Middle-school, brace-face smirks…More happiness on the outside. Feeling completely broken and alone on the inside. .

I made it out of my first hospital…alive and “better” on the outside (at least according to the doctors and my parents)…

I’d put on about 10 pounds in that hospital bed (the 10 pounds I had fought myself so hard to lose).💪

It didn’t take long though for me to be right back in my “old ways.” My calorie-counting and food-obsessed brain had not changed; nor had my desires to be pretty and thin like the other popular girls at school.

In the hospital, all I learned was how to eat Pop-Tarts, chicken nuggets and Teddy Grahams,  served on my tray, and outside hospital, all I knew is that I didn’t feel inflamed, bloated and miserable when I ate apples, baby carrots and turkey roll-ups instead.🍎🥕

The cycle continued:

A couple more hospitalizations during 6th grade to “fix” my problem…isolation from my friends…”after school” activities of doctor appointments and group therapies…countless nights spent arguing and crying with my parents over “just eating the mac and cheese the nutritionist told me to eat”…and having my passions—dance and basketball—stripped away until I could prove I was recovered…brought me here…to this front porch swing where this picture was taken—a place where I’d often retreat to write prayers to the Lord to help me “just get over it”…🙏🙏

This picture was snapped a week before my parents “surprised” me with a trip to Arizona. Remuda Ranch treatment center to be exact…We got on a plane, and had 10-minutes to say good-bye before they left me for 2-months for the first (of many) inpatient treatments to come “get better”…