In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, February 26- March 4th, Project HEAL and The National Eating Disorder Association have teamed up for a new campaign, Recovery Heroes, to honor our loyal supporters who make recovery possible.
To get involved, post a picture or video of yourself and your hero on Instagram with a caption talking about how they helped you on your journey using the #RecoveryHeroes and #NEDAwareness hashtags.
Recovery is never an individual process. That’s why I’m so glad @projectheal and @neda are highlighting the importance of #recoveryheroes. No big surprise that mine is my fearless, kind and passionate cofounder @lianarosenman. Thanks for saving my life.
To begin, I’d like to thank Kristina Saffran for being one my #recoveryheroes Thank you Kristina for saving my life and showing me that I was worthy of recovery!
Recovery would not have been possible without my family’s constant love and support. Thank you Mom, Dad, and Josh for being my favorite part in this crazy life. Thank you for always being my loudest cheerleaders and for reminding me of my strengths when I was discouraged. I would not be where I am or who I am today with out each of you!
Reflecting back on the years I spent sitting in classrooms, there is one thing that I know for certain to be true: I would not be the person I am today without the teacher who believed in me. Thank you for teaching me life lessons that are far more invaluable than anything I could have learned from a textbook. Thank you for giving me the tools to succeed. Thank you for always encouraging me and believing in me even when I didn’t in myself. And, finally, thank you for being the teachers that inspired me to be just like you.
They say I am their anchor that keeps them grounded. What they don’t realize is they are the light in the darkness, a shining source of strength and courage. Emitting wisdom, hope and love to those around them. Today I dedicate my #recoveryheroes post to the 70 Project HEAL treatment grant recipients.
What many people may not realize is that much of Project HEAL’s achievement would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers. Their enthusiasm for Project HEAL and spreading the message that recovery is possible inspires me everyday. I am so thankful to work with such dedicated, passionate and kind people who are truly HEALing the world. Thank you for being #recoveryheroes to so many people and being my everyday heroes!
For my final post, I am giving a special shout out to my treatment team. You invested heavily in my recovery when I couldn’t even begin to see the starting line. You constantly reminded me of what recovery was not only about from a technical aspect, but what it was for: my family and future, but, most importantly, for myself. Thank you for giving me the tools to succeed and for helping me reach a full recovery.
My #recoveryhero is Megz (Meghan). Together we fight, we cry, we kick, we scream — together we do not give up — especially not on each other. From the time we met in treatment in 2015 and to this present day she has been my partner in crime, my best friend and my recovery sidekick. It’s easy to make friends in treatment, but to maintain that friendship afterwards; that’s dedication and commitment. The last time we saw each other was when she discharged from NYC, just weeks before me…the thought of reuniting gives me goosebumps and shivers down my spine and fills my eyes with tears.
This girl is my world. Recovery is not easy but with her by my side, it’s easier.
Together but apart — we fight.
To celebrate #nedawarenessweek, I’d like to thank my friend Sara, who never gave up on me, even when I pushed away. In recovery it’s important to have a support system. They don’t have to understand exactly what’s going on in your mind, but they’re willing to keep seeing the true you deep inside. Sara helped and continues to help me overcome many obstacles, and ultimately, because of her loyal friendship, I can now say I’m recovered.
Growing up, I was always told how much I looked like my mom — of course, when I was 8 years old, I couldn’t really see the resemblance. Now that I’m older, though, I smile when someone tells me that because she is exactly the woman I want to become. She is my role model, my confidante, my therapist, but most importantly, my best friend. She never forgets to text me each morning and night, even if we haven’t spoken all day and she’s never given up on me, even when I wanted to give up on me.
I don’t think I’ll ever truly know how my eating disorder affected her because when I was at my lowest points, she was forced to be strong enough for the both of us to move forward. She never let me see how afraid she was of what my eating disorder had made me become because she knew that would only make me more closed off. So instead, she smiled. She laughed. She cheered me on when I asked to go for ice cream (at one point she even said she would have driven 100 miles just to find an ice cream shop that was open late at night for me). She pointed out the good things that the world still had to offer because I couldn’t see them for myself. And slowly, because of her, I began to get better.
Now that’s not to say the numerous treatment stays, doctor visits, and therapy sessions didn’t play a role too, but my mom was the one who never left my side no matter how bad things had become. She never gave up on me and constantly reminded me of my goals and potential to make a difference in the world. It is because of her that I always try to better myself in the hopes that just maybe, I can be half the woman she is.
Vanessa Frances Poulson
I think, as with most children, out first love will always be our mothers. Mom’s are the ones who teach us to be brave, hold our heads up, and stand up talk for what we believe in. Our mother’s help to form and craft our personalities, breed us in strength, and protect us even in our tragedies.
