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The face of addiction

karen farris
Karen Farris is seen here during her battle with anorexia. |

It all began in college. At a time when I should have felt the freedom to enjoy adulthood, I looked critically at the outside of who I was and hated me. Living alone, with no one monitoring me, I could choose how to eat. Or in my case, not to eat.

In an attempt to re-shape myself into what I thought would be a perfect size, I kept up my insane starvation diet.

As I got skinnier and frail, I’d nearly faint from standing too quickly or exerting too much. I know my family was terribly worried—but this was way before eating disorders were even recognized as a mental illness.

I was hospitalized once. My doctor tried to understand my reason for not eating—jotting notes in my chart. Shaking his head, he told me that he wouldn’t make a record of what I said—if anyone looked at my files, there was no need to have this affect my future.  Then the hospital dietician came in. She was grumpy and no nonsense. “Want a burger? Fries? How about a chocolate shake?” She left me without a backward glance when I shook my head no.

I went to my college professor, with his respected doctorate in psychoanalysis from Harvard and I told him what I was doing. He also shook his head, mystified that someone would purposely starve herself when she was already skinny. He bluntly told me to “Stop f…ing with my cells.”

So much for that avenue of help.

I never had a quick fix to escape what I came to learn was anorexia. I never had professional counseling. I relied on the strength of those I loved, and most of all, a quiet peace I began to feel deep inside me.

As I prayed about my thin, broken body, God gently, kindly, and persistently let me know that I would be okay. And that I would be okay the next day, and the next one too. Gradually, the relentless addiction to seek some distorted body image left me. The chain was broken and I was free.

And as God promises—he uses everything for good—I’ve been able to talk to other girls and young women about eating disorders and getting the help that is now more readily available.

At times in our life we can be more vulnerable to addictions—whether alcohol, food, drugs, entertainment, exercise, or even shopping. My self-image addiction tried to fill an empty place that I now know God wanted to fill. I’m thankful I let him in before it was too late.

He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Karen Farris served in the crisis pregnancy ministry — traveling thousands of miles and speaking to over 10,000 students about their life choices — for nearly a dozen years. She became a grant writer and helps find resources for projects that serve those in poverty, mainly children. She's been a blogger since 2010 — Friday Tidings — sharing stories of faith, life, and purpose to give hope in a hurting world.

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