This Post is Raw

I had been putting off writing this post for about a month and a half.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Feb 26-March 4

I had been dreading writing this post because, obviously BBB is an eating disorder recovery blog, so I feel kinda…obligated…to address the topic, but honestly, I’m kinda luke warm on the whole “awareness” thing.

It just seems a little…glorifying if you ask me. And I have a problem with that. Don’t throw around photos of healthy-yet-slightly-thin girls in stock photos pretending to be sad, or even worse, smiling and holding a piece of pizza, and gloat that you’re raising “awareness” or fighting the stigma. The theme: “It’s time to talk about it…” that’s borderline insulting.


Why don’t you ask the mother whose daughter died of heart failure due to anorexia, or my mother when I was 78 pounds and she was checking on me in the middle of the night to make sure I didn’t go into cardiac arrest. Why don’t you ask them how they feel about those photos.

But I digress. Perhaps there’s more to NEDA week than that.

I will say one other thing though. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have NEDA week overlap with the first week of Lent, and particularly, Ash Wednesday – a day of fasting, was a grave oversight.

But this is definitely a difficult post for me to write. For one, I actually developed my anorexia during Lent my Sophomore year. I gave up sweets. And well, the rest is history.

So there are a lot of mixed feelings about that.

So this time of year is always a difficult one for me.

But ED awareness.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I had a real sweet conversation with my mom tonight after we went to church together. She had spent the hour reading my inpatient journal. She’s pouring over it ever since I brought it home from NYC. I don’t know if it’s because of the stroke that she doesn’t quite remember it, but she just has this passion to read what I went through. It’s really quite touching.

But afterwards, tonight, we were the last two people in the room. And we just embraced in this crying hug for a couple minutes. And she just cried in my ear about how sorry she was that I went through that. And she said, “If I could go back, I would do it differently.”

A little surprised, I prompted her to share more. And she said, “I would try to talk to you about it.”

So, it turns out, that I have to eat my words. NEDA week’s slogan this year, “It’s Time to Talk About It” turns out to be quite spot on.

Standing there hugging my mom in church tonight, I finally realized that NEDA week isn’t about the girls. But for the loved ones. The same reason I started this blog. The same reason I’m writing my book.

Eating disorders are hard. There’s stress and emotion and anger and desperation and micromanaging and everyone is on edge around the issues of food and weight and calories and recovery. But at the end of the day, everyone is trying to navigate this scary and unfamiliar territory in the best way they know how. And sadly, that’s hard to know what to do.

Holding her, and telling her how she doesn’t need to apologize, the thoughts about NEDA week and its timing couldn’t get out of my head.

The fact that Ash Wednesday – the day that we literally wear ashes around on our foreheads, marking us and reminding us of His crucifixion – the crucifixion that paid the price for my anorexia – the fact that that day falls on the week that we’re also spotlighting eating disorders…that gives me chills if I’m honest.


That was what got through to me at inpatient. That was what broke through the walls and the barricades I had placed around my heart.

I was a scared, hurting, and starving little girl. And what set me free from that anorexia and the guilt I had, was to realize that I didn’t have to carry it anymore.

Jesus took it and nailed it to the cross.

Jesus died so that I didn’t have to be enslaved to ED anymore – I could be free.

Hugging my mom in the back of the church, there were so many unspoken words, words that healed. I wished that I could have gone back and undo all the hurt and pain and sadness I caused her. But she then turned to me and said, “But I wouldn’t change it. Because it brought about a lot of good.

Reading my recovery journal, coming face to face with the raw, unfiltered reality that I was battling every moment in my mind, my mom finally came to understand things that she was never aware of. How could she have been at the time? I was shutting everyone out, isolating myself, and if anyone would try to broach the topic with me, I would storm out and peel out in my car and go take a power walk at the nature preserve. And then when I came home from inpatient, I didn’t want to go back and talk about it. I wanted it gone. Erased from my history.

She finally was seeing what I was going through.

She was getting aware.

Eating disorder awareness… it’s not a photo of a smiling, healthy girl in a cute hat looking down and thinking about puppies.

Awareness means seeing the disease for what it is – a battle for your mind. A girl paralyzed in fear, using her control of food as her coping mechanism to ease her tortured mind.

Awareness means seeing the girl as more than just a severely malnourished body, but a spirit that needs emancipation. Freedom. Rescuing.

