Ali - Moonshadow's Spirit Success Story

  Hi, I'm Ali from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Moonshadow’s Spirit came into my life in August 2016. Because they helped me, I wanted to share my story to bring hope, to help others not feel alone and turn to the path of recovery.
 I have struggled with anorexia most of my adult life, I'm 38 now. My anorexia and mental illness started around the age of 22. Yes, that sounds weird to many. I was almost finished with college and well past adolescence. How could this happen? Many things were going on in my life. I moved out of state to Austin, Texas. I missed family and friends and fell into depression. I was in an isolated relationship that turned into an emotionally abusive one. I was having severe stomach issues and anxiety. With all these things going on, I felt as though I had no control of my future or how I was feeling mentally and physically. So I started engaging in eating disorder behaviors and drinking. 
I always felt I had to be perfect, growing up in an alcoholic home, so I never told anyone about my struggles. I hid my depression with sleeping, started drinking to ease my anxiety, restricted food and over exercised to ease my stomach issues and to become numb mentally and physically. These became my coping mechanisms to feel in control while inside I was struggling. This became my way of life.
At 26 I married the same man I had been with. When my husband went to ask my parents to marry me they thought he was coming to talk about my weight. He told them I was fine but we were drinking a lot. He became my partner in crime. Things got worse and the two of us became isolated.  Our lives consisted of work, eating disorder behaviors, OCD behaviors, drinking, and exercise. My anxiety became extremely high and I started having panic attacks when my husband was gone. Finally things got so bad that my parents got involved and engaged doctors. 
At age 27 I went to inpatient treatment for anorexia. I went to a place in St. Louis, Missouri for two months. It was a house with about eight women with eating disorders. At first I thought the place was crazy and I wasn’t convinced I had an eating disorder. Soon I came to love it there and I met some great women. 
After returning home, my husband asked for a divorce. He told me he was fine with me having an eating disorder but he couldn't handle the drinking. So I moved back to Tulsa and moved in with my sister and niece. At the time I was basically white knuckling it. I had no insurance; I was not on any of my medications, and I was drinking to cope. Things started to get pretty dark but family came back into my life. For the next few years my drinking took over and masked my eating disorder and mental illness. 
Something had to change! So in 2010 I got sober; the first year was hard but great. Then slowly the eating disorder started to prevail and my life was sober but consumed with eating disorder behaviors: exercising, isolating and hiding, OCD rituals, panic, and depression. It didn't help I was living with a pothead boyfriend who was emotionally not there. So I would stay out all night walking around neighborhoods like a zombie. I was no longer there mentally or physically. I wasn't suicidal but I was really okay if I never woke up.
 I didn't get help again until my mom and stepdad moved back from North Carolina; they got me hooked up with a therapist and I eventually moved in with them. I started seeing two therapists who saved my life. I worked real hard to get on disability, and I did due to anorexia and OCD. Now I finally had insurance and was able to see doctors and psychiatrists. I finally got on medication for depression and anxiety. My life consisted of therapy, doctor visits and eating disorder behaviors. My support team was really proud of the work I was putting in, but I just couldn't get the eating part down. I think they wanted me to go to inpatient treatment but I was in denial of how serious my anorexia was. 
I briefly recovered but that fell apart after my biological dad died in 2013. After he passed, although I was still in therapy and seeing doctors regularly I thought I was ready to go on with my life. I moved out of my parent’s house thinking things would get better if I had my own place where everything could be safe and perfect for my OCD and anorexia. Boy was I wrong! Things got worse; my weight kept dropping, my depression was horrible, and my anxiety was heightened. I was so tired of trying I just wished I wouldn’t wake up one day. 
In 2016 my outpatient team finally convinced me to go to inpatient treatment. They were so proud of all my hard work in therapy, but they couldn't get me to eat. So to please them I went to inpatient treatment in California. My choices were limited due to having Medicare. I went and stayed maybe two weeks. I thought they didn't know what they were doing, it was like a psych ward, it wasn't up to my cleaning OCD standards, and so on; my eating disorder was trying find reasons to leave. So I did! 
That didn't last long, I got worse at home and broke my leg. I was so tired of this life so I went back to California in August 2016 for myself, not to please my outpatient team and family. I had a different experience and motivation to get help. Was it hard yes, was it perfect no, did it save my life YES! I was there around three weeks due to insurance. I had a lot of work to do back home but I did it! I returned to my outpatient team that I still see on a regular basis. 
I'm really lucky to be living and really don't know how I made it. But I do know recovery is so much better than living in consent fear, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, isolation, and self hate. Is recovery hard, hell yes! I didn't realize how hard it would be. Do I still struggle at times yes. But recovery is so worth it. I finally have a life. I'm involved with friends; I didn't have friends when active in my eating disorder. I'm a part of my family again, and not just someone they worry is dying. I have hobbies and am involved in the community. I actually went to my 20th high school reunion and wasn't on that list of ones who passed. I hope you don't relate to my story, but if you do please remember it is not ever too late to seek help! You too can have a life again! Recovery is so worth it, you are worth it!