A Life of Recovery: Anorexia and Bulimia by Angela Deibert
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, places to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”. Jeremiah 29:11 – 14
As I sit here struggling to put words on a page, I glance up and see my sleeping four-month-old daughter in her glider and God’s grace just overwhelms every pore in my body. I cannot help but to simply rest in the unconditional love that God has shown me over the past 33 years. I shouldn’t be alive. I am not worthy of a man to love me like my husband does and I surely do not deserve the blessing of my precious miracle baby. Those thoughts are not God’s thoughts though and I am so thankful for that.…
Here is my story of God’s love, my all-around starvation and God’s ultimate salvation.
Feeling Alone and Losing Control.
I remember the first time that I skipped a meal. I was in middle school and man, I was really hating life. I was chubby, awkward, naïve, a people-pleaser and the class clown, but I didn’t fit into any crowd. Guys weren’t very kind to me. My dad, who was and is my best friend, was working out of state and was only home some weekends. My mom and I did not get along what so ever. So, my home life was weird and I was trying my hardest to find my place in the big world while trying not to be a bother to anyone.
With the teasing at school, the chaos in my house and the foothold that the Devil already had on my thoughts, I felt as though my hormonal middle school life was spinning out of control. The day that I skipped my first meal as a way to gain some control over my life was the day, unbeknownst to me, that I would slowly start on my 20-year journey of a life with anorexia and bulimia.
I was born and raised in church. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights you could always find me at church, in the youth group, practicing with the orchestra or the choir or passing notes during the service with my best friends. I have always felt God’s presence around me even in my darkest hours. With that being said, I have always felt as though my life needed to look perfect. I needed to always be happy, I needed to always make people laugh, I didn’t allow myself to struggle with the Lord and had to make sure I was pleasing those around me. This was a recipe for disaster.
I had such high expectations as to how I should act and feel that altogether I eventually stopped feeling anything. I would blend into my surroundings. I would act goofy with my best friends, I would act happy at school, I would act neutral at home depending on the situation but when I was alone with just my thoughts and our Lord, despite feeling His arms wrapped around me, I would loathe everything about myself. I felt so broken inside, so disgusted with who I was.
I would silently cry in my room because I didn’t want my family to know how depressed I was. I didn’t want to disappoint the people who loved me.
I didn’t want people to worry about me. I was “fine”. In my mind, I had no one to turn to so, in order to help me not feel so numb inside I started to cut myself. I told myself I deserved the pain. I deserved the scars, I deserved the hassle of hiding my wounds. It was such a confusing battle because I knew God’s love for me. I knew how worthy I was to Him, I just couldn’t feel it. It was just too hard for me to accept.
Losing Weight and Gaining Attention
High school was a pretty neutral phase of my life. It consisted of church and school. I did start to explore my eating disorder though, My senior year I started losing weight and fast. Teachers were pulling me aside after class to make sure I was doing okay. Mentors were dropping breakfast and lunch off at the office for me to pick up. People were actually starting to notice me in the hallways because I was losing weight. I was finally getting attention without having to crack a joke.
College comes around and I am accepted into a Christian University in my town. I thought that this was going to be a new start. I would meet friends, get involved with clubs and social activities. I thought I would find myself. I thought God would use me to move the world and that I would be loved by everyone I met. I didn’t have a clue what type of grasp my eating disorder had on my life.
While in college I realized how tightly Satan had me in his grasp and I was too exhausted to fight it. On the outside I was social and silly but in reality, all I could think about was getting to the gym, taking the longest route to my next class to burn calories and what food I was allowed to eat that day. I kept losing weight and eventually as a 21-year-old woman, I was wearing size 12-14 in girls. Despite concern, I still saw myself as fat. I had the thigh gap, I had the 4 pack abs, I could count my ribs but I still needed to lose “10 more pounds”. Satan had me dancing to his voice yet I still felt God’s love around me. It was hard for me to accept God’s love because I felt so unworthy, but He still reminded that I was loved.
My Eating Disorder Uncovered
I was 22 years old when my parents found out about my eating disorder. They were heartbroken to say the least, especially my dad. An intervention was held (I was literally looking for the camera) and I was sent off to Remuda Ranch Treatment Center in Virginia. I met some of my best friends at Remuda. We helped each other get through our sickest and darkest days but yet I was not ready to give up my eating disorder. I considered it my best friend and I couldn’t abandon it. My stay at Remuda was extended as I had not made enough progress to safely go home. I was flown to Remuda’s half way house in Arizona for another 45 days. While in Arizona I fully relapsed. I had too much freedom and started spiraling again. I was sent home on August 1, 2008 after spending 90 days in treatment and I was already in relapse.
The next few years after treatment were lonely and traumatic. I had lost practically all of my friends, I did not really know where I belonged, I suffered two strokes, I was sexually assaulted and felt so unworthy of anyone’s love. I used my eating disorder, alcohol and working out to hide from feeling so dirty and used. Sorry to those that are just finding out about this! Let’s not dwell in the past. Yet, even in these really dark years, God’s hands were wrapped so tightly around me that even when I tried to run, I couldn’t. His mercies were new every day, just as promised. He viewed me white as snow and reminded me of it often. His plans for me were going to be completed no matter how hard I tried to derail Him.
The Start of True Recovery
2013 I started seeing a new therapist who specialized in eating disorders. Over the course of five years of hard work, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), truth in love and fervent prayer, she was able to help me see my worth In Christ. I was finally able to fight Satan’s lies with Christ’s truths. I started to see my worth as God’s bride instead of an unclean hot mess. (I still am a hot mess, don’t get me wrong!)
In 2017 I married the man that God knew I needed. He knows everything about me and yet still loves me. I never thought I would get married. I was too ruined for it. I had too much baggage to bring into a relationship. God’s plans are so much stronger than my thoughts though! On our honeymoon we got pregnant with out miracle baby. Being pregnant threw me into full recovery. I knew that every calorie I ingested was nourishment to my baby. I knew that if I skipped a meal, so did my daughter. I knew that if I purged, I would stress her out! It was not worth it. I wasn’t allowed to be selfish anymore.
Evie is now 4 months old, and she is my world. I consider myself totally recovered from anorexia and bulimia. There are hard days. I still hate the way I look but God is helping me get through that. On the days I want to skip a meal I remember that I am no longer a slave to that life. When I want to purge I remember that I am Evie’s role model and need to fully live in freedom if not for me, then for her, and for the momma’s that I can reach out and touch. Also, mostly because God delivered me from my eating disorders because He has a purpose for me. I don’t dare test Him again.
God’s plan is bigger, better and full of more blessings that you can ever imagine! Just trust Him, do the work that it takes to break those bondage’s and know that He will fulfill His promises.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about eating disorders and where to find help, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.
You can also call the National Eating Disorders Helpline: Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-931-2237
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For 24/7 crisis support, text ‘NEDA’ to 741741