me, O Lord, and I will healed. Rescue me, and I will rescued. You are
the one I praise. -- Jeremiah 17:14
Richardson, now 42, started the downward spiral of anorexia and bulimia
a month and a half after she married at age 24-about the time she rededicated
her life to God. At 5 feet 4 1/2 inches, Sandy went from a healthy weight
of 128 pounds to 98 pounds.
"Through treatment, I realized my eating disorder was my way of trying
to keep my husband's love," she says. "I thought if I could
look good on the outside, he would never look on the inside and see the
ugliness there: a past of alcohol abuse and promiscuity."
Once she started losing weight, Sandy received praise from her husband,
Scott, and coworkers in the Air Force. Almost everyone she encountered
seemed to equate being thin with being healthy.
As a military
couple, Sandy and Scott moved frequently. She worked 14- and 15-hour days
and didn't always see him at meal times. When they did eat together, Sandy
ate a normal meal and forced herself to throw it up soon afterward.
"I had never heard of anorexia or bulimia," she says, "so
I didn't know I had a problem. To me, it was dieting-self-control-and
that was a good thing. But the vomiting? I thought it was disgusting."
emotional distress, Sandy's limited food intake and purging took a physical
toll on her body. She had no energy, a weak immune system and ear and
kidney infections. Her menstrual cycle also disappeared. Doctors attributed
Sandy's poor health to stress and said they'd treat her as problems appeared.
as Sandy flipped through a Christian magazine, comparing herself to everyone
on its pages, she came across an ad for Remuda Ranch, a Christian treatment
center for teen and adult women with eating disorders.
Remuda and learning more about the battle she had fought for 13 years,
Sandy started treatment and stayed at Remuda for 72 days. "My time
at Remuda turned out to be a life-changing event. I felt unconditional
love and acceptance for the first time," she says. "I learned
who God is and what His nature is really like. It changed me completely."
Sandy's road to recovery wasn't an easy one, but through the course of
several years she became well, both emotionally and physically. She and
Scott, along with their two teen daughters, live in Wickenburg, Ariz.,
not far from Remuda Ranch, where Sandy now works as executive director
of the Remuda Foundation. Courtesy "Focus on the
It's not just a
'girls' problem ~
now 32, also knows the transformation and healing God can bring to a person
with disordered eating. As a 10th-grader, Chris enjoyed playing sports
and was well-liked at school and church. He always felt accepted and comfortable
with who he was. But when his parents moved their family from California
to Colorado, Chris was devastated and suddenly became very concerned about
his weight. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds when he
started his bout with bulimia. "My response to the move was, 'I can't
control where I'm going to be, but I can control my eating, my food and
my weight.' I was trying to make new friends and fit in with a new youth
group, and my eating habits became very strange," he says. "I didn't eat
breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I'd snack voraciously after school. My
parents didn't notice the change because I was at school all day, and
I worked four nights a week."
school, this self-described perfectionist attended college and participated
in an internship as a youth pastor. And all the while, his pattern of
skipping meals and bingeing continued. Instead of purging by vomiting,
Chris purged with exercise. He dropped to 130 pounds-not a life-threatening
weight, but certainly unhealthy. "When I was working at McDonald's, I'd
sometimes eat six or seven cheeseburgers, six or seven boxes of chocolate
chip cookies, drink lots of soda and then top it all off with two apple
pies," he says. "If I wasn't at work, I'd buy a gallon of ice cream and
eat the whole thing. That's a lot of ice cream! "I tried to throw up,
but I could never do it. I'd get frustrated with myself and would exercise
even more. We're talking insane amounts of exercise!
I'd run five
miles down the street, run back, play a couple games of basketball, run
another couple miles and then go for a long, hard bike ride." Chris' mentor
confronted him twice about his eating habits, and Chris agreed to see
a counselor. But after three visits, he decided to forgo the counseling
and allow God to deal with him directly. "I asked Him to help me stop,"
Chris says. "I think my walk with the Lord increased at that point because
I was trusting Him to help me. I'd try to eat three meals and not eat
at other times. I'd do well for a couple of weeks and then totally blow
it. But by the time I was 26, my continual struggle to eat properly was
over." -- Courtesy "Focus on the Family"
I want to share a story from "Lies Women Believe"
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, because I have seen this over and over with women
"I tried and tried to stop; I did everything I knew
to do - including Bible study, prayer and being accountable to a friend
- but I kept failing. When I blew it, I would confess my sin and ask God
to forgive me, but deep in my heart, I knew I would fall again. I just
couldn't stop. I finally got up enough courage to ask a godly older woman
for help. She encouraged me to ask God what lies I had been believing.
