By: Denise Harker

September 6, 1996

Life had become unbearable. I wasn’t living, I was just going through the motions. I had just graduated from the University of Utah with my Masters in Professional Accountancy and was on my way to what I thought would make me happy. I had a job with an accounting firm in Las Vegas, I was planning on sitting for the CPA exam within a few months, and I had a boyfriend. I thought life was going perfectly, but I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong to think that all the external pieces of my life could make me happy. The monster inside of me had taken over; it was waging a war against me, Denise.

I lived in a world that only I could relate to (at least this is what I thought). One that I lived in for the last four years. My days were spent thinking about food — from how to get out of the next meal to planning my next binge. A vicious cycle that kept me isolated from reality; when life became too chaotic and scary my eating disorder was there. I thought I had found a life long friend; a friend that would always be there for me. However, I came to realize that true friends are not destructive.

Unfortunately I had to lose everything I had worked so hard for to realize that the beast inside of me was exactly that, a beast. I had spent so much time and energy feeding the monster, I lost the parts of myself that meant the most. I no longer knew who I was, what my dreams were, what I wanted out of life — all I knew was my eating disorder. It was then that I decided to get help. I was desperate for some relief.

I came to the Center for Change with hopes of finding that relief; however, I have to admit I didn’t think anything would help. Despite my skepticism, I was willing to make the effort; I wanted my life back.

I remember my first day; I felt lost, alone, confused, worthless, depressed…the list goes on. All I could see was a dark tunnel, no light, just darkness. But that changed, I began to see tiny flickers of light and I realized that the power to change was inside of me. For the first time in years I was hopeful; I discovered the life I thought I had lost. With my willingness to change and the support of family, friends, the staff and my Father in Heaven I was able to break through the black box I felt trapped in.

I wish I could give just a little piece of what I feel to those who come into the program. I can see the lost look in their eyes and I want them to know it’ll be okay. I want them to see the hope that I see. It’s there, it’s just hiding deep within your heart.

I discover a little piece of myself each day; each discovery allows a little more light inside my soul. I feel happy again and I love life. Most importantly I can see the strength in overcoming this disease. For the first time I feel strong enough to fight. The strength has come from the realization that I am powerless and I need God in my life. He has given me the ability to fight; I don’t need the monster anymore. I have something much more powerful and inviting. In addition, it’s something that wants to give me my life back, not take it away.

For those who may read this it may all sound to good to be true; I know I would have thought that, but it isn’t. The hope, love, light, warmth and joy that I am feeling is attainable. It is not easy, but it is so worth it. Each mistake or each bad day only makes you that much stronger and more capable of overcoming the next. Please hang on and fight — because the life I now know can be reached, and is worth reaching for. To those who are struggling, I’ve written a “Tribute” that may give you the hope you are searching for:

Each breath is a struggle.
Fighting, she searches for life.
Light draws her out,
while dark lingers in the corners
waiting for the light to flicker.
She stumbles, only to rise even higher.
A sigh, a breath, a tear…
she moves on,
and finds the life she’d been searching for.