Smashing the Scale: McCall's Recovery Story
This two-part article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com by McCall Dempsey, founder of Southern Smash and author of the blog “Loving Imperfection.” After a 15-year battle with an eating disorder, she is solid in recovery and has made eating disorder awareness and prevention her life's work and passion.
I know what you want to hear: my lowest weight, hospital stays and all the other jaw-dropping facts that the media glorifies to make eating disorders ‘sexy.’
But here is the truth: When I was at my ‘sickest,’ I was the All-American girl sitting next to you. I do not have dangerously low weights to report or any hospital bracelets to prove I was sick. I only have my story of secret struggle and heartache. My story is one that so many relate to, but it is rarely told. Well, that is until I came along.
Present but Not Alive
My eating disorder began in high school, but I remember being uncomfortable in my skin at an early age. What began as ‘cutting back here and there’ quickly became my way of life. Obsession with food and body consumed my every waking thought.
The scale became my daily barometer of self-worth. A cruel voice in my head constantly told me I was ‘just weird’ and ‘crazy’ because I looked ‘normal.’ It said if I ever told anyone what was really going on they would laugh and call me dramatic. The voice said there was no way I had an eating disorder because I was not thin enough. Little did I know at the time, that voice WAS my eating disorder.
I believed that vicious voice in my head and continued through the motions of life: high school, college, sorority, jobs and even marriage. Yes, I was there through it all, but I was not fully awake. I was not alive. For 15 years, I was simply there, a shell of a human being hiding this dark secret behind closed lips and hidden tears.
Reaching out for Help
On July 11, 2009, I confessed my secret to a new friend. Two weeks later I landed in an outpatient center. I was angry, scared and not ready to give up what had become my way of life. But my secret was out and every week I trudged to appointments for the sake of my husband and friend, and somewhere, deep down, I went for me.
After nearly a year and a half of trying to find recovery through weekly therapy appointments, my therapist said I needed a higher level of care. The only way to seek full recovery was to do so in the safe walls of a treatment center.