Sunday, March 1, 2009

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

So I embarked on quite an amazing journey to reach out and spread eating disorder awareness and hope. I had the opportunity to speak on an athlete’s panel, participate in the Merrick’s Walk for ED Awareness, and speak at numerous universities and one private high school. I was reflecting on this past week with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. It was at this same time last year that I found myself at my bottom. I was staring down excruciating odds as I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and given less than a year to live. On top of this, my former fiancĂ© walked away, I lost my job, and I was physically and mentally broken. There were moments when I thought I wouldn’t see the light to another day, but God came into my life and I was given a second chance. It is only by Gods grace that I find myself living a life that before only seemed like a hopeless dream. I thought I could never feel happy again, nor did I think I would ever live a life free from the grips of my eating disorder. There were many times I contemplated giving up, but I never did. Believing that I could live again, I went into treatment almost one year ago, and it changed my life. I spent my 25th birthday in treatment, and it was at this moment that; “I Chose To Live.” I now live my life free with the swagger of 10 college kids!

While in recovery, I vowed to not only change my life, but to help others find their way into recovery. This past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and it was so eye opening to me. What a blessing it was to travel to Georgia and Texas, and see so many passionate college kids speaking out about eating disorders and body image. While in Atlanta, I spoke at Georgia State, Walker High School, and Georgia Tech. What an amazing experience this was. At Tech, I spoke to their freshmen athletes. This was quite intimidating but I truly believe God was right there with me as I spoke to these athletes. Not everyone will struggle with an eating disorder but what a blessing it was to have the room in silence and there focus on my story and message. Yes, my story is about my struggle and recovery with an eating disorder, but it is also about life and making the right choices.

I wanted to personally recognize and thank The Eating Disorder Information Network (EDIN) of Georgia for making this wonderful awareness trip possible. Back in September I met Kris Shock, and it was at this moment that I decided to take my story and share it with college students all over. I truly believe God puts the right people in your life at just the right time. I am a writer, but I was called to take my story and share it on a more personal level. I now speak openly about my struggles and recovery.

After speaking in Georgia, I then traveled to Texas to speak on the campus at Lubbock Christian University. This is where I was truly moved and taken back by Gods amazing grace and love. I had the opportunity to speak 6 different times on the campus, and was able to speak in there chapel which was filled with over 500 students. This was so powerful, and I truly just gave it to God and spoke from my heart. I had a smile on my face the entire day. The students at LCU totally rocked out NEDAW. They had events all week and a truly wonderful exhibit on the progression of eating disorders in a college dorm room. I had the opportunity to walk this exhibit and I was so taken back. This was probably the most powerful and wonderful example of student eating disorder awareness I have ever experienced. I want to thank every student at LCU for all their hard work. LCU is one of many colleges making a REAL difference in the field of eating disorder awareness. I wanted to thank every personal from the bottom of my heart for being a voice during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Each and every voice is making a difference— I consider all of you true heroes. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Yes, I am proof that a strong male athlete can suffer the horrible fate of an eating disorder, but more importantly, I am proof that recovery is possible. I now live my life for God and he gets all the glory. I will continue to be a strong voice in the field of eating disorder awareness, and I will never give up on those still suffering and fighting for recovery. I Chose To Live and Choose To Care!
Love and Blessings,
Patty
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