My 15 Year Recovery Anniversary

Well, today marks the 15th year of my recovery from anorexia.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

Fifteen years ago today, my trembling, scared, belligerent self was checked into an inpatient facility in Arizona, and from that moment on, my life would never be the same.

And I’m going to be honest, although a “15 year anniversary” sounds like something that is super impressive, and a milestone that I’ve been counting up towards, truthfully, I only realized this last week when I was flipping through my inpatient journal on a whim.

I decided I wanted to “do the math,” and sure enough, May 19 was the day I checked into inpatient 15 years ago back in 2007.

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. It was all happened in a whirlwind, because a bed had just opened up at the facility. My mother had me on a waiting list — unbeknownst to me — and since I was technically a legal adult, they couldn’t force me to go…and I was adamant that A) I didn’t have an eating disorder, and B) I sure as H-E-double-hockey-sticks wasn’t going to miss my high school graduation to go to rehab for three months.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

So my parents staged an intervention. It was all very dramatic, much like you’ve seen on TV…the yelling, the slamming doors, the tears, the pleading, the begging, ((all done by me)) and then finally, the begrudging acceptance to go.

My plane ticket was booked for the very next morning, and my parents and I flew across the country, to drop me off at the top Christian eating disorder inpatient recovery center in the world.

I’m shocked that I remember everything so vividly, given that I was 78 pounds and was in a constant state of brain fog. But I just remember I brought a bag full of dry Kashi cereal and other snacks on the plane. And the whole flight I was just eating and eating. My messed up head thought that if I weighed more when I got there, that my “sentence” would be shorter, and I’d be able to get the heck out of there sooner.

Wrong I was.

When we arrived, even though it was 90-something degrees, I was still cold. And I just remember walking into the common room where all the girls spent their time during the day. And I say “girls,” because even though I was in the “adult” 18+ facility, everyone was so emaciated and skeletal, that they looked like old, decaying children. Like a doll you’d see in a horror film in someone’s haunted attic. And they were doing child-like things: coloring in coloring books, playing cards, reading, doing puzzles. There was no TV, and no activity that involved anything that got your heart rate up, so coloring it was.

Everyone had feeding tubes coming out of their noses, and there was just this overwhelming feeling of anxiety – like I was walking through a morgue. It was very surreal.

I was taken to my makeshift “room” where I would be staying for the first few weeks: at the nurses station. Because of the starvation I had put my body through, it was in such severe depletion that I was at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, and so they wanted to be able to monitor me through the night to make sure my heart didn’t stop. After all, that is how girls die from anorexia: because the heart is a muscle, and your body is consuming its own muscles and tissues to stay alive.

I remember that first day, being brought into the back nurses examination room for entrance processing.

They were these big, stern nurses — who, had to be that way, because every girl that is in that place is an expert liar and master of deception and manipulation.

They clanked a lunch tray down in front of me with a sandwich, apple juice, a side of pasta — I don’t remember what else, but I just remember being terrified, faced with foods I hadn’t dared to eat in a long time.

I was then handed a hospital gown with the one word instruction: strip.

They needed to check my body for any signs of self mutilation, which oftentimes accompanies girls with eating disorders.

And standing there, shivering, naked, in a backless paper hospital gown, across the country at an eating disorder treatment facility being checked for signs of self harm, I thought to myself, “Caralyn, this is it. Your life does not get any lower than this.”

That was fifteen years ago, today.

How life can change.

And more impressively, how God can take what is utterly broken beyond repair, and restore it, redeem it, and completely turn things around.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

Reflecting on that episode 15 years ago, it almost seems like I’m telling the story of someone else. It is so far removed from who I am today, it’s like it’s not really me that it happened to.

And yet, if I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can go right back to that cot at the nurses station, and still hear the beeping of the machines, and the smell of that sterile room, and the set up of the place, and the rules we had to adhere to: like not being allowed to flush the toilets ourselves.

