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Recovery blog

What Are Your Values

By: Allison Guenther, Renfrew Alumna

Posted on January 22, 2018

We've all heard it before, recovery isn't a straight trajectory. It's a squiggly line with dips and loops, generally trending up in the direction of progress. It's very hard to see that however, sitting alone, wearing ED's black and white glasses. Two options: either I'm thin or I'm a failure. That's how I thought when I was admitted to The Renfrew Center of Chicago.

I had struggled with disordered eating since 7th grade, and starting high school transformed small rituals into a full-on obsession of restricting, over-exercising and isolation.

My family soon became worried about me, but I didn't believe I was sick enough to have an eating disorder.

I agreed to treatment, and was diagnosed with anorexia, anxiety and depression. I stepped up and down through different levels of care over and over until I realized something had to change. I had transformed from an honest, kind and humorous person to a deceitful, lying introvert who hated everyone. The other programs had helped, but nothing was sticking. I had to try something different.

Panicked, I asked a friend who'd been through treatment about what I should do. She said it'd be scary, but for lasting results, go to Renfrew.

Renfrew taught me so much, and I met inspirational and supportive friends along the way. Something Renfrew taught me that I hold close to my heart is the following question: "What are your values?" It took me so long to realize the answer. Kindness, bravery, helping others, adventure, freedom, love, creativity, and making the world a better place are my values. I didn't believe it before, but now I know my eating disorder had stripped me of those things. I can't give to others without learning to give to myself. I've helped raise money for a local NEDA walk the past two years, and I'm currently working on a school project about eating disorder awareness.

I'm far from perfect, but I'm better than I've ever been. I have goals and motivation, and I'm so grateful for the support I've received. I know without the skills I learned at Renfrew, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Allison Guenther is a graduating senior at New Trier High School and lives in Chicago. She aspires to study criminology in college, with a powerful drive to help others to be safe. She loves animals, dancing, aviation, nature, and quality time with friends.

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