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How to overcome an eating disorder with a God who restores
"What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have" - Oprah Winfrey.
This story began when I was just eight years old...
Already scarred by the hand of man and deeply self-conscious...
I was reading a girls magazine where a celebrity gave some, what I thought was, sound advice on avoiding things like ice-cream and eating frozen yogurt instead and replacing hot chips with boiled potatoes (like you could ever compare!) to stay thin...
And from that point, I never really ate those things until I was challenged to in a while on the healing journey 13 years later...
Recognising I needed Help
It took me a long time to recognize that I had a problem because it was a slow journey into bulimia. Around the age of fourteen when a then-boyfriend commented on my 'fat thighs' and compared me to a particular model in a questionable magazine, I began to make myself physically ill and avoided eating food until I was in a safe place to binge...
About six months in I had lost weight and was light headed all the time, that's when my parents began to ask questions... that's when I knew I had a problem but didn't care about getting better, just thinner...
Eventually, though it consumed my life and I no longer wanted to live like that... but I couldn't stop.. I tried with all my strength, but just couldn't ... and I had no idea how to get help. My mum tried printing off articles of all kinds, read me the scary statistics, and encouraged me to stay strong but NOTHING helped.
I’d eventually say I was all better and I had it under control just to give my family a break from worrying…I somehow don’t think they believed me. No one else knew…well if they did, they did not mention it to me. I was good at wearing the mask at school…most days… but having an ED brought on evident and severe repercussions. I suffered bouts of anxiety, depression, extreme highs and very low self-esteem.
Eight years later I gave my life to Christ. In His gentle and loving way, He encouraged my relationship and journey with Him, never condemning, always loving and encouraging. I tried SO hard to be better, I wanted SO badly to be a reflection of my gracious Creator, but as hard as I tried I eventually succumbed to the triggers and found myself a mess again.
I was now carrying even more shame and embarrassment because I was a Christian. So fearful of what others would say or think. So afraid to lose my new beautiful friendships and so worried that God would cast me aside (though I know now God draws near to the broken and never leaves us). I had read many times of His great and merciful love; I had even experienced it so many times…but this constant failure led me to believe once again that I was worthless…
I went to my very first Colour Conference held by Hillsong Church. It was there that I went down the front for prayer. I was so desperate that I was grasping at whatever chance I had for freedom, surely prayer would work? The beautiful Julia A’Bell grabbed me by the hand and asked me what I needed prayer for. I can still remember how hard it was to confess to anyone, but to a stranger seemed to be more natural…I told her of my prayer request…she looked me straight in the eye and said I needed to choose life...
I was trying really...
I just needed something to grasp onto, something practical, reliable...
Some kind of truth that would just hold my head above the water long enough not to drown.
She prayed for me.
There is something powerful in confessing hidden sin to someone; the enemy does not want us to be free. He’d rather keep us feeling guilty and ashamed, captive and unable to live out the fullness of God’s plans.
This truth-telling... this speaking it out loud so I could hear it beyond my thoughts and then praying was the turning point for me... I wasn't perfect from then on, please! Recovery is a journey! But it was then that real healing began.
I knew that I had a lot of wrong thinking about myself and that I had formed patterns that I’d grasped to cope with some of the stresses of my life. I remembered listening to a teaching by Nancy Alcorn (Founder of Mercy Multiplied) about dealing with the root issues… I knew I had tonnes!
I realized that I had to CHOOSE LIFE by taking a break from everyday life. I needed to focus on my healing in Him, I had to choose life, and that meant my life for a little had to STOP. It had to look a bit different to everyone else, I had to have some FOMO, and I needed to be the one who made that choice.
My life was at stake.
The life God gifted me.
The Life God Gifted Me
The life that would one day bear three beautiful boys who have their unique personhoods to contribute to the world. A life that would love others in their own mess and write words that would draw people to Jesus. A life that would teach children to be their best selves and a life that would be filled with joy and wonder in all its beauty!
It was that same week that I began the application process to go to the Mercy Ministries home in Australia. Mercy Ministries was a home that young women could go to find healing, support and recovery from mental illness, EDs, help, and support for teen pregnancy, self-harm, abuse recovery and more.
In the meantime I began to tell people I was close to, people I trusted and knew would show grace…and for those who were on the journey, thank you.