Mothers are protective and understanding, caring and firm, and hold us close when the world tries to push us away.My mother was an incredibly powerful influence through my recovery journey. She was not only a guiding light, but a beacon of hope through darkness, and for that I will never thank her enough.
Recovery, however, is not just about those that helped us through the recovery itself, but also those that stood with us when we came out on the other side, and reminded us in our moments of weakness what it means to be something truly exceptional and valuable. Though I’ve always tried to be the girl that refuses validation from others, falling in love with someone who knew just the right way to keep me steady and moderated with perhaps the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He is the love of my life, and for that, I am so thankful.
These two are my #RecoveryHeros not only for their continued kindness and compassion, but because they are both the complete and well valued lives of my life. I don’t think that I would be half the woman I am today if I didn’t have the shoulders of these two incredible human beings to help me stand again
I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of the amazing #RecoveryHeroes I have in my life.
This right here is Mary. Mary was my therapist when I first moved to Southern California for college. I was still having phone session with my therapist from home and having difficulty finding resources at Cal State Fullerton to help me with this new life transition. I found Mary online while searching for an eating disorder therapist within the area. Her website was awesome and she looked so kind — so I texted a friend consulting her on this very important issue and we decided that it would be good to send Mary an email. To my very anxious surprise Mary called me that night and then followed up by emailing me potential resources in the area.
I can’t explain how much this meant to me. I was pretty self-sufficient but I was having a hard time finding any help in this new place. On top of that nobody was even trying to help me. I was just having doors closed in my face instead of finding a hand reaching out to help me. And that’s what Mary did. She was the first person to extend a hand and allow me not to walk alone.
Our first interaction with each other pretty much sums up our time together. Mary never left me to walk alone. She stayed present with me through many highs and lows. The moments when I would hide underneath the blankets in her office, unable to communicate; or when I would decide to not talk to her if I was angry. And also the moments where I got stickers for self-care, told epic camp stories, and cried from joy and and gratitude for life after being featured in 17 magazine.
It’s so hard to sum up the impact of a certain person in your life. But I do know one thing, I would not be the same without the time I was fortunate to have with Mary in my life.
All you therapists rule. You have a hard job but it is filled with SO much meaning. Keep making a difference in this world because we need you.
As we approach National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I’m joining the #recoveryheroes movement, a collaborative movement between @neda, @recoveryspark, and @projectheal, to send out some love to those who have helped me along the way. I’m forever grateful and thankful for Liana, Kristina and all of Project HEAL for taking a chance on me and allowing me the opportunity to not only gain my life back but also grow in ways I never thought possible. I would not have made it through treatment without my recovery heroes. I went from daily meltdowns to daily triumphs. Thank you all for always being a voice of reason in times of struggle and true examples of confidence and self love.
I want to give a HUGE shoutout to Liana Rosenman for being a #RecoveryHero to so many people and being my everyday hero! You’re the most selfless and amazing person I know and I’m so lucky to be able to call you my friend.
Amanda Leigh Lupacchino
It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago last month I went into treatment for my eating disorder, which I struggled with for 11+ years. As we approach National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I’m joining the #recoveryheroes movement, a collaborative movement between @neda, @recoveryspark, and @projectheal, to send out some love to those who have helped me along the way. It takes a village my friends and these are some of the heroes in mine.
First and foremost I’m forever grateful for Liana, Kristina and the Project HEAL family for taking a chance on me, giving me the opportunity to receive the proper treatment and for sticking by my side. A shout out to my amazing bosses Mel, Hanne and my DDF crew for being an amazing and understanding support system. My EDTNY family for walking through the unknown with me. Pippa, Diana, Natalie, Kylie, Garrett, Marisa, Ginny, Dr. Hong and the many others who have helped me, supported me and tough loved me through this process. The countless friends, family, recovery warriors, theater communities and even strangers who have had a positive impact along the way. There are no words that will ever adequately express how grateful I am for all of you, but I can say confidently and adoringly that I could not have wished for a better team of recovery heroes. Thankful every day. THANK YOU!
In honor of #NEDAwareness Week, I’d like to give a shout out to my “Recovery Hero.” Liana Rosenman came into my life at exactly the right time and showed me that there is an incredible life worth living beyond an eating disorder. To my best friend, thank you.
With upcoming #nedawareness week, we @projectheal-ers are launching a new campaign today with @iskra and @neda called #recoveryheroes to highlight the importance of a support system in eating disorder recovery. I’m lucky to have an incredible family, wonderful friends, and a special doctor who have gone above and beyond to save my life and help me through this process.
