The Pressure to Stay Thin: Kaitlyn’s Story

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For many young girls in the United States, a weight obsession is not uncommon, with one study showing that 36% of …

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For many young girls in the United States, a weight obsession is not uncommon, with one study showing that 36% of adolescent girls believed they were overweight, and 59% were trying to lose weight. It is also not uncommon for many of them to develop an eating disorder – as many as 10 in 100 young women suffer from an eating disorder according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders within this group.

Kaitlyn’s Story

Kaitlyn’s eating disorder began 10 years ago when she was in eighth grade. She grew up with great pressure to be thin, in fact, it had become her identity. Many people praised her for her thin body type and with that came mounting pressure to keep it that way – in her mind, being anything other than thin was bad. She was an avid runner and enjoyed sports, two ways that helped her keep her body thin.

As adolescents grow, maintaining a certain body type can be difficult. Kaitlyn was not only beginning to deal with this typical teenage struggle, but she was sexually abused. The trauma in her life combined with the pressure to stay thin led her down a dark path that began with skipping meals and later led to purging. Without even realizing what was happening, Kaitlyn had developed anorexia, a serious eating disorder. Anorexia develops more often in younger women, and girls between the ages of 13 and 19 are most at risk.

With the lack of nutrients in her body, she began to lack energy and the desire to play sports. Her eating disorder was leading her to become increasingly insecure with her body and withdrawn. The secret of Kaitlyn’s eating disorder remained with her. She was not at a place in her life to talk about it or the trauma that helped lead her to it.

Talk About It

When Kaitlyn was 17, she reached out to a teacher and told her about her eating disorder, but it was a choice she says she later regretted.  “I decided to tell someone and told a teacher when I was in high school. That decision led me into my first attempt at treatment. At that time, I regretted telling her and was able to fool my mom into thinking I was fine.”

She remained in outpatient therapy and tried to keep her continued eating disordered behavior a secret, but a relapse led to more intense treatment. Kaitlyn entered partial hospitalization and then inpatient treatment, but unfortunately, nothing was sticking. She could not find her way into freedom from her anorexia. And then there was Selah House.

Selah House Offers Freedom

Kaitlyn heard about Selah House from a friend and liked that it was close to home. She knew she needed help and she thought Selah House could be the answer she was looking for. “The first person I talked to at Selah House was Renessa Johnson in Admissions. She was so the kindest person and was so involved with the admissions process.  She kept me updated every step of the way, which made me feel comfortable,” shares Kaitlyn.

Selah House is a Christ-centered program. We regard each person as a spiritual being on a human journey, and we treat the whole being using a combination of therapeutic psychiatric, medical, and nutritional care. The spiritual aspect of Selah House was important to Kaitlyn since she grew up in a religious home. Selah House helped her to connect to her faith in a way that she never thought she could and helped her to see that she was worthy of recovery,

“I grew up around religion, but my faith would waiver. I told myself I was not worth God’s grace. Selah House showed me the point of grace. I know I don’t deserve it, but He gives it. At Selah House, you can feel God. Faith and hope are real there.”

Taking the step to come to treatment is not easy for anyone.  For Kaitlyn, arriving for the first day of treatment brought some self-doubt, “The first day was very overwhelming, it was a lot to take in.  I was afraid and kept asking myself if I was in the right mindset to do this.  As I got closer I became calmer and then when I arrived, I knew I was where I needed to be.”

Selah House provides comprehensive care utilizing evidence-based treatment modalities. Our therapists work with clients individually to help them explore and address underlying issues that led to their eating disorder, work through challenges, and set individual goals that will help lead to healing. Group therapy gives clients an opportunity to find support in others and learn and process together.  Kaitlyn found the Body Image group to be extremely helpful as it gave her a space to talk about her feelings and how she felt about her body. Clients also find our Equine Assisted therapy beneficial as it offers an opportunity to articulate feelings that may have been hidden due to their eating disorder. “I walked into Equine Therapy very skeptical. All I kept thinking was that working with a horse would not cure me. I was so overwhelmed by the experience and how Marcie knew how to read people and incorporate the horses into helping me express my emotions,” shared Kaitlyn.

Learning About Yourself

Selah House is a place where women find freedom from their eating disorder. In a healing environment, our goal is to meet the individual needs of each client as we strive for sustained recovery. Today Kaitlyn is a full-time student and working part-time. For the first time in a long time, she has a renewed faith in herself and is feeling a sense of peace.

“Going to Selah was the best decision I made. It was scary, but it was worth the fear. The staff is incredible, and I am so glad for what they taught me. I learned I am more resilient than I think I am. It’s been easy for me to minimize things and think I am not worthy of recovery. I must give myself more credit. I learned I can do this. I had the mentality that my life would forever be treatment and an eating disorder. Selah taught me I can recover, I have the strength within me.”

If you or someone love is struggling with an eating disorder, we can help. Call our admissions team today at 866-324-8081 or complete our contact form for more information. Selah House offers a path to freedom.

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but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

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