Tag Archives: center for change

five years…

I celebrated my five year anniversary in recovery last week. Five years home from The Center for Change. I left that day thinking I could never maintain recovery and now five years later, I wouldn’t say I’m recovered but I would say I’m definantly in solid recovery. CFC has a tradition of having clients write a letter of hope when they leave to read to the current clients. I thought I would share a new letter of hope for anyone that needs it now five years later. 

 

I am writing this letter now after five years in recovery. It doesn’t make me an expert by any means on what it means to be in recovery nor does it mean I can offer advice that you absolutely must follow to get well but I can tell you what has worked for me. As I learned five years ago listening to other women talk about their lives I learned that as much as we like to believe we are unique individuals there are certain things that we all have in common. And I hope what I share hits on those commonalities.

Hope. You must live and breathe hope. If you become hopeless you have given up and you will relapse. You must believe that you can recover. You must believe that you will beat the odds and be one of the ones who lives in full recovery. When you are lying in bed awake in the middle of the night and the hopeless feelings creep in, get out of bed and pull out whatever it is that makes you feel hopeful. Maybe it’s a picture album, maybe it’s a book of quotes, perhaps it’s your goodbye book, maybe it’s the Bible or maybe it’s watching your children sleep or holding your dog. Whatever it is allow it to remind you that there is hope in this world – your job is to hold onto it.

Know that recovery is a choice. You did not choose to get sick but you absolutely 100% can choose to get better. What this looks like may look different depending on where you are in recovery. Choosing wellness in the beginning of recovery simply means showing up to meals and eating what is placed in front of you. In five years the choices may be choosing to continue to eat intuitively when you’ve gained 10 pounds on a medication or making the decision that it’s time to tell the secrets you’ve kept hidden for almost ten years. The bottom line is, is that you must choose recovery each and every day.

Sometimes it is tempting to sub out the eating disorder for another self destructive behavior. You must learn that all things that harm you must go. The suicide attempts must go and so must the cutting. Holding onto remnants of self-destructive behaviors does not mean you are in recovery even if your eating is perfect. You cannot be in recovery until you give up everything that you do to harm yourself. Recovery requires  that you to take care of your body.

I firmly believe that recovery does not require you to love your body. It requires you to care for it and to tolerate it but you do not have to LOVE all parts of it. If you are waiting to recover until you love your body or even like it you may wait forever. They say body image is the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place and for me I’m not sure I’ll ever even like what I look like. But I can take care of myself anyways. I can even dress as I want and take time to style my hair. Accepting your body must be the goal. It’s a bonus if you end up liking it or even loving it.

Recovery is a long and winding road. No two people’s journey’s are the same. If you are still struggling don’t despair. There is hope. There is always hope. And if you are in the tedious stages of beginning recovery. It gets better. It gets easier. And if you are like me – feeling lost in sort of a middle ground, stick it out. I have to believe that I’ll feel like I have more solid footing eventually. But overall, I must remember and so must everyone reading this that recovery is worth it. It’s always worth it.

 

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Filed under body image, coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, Identity, life events, New Life, Recovery, survivor

blessed be the name of the lord – sunday song – Easter

Spirituality and faith has been something I have been slowly exploring since my time at CFC. The Center for Change placed a very large emphasis on spirituality. They believed that faith in something was an important part of recovery. And I believe this as well. As I search through my own beliefs and am trying to make my own faith personal I can see how it positively effects my recovery.

When I was at the Center I loved to play piano during a time we had called “togetherness” where inpatient and residential spent time together. I played the piano in the basement different tunes and at times had others singing along. I had a hymn book and there was one particular hymn that I grew to love. This song was “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”. In fact, at my goodbye group I played this song because I believe that faith and hope is my future.

Today, for Easter Sunday I choose this as my song of the week.

 

 

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beginning to dig through the yucky, yucky past

I’ve been thinking lately about where I am at in recovery in regards to my trauma work. For those of you who don’t know I have a pretty significant trauma history. Go here to understand psychological trauma. And because of that I have a variety of diagnoses relating to my trauma. My trauma also occurred over a number of years so it spans a vast majority of my life. One of the main reasons Ben, my service dog is in my life is to help counteract the symtoms of my trauma.

