Recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum
A fast and dedicated athlete, Katie began to struggle with her mental health at the age of 17. As a competitive runner, her passion for running led her to a dark place. Over time, Katie started to control her body excessively.
I was told that I looked like a real runner, and for some time, I got away with it, but not for long. I then not only dealt with anorexia, but the range of eating disorders.
At 18, Katie was hospitalized for binge eating disorder. She was not ready for treatment and left the program against medical advice. Her parents further explored treatment options, leading to her second hospitalization.
Katie was recruited to run for a top university, and this round of treatment supported her start. However, she experienced a rapid relapse within the university setting. Taking a medical leave of absence, she returned to treatment, this time more dedicated to the recovery process.
People don’t get better just to get better. They get better because they want to pursue things ranging from work to relationships to activities they enjoy.
Over time, Katie became increasingly grateful for the recovery-orientated care she received. Her primary goal of getting back to running had been narrow-sighted. Katie’s treatment team supported her return to competitive running while encouraging attention to the bigger picture—supporting her in the workplace, returning to school, finding fun in her life, and establishing meaningful relationships.
Recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens in the context of living life. Recovery is possible.
Katie aims to validate the perception that struggling with mental illness is challenging, but there are support systems and tools that one can rely on throughout the recovery process.
Her journey has come with its struggles, including the experience of stigma associated with her mental health diagnosis.
I had a mentor in grad school who commented that people with eating disorders lie a lot. I was also told early on in my professional career that I shouldn’t disclose my mental health history.
Katie found a way to remain in tune with her emotions and did not let the impact of the stigma inhibit her from continuing her journey in recovery.
Her road to recovery empowered her to become a clinical psychologist, becoming an expert in the very struggles that threatened her life.
Now, she works as a local recovery coordinator serving veterans, offering them the tools to pursue their own recoveries. To increase access to mental health care, she passionately delivers group-oriented services.
It helps to be a part of the Deconstructing Stigma campaign because the veterans know that I, too, am in recovery. All the things I teach them are things I apply in my life.
Today, I am grateful for my struggles, knowing that they have uniquely prepared me for my role in helping others to find and thrive in recovery.
Katie believes that Deconstructing Stigma has the powerful ability to help people understand the prevalence of mental illness today and begin to take action toward its mitigation.
It is crucial that further work is done to reduce barriers to accessing mental health care, increase access to essential resources, and eliminate the existing stigmas and their spread as much as possible.
Katie’s experience with mental illness continues to encourage her to support others and help reduce the stigmas associated with mental health.
By sharing her personal story, Katie highlights the need for proper mental health support as one undergoes the recovery journey. She has much gratitude for her parents and clinicians, offering hope and direction to support the creation of a life worth living.
I want to give others what was given to me—the hope, knowledge, and skills to build a life in recovery.
We all have one life to live, and no one should wait to access care.