But the even more important and exasperating thing…is that no one can do that for her, except herself. She has to want it. She has to seek it.

And the only rescuer that will truly save her, is Jesus.

I guess my trepidation with writing this post tonight was because I knew deep down that awareness hurts. Because you’re letting someone into the pain. You’re exposing the darkness that is the eating disorder.

It’s not some celebration a la Think Pink Breast Cancer awareness month.

It’s the line that once you cross, you can never uncross. Kinda like walking in on your friend’s dad on the toilet. There’s no going back.

So I thought I’d close with the final passage from my inpatient journal.

Let the words of that scared girl speak for themselves.

Life is full of many unexpected twists and turns that we are unable to predict or control. Most situations are out of our hands, but it is comforting to know that the Creator knows all and that He knows what is going to happen and that He will take us in His hand and carry us through life if we ask Him to. I want Jesus to carry me right now because that is what I need. 

I am scared because I am on transport and I am scared because my supplement was upped and I am scared that I am having an ulcerative colitis flare and I am scared that I have to have these injections but I am going to put my faith in God and let Him lead me because He puts this all together for good. And we may be in the top of a burning building, but He’s outside telling us to jump, and even though we can’t see Him through the smoke, He can see us and will lead us to safety.

Sometimes in life we can take a lot of things for granted. Including life itself. That’s what I did in the eating disorder. I took life itself for granted and when you do that, it is a very very scary thing. Life is so fragile and precious and when our vision is skewed by a filter such as an eating disorder, it is like we are playing with fire. And that is a dangerous thing.”

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380 thoughts on “This Post is Raw

  1. Thank you for always being honest when sharing your feeling with others. You are strong. Have a great weekend.


    1. Oh Nkeoma, thank you so much for this kind response. Thank you for providing a positive and accepting environment for me to feel safe to share 🙂 hope you have a beautiful weekend. hugs xox


  2. Caralyn I had wanted to respond to your previous blogs along the lines that having rediscovered the cheerful little girl (pre-a) and reflected on the strong confident woman you have become (post-a) you might now be ready to revisit this extremely difficult period of your life. Then to read this brave, honest raw account of your feelings has made me realise how everything you have gone through has made you the very special, sensitive person you are today. This is so very much reflected in how you have been ministering to your mom through this challenging time in her life. Bless you for what you bring to the lives of so many people through your blogs.


    1. Oh my gosh, what an incredibly touching note. Thank you so much. You know this really has been an interesting period of revisiting the past and seeing it with new eyes and then looking with those new eyes towards the future. It’s pretty cool. Hugs and love xox


  3. I definitely very similar in the earlier years of my recovery–I just needed to get away from the eating disorder world entirely and remove all stigma. But now, years later, I feel a lot more secure in myself and I realize how important it is to talk about the difficult feelings and conversations–because it is the part that is often most needed, i.e. inviting others in. Thank you for sharing, your words resonate a lot!


    1. Thank you so much Rebecca, I really appreciate your kind words. I’m so glad that you’re living in such freedom! thats so awesome. You’re right – inviting others in is one of the most scary – yet important – aspects of recovery! thanks so much for stopping by! big hugs xox


  4. Very well-written, and it is good to know that you have put your trust in Jesus through your recovery and beyond. May God use you to help others!


  5. As you may have gleened from my posts, I view life in cycles, rather than linearly. Breathing is inspiration and exploration. Gardening is seasons and years. Creativity is gathering supplies then making something. So to is recovery: contemplation (individually and collectively) then doing. -Oscar


  6. Wow what an amazing, moving, powerful post. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it. I have never suffered eating disorders, but know people who have and know how terrifying and powerful they are. Your site is great, offering support and information; I hope to develop mine so that it is a little more like this. Take care 🙂


  7. You are amazing, totally amazing! Thank you for sharing so much about this and also for sharing the beauty of your faith, and partaking of Ash Wednesday the way you and your Mom did. I’m so glad you were able to help her see what has been a part of you, that she did not totally see! What a blessing you are both for each other at this time!! xoxoxoxoxoxo ❤


  8. So I came to your blog out of curiosity–mostly driven by the fact that you had liked a post of mine recently, and I am glad that I spent some time on your page. I just read “This Post is Raw,” and I felt it was relatable in so many ways–for so many different people, too. I started writing, in a variety of forms and mediums, about 15 years ago. As a teenager, I was diagnosed with cancer and fought for six months to achieve remission. The most noteworthy piece of reading your work today came when you suggested that NEDA week isn’t for the girls but for the loved ones. When I was sick, I was constantly trying to survive, as it sounds like you may be able to understand quite well. When I reflect on this years later, I realize that my family felt helpless, like they were unable to protect or heal me. What a terrifying feeling that must be. I too struggle with the concept of awareness at times, as I am more inclined to believe that action drives progress more than anything, but I have found that awareness can lead to action and bring people together that might otherwise not be. Great post, I’ll be following!