Past trauma affects many of my recovery sisters (including myself) on a day to day basis. It’s hard to describe to someone without a trauma history how hard it is to function when you live part of your life in fear of the past or spend the days avoiding triggers that could take you back to a memory that feels as though it is happening again. The worst symtoms of my trauma appeared while I was at Laureate and capitalized at CFC. I will go into details about those at some point because I think it is important to realize just how much the brain can affect the body and the past can affect the present but for now all I will say is I relived nightmare after nightmare for months

And so now I’ve been asking myself exactly where I am at in my trauma recovery. Some significant things in my life have settled down, I have been stable from self-harming behaviors for six months now (the longest since 2009), I am learning how to cope with one of my newest diagnoses, Ben and I are beginning to work out just how we can help each other the best, my support system is growing, I have goals and dreams and therefore a purpose for life, I’ve had some huge triggers thrown my way but worked through them with lots of tears and grief but no harm to myself. In short, it looks like it might be time to begin to work on things.

When I left CFC all of my trauma work got put on hold. I couldn’t be stable and do the work. I wasn’t stable at CFC when we did it but my therapist and I did it anyways. They had the means to keep me safe (albiet uncomfortable ones – hellloooo caution and blue scrubs) and we got a heck of a lot done. Yesterday in therapy for the first time since leaving CFC I pulled out my HUGE binder and started reading through the work we did. The recounting of my trauma, the shame, the guilt, the grief, the anger, the details – the nasty, gory, horrible, disgusting, gut wrenching, details. I wasn’t okay when I left. Benny and I sat in the waiting room for a long time cuddling (he managed to fit his entire body onto my lap – how is that possible?) with his head on my shoulder while I breathed slowly and willed the world to come back but then I got up, called a friend and drove home. I had nightmares last night. And the intrusive memories are there but the difference is that I’m determined. I’m determined to work on this yucky, yucky stuff. I have a purpose and a plan, one which I can’t share yet. But there is a reason to dig through this horrible reality of my past. And now I think just maybe I can do it. With the help of Benny and my support system, I’m going to be able to look back into my past and dig through it and finally come through to the other side and be able to say “I Made It”. That is what I want.

 

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Filed under Ben, bullying, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, Hope, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

Recovery anniversary year two – letter of hope “Living Into Recovery”

Today has been exactly two years since I left The Center for Change. When you leave CFC each girl writes a letter of hope and reads it to the girls. Last year on my first year anniversary I wrote a second letter and now on my second anniversary I write another one.

Recovery. Two years of recovery. I never thought I would see this day. When I walked out of my last residential treatment stay two years ago I did so hesitantly  I had been assured by my therapist that I had changed. That I had found hope. She believed that I was going to live but I wasn’t certain. The world was so new and still so terrifying. And last year when I wrote this letter? I was still living in terror 99% of the time. Hope was there yes but my grasp on it was so fragile that I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital for suicidal thoughts which really just translates to hopelessness. 

So where am I today? Where do I stand? I have hope tattooed across my wrist as a reminder to never loose it and for the first time in my life I live with hope more than I live without it. How did that happen? I’m not exactly sure. I wish I could tell you so perhaps if you live without hope you could maybe have a fool proof formula to escape from the dark (God knows I wanted one). I suppose it was a combination of letting myself crawl towards the light instead of existing in the comforting but terrifying darkness and simply beginning to forge a life for myself.

Today, I have begun to scrape away at the walls I have formed around my heart and my existence to create some semblance of living instead of merely existing. I’m learning that living in recovery is much, much different that living into it. Living in recovery means making the right choices to prevent falls or picking myself up after the fall and going on. It means living a life focused on recovery because it is the only thing I can only focus on else it will all go to pieces. In contrast, living into recovery means living life focused on life while being in recovery. My focus in not solely on recovery but instead on living. On creating a world that exists outside of appointments and coping skills. Yes, those things exists in my life but they are integrated into my life instead of the main parts of my life.

