quite some time, it prevented me from asking God for His help. But when I was able to pray about the eating disorder, I remember Him once saying to me, “You have nothing to be ashamed of.” That helped me take the first step in the process of letting go of the guilt and shame.
To a certain extent, I could accept the weight gain, but since I couldn’t control where those pounds were distributed, I couldn’t put on that last bit of weight for a very long time. When I decided one last time to try to recover, I prayed the Serenity Prayer at times, and I also taped note cards around my full-length mirror that contained verses as well as positive and truthful statements regarding my body. This helped me to accept those last pounds.
Anorexia had become such a part of me, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I was afraid to let go of it because it seemed oddly comforting to me and because I was afraid of what would take its place. I didn’t want to “give it up”, but over time, I was ready to let go of the eating disorder. I found that the peace, joy and freedom that took its place were nothing to fear.
Q: Do you still struggle with eating disordered thoughts and behaviors? If so, how do you overcome them?
A: I don’t have the thoughts or practice the behaviors I did in the past. However, I believe that anyone who is recovered is wise to recognize this is an area where he/she has been vulnerable, so it’s a good idea to have some healthy boundaries.
There will always be challenges in life, and so there is always the potential for things to trigger old thoughts and behaviors. So I think it serves us well to take time for ourselves and continue to process our emotions in healthy ways.
On the practical side, I decided when I recovered that I didn’t want to know my weight anymore. Also, the meal plan I obtained was a general guideline of how many servings of what food groups I should eat every day in order to eat a healthy, balanced diet. I decided when I got it that I wanted it to become a general guideline of a healthy habit in my life.
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