Stories and Reflections from Sharon Mathiason

Testimonials from Funding Recipients

I cannot ever express the gratitude I have for you (Sharon), your daughter (Jenn), and everyone involved with Moonshadow's Spirit.  I really believe that you helped to save my life because I was so unhealthy and was much sicker than I realized. I now have the tools to control my urges and I feel so much better than I have in years.  I could not have gone to Rain Rock if it wasn't for Moonshadow's Spirit. - Sarah Gowdy

Personal Story: Sarah's Story

Since the age of seven I had been overweight. Traumatic events and family issues affected me greatly and led to an emotional attachment to food. I gained weight and, at the age of 23, was medically obese. I decided on gastric bypass surgery. I attended classes and knew that I needed to heal my stomach by eating soft foods, initially, and continuing with healthy choices and small portions, but the urge to eat the foods I loved took over.

Personal Story: Make It Happen

I am not an expert on eating disorders, or an expert on anything really. I don’t speak or write on this topic regularly. I was friends with Jenn, and I had my own experience with an eating disorder, so that’s what I’m going to share with you.

When I think about Jenn, I feel so sad. I feel the weight of what this illness can do, how it can seize someone and cause an implosion. When you see individuals who have starved themselves, you see it from the outside. You see the body, wasted. But that’s just the consequence – the real illness is all in the head, the heart, the soul.

Mental Illness? My Daughter?

Jennifer entered residential treatment for her eating disorder in June of 2005.  While she was away, I remember apologizing to our minister for not focusing on my responsibilities for a church committee.  He said, “Of course you can’t focus.  Your daughter is in a mental institution.”  I was shocked at his words because I never thought of my daughter as having a mental illness.  She was getting treatment for an eating disorder.  I didn’t quite know what that treatment involved, but I was quite sure it wasn’t a mental illness!

The Chase

How do you describe the mind of someone with an eating disorder?  Jennifer eloquently described the battle within in her online journal.  She wrote this as she slowly sank into despair.  It was written one month prior to her attempt at recovery in a partial hospitalization program and sixteen months prior to successful recovery after residential treatment.

Wednesday February 4, 2004 2:48am 

Claire's Story (Diabulimia)

This is the personal story of a young woman with Type 1 Diabetes AND an eating disorder.  Claire, a friend of our namesake, Moonshadow (Jenn), shares her personal struggle.  Claire lives in Great Britain, and her criticism is directed at that country’s health care system. However, as long as the DSM criteria doesn’t recognize “Diabulimia”, there is no reason to expect a different response anywhere.

I Get So Frustrated (and Why We Will March)

“I get so frustrated with people sometimes. Not for lack of sympathy or love from the people I’m close to, but just because I know that there is a large part of me that they absolutely will never, ever understand.  I want so badly to be understood by the people I love, to make them understand just how bad it was.  Perhaps I thought that if I looked sick enough, or acted out of control enough, someone would finally get it.  Unable to articulate this madness of spirit inside of me, I tried to manifest it, to become it, even.”

The Moonshadow Story

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”  This quote from Bansky (a graffiti artist from Bristol, England) was probably intended to show he would “live” forever.  But if you are a parent who has lost a child, these words have a much deeper meaning.

Why Will I March?

On September 30 I will be in Washington, DC and will join others to March Against Eating Disorders.  Honestly, I’m afraid to march.  My Jenn is gone, and carrying a poster with her photo will be extremely difficult.  I know there will be many mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends of others who have died.  Seeing their grief will invariably make me cry for I understand it all too well.  I will also completely understand the feeling of those mothers who have fought, or continue to fight, the battle with their child’s eating disorder.  I have thought long and hard about why I would do this t

Gretchen Died in May

I didn't know Gretchen, but I know that Jenn knew her.  She was, like Jenn, a member of an online support group for those with eating disorders.  I felt the devastating effects of her death as I read the Facebook posts from other members of that same group.  And though I didn't know her, I cried.

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