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Thanks to Brittany Rouille for sharing her dream with me (and you)! Take a moment to get inspired by her words. And please share your dream with us by commenting on the blog. One person will be randomly selected from the comments below to win a signed copy of my latest book, Almost Anorexic. My coauthor, Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D., and I talk about the power of dreaming within the book!

 

Brittany’s Story

When I first started recovery, I had no idea who I was, what I liked, or what I wanted to do in life. I had spent so much time and energy counting calories, over exercising, and trying to hide and numb out my pain that I had forgotten how to dream. I was stuck in a dreamless state, and though I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I knew I had to break free.

Early on in my recovery, I developed a love for journaling. It was the one safe place I could go to feel heard. I didn’t have to worry about feeling like an inconvenience; I didn’t have to worry about managing anyone else’s feelings. With my journal, I learned how to take off my mask and allow myself to be real and honest. This was when I met myself for the first time.

As I became more and more invested in my recovery, I got more and more creative with the different coping tools I would try. Soon I was painting, spending more time in nature, trying out interpretive dance classes, drawing, learning to sew, volunteering, falling in love with yoga, and dare I say it: I was dreaming. I knew that if I was going to stay on my path toward a full recovery, I needed to believe that there was a place and a purpose for me. I needed to believe that I was getting better for something BIG.

As I continued to gain strength, my dreams got bigger. I ended up starting the Body Acceptance Movement with a fantastic group of girls at the University of Florida. Our mission was to help raise eating disorder awareness and promote body acceptance on our campus. We ended up winning the “Best New Student Organization of the Year” award, and over three years later, the Body Acceptance Movement is still going strong.

After graduating college, I knew I needed a big change. I needed to be uprooted and uplifted, so I could practice trusting myself, my life, the universe, and my dreams. At this time, I was in a relationship with a wonderful man, and due to my fear of abandonment, I was scared that he would leave me if I made a decision he didn’t like. Despite my fears, I dreamed and prayed that our next step would be together and that we both would find exactly what we needed. Two months later, we moved to Hollywood, California, with nothing planned—just dreams of making great things happen.

Since living in Hollywood, I have worked as a resident assistant, intake and aftercare coordinator, and yoga Instructor at an eating disorder recovery center. I have taken acting classes, been in a music video, started an adventure blog, and developed a love for cooking. I have done things that I never would have dreamed of doing in the beginning of my recovery, because I was too afraid of thinking big and feeling the pain of being let down by my big ideas.

Brittany with a tree to symbolize dreaming big, growth, and renewal.
Brittany with a tree to symbolize dreaming big, growth, and renewal.

You know that term, “Living the Dream?” For the longest time, being recovered was my dream. I knew that once I got there, I would have the room and strength to make my other dreams come true—those dreams that made me feel like I was recovering for something big.

So what is my big dream you ask? Well, nowadays, I focus on ways I can help encourage others to give themselves the gift of recovery. I have a dream to one day publish my journal pages into a beautiful, real and powerful book that will illustrate my journey towards recovery in hopes of encouraging others to begin or continue on their own journey. I have a dream that I will one day open a little café where I can make and share nourishing foods, art, and moments with others. I have a dream that my adventure blog will blossom and that I will be able to create adventure trips, allowing others to experience the freedom and beauty that nature always offers us. I have a dream that life will be this glorious experience, full of love, sharing deep moments with others and free of the need to be, act, or dream small.

Believe in your big dreams, fight for them, learn from them, allow them to change and develop over time. Recovering from an eating disorder may be the most difficult thing one ever experiences in their lifetime. With that being said, having big dreams requires having an even bigger faith, and with faith, anything is possible. This is what kept and still keeps me on the incredible path of recovery that I am on today.

In strength and optimism,

Brittany Rouille

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  • Briana Biller

    Awesome blog! My dream is to, someday, be able to eat cake at my wedding. This requires a lot from me. It requires the ability to have a happy, healthy relationship to flourish to the point of marriage. And it requires recovery from my eating disorder. I believe this dream is within my reach. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      This IS certainly within your reach, Briana! I just got married, and the cake was delicious. The freedom tasted even better. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Brittany Rouille

      What a sweet dream Briana – keep envisioning that as a reality and one day you will find yourself living your dream. It is yours to be had and the time is now! It is most important to learn to love ourselves so we can truly open our hearts and create a healthy, loving relationship with another.

