Proud2Bme | Early Intervention Set Me Free

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Early Intervention Set Me Free

By Ini Ross--They tell you that struggle is just part of the story. That the obstacles you confront, the scars you gather and the fears you face are just a part of life. You must not let your struggles define you—when you are greeted with rock bottom, you use it as a foundation for the rest of your life. It is that moment, the moment you realize you are freefalling into the world of unknown, that darkness gives way to brilliantly-lit clarity.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

But no matter how many times I was told this, I never believed it. I always thought I was the exception. That I was the one who, instead of releasing their burdens and moving forward, would have to plow through life alone, learning to adapt to the ever-changing burden following me around. It was not until this May that the click happened. It was this moment of clarity that opened my eyes. It took my hands, looked me in the eyes and told me, “You are worthy.” It was the first time that I not only awoke to a feeling of immense relief, but also to a feeling of freedom from the darkness I had been hiding in, placed upon me my freshman year of high school, when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

This moment was my moment of intervention, and it was at the hands of my parents. I had been floating through my first year of college. I was a puppet and my eating disorder stood over me as my master. Every move, decision and action that I made was fueled by the momentary and immediate gratification my eating disorder gave to me. My high school years proved to be an on-and-off construction of the black hole I found myself in. I was blind to how I looked, how I felt, how alone I was—my eating disorder worked to make me feel full, but it was in the moment when my parents sat me down that I found a brief glimmer of myself.

I went through high school and my freshman year of college believing that I was just a number. My experiences of outpatient treatments, from therapists to nutritionists, had not proven otherwise. To them, I was my eating disorder; I was a mere equation, I had all the “parts,” I had been summed up, and the treatment was already set forth in every textbook. Although I was different from the patients who sat in the very same chair before me, I was treated the same as all the others. Sure, our faces shared the same expressions of fear and sadness, but as people we were vastly different—but we were never treated as different people, just as part of the same group.

My experience of treatment pushed me further into the arms of my eating disorder. My disorder gave me the solace I needed in numbers, momentary happiness and control—all the things I felt devoid of in treatment. If the specialists treated me by adhering to stereotypes and myths, then how could I expect any differently of regular people? The stigma wove itself into every aspect of my life, allowing the darkness to cover me entirely. I feared what others would say, that the image of me that they had would fall to pieces, so I chose to hide and not live, just to exist as a ghost of a girl, going through the motions.

If it were not for my parents intervening I don’t know where I would be today. I would not be standing here as a separate identity from my eating disorder. Standing here as a strong young woman, who, although she has her hard days, takes them in stride and uses them as building blocks for a stronger, healthier future. My parents gave me the option of life. They lifted me out of the hole I had dug, and they taught me that I was worthy of living. They showed me that my eating disorder had shut me out from everything I loved, but amidst all the lies and manipulation I put my parents through, they knew something I did not—that I was not my eating disorder, that somewhere beneath all of those fits of anger, isolation and anxiety, Ini was still living there. They intervened and gave me life by taking me to the doctor, agreeing that I had to go to residential treatment and sending me there. This is where my life began.

It was when I was admitted to an eating disorder residential treatment center that the revelation happened. I walked in as a person—I was not being labeled or defined as just an eating disorder. I was Ini. The staff there showed me everything that my life had been missing. They welcomed me with open arms, allowing the numbness I had been using as a shield to slowly disappear. I was blessed with a safe place where I could be vulnerable and challenge myself in ways I never had before. They showed me that every myth I had heard and hid from was not only false, but that the myths were just another way for the eating disorder to keep me in its grasp.

Every day I wake up and think about my parents. I think about all that they have done for me. They put me on this earth, but they also kept me from slipping into the cracks. They intervened and showed me how special life is, how much love can do and how much family means. Intervention gave me life and set me free from my eating disorder.

Struggling with food or exercise issues? Take our free, confidential online eating disorders screening

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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