For me, (and I can only speak for me) living into recovery looks much different than shaping my life around recovery. Recovery is my life and it is becoming more and more seamless and integrated. I’m not totally there yet but in the last few months I’m can see where my future is headed. And it is a future that I can only picture while living in recovery. Yet recovery is no longer separated from my life. They are becoming integrated into one. Life is beginning to equal recovery and I can see no way around it whereas before I could hardly imagine a lifetime of living in recovery.

So, where do I go from here? I keep learning how to live into recovery and create a life that is fulfilled through passions and dreams instead of avoidance and hiding. And what hope do I have to offer? I suppose the only hope I have to offer is this: I’m a different person now than I was two years ago, one year ago, one month ago. I have changed and the changes have been good. We avoid change because we are scared of it but without change how can one reach the light? I have learned that without moving and changing I can’t move from the terror of the past into the possibility of the future. So, reach for the light. I have and  I’m discovering just how much I am beginning to enjoy living in the light.

 

My tattoo

My tattoo

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Filed under coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, Identity, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

it’s time for me to tell my story

This year on fightingmywayback I am going to begin something new. I am going to begin telling my life story. In treatment, first at Laureate and then later at The Center for Change, we had to write out our life stories/autobiographies. The thinking behind this was that each person’s story is important and deserves to be heard. And by sharing your life story you can combat shame, have a shared experience with others and learn that you matter. That the good and the bad in your life matter. That bad things that happened were not okay, that you can forgive yourself for things that you did or had happen to you and thus begin your healing. It is a powerful experience to tell your own story and then listen to others tell theirs.

Each time I was in treatment I purposely abbreviated  cut short and the things that needed to be told most were left out. More than likely I’m not going to be telling those parts on here either. Maybe some generalities but not specifics  This isn’t the forum for that. In the last two years I’ve been able to tell my therapists and best friends those things which has slowly reduced some of my shame. Secrets keep you sick is a mantra that is repeated because of it’s truth. And as I’ve told mine it has opened me up to more healing.

Some of what I will write will be painful. I will keep certain parts of my life out for my own sake and for those I love’s sake (and at times my own protection) but other times I will be more bold. I am not expecting to use numbers to explain my eating disorder. In my experience these are only used to shock and awe others. There is no need to do this. To say I was very ill is enough. I will show a few pictures – most will not be triggering but I will warn if they are. And the same goes for parts of my story. I expect one section could be triggering and I will include that to show the depths one can sink in an eating disorder, the hell that is the sickness and how tormented one can be. And I might password protect these posts. I may give out the password to some or may not give it out to anyone and simply leave it up for me in order to document my own life.

These posts will not happen all at once. They won’t be consecutive. There may be months that go in-between life story posts or there may be simply days. We’ll see how it goes. But it’s time for me to tell my story. And I’m committed to doing that. It’s part of how I am fighting my way back.

 

 

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it’s time for the past to be the past

I didn’t post last week because I didn’t really have anything to say. I am even more sure about my decision to stop school for the semester. I feel much, much less stressed. Also, it has become clear that my therapist and I need to begin working on some serious trauma stuff. We’ve been patching things over with band-aids and that’s not working anymore. Going to school while working on trauma would have been so hard especially because we are going to begin addressing what happened in school to me in earnest.

Trauma is an odd thing. It sneaks up on you when you think you are totally fine. You can have processed and processed and processed and still one day you wake up and it’s looming it’s head and you feel completely stuck in the past.  And that’s not to mention the memories, the flashbacks and the panic attacks. I’m dealing with all of this. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten used to it. CFC  taught me how to function when the past seems more present than the future. I owe that to the wonder therapist WJ. Coping skills truly are wondrous things.

But there comes a time when you have to decide if it’s time to dig underneath and really begin to process the memories. I did some of this surrounded by the four walls of CFC but haven’t since I left. When I was there I was forced to stay safe, sit with memories and ask for help. I used those coping skills they taught me and by the time I left I was ready to face the world head on. But I wasn’t ready to resume the heavy part of the trauma work.