    1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. I am so sorry that you had to go through that as a teen. But wow, I am so glad that you achieved remission. That is so great. You’re right – I’ve often talked with my family about that difficult period and they all say the same thing: they felt helpless and like their hands were tied. I think it is good for there to be support for the loved ones, as well as the sufferers. Thanks for stopping by! big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I tried to talk to my daughter during her struggles with anorexia. Yes, like me she too suffered. I did not succeed in any discussion. She resented me during her distress. I was blamed. I talked to her about everything! Organ failure, the decline of the possibility to have children and so on. She wouldn’t listen so it was all in vain.When she was admitted to Fairbanks she shunned me. Today she is healthy and is involved in fitness instead of food. She has two beautiful children, married, and we are closer than ever.


    1. Oh Teresa, I’m so sorry that you had to walk through that with your daughter. Wow, I am so glad that she is living in freedom and is healthy and vibrant in life! I will definitely keep the two of you in my prayers. Big hugs to you xox

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, Teresa, this gives me hope as I am going through this with my daughter who shuns me and won’t talk about her not eating. She is being put on supplements now by the dietician who tried to terrify her with what was going to happen to her body if she continued to refuse to eat. My daughter’s reaction “I wish someone would force feed me as I just can’t eat.” Watching her get thinner and thinner is heartbreaking. Her BMI is very low and she is now malnourished. I love her but just don’t know how to help her.


  10. Wow. This post IS raw. Thank you for being so brave in sharing all of your pain and your mixed thoughts and emotions about NEDA and EDAW. It was as if I could feel the twisted knots of tension and entangled, messy emotions behind your words as I read them. I think your response to those stock photos and the often trite tag-lines that are part of these publicity campaigns are entirely valid. It’s hard to start these incredibly painful conversations. Perhaps the use of these cheesy phrases and attractive pictures is designed to get past those initial, self-protective, vulnerability defenses that people tend to erect. I am amazed at your willingness to be vulnerable and to share so much of yourself, and I am amazed at your strength – the strength that brought you through your ED and into recovery. God gives us the strength but it is up to us to use it, and that is what you continue to do. Sending so much love.

    P.S. A mental health treatment center nearby to me opened the week with a free screening of the documentary “Embrace.” If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it! The theme is body-acceptance, and it’s one woman’s first-person account of her travels around the world exploring the issue. While watching the movie, there were times when I felt so discouraged that I wondered how we will ever change things, but then I remembered that it is God who is bringing about our salvation, just as you wrote about, and we can trust that He will make everything ok (more than ok!) in the end if we surrender to him.


    1. Thanks for this thoughtful reflection, Lulu. You’re right, initiating a dialogue is SO difficult. It’s hard to water that down to a simple tag line. I really appreciate you’re encouragement. And you’re right – God really is the source of our strength, and what a comfort that is to know that we don’t have to do it alone! Oh interesting! Embrace…I’ll have to check it out. thanks for passing it along 🙂 You’re right – He is in control and will make everything okay 🙂 big hugs to you xox

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You are such a wonderful young lady, this post had me in tears. I want to know what my daughter is feeling but she does not share. She does not know why she can’t eat, why she is not interested in food. Her dietician is worried about her as her BMI is very low and she is going to put her on supplements to give her the nutrients she needs. She is going to write to the doctor again to see if she can get some more help for her, but as usual, we seem to be doing the run around with my daughter just getting thinner and thinner. It seems very hard to get help in the UK when it is not a clear cut anorexia diagnosis. We went to a clinic for people with anorexia but they said they could not help so they sent my daughter to the dietician, and now dietician is sending her back to the doctor. My daughter wants to be force fed as she says she does not want to eat but knows her body needs food. On the one hand, my daughter has great plans for the future but on the other cant find the motivation to eat so that she can have a future. Praying that God can reach her through other people and bring back my beautiful girl.


