Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

By: Denise Harker

September 6, 1996 — My experience at the Center for Change has been the most valuable experience of my life; it’s almost indescribable. I came in with little expectation of recovery. I felt hopeless, scared, and incapable of ever getting my life back. But now I am leaving in less than a week and I feel confident I will have a full recovery. I won’t deny that I am nervous, but that’s okay. However, I am more excited to start living again. It’s difficult to imagine life without the monster.

The people are what make the Center the wonderful place that it is. Without their compassion I wouldn’t have made it, especially past the first few days. I felt like the rules took away all my control; what I didn’t realize, but realize now, is that the rules actually allowed me to be more “in control.” I have discovered that my eating disorder was an ineffective way to deal with deeper issues in my life.

I learned to deal with those issues in a healthy manner through the intensive therapy and interaction with the physicians, staff and other residents. I had no idea the work that would be involved in the recovery process. It’s work that has allowed me to look inside myself and rediscover the “real” me. It was so refreshing to find answers and feel understood for the first time in my life. The support system here is incredible; it has given me the strength to keep going. Each individual has given me a piece of themselves, which in turn has allowed me to find an internal source of strength.

Each part of the program has something of value to offer. In addition to the group and individual therapy, I had the unique experience of art, recreation, and motion therapy; each one bringing out a part of me I wasn’t aware existed. The feedback I received was so insightful — I often felt like the therapists and staff knew me better than I knew myself. Not a day went by that I didn’t discover some new facet of my personality.

I was also exposed to educational material that helped me make sense of my disorder; I learned tools that have enabled me to transform my distorted thinking patterns into a realistic view of myself and what I have to offer. I am now able to see the destructive effects, physical and emotional, of my eating disorder. I believe this education will help me prevent passing these destructive behaviors on to my future family and possibly help others who struggle with this disease.

I honestly believe that without this intensive inpatient program I would not have recovered. I needed the twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week care to overcome the beast that had such a strong hold on me. I have to admit that my family and I were skeptical of an inpatient facility just for the fact that it’s such a safe and sheltered environment; what happens when you step back into “reality.” What we came to understand is that this facility is “reality.” I have been given the techniques that will allow me to enter society and cope effectively. The Center for Change offered an environment that allowed me to take responsibility for myself and gain control. I owe my life to the wonderful people at the Center. Life awaits — I can’t wait to start living.