  • Mary

    My dream is use the boundless energy that God has given me for something other than worrying about food. I want to love extravagantly, to find things that I am passionate about (writing, yoga, leadership) and pursue them, and be who I was created to be.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Great point, Mary! Thanks so much for sharing your words here. Your comment reminds me of a post I wrote awhile back: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenni-schaefer/the-eating-disorder-time-_b_1234138.html It talks about ALL that we could do with our time if we were not obsessing about food, etc.

      • Mary

        Great article!

        • Jenni Schaefer

          Thanks for reading!

    • Brittany Rouille

      It comes with practice, perhaps start doing one small thing that you love each day, or each week, depending on where you are at in recovery. You will start to feel happier and more fulfilled, viewing food as just a way to help give you the energy to do what you love… what you were put on this earth to do!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Hi Mary – We just used http://www.random.org/ to choose a book winner, and you are the one! Please send your snail mail address to jenni@jennischaefer.com. Then, we will put a signed copy of Almost Anorexic in the mail to you! Thanks again for sharing here.

  • Mandy

    My dream is to be a therapist working with people with eating disordered. I have been in treatment for a few years and I have always wished there were more professionals who have been through what I am going through. Not that therapists who haven’t don’t help, but it personally comforts me more when talking to those that have. I had to take some time off school because I was too sick, but now I am so much healthier. This semester is my first semester back, so the dream is in progress!!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      I love what you said: “the dream is in progress!!” That is wonderful to hear and so inspiring to others as well. Congrats to you, Mandy, for all of your hard work in recovery. I hope that you are enjoying being back at school.

    • Brittany Rouille

      Believe in your dream. You have already overcome mountains and grown so much because of it. Along the journey to full recovery you will most likely encounter a few more mountains, but the difference is that now you know that YOU CAN do it – and you will :).

  • llamatruth

    I have recoverED from a long struggle with an eating disorder. I’m currently living a lot of my dream and actively working toward the rest of it. I eat intuitively, live my life with my husband (who is not ED) to the fullest, mentor girls still working toward recovery, and am finishing my graduate work in Art Therapy. Once I am license, it is my goal to start my own private practice and work with those struggling with eating issues. I want to help others use art to learn to speak their truth, cope with life, and live without the eating disorder. I have come so much farther than I ever thought possible and I am progressing more every day!

    -Alanna

    • Jenni Schaefer

      This is awesome to hear, Alanna! I am sure that your art therapy work is going to help so many people. I always gained so much from art therapy myself. I love how you wrote: “recoverED.” Yay!

    • Brittany Rouille

      Art therapy was also a HUGE part of my recovery. What a great tool you will be able to share with others, a true gift actually. Amazing things Alanna, wishing you all the best!

  • Tum Tum

    my biggest dream is to some day be recovered and to go to Australia and walk the beaches in a swimsuit and not be so worried what others are thinking or that I myself would be thinking anything bad. That I would walk on top of the bridge without feeling like I am going to break it cuz I am so fat, to sky dive while I am there and to not let my size stop me from doing all the things I want to do so bad but I always let my weight hold me back. I would really really really love to go horseback riding on the beach in Australia as I always stop myself from doing that cuz I don’t want to hurt the horse with my weight. so yeah my biggest dream is to be recovered and at a healthy weight and go and do all the things I have dreamed about doing when I think about going to Australia. I don’t want my weight to hold me back anymore!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Your dream is beautiful. And totally possible. I actually just went skydiving in New Zealand! I will be posting pics soon…and a story. (It took me two attempts!) Horseback riding on the beach sounds amazing. You have painted a portrait of just how wonderful recovery can be. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Brittany Rouille

      You can do this, all of this. You just have to remember to start somewhere. By doing “the next right thing” for your recovery, with time and faith, it will happen. Strength and optimism- xo.

  • Lilred Ann

    Living my dream, recoverED thanks to my three beautiful daughters. A founding board member of the Eating Disorder Coalition of Iowa, I’ve shared my story at conferences and am doing everything in my power to use my experience to help others. I’m finishing my master’s in school counseling and working with K-8 students! My dream is to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by eds. I plan to write a book and dream of a treatment center in Iowa with scholarships for those struggling or in recovery.

