Three years ago, I would’ve scoffed at the idea of sharing my “Story of Recovery”. It would’ve seemed unfathomable- recovery was just an impossibility! Yet here I am, ready to disclose my journey and triumph over an Eating Disorder. It’s a miracle.
My name is Tova. I had always been a perfectionist, extremely particular with everything I did. I was also highly competitive- a near -lethal combination. School was the perfect environment for these character traits and I thrived. I worked too long, too hard and cared too much- maintaining a status as a model student, always striving for and succeeding at being The Best.
Fast-forward a few years post high school and I was a married woman, with two adorable little ones. My life was beautiful, and I was content- until that fateful morning. It was a regular day, yet at the same time, it wasn’t. Getting dressed that morning, I suddenly was hyper-aware and humiliated of the weight I had gained over the years. Staring at my reflection, I flushed with shame at my bloated face, my flabby stomach and at the clothes that were undeniably tight.
Shame quickly turned to anger. Anger at myself for allowing myself to become like this. Anger for being so gluttonous. Anger for being so hideous for all those around me- my parents, my siblings, my husband.
Little did I know that that shame and anger were manifestations of an Eating Disorder. An Eating Disorder that had taken hold of me and planted roots in my soul. I immediately resolved to act and began to cut back on my food intake, counting calories and doing everything I could to lose weight- with little or no regard to my health.
I was obsessed. Slowly, I began to isolate myself, focusing solely on my quest to be thinner. And it was working. I became thinner and thinner- yet simultaneously I became sullen and short-tempered and dreadfully unhappy. Though my waistline had shrunken, and my skirts were loose, I still felt that shame, I still felt so fat.
The Eating Disorder guided me on an additional path, promising me that if was indeed perfect in all I did, I would achieve that happiness I so desperately sought. On this path, I was forbidden to make mistakes, experience physical pain, or expose my self-hatred. I was "Perfect." I had these images of what a perfect wife, mother, daughter and friend were and did everything I could to be all of those, all the time. All the while, maintaining my disordered eating, to achieve the Perfect body.
Although I was clearly loved, I was convinced that becoming thinner would make me more perfect and, therefore, more lovable. The thinner I was, the more love I could and would receive.
Slowly, subtly, I became imprisoned by my mind. The Eating Disorder controlled every aspect of my life, leaving me a wretched, miserable and tortured soul. My beautiful life disinterested me, became a burden. My husband, my children, my home- everyone and everything suffered neglect.
It was my dear sister who threw me a lifeline. Although I was in denial, she adamantly insisted that I seek help and arranged that initial meeting with Magen Avrohom.
My recovery has not been easy or smooth, but it has been memorable. I constantly wanted to give up and fought many professionals, on many fronts. Fortunately, my support system, Magen Avrohom and treatment team were there to help me get back on track at every hurdle, at each set-back.
My heart warms when I hear the name “Magen Avrohom.” It is a safe place. A place where every life is intrinsically valued. No one is turned down- and no one is too hopeless for them.
Magen Avrohom doesn’t only save lives; they save marriages, children and generations. The care and sensitivity displayed is a cut above anything I’ve ever experienced.
I have always considered myself to be a fairly “normal” person and the words Mental Illness naively conjured up images of dirty, unkempt, hideous looking people stuck behind bars in a morbid hospital setting. Today, I know the truth. Mental Illness comes in many colors and shapes and strikes the most unlikely victims. Eating Disorders especially are vicious and dangerous, but there is help available! If there was hope for me, then there is for you too. Thank you Magen Avrohom.