Now it’s time.

Am I terrified? Yes. Do I know if I’m going to be able to stay safe all the time while working? No. Could it include some short term stays at ‘the resort’? Yes, possible. But am I going to do it? Yes.

It’s time for the past to stop haunting me. I probably face the biggest challenge of my recovery that I have yet encountered. But it is the next step. And I’m ready to move forward.

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Filed under bullying, coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, Identity, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past

a letter from the Kate of 2010

I’m sitting here in my appartment (back for the first time in quite awhile – it feels good) and happened to take out my journal from the time I was at CFC to look for a quote. As I flipped through the year 2011 written in sparkly gel pen caught my eye. Apparently, while on residential we were asked to write a letter to our future selves. This was December of 2010 so my letter was to the Kate of 2011. I was amazed as I read through the letter at how I have achieved some things. Other things I still have to work on but can stand as long term life goals. Perhaps most importantly, I realized that I have made progress. I am not who I was at CFC. I have become a person with passions who recognizes her talents and generally looks forward to life.

Here is the letter that I as 2010 Kate wrote to 2011/2012 Kate:

12-28-2010 

Dear 2011 (almost 2012) Kate,

2011 started in treatment. It didn’t start as planned but as you’ve learned nothing ever does. To say the months spent in treatment weren’t worth the time, effort or energy would be a lie. You are a person who holds little shame, has forgive herself and wants to live

I know you remember the time you believed you wouldn’t make it to 2011 much less 2012 but you have. I know there are still days you wake up and the pain, memories and hurt are enough that you want to give into those old behaviors and plans. But yet you don’t. You’ve learned the feelings will pass. The desperation will fade and that yes, you deserve to live.

I know you often judge yourself and compare yourself to other 23 year old peers but you are taking your own path in life. A few years behind in school or choosing a different career path is worth the freedom you have learned to call your own.

At times you have been apathetic. At times you have been threatened with returning to treatment but you have pulled through. Celebrate that accomplishment. It is not easy to live for over a year in treatment and then return suddenly to real life. Yes, you may have slipped up now and then but you survived. Recovery is not easy nor is it perfect.

Each day you awoke you had to chooose to forgive yourself. You still do. I believe someday the coice will be automatic. Think about how much easier it is now as compared to a year ago. Look back – see the growth.

Following your passions in 2011 was perhaps your greatest accomplishment. With them you formed your idenity and found a reason to enjoy life. Embrace these moments of joy. Someday all of life may be like this – more joyful days than sorrowful ones.

Your faith is growing, changing, evolving. Continue exploring. It’s all right to ask questions. I believe God welcomes it. You may not gain all the answers but someday I believe you will find peace.

Finally, try to be content with where you are. It’s enough. You will grow, change, make mistakes and laugh in the year to come. Embrace it – all of it. You’re alive and that is what life is about.

– 2010 Kate

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, faith, Identity, Independence, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

eat what you want, when you want it

I wanted to write a little bit about how my apointment with my dietician went and how I am going to be changing some things in the next couple of weeks. Before I begin though I wanted to give a short overview of what intuitive eating is since it’s important to understand before I talk about the appointment.

I learned about intuitive eating at the Center for Change. It is the philosophy they use. Many treatment programs base their meal plans off exchanges which means every food has a certain number of exchanges and you are to eat a certain number of exchanges at each meal. This did NOT work me as it just provided me with another way of restricting. Intutive Eatings is based upon a philosophy that you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. The most difficult part of this is learning about your hunger cues and what it feels like to be hungry and what it feels like to be full. Intuitive eating also encourages you to listen to your cravings as your body often knows what it needs best.

