Monday, February 27th

It takes a village to raise a child

I was blessed with an absolutely phenomenal team of medical professionals working together to help me beat anorexia. In addition to meeting with a dietitian and a mental health therapist specializing in eating disorders, I met with a medical doctor to ensure my weight was gradually increasing towards a healthy BMI.

Dr. Klevan was an expert in the art of tough love. If I had dropped weight, she wasn’t one to say,

“Oh it’s okay, Allison. You’ll do better next time.” It would be something more like,

“Well, what happened? This cannot continue, so what are you going to do to ensure forward progress?” At that point of my life, I needed that strict structure. Yes, I felt like I had lost control to absolutely everything, but I needed someone that could see beyond my then-state of disarray.

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Unfortunately, eating disorder victims usually suffer from health repercussions even after their weight and mental state have stabilized. Upwards of 80% of eating disorder patients relapse at some point during recovery. I was no exception.

After several bone scans, it was determined that my bone structure could be likened to an 85-year-old oesteoporitic woman. It came as no surprise when I suffered my first stress fracture just months after returning to light running.

Thankfully, I was no stranger to regular appointments, and was all the more motivated to get better, and show this eating disorder who was in charge. I met with Dr. Straker once per week for two months, and ran my first half marathon 6 months later.

Dr. Straker had a similar runners mentality, and understood my pain of not being able to run due to an eating disorder was compounded after not being able to run due to an injury caused by the aftermath of an eating disorder.

Instead of focusing on the past, and how my eating disorder had wreaked absolute havoc on my little body, he focused on the future. He shared my runners mentality, and encouraged me to gain muscle by performing strength exercises and learn to love my body.

I remember one day I was feeling particular discouraged that I still couldn’t press the amount of weight I had been assigned. In order to up my spirits, he challenged me to a planking contest, right there in the middle of the floor. We held our planks for almost three entire minutes – and all the while Dr. Straker was encouraging me with words like:

“Look how strong you’ve gotten! You’re kicking my butt! You’ve got this, you can do anything for just a couple more seconds!”

He was so encouraging, and to see him after finishing my first race post-recovery was so encouraging. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and got me back to running again.

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Throughout college, I relapsed several times. Certain life events triggered eating disorder thoughts to bombard my brain, and made it increasingly difficult to focus on my schoolwork. Thankfully, my university provided the resources to enable me to continue on a healthy and body-positive trajectory.

Every month, I met with a Dr. Miller through Student Health Services to receive a check-up, blind weight, and medication update. Biweekly, I met with my counselor through University Counseling Services to discuss life. Jenny, my counselor, was able to quickly identify warning signs and direct me towards healthy alternatives while preventing relapse before it happened.

Jenny was integral in my recovery in more ways than one. She listened to me, validated me, and provided unparalleled advice on how to handle situations. I felt that I could be 100% honest with her, without judgement. She recommended the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown, and I’d highly recommend reading it as well.

My next step is to connect with a counselor in the cities.

I cannot even begin to express the amount of gratitude I have for Dr. Klevan & Dr. Straker at Gundersen Lutheran, and Dr. Miller & Dr. Hlava at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

It takes a dedicated team to help heal an eating disorder

I found the following posts/websites inspiring:

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