Monday was my birthday, celebrated with my favorite buttercream cake (which I'm still enjoying), lovely get togethers with friends and family, and a gift to myself of a new bike.
But the best gift is one I must share with you. It was one sent unknowingly--she had no idea it was my birthday-- and I share it with Dana's approval. It was, coincidently, one of a couple of emails I received that day, updates on progress from patients I no longer see. I'm posting Dana's letter because I think many of you need to see it. Because I could not have crafted such a beautiful and inspiring myself.
Perhaps you recall reading about her before? In summary, she had anorexia from her early teens and first presented for treatment in her late 30s. She survived too many traumas to count, and in spite of having many close friends and family members around, did not utilize them for eating disorder support. She had a family history of anorexia, and struggled later with bulimia and depression as well. Statistically, Dana had little promise of recovery. But you know I don't always care much for statistics (I am the 1 in 1000 to get MS, and I am perhaps more fortunate than most with this disease. So I believe that we shouldn't get bogged down with recovery rates!)
I post this for you who believe there is no hope. I share this because recovery truly is possible, not just for those early in their disease, or with fabulous supports, but for all. But it doesn't come easy, nor does it happen fast. And as I've written before, it's not without discomfort--emotional and physical--along the way.
My birthday greeting from Dana
So Lori, I thought this was an important email to send to you.
Why? Bc it's officially been one year since I last engaged in an eating disorder behavior! I have not purged in one year! This was my last behavior to "let go of" and I did it!
Happy One Year to me!
I think of you at this one year mark. We endured quite the journey, didn't we?!
I truly wanted you to know this important milestone bc I could not have done it without all the help and patience you provided. I wanted to share it with you bc of all the work we did together... all the frustrations, setbacks, etc paid off and got me to this point.
I thought I was a lost cause. I thought why bother so often. Why try. I thought I'll always need this ed bc it's helped me survive and cope and without it, I won't be able to live.
I thought I was going to be the case where you work so hard for so long and I STILL fall through the cracks and will die from this. I felt too broken and damaged and I got tired of flailing and struggling. All too often I just wanted to give in/give up. I was going to be your patient that would not survive this eating disorder. Me!
Hardly ever did I imagine I could push through and see it to the other side. Especially being fully aware that I'd been suffering for so many years and it was just, simply, part of me.
I did it though, Lori - I'm one of your "success stories"!
Not sure just how many kick and scream their way out of their ed, but I succeeded! Rough and very bumpy ride, but I buckled up and made it.
And maybe it's not really too big a deal to anyone else - maybe even you, but inside I feel like it's a really big deal. A victory I could never have seen myself achieving. But here we are!
I think you deserve acknowledgement as well. And maybe I just wanted someone to cheer with. But we were partners in this lengthy, anything but linear recovery process, so I wanted to share and allow you some recognition at this one year mark as well, and I hope you don't mind :)
Silly, huh? I'm doing all right. I am back working and I have also begun taking violin lessons, which is interesting.
Anyhow... thank you for your huge role in my healing and recovering so I could celebrate this one year completely eating disorder free. Thank you for letting me quietly share. I really wanted to share with you.
One whole year. Can you ever imagine?!
I guess people CAN recover?!!
Please don't tell me that you are different. You too can recover. Really.
PS: pictures to be added soon! I am enroute to an eating disorder conference and simply couldn't wait to post! Please share with anyone who needs a bit of hope. Thanks.