Statistics of individuals with eating disorders among Latter-Day Saints is significantly higher than non-members. Why is this? I feel it is because as members we hold ourselves to a higher standard, we strive to become perfect. Unfortunately media and society connect perfection with being thin and obtaining a flawless body. There are also messages which associate sin with eating certain foods. Have you heard advertisements of “guilt-free, fat-free ice-cream” or statements of “I’m going to be naughty and eat cookies,” or “chocolate is my guilty pleasure?”
As a teen I wanted to be perfect, these messages became entwined with my desire to be faithful and worthy in the gospel.
These associations and my drive to be righteous in all aspects helped to create the deadly disease of Anorexia Nervosa. After a year of extreme deprivation I weighed a mere 85 pounds (I was nearly 5’10” tall at the time) when I was admitted into the hospital.
I no longer knew who I was or how to feed or bathe myself. My mother stayed in the facility completing these tasks for me. My brain, liver, kidney, and other organs began to die. I could no longer speak coherently, and was completely psychotic. The doctors prepared my family for my inevitable death.
The chance of survival was gloom, but the probability that my mind would return to normal functioning was never expected. By a miracle resulting after priesthood blessings, fasts, and many prayers I did survive and my mind and body healed to a full recovery.
My incredible story not only demonstrates the power of prayer and the priesthood but teaches us that we need to remember the Savior’s ability.
I was trying to save myself. I thought I had to become perfect on my own. Even though my relationship with Jesus was strong and pure in regards to Him being my friend, my eternal brother, someone I knew understood and loved me completely, and my Savior who redeemed me from my sins, I didn’t understand or apply His ability to be my teammate— a partner that would fill in my deficit. I needed to internalize this principal, that the demand for perfection on my own was not expected but only required as becoming one with the Lord Jesus Christ before I could fully heal.
My sincerest prayer now as a survivor of anorexia is for youth and adults to gain this understanding along with knowing their divine worth. I know becoming one with Christ and feeling the value He sees in us will help us heal from not only eating disorders, but other mental disorders and addictions.