Ashley, 30, US

ashley law

TW: Eating disorder

“My eating disorder began when I was in elementary school. I remember feeling like an always needed to be perfect in order to be appreciated and liked by everyone in my life.

I tried so hard to constantly be the smiling, happy girl who excelled at everything I did. As a competitive dancer at the age of 8, I quickly learned that the world is full of critics and I really wanted to be the best I could be… this thought process really aided my eating disorder into a spiral effect that continued into my teen years and young adulthood. I continued to be a dancer and extended it as a career after I graduated high school when I became a cheerleader for the NFL.

To tell you right now… it is not being an NFL cheerleader that lead me to have an eating disorder. It was possibly not an optimal environment to surround myself with as a person struggling with an eating disorder, however, I was in complete denial with the addiction I was facing. My eating disorder was not a result of what anyone told me or anyone’s fault… it is simply something that happened to me.

When I was about 19, my bulimia started. I found that I simply could not continue resisting food as I had and I started the painful process of bingeing and purging my meals. It was terrible to experience and painfully addicting… It quickly consumed my life and left me with nothing.

I ended up in a place where I could no longer get the energy to get out of bed to go to class, work, and really stopped caring about the relationships in my life. As a result of constant negative self-talk, I had no self-confidence anymore. I hated who I had become and couldn’t even face myself in the mirror. I avoided social interactions for the fear of being judged and didn’t want others to know about my reality behind closed doors. It didn’t take long for my health to deteriorate into just about nothing. When I went home for Christmas break in 2008, my parents noticed how sick I was and urged me to seek help. That’s when I realized it was time to get my life back and start putting energy into myself and my life again.

In January 2009 I was admitted into an inpatient hospital in Arizona where I spent 3 months working toward a healthy mind and body. It was this hospital where I learned to love myself and let the perfectionist mindset go. It was a long and gruelling process which was often painful emotionally and physically but I knew I had to get through it if I ever wanted a life back. After leaving inpatient treatment, I spent about 3.5 years in an outpatient treatment facility where I received weekly meal support and sought help from my therapist 1-1, Registered Dietitian, Psychiatrist to support my anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and group therapy multiple times a week. It felt like my life was a Dr Appointment, but I persisted through as I knew there was a life for me outside of my eating disorder.

Fast forward to now, I have been a public speaker for 5 years working to empower women with self-confidence and motivation to believe in themselves. I encourage body love and working toward self-love. I also speak at hospitals to eating disorder patients and share my story with those in need of personal support. I present customized workshops and private sessions for teams and groups of women who are looking to be their best self.

Always put yourself as #1 in your life. You’re incredible and beautiful just the way you are.”

 

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Check out our October advertisers for some great content: Stuart , Come2Life

And two upcoming events in November, in Birmingham, UK: Futurize- Future of Learning and AddVentureMind Weekend – Stand up to Mental Health Stigma.

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