At ten years old, Samantha felt that something just wasn’t quite right – feeling wrong in her body, becoming rigid not only with her food, but also with her routine, and exercise, and lastly tying her worth to a number on a scale. By age twelve she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa: restricting sub type. In addition to anorexia, she suffered from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Where did the feelings come from?
Samantha had a deeply rooted core belief that she was born as a burden. She shared, “I believed I didn’t deserve a sense of self. I didn’t know how to be a person with worth. I was a lost soul who was terrified of having needs, being too much, and honestly of being me. Those core beliefs coupled with anxiety and OCD, being much taller and never quite fitting in or knowing who to be, along with my brother being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes led me to seek safety in the eating disorder. It was how I learned how to survive.”
Her brother’s diagnosis changed her life forever; she suddenly became very aware that he could die. Everyone in her family learned about carbohydrates and insulin and she did everything she could to help. Her brother had many needs, but she didn’t realize she could have needs too. She compared her feelings to the character in the movie, My Sister’s Keeper. Just as in the movie she felt like she was put on earth to save her brother. She felt second best and wanted to be anyone other than who she was.
Do I need help?
Despite her feelings, Samantha’s family had been very supportive over the years. After graduating from high school, she and her family realized she needed help. For years her family had sought the advice of her pediatrician but realized she needed a different kind of treatment. They did their research and they found support locally. Although there were not many options available, they did their best and things appeared to be getting better, at least for a little while
During her junior year of college, she began seeing a treatment team on campus, that was a world changer. Recovery looked different for Samantha, it looked brighter. The treatment team tailored her plan to meet her needs. She would step into a Partial Hospitalization Program and then other times into an Intensive Outpatient Program. “I built a team I trusted who were willing to walk along this journey with me and for that, I am forever grateful.”
While she was succeeding with her team, it was only a matter of time before she needed more for a full recovery. “I have a lot of grit and tenacity and have fought back through lapses before, but we always wondered if I needed more to really get to a full tank,” she says. A demanding job in a stressful field and core beliefs that grew louder and stronger led her to decline, and fast. She was overworked and began restricting food, she was shutting down and pushing herself until she broke. “I was trying to save everyone but in return killing myself. Bodies are resilient until they aren’t. It isn’t about the food or the weight until it is. The life was gone from my eyes. I was no longer the bubbly hopeful creative Sam I was before.” She and her family knew they needed to do something and fast. It was time; it was time for more. Enough was enough and she needed more than her treatment team could provide, she needed 24/7 care. “I needed to rest. I needed help. I needed to save my own life. I had enough in my savings to make it happen, so I started researching treatment centers,” shares Samantha.
Selah House Gives Hope
“Where is the best place for me?” was the question she asked herself. Fear and shame had a tight grip on her. She had some input from her therapists and dietitian but knew it was her decision. She started by making phone calls, making a pros and cons list, and sitting through assessment. “What am I looking for?” “How will I know where to go?” These questions swirled in her head. But then one phone call changed it all. “I remember hanging up the phone with Renessa in Admissions and knowing if I needed to do this, that is where I was going. Honestly, I’m not sure what felt so right, it truly was a God thing. Selah House is where I was meant to be. I remember breathing a little easier after that first call. Trust and let go is something I told myself the entire week leading up to my admission,” she recalls.
Many things about Selah House made their way to the pros and cons list – it was Christ-centered, had equine therapy, had a nutritional philosophy she believed in, and Selah House came highly recommended.
“At Selah House, I was met with grace and truths, two things I desperately needed but couldn’t yet give myself.”
Terrified to take the step, she knew she was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. She shares, “A friend once told me that when the student is ready the teacher appears. I entered those doors with a lot of insight and willingness but also a lot of darkness and pain. Kadee and Rachel met me right where I was, and we started doing hard courageous work on the first day.”
Selah House gave Samantha so many truths – “you matter too.” Finally, Samantha believed. “Every staff member went above and beyond to be that person for me. The truth teller and hope holder. The one to care and to believe in me when I didn’t believe in myself. To sit with me in the darkness and be a light. And show me that I could be a light too. I became my own healer and hero AND I didn’t have to do it alone. We slowly picked up the pieces and found beauty in the breaking. “
For Samantha, Selah House offered her a tranquil place to rest, to pause, and to breathe. She had spent so much of her life supporting her family and pushing herself to her breaking point that her job now was to only focus on herself. It was time to let someone else care for her, and that is what Selah House did.
At Selah House, we treat the whole being – mind, body, and spirit. By working with Chris Zile, Selah House Chaplin, she was able to focus on her spiritual self and found an experience that will last a lifetime. Equine therapy allowed her to reclaim the power within and regain a sense of self, something that had been missing since she was young. Her therapist, Kadee, helped her find a way to dig deep and be courageous. For so long she had set in darkness and pain and she began to courageously do the work. She talked about the hard things and felt the pain, but she was never alone. She was beginning to see that she mattered too.
The Journey After Selah House
Today Samantha is on a new path, a path of truth in knowing she matters, she is important. Her words are her greatest testimony to her life after Selah House, “I matter too. I’m still here. I came back to life at Selah. I cried, I hoped, I smiled, I dreamed. And I get to keep living the life I fought so hard for. I remember the days when I prayed for what I have now. I wasn’t broken, I was becoming. Becoming everything that He has planned for me. I am fully known and fully loved. I may have forgotten but He has not. I am worthy and deserving of having a full life. I still struggle and fall, life is messy, and my recovery isn’t perfect, but my story is not in the falls-it is the fact that I always get back up and try again. I walked away from Selah House with grace, grit, and gratitude. I have a story of perseverance that I am proud of, which is something I never thought I would say. I can own my story and turn the page. Because there is a beautiful new chapter waiting to be written. I am so thankful for Selah House and the healing that took place during my stay. This is my whole heart deciding I’m still here. “
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder and you feel you need to take the next step, Selah House is here for you. We are here for you to reclaim your freedom and to help you know that you matter too. Call us today at 866-324-8081 or complete our contact form for more information.
Samantha’s favorite verse, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32