It is a phase of life – a part of my story – that really changed who I am, and my outlook on the world, and direction in life, I believe for the better. Which just goes to show that God can bring good out of even the absolute worst of any situation.

I was going through my inpatient journal and found the very first thing I wrote. I had written down two Bible verses.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

The first was from Ezekiel 36: 25-26
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. And I will put a new spirit in you.

The second was Psalm 143: 3-10
May Your gracious spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. Let me hear of Your unfailing love to me in the morning, for I am trusting You.

And looking back, those were really the two things that got me through that terrifying time during those three months, and truly have sustained me every day since:

1) Clinging to the promise that He has washed away my past, my sin – making me clean, and with a new spirit.

I fully believe that eating disorders are a form of spiritual warfare, with the enemy using a spirit of darkness, a spirit of evil to control the sufferer. The eating disorder feeds her lies that make her believe that she is worthless, unlovable, and a burden to those who love her. The enemy is the liar of all liars and comes only to steal, kill and destroy, and that’s exactly what he is doing with girls and eating disorders.

The promise of a new spirit — it gave me the hope that I didn’t know I needed at that very moment.

2) The second promise I clung to was that I could trust my Father, who’s love for me is unfailing.

I could trust Him. Whatever came next. Whatever “fear food” they placed on my plate next. Whatever supplement increase I faced for the day. Whatever urge to exercise I had to overcome. Whatever accusation I faced or loneliness or fear I felt, I could trust Him. Because He loved me. He loved me despite everything that I had done that got me there. He loved me, even knowing that I had lied, and was destructive, and hurtful and disobedient, and frankly…just horrible. His love was unfailing. I could fail, but His love didn’t.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

Fifteen years is a long time. And if there’s one thing I could say to myself, earlier on in my recovery journey, it would be this:

The key to all of this, is love.

Love is the secret to freedom. Freedom from ED, freedom from the toils of recovery, freedom to actually let myself be free.

Love.

It starts with Love from God. Allowing Him to love me. Accepting it into my heart, and learning to love Him back.

That grows into a love for self. Learning to love the thing I hated most: myself. But with time, I would learn to forgive myself of my past, and learn to see myself the way God sees me: as a precious daughter, worthy of love.

And lastly, is finally allowing love into my life from another person. This is the ultimate key to freedom, because it means that deep down in my heart, I truly believe that I am, in fact, am worthy of love. And all the prior steps will be in beautiful harmony: a life from love, in love, for love.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

I know it seems incredibly simple when broken down like that, but for me, traversing those different “love steps” took the better part of 12 years.

They don’t say recovery is a journey for nothing.

Today marks the 15 year anniversary of #recovery from anorexia. It feels like a lifetime ago - as though it happened to another person. Reflecting on the key of recovery, and the two things I've clung to along the way. #edrecovery #catholic #mentalhealth #eatingdisorder #faith #jesus #god #christianity #hope

One thing is for certain: we are never stagnant. We are always growing, always evolving. And when God is the center and source of that transformation, we can trust that that growth is always for the better, forwards, towards the person God created us to be.

That’s recovery.

To hear my story, click here.

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87 thoughts on “My 15 Year Recovery Anniversary

    1. Thank you Ivan! I appreciate you sharing the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you my friend. Yes! I am so grateful for His healing!!! Hugs and love xox

  1. Congratulation on renewing and rebuilding the outside of “you” AND also renewing and rebuilding the INSIDE of you. What a a testimonial and inspiration. Thank you for publicly sharing your journey because no matter what road someone might be on with whatever addiction, you are in inspiration. Hugs to you.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me! Amen to that! There is absolutely a way out. There’s never a dead end! There’s always hope to be found! Hugs and love xox

  2. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” ( 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Keep telling your story of redemption…

    1. Amen to that! When I am weak, He is strong!! Thank you Rollie for sharing that verse and for your support and friendship! Hugs and love xox

  3. Love your story. Love Jesus- love the scriptures you shared. Love that you are able to bring others to Jesus. Love all of this ❤️

    1. Thank you Debbie! That really means a lot. Amen to that – Jesus IS my recovery! I’d have no recovery without Him! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so very much, Peter. I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

  4. Thank you for these words that I find so encouraging. Such a wonderful account of God’s unfailing love! Amen and Amen!