    1. Oh Margaret, my heart is just going out to you. I know how difficult that must be to watch that. It sounds like the doctors are stuck on a bit of a merry-go-round. I will definitely keep her and you in my prayers. Yes, there is so much for her to embrace in this life. She’s got a good head on her shoulders. She just needs someone to break through the fear. Gosh, I’m sending you such big hugs. thank you for sharing that. hugs xox


  12. I have a friend that suffered from an unusual eating disorder. I am grateful that you are writing about it. In my friend’s case the whole suffering was mainly cause by a creative block. She wrote a screen play about it. It was amazing to see how the mind, the spirit and the physical body are so intimately connected. I am sending lots of light to you. Big hugs and thank you for your courage to reveal your pain.


  13. Thanks, Sister for reading my “Before”. You, too, know the truth of the “before and after”, and you tell it so well. Like the Uber man, I encourage you to keep on with your eyewitness ministry. It isn’t always easy to be faithful to your cause, but through Him you do it so very well. Blessings, daily blessings, to you! Len, your Gloryteller.


  14. I love your writing style and honesty. I was about 14 years old when I began to binge and purge. I lost weight quick and my dad caught on and asked me what was going on. He was genuine and concerned, I was stubborn and 14 ; letting him in wasn’t an option. I also struggled with self harm, self confidence and self love. Somehow I managed to get through that time of my life on my own but had to go to counselling to learn better coping skills and emotional release for the self harming. I wish I could go back and hug my 14 year old self. Finding self love is a difficult and


    1. thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you can relate on such a personal level. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying freedom and peace now. I know what you mean about wanting to go back. I want to go back and give our 14 year old selves hugs too 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! big hugs xox


  15. Thank you for your honesty and for your witness and testimony of the healing power of Christ. For all of life’s trials, be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, TRUE healing is found only in Him. May God bless you.


  16. Your words pulled me in. Drawn into an understanding i did not have prior to reading this and yes I, too take life for granted when I am unaware of it. Thank you for helping me to understand not only what you suffered through, but how you endure. You are more helpful than you realise…


  17. This post/your whole blog is beautiful! I absolutely love that you are sharing your story of suffering and of God’s work in your life. God is redeeming so much through you and your story. You are so strong and brave and beautiful! Keep fighting the good fight. 🙂


  18. Your post resonated with me so much. I am planning on becoming a therapist who helps people who have ED’s. I admire your honesty and strength. I also love how you incorporate faith into this (I’m catholic as well). Great writing 😊


    1. thank you so much for your continued prayers for my mom and i. she’s doing a lot better. still a long way to go, but there’s terrific progress every day, and i am so grateful for that 🙂 i appreciate you stopping by! big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Reblogged this on heartshabitation and commented:
    This was written by a lovely young woman who follows my blog. She also rights one of her own called Beauty Beyond Bones where, among other things, she shares her battle with an eating disorder and of her faith in Jesus that helps her to overcome. I reblog her post to honour her.


  20. Well said, and very insightful for me, I liked what you said about ‘she has to decide”. So very true for many areas of our lives. And yes, in the end, Jesus is the only one who can save us. Thank you for sharing your heart. ❤


  21. I love the honest way you write your blogs. I feel the Lord blessing them in a powerful way and using you as his faithful servant to spread love and understanding.


  22. You are a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart. Good on you for having the courage to share your journey. I pray it will help bring healing to many who struggle with similar issues. Blessings!


  23. Sometime the hardest knocks provide us with the best education. This is evident in what you have written here.If just one tear drop doesn’t fall because of what you written it was well worth it. Stronger to day much stronger tomorrow. Thanks you.


  24. God bless you and your beautiful bones, body, heart, and soul. What a monumental moment you and your mother had during this Lenten season. Thank you for sharing your story. xoxo — Part-Time Sunshine


  25. Many of us have painful stories that are difficult to share, and silence can breed ignorance and judgments. I applaud your bravery is sharing so many details of yours. I can see how helpful it is for so many.


    1. Thank you so much Aurora. What a kind thing to say. it really means a lot. You’re right, we all have different challenges we’re dealing with silently. thanks again for stopping by 🙂 hugs xox


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