So often we think diets are the answer to our weight loss and for some the key to happiness. For Marie, a diet at age 10 was the gateway to an eating disorder. As one of 10 children in her house, Marie’s life was not like those around her; she felt like the weird girl who didn’t fit in with anyone. She was bullied because of her weight and thought she could control it through the diets her mom used. By age 13 she restricted food, and by age 15 a traumatic experience dangerously escalated her disordered eating habits.
When Marie got to college, her life became out of control. She shares, “Restricting became my only friend. The only thing I could lean on. If I wasn’t thinking about restricting, then I was thinking about things I didn’t want to think about.” Friends watched as she spiraled down the dangerous path of an eating disorder, and they intervened to get her some help.
Marie first went into residential treatment, but after her weight was restored, she was sent home. She lacked treatment for the causes of her eating disorder. “I know I needed help, and I know I needed help coping with my negative emotions. An eating disorder is so much more than weight and food. There are words and actions that I needed help dealing with.” After she returned home, Marie relapsed, and her eating disorder continued. Her family was supportive, but coming from a big family made it difficult for others to see her struggle with anorexia. She kept them at a distance so she could be alone.
She knew she needed help to overcome her eating disorder, somewhere that would treat the cause of her disordered behavior. For Marie, that place was Magnolia Creek. Sometimes our struggles in life seem to be more than we can bear, that held true for Marie. Just four days before she was to leave for Magnolia Creek, she was involved in a severe car accident, one that should have ended her life. She remembers the paramedics telling her she must have had a purpose in life and a higher power was indeed trying to tell her something.
“I went to Magnolia Creek broken and bruised mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I wanted help and knew I needed help, even in the condition I was in, I knew I needed this place.”
Was Magnolia Creek something different?
When she arrived at Magnolia Creek, she met with Dietitian, Lucy Abruscato, who knew she was in the right place to fully recover. “When I met with my treatment team, I knew there was something different about this place. I instantly felt like I was cared for, understood, and listened too. Nobody judged me.” Magnolia Creek instills a sense of hope and empowerment by partnering with clients to be an active participant in their treatment. Marie immediately saw that she was in a supportive atmosphere designed to help her find a renewed hope and recover her life.
Marie will tell you that her eating disorder was stubborn, but she knew she was supposed to heal, “I was saved from death. I knew I had to put in the work, surrender to the process, and do what they were telling me to do. I had to put my whole heart into it. When things got tough, I knew I was on the right path.”
For six months, Marie worked hard to recover from anorexia. When times were hard, she worked harder. She knew she was onto something. Creative Arts was helpful in allowing Marie to express herself in ways she never thought she could. She learned her eating disorder did not define her.
The Family Program at Magnolia Creek also helped to bring her family closer. The Family Workshop is a two-day, intensive program that provides eating disorder education, communication, and boundary setting techniques, interactive groups, and family therapy sessions. For Marie, this workshop provided an opportunity for her parents and siblings to come and understand how her eating disorder not only affected her but her family. They learned what motivated Marie and through activities such as affirmations and amends, they stimulated discussions and conflict resolution.
Life After Magnolia Creek
Marie came to Magnolia Creek broken, ashamed, and feeling worthless, “I never believed I was pretty or worth anything, but that changed. Self-awareness can be so scary; it can be used to spiral or to look at yourself and say, ‘ok what do we do about this.'” Daily self-affirmations helped her understand she didn’t need to be ashamed. Today she believes what she wrote. She knows she is worth something, “I want to be my best friend. No one knows what I need to hear better than I do.”
During one of her final visits with Primary Therapist, Leah Riley, they discussed her next steps. She told Leah she knew she had to go into the world and find her purpose. She set goals and is ready to do what she wants to do. Marie is ready to rebuild her life.
“I came to Magnolia Creek not knowing my purpose, so I didn’t believe I had one. Today that has changed. Even though I don’t know what my purpose is, I believe that I have one, and it is going to be a grand adventure to find out what it is!”