Today’s guest post is from Andrea Hollis, she graciously agreed to share part of her story in hopes of encouraging others towards health for themselves.
Hi! My name is Andrea Hollis, and I am a soon-to-be Junior at Georgia State University’s College of Education. I was born in Georgia as the youngest of four girls to a wonderful set of parents. I grew up in a Christ-centered home, though I don’t believe I truly accepted Christ as my Savior until high school. I developed an eating disorder towards the beginning of my senior year in high school, and it lasted for about 15 months until I sought help. My past eating disorder is something I did not speak about for a long time, until I remembered how influential those who had recovered from their disorders were in my own recovery process. My desire is that the Lord uses the trials He carried me through and lessons He is still teaching me to encourage others who feel alone in their own battles against disordered eating.
Eating disorders are complicated. Misery engulfs you completely, making the prospect of surviving it seem altogether impossible. As I consider some of the most trying moments of my recovery, I recall the very first step: admitting I was anorexic. It forced me to look past the stereotypes of the disorder and confess my own personal struggles of shame, self-loathe, and debilitating fear. In my mind, no one believed there was an issue, nor did I believe it for myself. I didn’t consider my struggles to be legitimate because they didn’t fall in line with the most common indications of an eating disorder. My hair did not grow incredibly thin, my teeth did not disintegrate, and not all of my backbones revealed themselves through my fragile skin. Nonetheless, here is something I learned throughout my recovery process: eating disorders are not defined by physical manifestations. They are rooted in battles that do not always exemplify themselves externally. So, please don’t think your pain is any bit less legitimate than that of the 105-pound man sitting to your left or the 150-pound woman sitting to your right. No two disorders are alike, and it is important to remember that as you consider confronting your own.
Once I acknowledged the danger in how I was living, I began revealing my heart to the people around me who loved me and desired to see me return to my old self. I assumed, after unleashing all of my secrets, that I had resolved the issue.
The Lord did not pave smoothly the road to where He has brought me today. Bumps daily knocked me off of my already unsteady feet and led me into trenches of uncontrollable emotions. Still, in the midst of heartache, the Lord was kind to teach me that I am not alone – that you are not alone. He used much of His Word to teach me this, including Isaiah 49:16. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Your walls are ever before me.” This simple verse speaks so much about how near the Lord is to us. Not only has He engraved our very beings like an artist would his most precious paintings, but He keeps watch over us. Even more comforting, though, is that the Lord knows our hearts. He knows our pain and hears our cries. Receive His ever-watchful eye as a gift, because I promise there is nothing more comforting than unloading all of your pain on the Healer; this Healer sacrificed His Son so that you could enjoy such an honest relationship with Him.
It hasn’t been long since I first considered myself “recovered”. Honestly, I still don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. I’m probably not done looking in the mirror and turning away unsatisfied, and the internal battles that come with eating disorders may still lurk deep within my heart for years following my last counseling session. Still, the truths I learned about God and how He views me so preciously, along with the practical strategies I learned to utilize in combating dangerous thoughts, are what keep my head above water. They are what differentiate me from my past, and I lean on The Lord’s promises to love, uphold and sustain me through the moments in which I feel shamefully unworthy of love.
Whether you are currently noticing an unhealthy change in the way you view your body, or you have been fighting the emotional and physical torment of an eating disorder for some time, I encourage you to take the first step towards change and speak honestly. I urge you to share your thoughts about yourself and your body to someone who cares for you. Honesty is where my healing process began. It is one of the most liberating aspects of recovery, which you will one day recall with no regret.