The first memory I have of using eating disorder symptoms was when I was eight years old. I remember sneaking and hiding pop-tarts, cookies and muffins from the kitchen at my father's house.
When I was in high school, I would walk home from school to an empty house and proceed to raid the fridge, freezer and pantry; eating everything in sight. I remember we would have to go for days without having food in the house because I had binged on it all. The binging escalated when I was 17-years-old. I had just gotten my first job, as well as my driver's license. I had the freedom to buy food (usually fast food) whenever I wanted without anyone knowing. It came with me everywhere; even across the Atlantic when I studied abroad. I found myself buying candy and cookies from the dollar store below our apartment and hiding it under my mattress.
I was 20-years-old when I realized I had an eating disorder. An ex told me she was struggling with binge eating disorder. I didn't know what that was, so I looked it up and it described me perfectly. I never thought treatment was an option until last year when I felt like my life was completely out of control. It felt like my eating disorder took over and I didn't recognize myself anymore. At the rate I was going, I knew I couldn't be who I wanted to be, or do what I wanted with this monster having the upper hand. I knew I couldn't go on that way and needed to find help. So, I did what any millennial would do: I Googled "eating disorder treatment center" and found The Renfrew Center.
Seeking treatment at Renfrew changed my entire life. And I do not say this lightly. With the help of the inimitable therapists and fellow patients, I have learned so much about myself and my eating disorder. I've found a supportive, loving community where I feel free to be vulnerable in my struggles, but also where I can celebrate my victories. I discharged from Renfrew on February 1, 2018, but I am still connected to what feels very much like a safe haven by attending the Thirty Something and Beyond Group (TSAB) on Monday nights. In addition to TSAB, I keep myself accountable in my recovery by seeing my therapist every week, going to a free mediation sessions on Saturdays and most importantly, by being honest and reaching out for help when I need it, even if it is not easy.
Bio: Melissa Bilecky is an alumna of The Renfrew Center of Northern New Jersey. She holds a BA in Communications from Felician University. She is planning on going back to school to get her MSW and eventually open her private practice. In her free time she enjoys cuddling her cats, staying active and couponing with her bestie.