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Courage Emerges

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I thought I knew pain. I thought I knew disappointment. What I failed to understand was the suffering that can evolve from such pain and disappointment. Each day was a challenge, first running through the pain of shin splints, followed by a struggle with a hip injury, and eventually being confronted with knee trauma, which forced me to end my running career, at least temporarily. To the best of my knowledge at that point, the toughest situation I would ever face was the absence of the love of my life: running.

During the following months, I felt as if I was coping with the most grueling challenge that would ever test me. Unfortunately, and to the horror of those around me, I was absolutely incorrect.

The most terrifying words I have ever heard anyone speak to me: “You are very ill, you need to go into the hospital. Your heart is not strong enough to support your body much longer in its current condition.” These words cut deeply, lashing both my parents and me. At that point, I came to the realization that I had harmed myself more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. The nurse practitioner held nothing back: “You have Anorexia Nervosa.”

After being immediately admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital, I spent the next weeks there recuperating and strengthening my heart through nourishment and rest. After I was told that shocking news, I made up my mind. I would do whatever it took to restore my health. I had not been aware that I was restricting my food intake to the extent that the doctors diagnosed, but it clearly began as an obsession with eating healthy while I was running. When sidelined from this passion of mine, the portions I was eating gradually decreased in size until they were no longer substantial enough to maintain my body and activity level.

I was released from the hospital when my heart was stabilized to a point at which it was strong enough to provide my body with the necessary blood and oxygen. I was given a plan to continue getting the nourishment I needed to become healthy again. From that point on, I was determined to beat this terrible, insidious disorder.

Challenges often bring out the best traits in a person, as my disorder did for me. As a result of my recovery, I have proven what I, and my family and friends, always knew about me. I am strong. The mental and physical pain I suffered through as a part of my recovery is reduced due to the great deal of determination that I have discovered I possess. I am healthy now, and believe that I have experienced enough pain and disappointment to last me for a vast portion of my life. I refuse to let anything bring me down again.

What can anyone anticipate to learn from an illness? The best outcome that anyone can expect from such a merciless and omnipresent disease has revealed itself to me. I have now answered that question for myself: I know for sure that this is a truly positive life-changing experience. This journey taught me that I can overcome pain, disappointment, and any other challenges that I am forced to confront. In the presence of such suffering, my true willpower, strength, optimism, and courage have been given the chance to emerge and expose themselves to the world.





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