Recovery Story – Shannon Cutts
Ask Shannon Cutts what helped her recover from her fifteen-year battle with anorexia and bulimia, and you won’t have to wait long for her answer: Relationships replace eating disorders.When Shannon first developed anorexia at age eleven, little was known about recognizing and treating eating disorders. Her few early attempts to ask for help were misunderstood and rebuffed, and because of this, she struggled in secrecy and silence for seven years against an illness she could not name. But she refused to give up.When Shannon was nineteen she met her mentor. Together, they joined forces against the eating disorder. Slowly but surely, the loving, supportive bond she formed with her mentor began to edge out her dependence on her “relationship” with her eating disorder. She began to take her life back.Today, Shannon has been in strong recovery for over a decade. In 2004, she founded Key to Life: unlocking the door to hope, an outreach and advocacy organization that offers programs, workshops, concerts, products, and services to facilitate recovery from eating and related disorders. Through Key to Life, she began sharing what she had learned about eating disorders recovery through speaking and performing original recovery songs at colleges, treatment centers, schools, and conferences across the U.S.A. and in Canada.It was around this time that she also began serving as a mentor to others who were struggling to recover. It soon became clear to Shannon that the need for eating disorders mentors far exceeded what her time could accommodate. As she continued to answer her mentees’ questions and respond to their requests for support, she began taking notes, noticing common themes and writing down everything she could remember about how she healed. Those notes became her first book, Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back (Health Communications, Inc.)With the release of Beating Ana, Shannon & Key to Life launched a worldwide mission to share the power of mentoring with others. In 2008, with the wise counsel and support of her Leadership Team, Shannon founded MentorCONNECT, the first global eating disorders mentoring community. Today, MentorCONNECT is a thriving pro-recovery support community where members receive the unique opportunity to be matched with a caring volunteer mentor or to serve as a mentor to someone who needs to know that recovery is possible. In addition, the private, moderated, password-protected community offers members the chance to create recovery blogs, upload photos, songs, and videos, participate in a live weekly e-support group meeting and online chat with other members, and join dozens of themed support group forums.To learn more about Shannon, her speaking and songwriting, Beating Ana, Key to Life, and MentorCONNECT, visit her at www.key-to-life.com.