But Liana Rosenman is one friend in particular who gives me hope and purpose every day. I met her 5 years ago when I started working with @projectheal, which she co-founded at the age of 15 (!!) while recovering from her own eating disorder. Since then, we’ve grown very close and she is always there to celebrate the good days and let me vent on the not so good days. She watched Betty Piddles for me while I was in the hospital last summer and wrote cute notes on my mirror for my return. Most of all, she is my living proof that recovery is possible. I don’t know where I would be without her and Project Heal, but I do know I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today, that’s for sure. Thank you Liana for changing my life, inspiring me to share my voice and story,and giving me the opportunity to turn the ugliest, most difficult thing in my life into something beautiful and meaningful.
Hannah Smiley Jones
My #RecoveryHero is my best friend, my partner in crime, my person @tessmichelemullen When I found out I was being admitted to the hospital she dropped everything and hopped on a bus from Pittsburgh to Philly to work my two nannying jobs and take care of my cat while I was learning how to care of myself again. She’s seen my good, my bad and my ugly and has loved me unconditionally through it all. Her unrelenting support and belief in both me and my recovery empowers me everyday. I’m so lucky to have had you by my side and I cannot wait for the day when we don’t live on opposite sides of the state anymore. Thanks for being my bestie and recovery hero.
While there have been SO many people I would love to thank who have helped me over the last 12 years and continue to help me on my journey towards recovery…. I want to thank my 3 biggest #RecoveryHeroes-my mom, my best friend Anthony and my precious niece Avery. These 3 people have given me to strength and courage to continue to fight even when I’ve felt I no longer could. Whether they know it or not, they have saved my life. I want to thank them for always believing in me. For cheering me on in the darkest of times and for being there to celebrate my triumphs.
Caroline E. Och
It’s almost #EatingDisordersAwarenessWeek, and here are my #RecoveryHeroes! Mom, Dad, and Sarah, thank you for your constant support. Because of you, I’m able to recover and pursue my dreams of helping others. I love you!
Summer 2016- my brothers, mom and I first met my father in Kuala Lumpur before taking off to Thailand for a family getaway. It was our first visit there in nearly six years and it was a truly incredible time to reflect and think about how much has happened in a seemingly short period of time. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as we sat at the beach for lunch that first day, thinking how the five of us were fundamentally different humans than the ones who sat in a similar formation just years before.
Though I had been developing and attempting to manage an eating disorder for some time then, the Thailand 2010 trip was the moment in time where I think we all truly realized that I was deeply entrenched in behaviors that could end my life and therefore all of our lives as we knew them. Here we were last summer, what felt like several lifetimes later and I sat relishing not only in the freedom to enjoy some of my favorite Thai dishes; but also with the cognitive ability to stay present and open heartedness to recognize how making a full recovery from my eating disorder had, in many ways, liberated the people I love the most. I recognize my family as a group of recovery heroes because I appreciate the absolute fact that we ALL fully recovered from an eating disorder. Yes, I was the one with the symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that I was the only one who was faced with the challenge of a healing experience. In many ways, I believe the pain my family endured was more grueling than my own since they had to go through it without the well-rounded care that I was afforded in treatment. They carried on with their wounds, not even thinking twice to let them heal until they were sure, years later honestly, that I was better.
While I spent a long time feeling a lot of guilt for what I put them through, I’ve come to better understand the ripple effect of healing. My mom says that she always knew I was going through my eating disorder to be able to heal others. However, I believe that they, too, have great amount of healing to share with the world. Their individual experiences of what happened triggered transformation that has healed pieces of them and as a result, provided further space in the world for them to extend this further still to others. Felipe, only eleven at the time, was required to grow up much faster than I did in many regards, yet in the process tapped deep into a thoughtful nature that I see him channel into his many positions of leadership today. Nicholas, my middle brother, was afraid to visit me in treatment, carrying around the preconceived notion of what mental health treatment looks like. In facing his fears, he was able to destigmatize this perception in his mind and I watch with amazement when I see him compassionately showing up for people in his lives when he recognizes a struggle. Then there are my parents of course; who showed up for many difficult conversations and willingly undertook the battle with insurance companies to provide me with life-saving care. Now, I watch as their friends reach out to them, riddled with shame for feeling as though they have failed when their children develop eating disorders. They are able to comfort these people and let them know they are not to blame and counsel them on what did and didn’t work in their experience. I think are times in which we all feel responsible for fixing all that is wrong in the world around us. One thing my journey to being recovered from an eating disorder has opened my eyes to is that we are really only responsible for our own pain. We can be there for others and comfort them, but the action of recognizing and transforming the painful experiences in our own lives eases a fraction of collective suffering in the world. When we do this, we let other people know they have the power to do the same.
So there we were with our Thai spread and the sound of calm waves rolling in. Far from perfect, but that’s not really the point, is it? In that moment we had our health, we had laughter, and we had our ever-expansive healing. Again, I smiled in infinite gratitude for a family that is both strong and easy. These people are my sunshine, my warriors; they are my tribe of recovery heroes.
Originally published at medium.com