I was only about a week shy of my fifteenth birthday when I was formally diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. A week after that birthday, I was emitted to CHOP to begin refeeding and treatment. Throughout the next five years, I struggled to fully recover from my eating disorder.

I relapsed twice. My weight was never truly stable. I dabbled in other disordered eating and compulsive exercise behaviors. I abused my body. I stunted my growth. I lost my period and compromised by reproductive abilities. I was formally diagnosed with osteoporosis at only twenty years old after fracturing both of my femoral heads and pelvis while running.

No matter how difficult things got, I never gave up fighting for my physical and mental health. I am proud to announce that I have now officially been recovered for one whole year. Although I still have that nagging voice that lingers in the back of my mind and I consciously have to choose recovery every day, it gets easier as time goes on. My thoughts and feelings around my body image, exercise, and food are maturing as I continue to discover my healthy balance.

Anorexia nervosa (along with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder later down the road) took a very physical and mental toll on me, and I know they have done and currently are doing the same to many others. Unfortunately, eating disorders will continue to affect even more people throughout the future. It is because of these reasons that I find the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) to be so important.

ANAD has a mission to support individuals and family members affected by eating disorders. The organization provides support groups, mentors, and educational resources for schools and communities. Through its programs, ANAD promotes recover and aims to improve body image, acceptance, and positivity.

This year, I am helping to raise money for ANAD through two events at West Chester University. At both of these events, I will be sharing my story and explaining how anorexia nervosa (along with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder) affected my life.

Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that the reason I went through the struggles I did with my eating disorders was so I can raise awareness of what they are, the consequences, and motivate others to keep fighting. I know that the statement is kind of cliche, but it's true, so I am going to say it anyway: recovery is worth it!

If you are or know someone who may be struggling with an eating disorder, please don't be afraid to ask for help. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. For more information, check out the ANAD or NEDA websites.

Also, feel free to check out and follow my Instagram page @fightforlifelauren to see what my life is like in recovery (but mostly just pictures of the food I eat with recipes).