I was born in NYC and had a very extravagant early childhood. At age 7 my father left abruptly and our socioeconomic status changed remarkably. Our mother was suffering from bipolar disorder, a hysterectomy, and nervous breakdown. My parents divorced quickly and my mother went back to work full- time. I became a pseudo-mother to my 3-year-old brother. My childhood essentially ended at 8 years old.
When I was 13 years old things noticeably changed with my mother. She was drinking more wine at night and leaving burning cigarettes by her bed. Just before the summer, Mom said we all had to go to camp. We went away …Mom went off her medication and took her life.
SUICIDE! I was shocked … devastated. Mom was so glamorous, playful and loving. What went wrong? Due to the circumstances of her death, my relatives and father did not allow my brothers and me back in our apartment. Everything was sold or donated. Our childhood possessions, treasures and beloved cats …gone … ERASED.
A month later we were all sent to boarding schools …
Help …NEW SCHOOL, NEW STATE, NEW FRIENDS, NEW ROOM …NO HOME! HELP! I was beyond overwhelmed with grief….totally traumatized. After being at my new school a few weeks I heard about a girl who was getting lots of attention throwing up all her food.I had never heard of this behavior. I felt all alone, my life completely out of control and I needed attention.
I started throwing up all my meals or restricting. At first, I knew what I was doing made no sense. I was physically sick with grief and starving emotionally. Why would I make myself sicker? I thought if I was a perfect, good girl my life would feel better and I would be in control of my broken life. November 1979, I physically collapsed after a year of suffering and spent a month in a psychiatric ward in NYC. It was not an eating disorder program. Very little help or information was available in the late 1970’s for eating disorders.
Thank goodness for ANAD. I did not go to my first meeting until the early 1980’s when I came to the Midwest to attend Northwestern. It was the miracle I needed. I had been suffering for 13 years. Before my eating disorder, I was extremely social, confident, happy, a great eater, and had a boyfriend. I gave up almost everyone and everything I loved for my eating disorder. Every day was an arduous task of navigating food and surviving.
I knew I had to commit to ANAD meetings and therapy to recover. I had to tell my eating disorder to go. Group meetings helped me realize what I was doing to myself. The group was the mirror I needed to see the truth about my eating disorder. I had choices and I would now say NO TO MY ED!
My therapist helped me set healthy boundaries with family and friends …no prying or policing my weight or recovery. What I needed most was encouragement, no judgment, help to remember what I loved and had lost to my eating disorder. I would not have been able to let love in my life, marry and or have children if I stayed sick.
24 years later I have been having a healthy, happy, full life. I practice daily self-care and begin my day with the affirmation, “ infinite, love and gratitude.” You have the power of choice …begin again and choose love and a happy life. Allow your hurt and negative feelings to be affirmed and find ways to comfort and resolve them. Find your person, purpose or passion. Life is relevant when relevant to someone or something you love. Fill yourself up from within.
I close with a few of my favorite quotes :
1) Pain is not wasted if we help others.
2) Grief never ends but will change…it is not a sign of weakness, nor lack of faith, but usually the price of love.
3) Ring the bells that still ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything …that is how the light gets in.
My name is Holly Curtis. I have 24 years recovery from Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. I am 54, happily married and have two incredible daughters. I am an ANAD Support Group Leader. A am also the author of Large Fry Small Fry Medium Orange, and am an EDIT™ Certified Life Coach and Mental Health Advocate. I received her BA in Psychology from Northwestern University.