My recovery is my own. My hope is that in sharing my story, I can help people feel more comfortable accessing the support they need and deserve regardless of who they are, where they’ve been or what they look like. While reading, I urge you to take what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t behind. The beauty of recovery is that it looks a bit different for everyone and that is okay!

People often say that eating disorder recovery takes a village. It’s true…withdrawal and isolation are unfortunate side effects of eating disorders that can be detrimental to living a full life. Due to reasons that are complicated, my family chose not to participate in my recovery. This, of course, was difficult to navigate but throughout my healing journey, I have worked to accept this and find connection in others.

While I don’t have the “conventional” support system, I have learned that family needn’t be those related to us by blood. Sometimes, families are those who find you when you need them most.

My eating disorder journey started when I was about 20 and was training for my first half marathon. I’ve always had pretty significant anxiety and realized during training that running helped to numb and escape anxiety’s nagging voice. Due to the change in my exercise routine, and without me really knowing, eating disorder behaviors began to develop. I went to see a dietitian for the first time at the urging of my sister. I didn’t think anything was wrong, I just wanted to learn which foods would make me run faster.

It just so happened that this dietitian was also an eating disorder specialist. She insisted that I start coming to see her twice a week. After a few weeks, my team realized that I needed a bit more support than outpatient could provide. That’s how I ended up at Walden Behavioral Care.

Before my first day in treatment, I remember sitting in the parking lot sobbing. I was terrified; of what treatment would feel like, of the people and what they might think of me. The moment I chose to go in despite this fear, was a pivotal moment in my recovery journey. In group, I found a special connection to each of the humans who bravely shared pieces of themselves. I had never felt as validated as I did sitting next to people – of all ages, all genders and at all stages of recovery – who understood and experienced the thoughts and feelings that I had kept so hidden from the world.

At Walden, I realized I didn’t need the white picket fence to feel hopeful for my own future.

In October of 2018, I was diligently doing the “homework assignment” that my therapist had recommended I try. I am now 26 and have been progressing in recovery for about five years now. Sometimes, I still feel challenged during mealtimes. That is how I found myself watching the morning news while I ate my breakfast. This particular segment featured a woman who had created care boxes designed especially for individuals undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It was such a beautiful idea, I wondered why nobody had created such a box for those struggling with eating disorders.

“Why not me?” I thought to myself. After all, nobody was more qualified to understand the unique needs and challenges of someone healing from an eating disorder than someone who was actively healing from an eating disorder! I dedicated all my free time to this project because I knew what it would have meant for me to receive this gift during my hardest moments. And so, by December, I had the first prototype of “Brave Box” in my hands.

Seeing Brave Box go from a simple concept to a fully functioning company that has helped bring hope to hundreds of people struggling with an eating disorder has been a really important piece of my own healing process. I’ve been able to continue increasing my own recovery network and have helped so many others to do the same.

If Brave Box helps even one person feel a little bit less alone – and a little bit more hopeful – then that is more than enough for me.