Contributor: Dr. Kim Dennis, CEO/Medical Director Emeritus, Timberline Knolls
I started my college career in 1992. As a freshman at the University of Chicago, I was full of fear. I felt like a fraud, like I did not deserve to be there because of where I came from.
My peers came from families where their mothers and fathers went to college and were professors, business people, lawyers and doctors. My mom finished high school. My dad did not, he was a welder, an alcoholic and died when I was 11. None of my five siblings completed college.
I had no idea what to expect from college but my list of possibilities certainly did not include bulimia. Yet, this illness entered my life that same year. It altered my entire college experience.
I Struggled Daily
As with so many who suffer from an eating disorder, I struggled daily to uphold the façade. As such, I maintained straight A’s, competed on both the softball and basketball teams, and even achieved early acceptance to medical school.
Yet, on the inside, I held the dark, shameful secret of my bulimia, which only grew more horrific with every passing year.
I entered medical school habitually bingeing and purging five to 10 times a day. In the grips of this hideous disease, I was spending $1,500 per month of med student loan money on food. I fully believed that bulimia would eventually result in my death.
Finding a Treatment Team Who Could Help
Not until my third year of medical school did I find a treatment team who could help me. By then, in addition to anorexia and bulimia, I was plagued by depression, anxiety and alcoholism.
I spent my third decade of life achieving and adhering to recovery. Although healthy and well, I was certain the time spent in my illness meant I had forfeited the opportunity to have what so many people desire: marriage and family.
Fortunately, my perception of my future was a product of residual distorted thinking. It also failed to take God and His goodness into account. Currently, I am the medical director and CEO of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.
Every single day I see adolescent girls and women who suffered as I did and are now taking bold, positive steps toward recovery. And at the end of each day, I delight in being a wife and mother to the man I love and our beautiful new baby boy and my adolescent stepdaughter and stepson.
An eating disorder is a relentless, soul-destroying disease. It often leads to other addictions and disorders. If given enough time, an eating disorder can and will kill its victim.
Whereas full recovery is absolutely possible, it rarely happens on its own. Therefore, if your life is unfolding as mine did, please take steps to get help.
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The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 16th, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com