Over 30 million people in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder, with about 10 million of those being men, and over 70% not seeking treatment due to stigma. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we have ‘disordered eating’, rather, we justify it as dieting. Over the years, our perception and standard of beauty and health has become incredibly skewed by mainstream media. Prioritizing health is something we all should do but it can become detrimental when done in an obsessive and excessive way.
My name is Ashley Hooman, I am a 22-year-old female who has been struggling with anorexia since I was 11 years old. It started off as a ploy to get more active and improve my overall health. Sounds harmless, right? Not exactly. I started dance, primarily ballet, at a very young age, and I attribute my early onset battles of self-image and self-confidence to that. After a brief effort of trying to “eat healthy” I realized that the less I ate, the faster I would lose weight. It became a vicious cycle of restricting my intake to get to a specific goal weight, and then resuming my normal eating. This would result in regaining weight and restricting again. Things took a turn for the worse, and I found myself locked away in an eating disorder inpatient rehab clinic. That in itself was another nasty cycle of admission, discharge, relapse, and readmission. A new study shows about one in three women treated for an eating disorder experience a relapse within two years after being discharged from the hospital.
After my third relapse and the threat of being admitted again, I finally had enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. This is when I decided to shift my focus from dying to be skinny to becoming strong. I begged my parents and medical team to give me a chance to prove that I could overcome this once and for all. They were reluctant but gave me one shot to show that I was taking my recovery serious. I stumbled upon a few eating disorder recovery accounts on social media, mainly Instagram, and was inspired to create my own. Here I found support, inspiration, and most important – accountability. The path to recovery was and is still not easy. I had many hiccups on my road to regaining my life back.
My obsession with becoming skinny slowly turned into a passion for health and wellness. I started to educate myself on proper nutrition and began to fuel my body appropriately. Under medical supervision, I began to restore my body weight to a healthy level and was cleared to exercise. I quickly discovered a newfound love for fitness and continued to share my life and recovery with my social media followers. Throughout my recovery, I have had countless men and women reach out to me and say that my persistence in doing this on my own has inspired them to finally put their health and recovery first.
One of the main reasons my recovery was successful was due to the fact that I was under the care of an amazing physician. After countless encounters with doctors who treated me as just a chart, not a person, my faith and trust of those in our healthcare system diminished. I finally was put in front of a woman who not only cared about me as a person, but truly went above and beyond to provide me with the best care possible. Unlike most physicians I had come in contact with, she believed in me and supported me every step of the way. Having a doctor who listens and truly cares about your wellbeing can be the difference between recovery and relapse. Here at Connected Health, we believe in creating a deeper, more meaningful doctor patient relationship. Under the care of Dr. Andrew DeMarco, your concerns will not only be addressed, but you will feel as though he is getting to know you as a person and not just your ailments. We strive to provide you with the most personalized and constant care so that we can ensure your health and well-being gets catapulted in the right direction, just as mine did.
Recovery looks different for everyone, and while I still deal with lingering thoughts, I no longer act on them. I am focused on building my body up instead of tearing it down and am determined to spread awareness about the dangers and reality of eating disorders.