    1. thank you Myron, I’m so glad you do! Amen! it’s unfailing! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Paula! I appreciate your support and kind words so much! have a wonderful weekend! Hugs and love xox

  5. Thank you for your story. It is powerful. I love that God redeems- the story of all Christian lives ❤️❤️

    1. thank you so much Karen for such kind words of encouragement. amen to that — God redeems!! Hugs and love xox

  6. Praise God!! Such an inspiring story of God’s loving, beautiful grace and your humbly falling into His arms. And so completely has He restored you!! Praise God. Love you as always, my beautiful friend. Hugs!XO😃❤️

    1. Thank you so much Tonya! Amen to that – God’s restoration is so praiseworthy! I will sing of it forever! thanks for your friendship and for your beautiful support and kindness! love you friend! xoxo hugs x

  7. As painful as it was, I love hearing your story. 2007 was a significant year for me, too, when my husband of 28 years came home one evening and announced without warning that he had filed for divorce. Of course, it was not truly without warning. The Lord had warned me a few months before by telling me from Scripture, “You have circled this mountain long enough…” which has always indicated a coming change in my life. But the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us. God always brings life and a new season. I am so glad He brought life to you. Bless you, dear Sister in Christ.

    1. Thank you HJ – yeah it is definitely hard to look back, but it also gives me great perspective on the power of God’s mercy and forgiveness. And gosh, thank you for sharing that — i can only imagine the devastation of such abrupt news like that. I am so sorry, my friend. But you are so right – He never foresakes us. Your strength is inspiring 🙂 sending the biggest hugs xox

  8. Thanks for sharing. Anniversaries are worth celebrating, even painful ones. One of the least understood commands in the Bible is “Remember”. It’s not “remember” like “What did you eat for breakfast yesterday?” or “Remember where I parked my car” or even “Remember how to solve d = st”. Instead, we are build memorials – usually physical ones – and give testimonies about what God did for us. Sounds like you have both covered and I’m inspired because while I may not have your struggles, we do have the same God who carried us through.

    Keep testifying.

    1. Thank you my friend. You’re right about that – they allow us the perspective to see where God has delivered us and saved us from! Such a powerful response, thank you. Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Clinton – it definitely was “character building” for sure! haha God is good though, and His saving hand is a powerful one! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Sheree — right you are about that! It is something I never take for granted — life!!! i appreciate your support and friendship 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you friend – you are kind to say that. God has certainly delivered me from a dark place. His grace is amazing. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Kenneth! 🙂 hahha you’re right about that! God has been so good to me — He truly makes all things new and is mighty to save! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Marland – I truly appreciate your support. God is good. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much David – amen to that – God IS my recovery. I am so grateful that He saved and delivered me from that dark place. thank you again! Hugs and love xox

  9. Congratulations on this milestone of healing and restoration. “Jesus still heals” may be a churchy cliché but nonetheless true. Yes, Jesus heals! Love and blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so much Harry – that is so kind of you. and amen! Jesus IS my recovery – His saving power, His forgiveness, His mercy and grace…it is life changing, and I am grateful for it every single day. Thanks for being in my corner 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  10. HaPpy 15 Anniversary 🥳🥳 I totally understand you. I have my Anniversary in September 😉. We stand strong when it comes to turn a page, starting a new journey where every day is to stay helthy and not slide back. So Celebrate it!! 🍾

