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2023 – Kambree Theener – HWRA – Altamont HS

Jan 20, 2023

Figuring Out How to Live and Not Just Survive Amid Life’s Challenges

Throughout all of my high school years I have struggled with an eating disorder and depression. In 8th grade, when I was 14 years old, is when it started. I had spent my whole childhood feeling as though I was larger than all the other girls and it continued through junior high. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and decided I was going to lose weight. My lack of knowledge and immaturity took me to the extremes. I knew it was unhealthy but in my mind I was only not going to eat for two weeks. Little did I know it would take me on a journey that I’m still on to this day. My unhealthy cycle of not eating for days and then one day eating an unhealthily large amount continued for months. Right up to the week before my freshman year was about to start. At this point I knew I had a problem. I chose to confide in my sister who was about to be a senior. She ended up telling my parents what I had told her. Immediately they took me to my doctor and got me into counseling. Despite the help I was then getting, I continued to get worse. I got kicked out of my counseling center and they recommended residential treatment. My parents began to consider this when they saw that my health was severely declining. In a last attempt before that, my doctor prescribed me anti-depressants. At first it was alright, but then things took a turn for the worse. I began to feel numb. Suicidal thoughts flooded my mind. I told my parents right away. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. At this point I turned to food for comfort and developed a mix of bulimia and a binge eating disorder. I was gaining weight, so my parents, who were trying to take care of my family while dealing with breast cancer, thought that everything was fixed. That was not the case. The suicidal thoughts were getting so much worse to the point were I was going to act on those thoughts. Then, all of a sudden a virus that seemingly came out of nowhere, shut school down. That became my saving grace. With everything being on lockdown because of covid, I was able to find a routine that helped me so much. I went outside everyday and connected with nature. In my town businesses didn’t have to shut down, so I was able to work at my grandma’s store. Talking with people everyday was so uplifting. I found that I loved seeing people smile and having conversations with them. Somehow things got better for me. I still struggled, but now I was living, not just surviving. When my sophomore year started, I was no longer struggling with anorexia, a binge eating disorder, or suicidal thoughts. Bulimia still had its hold on me, but I was happy for the first time in a long time. I reconnected with my friends, went to all the school events, and played softball that year. My junior year I started going to my local addiction recovery meeting for bulimia and disordered eating. Depression thoughts still plagued my mind everyday but I was still able to see the good in life. I was able to see that everyday is full of little moments that make being alive so worth it. As of now, I am almost eleven months purge (bulimia) free. My depression has been harder to manage this year, but I still work hard to find the good in each day. Going outside and connecting with nature is how I cope the best. At times when I’m struggling I drive to the mountains and go for hikes. Everyday I make sure I go outside and walk for a mile to move my body. I still love to talk with people. Being able to make someone smile helps me out more than it helps them, I’m sure of it. Looking outside of myself and helping others is something that helps as well. Finding anyone in need of a little help each day somehow lifts some of the weight on my shoulders. I’ve struggled a lot through high school, but I’m grateful for it. It has opened my eyes to notice other people who are struggling that need help. You never know what someone is going through. We always need to all be kind and help anyone in need.

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