This summer has been such a blessing in so many ways! One big way is the work I have been able to do with my two incredible summer interns. Here, Hannah Durbin has offered to share some of her passion, enthusiasm, and inspiration with you. Thank you, Hannah, for all that you do. You are a gift in my life. From teaching me about the Instagram story feature to visiting me in Austin for the Mission Recovery event (see picture of us to the left), you are a recovery rockstar!
To submit your own Dream Big story, please click here.
From Barely Living to Thriving
by Hannah Durbin
From barely living to truly thriving, I am now confident in saying that I was put on this earth for a reason – to bring light, hope, and faith to those who can no longer see through the lurking, omnipresent darkness of their eating disorders. My journey has been long and exhausting, but I am here today stronger than I ever imagined possible. I am a warrior, and I am forever proud of who I have become.
My journey has its roots deeply planted in my high school years when my mind and body turned against each other in hopes of satisfying the demon living in my head. This demon’s name is ED – a term I’ve used for years to identify my eating disorder and recognize its presence in my thoughts. When I was 16, the roots had spread so deeply that I lost sight of myself and the life I always knew. I became a slave to the monster within. This was only the beginning of what would soon become a life-threatening battle, unaware that this illness would swallow me alive for the next five years of my life.
My battle was grueling, but that goes without saying. ED continually tightened his grip on me into my freshman year of college, when my addiction to him hit a breaking point. I had become completely and totally reliant on this demon, and couldn’t imagine my life without him. I felt as if he would keep me safe and sheltered from the world when in actuality, he was the direct source of my demise. He lied to me, abused me and nearly took my life away from me. I could no longer do this on my own and finally surrendered my resistance to receiving the professional help I so desperately needed. I spent the following semester battling to rebuild my body in an intensive inpatient treatment center, away from my friends, family and any sense of familiarity. And that’s when I decided I had enough. I picked up my sword and started fighting for my life back.
In my darkest days, I found hope in the smallest of things – my mom’s smile when she would watch me stare my demon in the face and come out victorious, my old athletic medals hanging on my bedroom walls reminding me of the strong body I once possessed, and my childhood photos of a girl who lived every single day with a full heart and optimistic eyes. I found promise in the endless support I had in my nearest and dearest friends. I found strength in the glimpses I would see of my old, ED-free self on a happy day. I found these things to hold onto and relied on them to shine light through the darkness I couldn’t seem to escape from. I fought for my family, friends, and future. And eventually, I started to fight for myself.
This marked only the beginning of my recovery, and will forever be something I must work for throughout my life. I have fought like hell to be where I am today – a place of contentment, happiness, love, and acceptance. The behind-the-scenes view of my recovery is full of tears and agonizing discomfort, but also full of ear piercing laughter and radiant smiles. It encompasses my lowest points and my highest peaks. My recovery is not linear in any sense of the word, but rather a dance of taking two steps forward and one step back. It is ongoing and forever changing, but that’s what makes recovery so beautiful.
I have come to not only find myself through recovery but also my purpose. I have learned what my heart and soul are capable of, and where my true passions lie. I have finally come to experience the true meaning of spontaneity and the beauty of independence. My freedom from ED has come along with strength, love, and resilience, amongst millions of other blessings I will never be able to accurately express my gratitude for. A few years ago, I found myself, lost and scared, standing alone on one of life’s most dangerous battlefields – that being the battle between myself and my demons. I looked into her heart, picked her up, and dragged her away from the fire. I brushed her off and let her light radiate into the world. And ever since that day, her light has only grown brighter.
Check out Hannah’s article, Why It’s More than OK to Take Time Off from School for Eating Disorder Treatment, on The Mighty.