    1. Thank you so much my friend! and oh my gosh, early congrats to you. Recovery is truly such a gift and life is something to absolutely celebrate!! hooray for our new pages and new journeys!! thank you for sharing in the joy with me 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  11. Wonderful! Every line here is so expressive of God’s faithful work in your life. I am so grateful for families like yours, they’re right in the battle with you even when you fight them all the way!
    Thank you for this great testimony, your humility to bare your struggles, and the victory won step by step with the Lord.
    So exhilarating sister, thank you and congratulations!
    ❤⚘💐🌺🌸

    1. Hi Lisa Beth! Gosh, this is such a beautiful note of encouragement, thank you so much. You’re right about that – God has been so good. He truly delivered me and saved me from that dark place. And you’re right…family is God’s greatest blessing, and I’m so thankful for mine!!! thanks for being in my corner with me! Hugs and love xox

  12. Your reaction to the “intervention,” like any of us who have found Father’s grace for our lostness, is a contrast to those in Revelation 16, “They did not repent and give him glory.” Just more evidence that it is not the circumstances of our lives that form us, but what we do in response. Do we recognize God is trying to help us or do we curse Him for the troubles in which we find ourselves? If we humbly repent, He will never fail to catch our falling spirits and lift us into His glorious light!
    See you in Heaven, if not before!! ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    1. You’re right about that – God is always trying to help us, even when we kick and scream about it – like I did. lol But His saving power and mercy and grace and love is truly life changing, and I am grateful for it every single day. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Jeff — yes, me too. One thing — among many — that all of this has taught me is how precious LIFE is, and how grateful I am to be alive. You’re kind to say that. Thank you for your prayers, my dear friend. Know that you and your family are always in mine as well. been thinking about you so much!! hope everything is on the up and up. sending massive hugs to you and your girls. xox

      1. Thank you, Caralyn! I continue to get stronger. I’m still stuck with the walker, but I’m leaning on it less and less. God has been good in giving me a body that responds well to exercise. Julie and I are seeing a great therapist I know through church. Still working through some bees still left in my head from this whole thing. Hugs to you also!

    1. Thank you so much John! Jesus is so good, and I am so grateful for HIs saving hand that has gotten me here 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much my friend, for sharing in the joy with me. Jesus is my deliverer and I owe it ALL to Him…literally!!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Clara! Amen to that – His deliverance is why I am here today! I am so grateful! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much!!! God’s deliverance and mercy and grace is so powerful. It’s why I’m here today! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Jim! Yes! God has saved me from quite a place of darkness. And for that I am so grateful! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Rainer for sharing in the joy with me! it means a lot! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Jess – I truly appreciate your support! Hugs and love xox

  13. God Bless you!
    I have been reading your blog here for a few years. The first time I read it I remember seeing the passage from Ezekial…
    “This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
    and I thought first, someone with an eating disorder probably looked like a sack of bones and this passage mentioning “bones” kind of startled me. It is really one of my many favorites and i make sure to read it each week after reading your entry.
    Congratulations on this anniversary!
    I am really writing back this comment because this weeks entry moved me in a way I haven’t been here. I have read each week and your journey is fascinating to me and your delivery here has to draw people to heal and to health…and so many should be very thankful for this…but as I was reading about your entrance into the health center I suddenly had tears running down my face. I am not sure altogether what triggered it but it was something in your story. Anything that can draw tears so involuntarily to this face is stunning.
    I just thought I should share that.
    So very glad that you made it!!
    ~b

    1. Thank you Amara, I really appreciate your kind words. And ROCK ON, WARRIOR! That is such an achievement. Keep on, beautiful! Your strength and courage is inspiring! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  14. Your a inspiration to not only people with eating disorders but also thousands and thousands of others. Your such a lositive and loving person. The split picture, surely that cant be you 15 years ago?

    1. thank you so much – oh my gosh, that absolutely touches me heart. yes – that was me back in 2007 and me today. wild how a life can be so low, and then risen from the absolute depths to an unimaginable joy. i am so grateful to God. Thanks for your support! Hugs and love xox

      1. You’re right about that – it really can! Hugs and love xox

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