Beautiful and Balanced: A Mercy Grad’s Victory Over Eating Disorders
February 18, 2016
February 21st marks the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness week. In 2011, studies indicated that 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. For over three decades, Mercy Multiplied has been a part of the solution, helping thousands break free from eating disorders through its Christian residential program and resources. One such young woman is Katie, a 2003 Mercy graduate.
“I was a sophomore in high school, and I was running track,” Katie said, recalling how her eating disorder started. “Some guy, that I didn’t even know who he was, walked past me and just said ‘whoa, huge thighs’ and kept on walking.”
At that time, Katie was struggling with how to process the news that her parents were getting a divorce. One young man’s inconsiderate words during this already vulnerable time were enough to turn Katie down a dark path. “I felt like somebody had just stabbed me in the stomach. And that began the start of an eight year battle with anorexia and bulimia – that just took me down the beginning of a road to the darkest place in my life,” she said.
Katie began to excessively exercise and restrict food, eventually catching the cautionary attention of her mother and high school counselor. Still, her eating disorder continued into college, where she also turned to alcohol. “I just wanted to numb out the pain of who I was,” said Katie.
Finally, Katie’s pain became too much. “It came to a point where I no longer wanted to live,” she said. Katie overdosed on “massive amounts of different medications,” and a family friend found her zombie-like in a darkened room. “I remember feeling just nothing,” Katie recalled.
When she learned about Mercy Multiplied’s free residential program, Katie knew she had to give it a try. “When I first got to Mercy I was scared out of my mind,” she said. “But the one thing I knew when I got there was that, that’s where I was supposed to be,” she said.
One of the seven keys to lasting freedom taught at Mercy is how to get God’s perspective on your life. Residents are taught to identify the lies they believe and replace them with God’s truth. Katie experienced the power of this process, and it became the turning point in her healing. One day as she looked in a mirror and repeated to herself “I am beautiful and balanced in Jesus’ name,” something clicked. She finally realized God’s truth about herself, and it began to transform her heart.
“One of the biggest tools that I learned at Mercy is that: You have a choice,” said Katie. Since graduating from Mercy thirteen years ago, Katie is still choosing to walk in freedom and press into her faith in God. She has been happily married for 10 years and loves being a stay-at-home mom. Even when life isn’t easy she says, “I am thankful for the pain, the victories, the heartache, the joys, the questions, and the confusion I have faced. It has all led me to Jesus. My faith has grown as I’ve chosen to seek Him.”
Katie’s story – and thousands more like it – show us that freedom from eating disorders is possible! If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, Mercy can help. Mercy’s website is chock full of helpful resources, including a signs and symptoms of eating disorders reference page, a free downloadable Mercy For Eating Disorders eBook, and MercyTalk podcasts specific to eating disorders. For more information about Mercy’s residential program click here or call 615-831-6987.