August 12th 2014.
Hi, my name is Nicholle Brainard. I have been in recovery from my eating disorder for 2 years and 8 months.
As a young and impressionable 14 year old I started down a very dangerous path. Comparing myself to those around me and assuming I had to be just like them created a struggle with an eating disorder. It all began as just restricting certain meals. This was the first step to many that landed me in treatment as a 20 year old. My specific case was hard to pin down at times. I was an extremely active person and chose the times I would eat to conceal my problems. I struggled with un diagnosed depression, anxiety, and OCD: all of these exasperated my eating disorder behaviors.
The more my world would get out of control the more I would try and control my body. I listened to all my insecurities and false thinking, I told myself I wasn’t worthy…of anything. My senior year of high school my disorder took a serious turn: I was struggling with heart break, loss of friendships, and instability. My parents sat me down and asked me about my habits. The first wave of emotion I felt was guilt that they had found out I was struggling. The second wave of emotion was anger astreatment was brought to the table of discussion, which scared me. I told them I would stop restricting which I did. I then began a different chapter of my disorder. I would binge and purge when I felt out of control. Due to my body type it was hard to see these habits. They were not as as visible from the outside. Internally, I was screaming for help. Still, through all of this I wasn’t happy. My depression and anxiety were at an all time high my senior year: I began to self harm because I was in a lost and confused black hole. A black hole I thought I would never have the strength to climb out of.
My first year of college I began lifting weights. I was determined to not gain the freshman 15 pounds I was told was inevitable. I didn’t, I lost 15 pounds. I was told I looked amazing and healthy. This fed my disorder because of how I got to that point with my body. For everyone looking at me I was healthy. The second year of college I had a pretty extensive surgery that had me laying on my stomach the 6 months of my recovery. This spun me down into another depth of my disorder. Not able to do anything was killing me. After dropping to 120 pounds I talked with my Mom and Dad. I wanted to put myself into treatment after I finished the spring semester of college. The next couple months I gave into all my habits because I knew I would be going to treatment. This is not what you’re supposed to do, but this is a good example of the kind of irrational thinking I had.
July 5, 2011 I arrived at Remuda Ranch in Chandler, AZ. There are no words to express the bundle of emotions flowing through me at that time. I flew there on a one way ticket not knowing when I would be going back home. I ended up spending 6 weeks at Remuda. The friendships I developed there are some of the strongest and most sincere in my life. We may not talk often but that bond will always be there. I took my first step to fighting this battle. I wish I could say that battle was won there in AZ, but I still had a long road ahead of me.
At Remuda, I was in classes, counseling, cooking, and activities with women just like me. I had never felt more normal and able to be “ME” in my life. One evening a group of us girls decided we wanted to get small tattoos to remind ourselves of the fight we will continue to fight and WIN each day. I had drawn a heart with a black pen on my left wrist since high school. I started to draw it to remind me that even when I don’t love myself that The Lord loves me first and those around me love me. That night in AZ I drew that heart for the last time and had it drawn on permanently. This heart is a constant reminder to: keep fighting, keep loving, and keep living.
I tried transitioning back to life but I was not quite stable enough yet. I placed myself back into treatment in October of 2011 at a hospital in Portland. This program was a day program. I was there for another 6 weeks. When I graduated from the program I finally felt stable. I had the confidence to keep going. I knew what I needed to do each day to love my body. When I left I was able to leave my handprint on the wall as a reminder to not look back except to be reminded of how far I have come.
Now 32 months after I graduated my second treatment program I can confidently say I am in RECOVERY. Do I still struggle? Yes. Do I let it take a hold of me? No. I am a new person. I know who I am and love actually living life not just trying to survive.
I am choosing to THRIVE. I made a commitment to myself to pursue fashion when I was at Remuda. I have since returned to college, graduated with my Associates Degree of Business, and am currently in fashion school. I have opened up an etsy business that has been giving me an outlet for all my creativity. I am also a Sales Associate for Kate Spade New York. I have an amazing supportive husband who has walked through so much with me in the short 2 years of being married.
Upon finishing my Fashion Degree I am going to pursue a career as a Stylist. I still have my dream of being a designer but that dream is on hold until after Jason and I have a family. I have realized timing is key to success. That chapter in my life will come. I am incredibly excited for that chapter but also for each new chapter leading up to that time. For now I am going full speed ahead with Topknots and Pearls. T & P has been an amazing experience for me and I cannot wait to see where I will be in a year.
The Lord has blessed me and is leading me on an amazing life,
a life I almost gave up fighting for.
Lace Dress: TJ Maxx $16.99
Jean Jacket: JC Penney $6.99
Brown Bow Belt: Target $10.00
Cowgirl Boots: Ross Dress for Less $12.99
Turquoise Ring: Forever 21 $3.98