I honestly didn't think I was believing any lies, but when I began to
pray about it, God opened my eyes and showed me two major areas where
I had been deceived.
Those lies had kept me in bondage for over 10 years! Once
I saw the Truth, I repented of believing the lies and asked God to take
back the ground I had allowed Satan to have in that area of my life. From
that point on I have been totally free from this sin that had such a hold
on my life. Plus, God is giving me victory in other areas where I have
been tempted in the past. I can't begin to express the joy and freedom
I have. The Truth is so incredibly powerful".
Pray that God will show you where you are in bondage,
and reveal to you any lies that you are believing and holding you captive.
Ask the Lord to show you the Truth so that you can be truly free.
"I want to yell when I look back upon my high school years and
view what became the beginning of a devastating eating disorder. I see
the person I was and I want to yell, Stop! There are other choices,
other paths to follow! That path was horrible. Please, choose another
one! But at that time I was unable to see any other choices. The pressures
and situations I was dealing with in my life led me to one path, which
at the start seemed harmless. Little did I know the life-controlling,
all consuming effects that path would have on me."
gained weight and the peer pressure was devastating to her. "I
wanted to lose weight because I believed losing weight would solve my
problems." In addition, Laura had to deal with parental pressure,
"Are you getting all A's this semester, Laura?" was a
typical question from her father. She thought her father would disown
her if she got a 'B'.
started going to Overeaters Anonymous. The girls in the group started
talking about dieting, eating, laxative abuse, vomiting and other destructive
behaviors like cutting. One of the girls became a good friend and bingeing-buddy.
soon became suicidal and engaged in slicing her arms with knives and razors.
"I learned about cutting and it seemed like an answer to some
of the pain I was feeling. My counselor found out and admitted me to a
psychiatric hospital." Laura progressed to a point where she
was on 3-4 medications at a time, and her hands would shake as a result.
"I was often told I was not fat, but in the mirror I saw a fat person.
Everyone looks at me and says, 'what a fatso' or 'she's so ugly' -- they
never say it out loud but I know they think it."
was discharged but her battle with bulimia continued. Along with the bulimia
she started lying to keep her secret. She reentered counseling and she
continued to lie. "I couldn't understand why no one could see
the pain I felt. I imagine that I hid it pretty well, continuing to laugh
and smile. I knew I was hurting my parents, but what I didn't realize
was the damage I was causing myself. I can't live with this agony anymore."
Laura was forced to call 911 because of intense chest pain brought on
by electrolyte imbalances. She thought she was going to die. She dropped
out of school and spent months going in and out of hospitals for depression,
suicide attempts, and the eating disorder. After trying 15 different medications
the doctors suggested ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), commonly known
as "shock-therapy". The psychiatrist said, "I don't
know what to do with you." Laura had 6-ECT treatments and remembers
was at death's door. "I had given my life to Jesus at 15. I knew
I needed God, but I always thought that salvation meant that you weren't
going to hell. I didn't know that the Holy Spirit could help you overcome."
Laura had heard of Mercy
Ministries and felt hope rising. She was told that she was salvageable
and could be free from the eating disorder. She said, "My first
step was to actually believe that help was possible, that nothing was
too hard for God, and that He wanted to heal and restore me. Once I made
the choice to trust God, I finally realized that the promises in the Bible
was ready to replace the lies with the truth - God's truth."
And Laura began to think about herself differently, and see herself differently.
Six months later Laura left Mercy, free from all medications and free
from the torment she had lived all those years. She returned to college
and finished her bachelors in education. Then she entered graduate school
and got a master's in special education. Laura came full circle! And she
knows she is right in the middle of God's plan and purpose for her life.