It has taken me a long time to be able to say the words, “this is me…and I’m okay” and truly believe it.
I work at Walden’s Dunwoody Residential Program and I am pursuing what I believe to be my life’s calling. I am here to walk the journey with my patients, help them work through the emotions and ultimately find their inner strength. If I can help empower people who are having a difficult time to find hope and courage, then my day is complete.
I now have control over the important areas of my life. I no longer need to micro manage the food I consume – but it wasn’t always this way.
I had some curve balls come my way early in life that caused me enormous pain. My twin sister and I were born three months prematurely which meant that we had to take steroids for many of our early years. My twin sister was always small and petite. She was cute, had friends and I wanted to look like her. When I was 24 years old, a professor who I looked up to told me that I would be beautiful if I just lost some weight. This happened at a very vulnerable time for me as I was watching my high school and college friends begin to fall in love and get married. I began to convince myself that the reason I didn’t have dates or wasn’t falling in love was because I wasn’t considered ‘beautiful.’ I did weight watchers and loved the points system… a bit too much.
No one in my family knew what an eating disorder was, including me. After losing a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, I was at a critically low weight. I was freezing all the time and wearing two or three pairs of pants to work during southern summers. Finally, I decided to enter treatment in a psychiatric hospital that was owned by a religious ministry. They told me that they had experience working with people living with eating disorders like anorexia – but when I arrived, they told me that eating disorders occurred as a result of a committed sin.
That theory collided with an early life trauma that began to come out. I tried to tell my parents what was going on but because we were Southern Baptists, speaking of the abuse that I endured was unheard of. I suffered in silence continuing to believe that the abuse was my fault.
Insurance was forcing me in and out of different treatment centers. Despite being told I would never recover from the eating disorder, I met some wonderful providers who supported and cared for me. Their passion and empathy helped me to want to get better and find a better way to live.
Slowly, I began to take hold of my own life. I began to have a healthier relationship with myself and with food too. As I began to get better, I became passionate about helping others who were impacted by eating disorders. I completed my master’s degree and am finishing my second Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy because I am determined to become like the caregivers that had been so good to me.
Our stories need to be heard. If my story can help one person get the support they need and deserve, I am happy. You won’t find anyone more committed or passionate about the importance of the human connection, person to person care and what a transformative impact it can have.
This is me and I’m ok.
Diann is passionate about helping others overcome life’s challenges and succeed at life. She is currently completing a 2nd Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University. She has done extensive coursework in trauma, adolescents, spirituality and addictions. Her desire is to walk alongside clients helping them to uncover the solutions they need to calm their emotional storm. In her free time, she enjoys all things Disney, watching sports (GO DAWGS) and hanging out with friends and family.