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Change your mind. Change your life.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will healed. Rescue me, and I will rescued. You are the one I praise. -- Jeremiah 17:14

Recovery Stories

Sandy Richardson, now 42, started the downward spiral of anorexia and bulimia a month and a half after she married at age 24-about the time she rededicated her life to God. At 5 feet 4 1/2 inches, Sandy went from a healthy weight of 128 pounds to 98 pounds.
"Through treatment, I realized my eating disorder was my way of trying to keep my husband's love," she says. "I thought if I could look good on the outside, he would never look on the inside and see the ugliness there: a past of alcohol abuse and promiscuity."
Once she started losing weight, Sandy received praise from her husband, Scott, and coworkers in the Air Force. Almost everyone she encountered seemed to equate being thin with being healthy.

As a military couple, Sandy and Scott moved frequently. She worked 14- and 15-hour days and didn't always see him at meal times. When they did eat together, Sandy ate a normal meal and forced herself to throw it up soon afterward.
"I had never heard of anorexia or bulimia," she says, "so I didn't know I had a problem. To me, it was dieting-self-control-and that was a good thing. But the vomiting? I thought it was disgusting."

Along with emotional distress, Sandy's limited food intake and purging took a physical toll on her body. She had no energy, a weak immune system and ear and kidney infections. Her menstrual cycle also disappeared. Doctors attributed Sandy's poor health to stress and said they'd treat her as problems appeared.

One day, as Sandy flipped through a Christian magazine, comparing herself to everyone on its pages, she came across an ad for Remuda Ranch, a Christian treatment center for teen and adult women with eating disorders.

After calling Remuda and learning more about the battle she had fought for 13 years, Sandy started treatment and stayed at Remuda for 72 days. "My time at Remuda turned out to be a life-changing event. I felt unconditional love and acceptance for the first time," she says. "I learned who God is and what His nature is really like. It changed me completely."
Sandy's road to recovery wasn't an easy one, but through the course of several years she became well, both emotionally and physically. She and Scott, along with their two teen daughters, live in Wickenburg, Ariz., not far from Remuda Ranch, where Sandy now works as executive director of the Remuda Foundation. Courtesy "Focus on the Family"

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It's not just a 'girls' problem ~

Chris Riser, now 32, also knows the transformation and healing God can bring to a person with disordered eating. As a 10th-grader, Chris enjoyed playing sports and was well-liked at school and church. He always felt accepted and comfortable with who he was. But when his parents moved their family from California to Colorado, Chris was devastated and suddenly became very concerned about his weight. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds when he started his bout with bulimia. "My response to the move was, 'I can't control where I'm going to be, but I can control my eating, my food and my weight.' I was trying to make new friends and fit in with a new youth group, and my eating habits became very strange," he says. "I didn't eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I'd snack voraciously after school. My parents didn't notice the change because I was at school all day, and I worked four nights a week."

After high school, this self-described perfectionist attended college and participated in an internship as a youth pastor. And all the while, his pattern of skipping meals and bingeing continued. Instead of purging by vomiting, Chris purged with exercise. He dropped to 130 pounds-not a life-threatening weight, but certainly unhealthy. "When I was working at McDonald's, I'd sometimes eat six or seven cheeseburgers, six or seven boxes of chocolate chip cookies, drink lots of soda and then top it all off with two apple pies," he says. "If I wasn't at work, I'd buy a gallon of ice cream and eat the whole thing. That's a lot of ice cream! "I tried to throw up, but I could never do it. I'd get frustrated with myself and would exercise even more. We're talking insane amounts of exercise!

