My Journey to Eating Disorder Recovery
Posted on April 12, 2021
My name is Cynthia and I am currently in recovery from a 33-YEAR battle with bulimia. As a young teen, I was quite overweight and as I began high school, I was often teased by not only my peers, but also my members of my own family. I saw an after-school special one day about bulimia, and I decided to try it for a week. Unfortunately, I rapidly lost not only weight, but my ability to eat regularly.
As a young adult, there was always a reason why I needed to continue my eating disorder (fitting into a wedding dress, looking good for an interview, wanting to be thin), but it also was my outlet for any emotion I couldn't handle, such as sadness, loneliness, fear, anger. However, my eating disorder also was my outlet for handling good feelings as well, and I found myself using symptoms several times a day for 33 years. After a difficult divorce, I met an amazing man and when I revealed to him (after a few months of dating) that I had an eating disorder, he did not make fun of me or run away. He saw it for what it is, which is a mental illness which I was powerless to control at that time.
I sought treatment in Renfrew Center inpatient (for the third time in 25 years). While the other experiences in treatment over the years had short term results, this time I was determined to stop the cycle of self harm/bulimia/out of control emotion. After a very short stay at Renfrew inpatient, I began the long process at Renfrew of relearning not only how to feed my body properly without using symptoms, but also learning various coping skills through Renfrew's UT model. I learned how to sit with my uncomfortable feelings and anxiety, and I realized I could deal with various life experiences without running away from the pain/anxiety/fear.
While I realize I will always need to stay focused on eating properly and deal with my emotions appropriately so I do not relapse, I will forever be thankful to the treatment team at The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia - Center City, and for my fiancé for teaching me how to love myself again and accept myself just as I am.
Cynthia is a 48-year-old woman from New Jersey and an alumna of The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia - Center City. She has been a Special Education teacher for 22 years in various urban areas and is also a dedicated mother to one college age/very supportive son. Cynthia is engaged to be married this summer and is looking forward to moving forward with her life in a healthy way.