Soooo…

My mother and I met with Kim my dietican on Tuesday. Everyone is my house has gained some weight in the past two or three months and we have felt somewhat ‘off’. Together my mother and I had sat down and looked at what we were eating and noticed a pattern of leaving fruits and vegetables out and substiting them with other things. I knew that I had been craving things but had no idea what I wanted to eat. This in itself should have said something to me. My body wanted and needed something it wasn’t getting. So in response I tried to fill the craving with other things which a) either caused me to eat more b/c I wasn’t really eating what my body wanted or b) I turned to foods that I normally don’t eat that have little nutritional value (therefore making me more hungry instead of less)

In my session with Kim we once again pulled out the intuitive eating hunger and fullness scale. This is a scale that from one to ten rates different levels of hunger and fullness. Ideally you should stay between certain numbers never getting too full or too hungry (if you would like to see this scale I highly recommend buying the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch). Kim and my mother and I sat down to see where I have been on the scale and review where I need to be. We also discussed food as fuel.

This is so important to me. Food is fuel for our bodies. Food is not evil. Food is not bad. Food is simply fuel to keep our bodies going. We looked at my snacks and such and reviewed how long each snack would keep me full. Different food groups have different functions and can keep you hungry for different amounts of time. This was important b/c now I can figure out what to eat for snack depending on when my next meal is. This way I will  still be hungry for the meal but not empty which leads to blood sugar problems and either overeatin or undereating. We also talked about how just this week my mother and I reincorporated some food into our meals that we had been leaving out namly fruits and vegetables. I have immediantly noticed that I feel better. Apparently, my body has been trying to tell me that it would like to eat some more fruits and veggies.

I want to stop here and reinforce that I not put any foods off limits. I am simply trying to really listen to my body like CFC taught me and give it what it wants. I still have been having a cookie if I want it or a piece of choclate and last night I had a brownie with ice cream. It sounded good to me and I wasn’t stuffed full so I ate what I wanted. So really what this whole experience is going to be about is really listening to my body. I worked really hard on that at CFC and I want to get back to that place.

Anyways, if you aren’t familiar with intutive eating I encourage you to check it out. I truly believe that it is the healthiest way to look at food and to be honest has probably saved me from continuing the cycle of going in and out of treatment.

Here is amazon link for the book.

And here is their main website (this has a ton of good info on it).

In addition, here is an article that the Center for Change has published on their website.

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Filed under body image, eating disorder, eating disorders, Recovery

‘don’t give up the fight’ – revive – sunday song post

NEDA week has now ofically and although I won’t be posting weekly about eating disorders awareness and education needs to continue. If you or someone you know needs help there is hope.

Please visit these websites to find resources and education:

To Write Love on Her Arms

National Eating Disorders Association

The Center for Change

 

And now I found this song quite fitting for the end of NEDA week – “Don’t Give Up the Fight” by Revive

Looks like another year
I see you standing here
I know it’s always such an uphill battle
Feels like you’re winning then
You’re gonna lose again
And everyday you’re going round in circles

Know how you’re feeling
I’ve been there before
You wanna run
You can’t take much more
I’m here to help you see
It’s your eternity
And it’s worth the struggle

Don’t give up the fight
It’s a war and you have to
Stand your ground tonight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you
It’s your life and it matters
Be careful what you’re chasing after
Don’t give up the fight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you
I don’t wanna lose you

I know you’re cynical
It seem impossible
You think you’ll never
Find the strength you’re lacking
I know you’re feeling like your on your own
I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone

Don’t give up the fight
It’s a war and you have to
Stand your ground tonight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you
It’s your life and it matters
Be careful what you’re chasing after
Don’t give up the fight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you

We’ve all got wounds
We’ve all got scars
Sometimes it hurts
Sometimes it’s hard
Don’t give up hope
Don’t give up hope
Cuz He’s got those wounds
He’s got those scars
And with His blood he heals our hearts
He is our hope
He is our hope

Don’t give up the fight
It’s a war and you have to
Stand your ground tonight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you
It’s your life and it matters
Be careful what you’re chasing after
Don’t give up the fight
Cuz I don’t wanna lose you
I don’t wanna lose you
I don’t wanna lose you

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i wish you life – letter of hope year two

At the end of this month is National Eating Awareness Week (NEDA week). This month I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. 