I'd run five miles down the street, run back, play a couple games of basketball, run another couple miles and then go for a long, hard bike ride." Chris' mentor confronted him twice about his eating habits, and Chris agreed to see a counselor. But after three visits, he decided to forgo the counseling and allow God to deal with him directly. "I asked Him to help me stop," Chris says. "I think my walk with the Lord increased at that point because I was trusting Him to help me. I'd try to eat three meals and not eat at other times. I'd do well for a couple of weeks and then totally blow it. But by the time I was 26, my continual struggle to eat properly was over." -- Courtesy "Focus on the Family"

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I want to share a story from "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, because I have seen this over and over with women ~

"I tried and tried to stop; I did everything I knew to do - including Bible study, prayer and being accountable to a friend - but I kept failing. When I blew it, I would confess my sin and ask God to forgive me, but deep in my heart, I knew I would fall again. I just couldn't stop. I finally got up enough courage to ask a godly older woman for help. She encouraged me to ask God what lies I had been believing. I honestly didn't think I was believing any lies, but when I began to pray about it, God opened my eyes and showed me two major areas where I had been deceived.

Those lies had kept me in bondage for over 10 years! Once I saw the Truth, I repented of believing the lies and asked God to take back the ground I had allowed Satan to have in that area of my life. From that point on I have been totally free from this sin that had such a hold on my life. Plus, God is giving me victory in other areas where I have been tempted in the past. I can't begin to express the joy and freedom I have. The Truth is so incredibly powerful".

Pray that God will show you where you are in bondage, and reveal to you any lies that you are believing and holding you captive. Ask the Lord to show you the Truth so that you can be truly free.

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Laura's Story ~ "I want to yell when I look back upon my high school years and view what became the beginning of a devastating eating disorder. I see the person I was and I want to yell, Stop! There are other choices, other paths to follow! That path was horrible. Please, choose another one! But at that time I was unable to see any other choices. The pressures and situations I was dealing with in my life led me to one path, which at the start seemed harmless. Little did I know the life-controlling, all consuming effects that path would have on me."

Laura gained weight and the peer pressure was devastating to her. "I wanted to lose weight because I believed losing weight would solve my problems." In addition, Laura had to deal with parental pressure, "Are you getting all A's this semester, Laura?" was a typical question from her father. She thought her father would disown her if she got a 'B'.

Laura started going to Overeaters Anonymous. The girls in the group started talking about dieting, eating, laxative abuse, vomiting and other destructive behaviors like cutting. One of the girls became a good friend and bingeing-buddy.

Laura soon became suicidal and engaged in slicing her arms with knives and razors. "I learned about cutting and it seemed like an answer to some of the pain I was feeling. My counselor found out and admitted me to a psychiatric hospital." Laura progressed to a point where she was on 3-4 medications at a time, and her hands would shake as a result. "I was often told I was not fat, but in the mirror I saw a fat person. Everyone looks at me and says, 'what a fatso' or 'she's so ugly' -- they never say it out loud but I know they think it."

Laura was discharged but her battle with bulimia continued. Along with the bulimia she started lying to keep her secret. She reentered counseling and she continued to lie. "I couldn't understand why no one could see the pain I felt. I imagine that I hid it pretty well, continuing to laugh and smile. I knew I was hurting my parents, but what I didn't realize was the damage I was causing myself. I can't live with this agony anymore."

Eventually Laura was forced to call 911 because of intense chest pain brought on by electrolyte imbalances. She thought she was going to die. She dropped out of school and spent months going in and out of hospitals for depression, suicide attempts, and the eating disorder. After trying 15 different medications the doctors suggested ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), commonly known as "shock-therapy". The psychiatrist said, "I don't know what to do with you." Laura had 6-ECT treatments and remembers little.

Laura was at death's door. "I had given my life to Jesus at 15. I knew I needed God, but I always thought that salvation meant that you weren't going to hell. I didn't know that the Holy Spirit could help you overcome." Laura had heard of Mercy Ministries and felt hope rising. She was told that she was salvageable and could be free from the eating disorder. She said, "My first step was to actually believe that help was possible, that nothing was too hard for God, and that He wanted to heal and restore me. Once I made the choice to trust God, I finally realized that the promises in the Bible were true."

"I was ready to replace the lies with the truth - God's truth." And Laura began to think about herself differently, and see herself differently. Six months later Laura left Mercy, free from all medications and free from the torment she had lived all those years. She returned to college and finished her bachelors in education. Then she entered graduate school and got a master's in special education. Laura came full circle! And she knows she is right in the middle of God's plan and purpose for her life.

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