I learned a lot about myself during the season I was at Mercy. I learned about my true value and worth; I was treated with grace and dignity time and time again. I was blessed and doted on. It was my ‘God bubble,’ protected from the world and immersed in Him. There were challenging moments, times when I’d cry out to God with all my heart and wait for Him to come to my rescue.
He was always faithful.
My Time at Mercy
Mercy Sydney was an extraordinary place of healing and redemption for me, a time where I learned that despite all my failings God was still gracious and would restore what the enemy had stolen and blessed my life beyond what I could merely hope for. God spoke through Isaiah 58 and challenged me saying my true healing would come as I helped others along their journey of freedom and to share what I had with those who had nothing.
Through the help of an incredible counselor, I was able to begin to pinpoint the root issues that my ED developed out of. There is no one single cause for an ED. Mine came from a variety of contributors. As a young girl, I was sexually abused by a family friend; I read so many magazine articles about being skinny and beautiful, comparing myself to the beautiful girls I saw in there. Through my teen years I experienced rape, abuse, and as I mentioned earlier, I was told straight out that I was fat and needed to lose weight to be pretty. I experienced a constant comparison to ‘hot women’ that I should look like to be beautiful. My idea of true and real beauty, the authentic kind, was so warped by the time I became a Christian, only God and His Word would transform my thinking. All of these things contributed to the consistency of my ED.
The Healing Journey
Pinpointing the root issues was just the beginning. After recognizing the causes, I had to recognize my thought life. I began to identify things that I believed about myself that contradicted what the bible said about me. I began to confess the truth to myself desperately wanting to believe it deep down in my soul. Sometimes I was speaking truth-words over myself several times a day until it dropped into my heart.
Being in a care home meant that they helped control my eating and binging. I began to see and understand what a healthy meal consisted of and how to enjoy food again (and I'm now the ever loving foodie, so grateful I'm able to truly enjoy food again!). We even had scary food challenges that we accepted in our timing, and of course, mine consisted of hot chips and ice-cream!
With time, I was strengthened and equipped to fight for my life without the constant support from Mercy Ministries (although they were always a phone call away if I needed). The recovery journey has still been a long process. I had to learn how to choose life without someone assisting me 24/7. But I can confidently say I’m recovered and free now. Do thoughts cross my mind occasionally? YES, very rarely the enemy’s voice echoes in the background if my life, but God and His word have strengthened me to keep choosing life.
What Did I Learn?
Having had an ED has caused me to be deeply honest and authentic with others and myself. It taught me the power of God’s Word and to not fear man but God alone. It invited me to search for and embrace true beauty and value. It shook the veil of lies the enemy had covered over me and replaced it with truth and freedom! For that fight, I am truly grateful.
Life As I Now Know It
I am now married to an incredibly gracious, kind and gentle man, who loves God and worships him alone. We have three gorgeous little boys who I look at daily and thank God that the enemy did not win in my life… these precious boys are a gift. My mental health is healthy, though not perfect at times! I still have to speak the word of God over myself and situations (who doesn’t?!), but I know how valuable I am to my Heavenly Father.
My passion for She Collective comes from my journey; I want to fight for our girl's beauty, for their worth and value… for their life and the lives of their future generations. I want to speak truth to the many lies this world yells at them. I long to see them strong in Him, confident as His beautiful daughters and equipped to overcome life’s battles. There is so much pressure out there to look and act a certain way to be beautiful; I believe only God and His Word can reveal our true beauty as we lean into Him, as we learn and grow in Him and as we love others the way He does. Trust Him, cry out to Him and seek Him today beautiful one xxxx
FYI: A great place to start recovery from an ED is to acknowledge you first have a problem. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, it’s incredibly common and one of the ways the enemy attacks this generation of girls (& guys). John 10:10 tells us very plainly that we have an enemy that wants to destroy us. EDs are deadly; the risk of premature death is 6-12 times higher than the general population. They represent the third most chronic illness in young women and are the leading cause of mental disorder disability for young females in Australia (NEDC, 2010). Below are some Eating Disorder Help Lines and follow us over at @she_collective for a daily encouragement to be your best self.
Eating Disorder Help Lines
The Butterfly Foundation
(+61) 1800 33 46 73
(+64) 95222 679
(+44) 845 634 7650
The United States
(+1) 866 690 7239
(+1) 866 633 4220
Or check out
It is a Christian organization, free and helped my freedom journey.
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