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Third Time's a Charm


By: Alexa Ercolano

If you met me three years ago, you would see a completely different person. Emaciated, colored with bruises, tired: I was a ghost of the woman I am today, a mere suggestion of a human being. I was slowly killing myself and I didn’t care, so long as I was thin while doing it.

When my 5”5 body fell to 100 pounds in 2010, I was pulled out of college and hospitalized for two months, spending part of the time inpatient and the other part in a halfway house on the hospital’s campus. It’s likely that that saved my life, and soon I was maintaining a healthy weight and eating regularly without acting on old behaviors. I managed to stay in recovery for over a year before relapsing in 2011, and it quickly was as though the eating disorder had never left. All my hard work was gone; I was back in its bony clutches, sick as I was before. I felt hopeless, like I had failed.

Relapse, however, does not make anyone a failure – including me. Instead, it presents a chance to recommit to recovery and return stronger. With help from my family, I got back into treatment in the summer of 2012 and refocused myself, although it didn’t last very long: that winter brought about yet another relapse. I was doing poorly and acting out in other self-destructive ways, spiraling out of control. My family staged an intervention on January 3, 2013, threatening to financially cut me off if I didn’t go to treatment and get my act together. I chose treatment, and by January 4th I was on a plane to Arizona.

While I was there I did a lot of soul-searching and reality checking. I knew that if I were to continue on the path I was on, my life would be dedicated to my self-destructive behaviors rather than to myself, and I could not let that happen. I’d be cutting my life short, cheating myself of all the wonderful things that are waiting for me, like a career and a family of my own. I’ve realized that my life is a life worth saving, and that I’m the only one who can do it.

I’m not ashamed of how many times I’ve been in treatment; I see it as a testament to my commitment to health and well-being. It’s all what you make of it, really. If you’re in a relapse, always seek help – whether it’s treatment, therapy, a support group, a friend – so that you’re able to get back on track and realize why recovery is worthwhile. Because it is always, always worthwhile, and it’s never too late to recommit to your health.

Alexa Ercolano is a blogger and avid cat-lover. Her recovery-focused blog, 42nd Chance, can be found at