In 9th grade, I had a life-changing conversation with a good friend of mine. We were in gym class, in my hometown of Portland, Oregon at the time. I had noticed that my friend had some odd behaviors, but I never thought anything of it. She was tall, skinny, and very beautiful. I was always jealous of her as she seemed like she had everything going her way.
That day, we both needed to go to the restroom during gym class, so we walked down to the basement together and got in to a casual, teenage conversation about body image. It was pretty classic and standard—until things got weird, really weird. She started to confide in me about the fact that she had been purging (inducing vomiting) in order to gain control and to maintain her thin figure. I was so confused by this whole idea; in terms of diet and weight, I had only learned about in the most textbook standpoint. I didn't understand why she couldn't just eat salad and feel good with that. I didn't understand why she needed to stick a spoon down her throat in order to gain control. Within minutes this girl was pulling a spoon out of her bag to show me. Then she handed me the spoon and told me try it. She said it would be good for me and would help me lose some of the weight I had gained during puberty. I was 14 and so impressionable, so I believed her. I went home that night and for the first time ever I stuck a spoon down my throat and purged my food.
My treatment journey began in residential program during the summer of 2013, but I left after just five weeks. The environment was not conducive to the level of care and therapy I needed to be doing at the time. After those five weeks I went abroad for the semester, where I kept relapsing. I came home early from my adventures and ended up in a intensive out patient program (IOP) in January 2014, for about 8 weeks. Again, I left early, because of financial and other complicated reasons. The following summer. I want to residential treatment yet again, where I stayed for three months. Afterwards, I came back to college and struggled to find a treatment center that would take my insurance. Nothing was working out, so I ended up at a program for just a few weeks— again having to leave because of financial complications. The day I left treatment I remember walking through the streets crying. I called my older brother and was the most vulnerable and real I had been in years. I let him hear my tears and my voice. I let him hear how badly I wanted recovery, How desperately I wanted to be able to take my time in treatment and not worry about the money or my religious needs. I never got to take my time in treatment and do the work I needed to do. That night, I went home to my dorm room and felt so alone. It was a "rock-bottom moment." I was so beaten down by the system of treatment...by not having a step-down program...by the system of my religious and spiritual needs not being met...by my parents calling the shots when this needed to be about me and my treatment.
The journey from that painful night to today has been a long one. But it is a journey for which I am so thankful.
Today, I am proud to say that almost ten years after that conversation in gym class, I am happily recovered from my eating disorder and I'm ready to give back to the world. I want to help Jewish women explore self discovery and growth. Being in treatment and being religious has not always been a simple experience. Getting kosher food, keeping Shabbat, sticking to modesty, finding times to pray — these were all very challenging at times.
I have come to the realization that being Jewish should not be an obstacle to getting treatment and that is why I have decided to open EMET.
I am currently finishing up my clinical social work masters degree at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City. I am learning about subjects that I am passionate about and I am excited to work on achieving my dream a little bit more every day. To open EMET I need to gain more experience and skills, but once I am ready, I will dive in with all my heart.
One day it will be my greatest pleasure to be able to help Jewish women reach their full potential and recover from the struggles of an eating disorder, all within the values of Judaism.