    • Brittany Rouille

      Lilred, don’t lose sight of that incredible dream. With persistence, and faith it will manifest. And know that every day you are already changing the lives of those around you 🙂

  • Guest

    I struggled with anorexia through the beginning of my marriage. My amazing husband stood by my side through every painful moment. I dreamed about getting physically and mentally healthy enough to start a family. It’s been a long road, but I sit here today 12 weeks pregnant! My dream is coming true!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Congratulations! So inspiring.

    • Brittany Rouille

      It’s amazing what the power of love can do… I am convinced that recovery from anorexia requires a healthy dose of true, noble, unconditional love. <3

  • Jodi Fitzgerald

    I began struggling with bulimia at the age of 13 and fell downhill fast with it. I went through an inpatient program and countless hours of therapy and finally, 7 years later, I consider myself mostly recovered- it is still a huge struggle to stay at that status though. Throughout my recovery, a dream of helping others emerged. It began with wanting to help others who have an eating disorders but I have always been afraid that being around disordered thinking too much could bring me back into the thinking patterns that I try so so so hard to avoid. However, my dream has transformed into helping others medically through becoming a physician. I am currently in my junior year at the University of Florida, working as a CNA, and pursuing a Bachelor of Health Science degree while completing the prerequisites for medical school, which I will be applying to this upcoming summer. Thinking back to the hopeless little girl I was 7 years ago makes me so incredibly thankful to be where I am today. Something that helped me immensely throughout my recovery is the concept that I had within me the ability to do something meaningful with my life and the ability to improve other people’s lives. I want nothing more than to live out my days helping others maintain their health- which I know is so much more rewarding than a life spent struggling with an eating disorder. I’m well on my way to my dream!

    And as a side note, I have not heard of BAM but as a UF student, I would love to get involved in this organization. Do you have any information on how to do so? My email is jodidfitzgerald@gmail.com.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Congrats, Jodi! You have come so far. It sounds like you will be an amazing doctor. That is great that you want to be involved with BAM. The BAM webpage (see link above) gives this email: bodyacceptanceuf@gmail.com. I have also asked Brittany, who wrote the post, if she could connect with you. So, you may hear from her as well. Thanks for sharing your story!

      • Brittany Rouille

        Thank you for connecting us Jenni, Jodi I greatly look forward to being in touch!

        • Jenni Schaefer

          Thanks for sharing your story with me, Brittany. You have inspired so many people! And BAM sounds incredible!

          • Brittany Rouille

            Your book was the first book I read in recovery… my gratitude goes beyond words. Keep being you, it does incredible things in this world 🙂

    • Brittany Rouille

      Hi Jodi, thank you so much for sharing your incredible story and for all you have done and will do for those who are trying to find their own way into a life of recovery. I just spoke with one of my BAM founding sisters and she said that BAM could use a revival on UF’s campus, meaning that BAM is in need of a new motivational crew to help make some waves! Here is the BAM Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bodyacceptancemovementUF/

      I have asked my friend for contact info for the group and will share with you the information once I receive it.

      Wishing you continuous strength and gratitude for you being YOU.

      • Jodi Fitzgerald

        Thanks Brittany! I’ll reach out to the group of facebook and see what’s going on with it currently. 🙂

      • Jodi Fitzgerald

        Thanks Brittany! I’ll reach out to the group on facebook and see what’s going on with it currently. 🙂

  • Amanda

    Great story, Brittany! Beautiful & Inspiring! My DREAM is to feel strongly recovered from bulimia, to feel that Ed no longer lives in my ear, so that I feel safe and strong enough to become a loving, Ed free mother who is able to teach her children self love, self acceptance, and the ability DREAM, fear-FREE! My dream is in progress, as I am practicing the power of interruption and living mindfully, focusing on all the potential and dream-fulfilling moments that life has to offer. Thanks for the appropriately beautiful post! It has really struck a cord with me.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful dream, Amanda! I love what you said about the “ability to dream, fear-free.” I am so happy to hear that your dream is in process. Your dream surely IS possible!