I wrote a Letter of Hope last year as I was leaving CFC. Everyone does and then shares it with the community during their goodbye ceremony. They are powerful letters that range from funny to profundly serious. These letters are written to the community in which that person is leaving. Tomorrow it will have been one year since returning home. Today it has been exactly one year since I read the community my letter the night before I walked out of the doors.

I don’t know who the letter I am writting below is for. It’s partly for me but it’s also for others. The slogan for this years NEDA Week is “everybody knows somebody”. Well, maybe this letter is for the person you know who could have an eating disorder. Or maybe this letter is also for you. Either way I hope you gain something from my words.

I have been home one year now. Tomorrow it will have been 365 days since I stepped out of The Center for Change. That means countless, hours, mintues and seconds where I had to make decisions that could positively or negativly affect my recovery. Because you see recovery is made up of those deicisons. Those little seconds where your brain suddenly goes into overdrive and you face one question. Choose recovery or don’t.

I had times where I chose recovery. Where I listened to my intuitive eating cues and followed them allowing myself to eat what I wanted. I had times where I wanted to so badly self-harm but I didn’t. I called someone or called  Shona  to snuggle with. I chose to go to therapy and be honest even when honesty had ramifications.

And then there were the times that I didn’t choose recovery. When I didn’t listen to a hunger pain or my ‘wise mind’ about a behavior that was self-destructive. When I deliberately weighed the consequences and chose the route that was not recovery orientated. When I could ask for help and chose to ignore the supports in my life.

But I think that both the times of choosing recovery and not choosing recovery is what recovery is all about.  Recovery is a daily behavioral, cognitive and emotional choice that exists even when mistakes are made. Recovery is a choice (even if it doesn’t feel like it – I’ve learned it is) and sometimes you make mistakes and the wrong choice. But recovery isn’t perfect no matter how much anyone wants it to be. It just stays recovery until the slips and lapses become the norm and relapse has occurred.

In the last year I have realized that what I am choosing to call recovery is actually called life. Life is a series of ups and downs (or so says what I have been told) but I never allowed myself to actually experience life so how can I know what life is like? I’ve learned my data on life that I learned for the first twenty years of my life really needs to be updated. That work began in treatment at Laureate, continued at CFC and now is really beginning. I’m learning about life as I’m living it. I’m not observing it from behind the walls of a treatment center or through hazy, malnourished eyes. I’m in the word facing things as they come. And what comes is joy followed by a period of pain. Or it’s ambilivance and boredom. Dissapointment and tears. Laughter and singing.

Somedays, I don’t want to be in the field of life. I think that I much prefrered the ditches of my eating disorder where I watched my life pass by. But I’m lieing to myself. I like the new life I’ve forged. I like having my dogs around me. Eating meals at a kitchen table with family every Thursday. Driving my car listening to playlists. Calling friends and laughing or crying. And I find that I even like the responsibility that life brings.

The times were I have slipped have shown me that. In fact, for a time I was convinced that recovery (i.e. life) was not worth the pain I was feeling. But then something happened. I picked myself up. I moved on. And things were ok again. Not perfect but ok. So maybe I’ve had to adjust to the fact that life and recovery isn’t all flowers and sunshine but is much better explained as thorns, thorns and then a flower (sometimes just a dandellion) but the point is that I’ve adjusted and I’m going to continue trying to adjust.

I don’t know where you are. Maybe you’re sitting on one of those excuses for couches that they seem to put in all hospitals and treatment centers or maybe you’re at home reading this. Maybe you suffer with an eating disorder or maybe you don’t. I don’t even know if this ended up sounding like a letter of hope or maybe more like ‘this is life and it’s survivable and sometimes even wonderful” type of letter. But it’s what I have a year later. It’s what I have to offer you but more importantly offer to myself because I am the one who will need to read this in those dark days of life.

So wherever you are, whoever you are I wish you LIFE. 

-Kate

February 23 2012

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Filed under coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, faith, family, friends, Identity, life events, NEDA, New Life, Recovery