Alsana St. Louis Client Testimonial - Helena's Story

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“I am beyond content with the life I have the pleasure of living right now, and I attribute this entirely to recovery.” 

My name is Helena. Originally from the D.C. area, I now live, work, and attend school in New Orleans. In my free time, I enjoy nature by going on walks, watching the sunset, and swimming in the ocean. I also love music, photography, and playing lacrosse. I plan to pursue dual degrees in law and social work when I graduate in May.

Being able to tap into my passions and feeling connected to the people and world around me has brought me a great sense of satisfaction and purpose, something I could not have imagined while struggling with an eating disorder. I am beyond content with the life I have the pleasure of living right now, and I attribute this entirely to recovery. 

Before Treatment: Desperate, Numb, Hopeless, Insignificant, Worthless 

I began to struggle in my relationship with food around age 14. At that time, my eating disorder served as my life raft during a period in my life when I felt like I was constantly drowning. My entire life, worth, and identity were wrapped up in eating as little as possible and feeling worthless when I could not attain the unhealthy standards I set for myself. 

For the longest time, I wholeheartedly believed achieving thinness would bring me the sense of happiness and safety I so desperately craved. Though I have great memories of growing up, my childhood was tainted by trauma, abuse, and perfectionistic tendencies. I felt alone with these struggles and the heavy emotions that accompanied them, and this unmet need for support led me to resort to self-hatred and an intensified yet numbing focus on food and my body. 

I considered entering treatment for around a year before taking a leap of faith to really get the level of care and support I needed. I was terrified. It was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, but it was the thing I desperately knew was what I needed and what would be best for me. The happiness that was so elusive when I was pursuing thinness became possible only when I surrendered control and pursued recovery.

Choosing Treatment: Supported, Whole, Reconnected, Authentic, Valued 

The people at Alsana, among other clinicians and loved ones, held hope for me when I had no hope left. 

Alsana’s nutritional and therapeutic approach resonated with me. The intake staff was nothing but supportive and sensitive to my needs, and Alsana offered me with the most individualized and compassionate treatment approach that I really desired. I felt I was able to be part of the process as much as my treatment providers, which made me feel inherently seen and valued as a person beyond my eating disorder. 

Group sessions were everything and more; I felt validated and seen by peers going through similar struggles in a way that I had never been before. Having peer support on the journey to recovery really eased my anxieties about entering and staying in treatment.

The relationships I was able to form with Alsana clients made me feel far less alone in a very difficult process. I am still in contact with a few of my fellow clients from Alsana, and I love hearing about their own personal journeys. Having that support system both in and outside of treatment has been tremendously encouraging.  

I would say the majority of my treatment experience was a struggle between wanting recovery and being afraid to let go of my eating disorder. I felt like giving up countless times, and I definitely did have my struggles throughout treatment. Above all, though, the support and therapeutic insights I gained from this experience helped me channel motivation to recover and really prioritize recovery in my life outside of treatment. 

After Treatment: Inspired, Connected, Grateful, Ambitious, Loved

Before treatment, I viewed my body as something that constantly needed to be fixed. I blamed my body’s appearance for all the misfortunes in my life and felt that my worth directly revolved around what my body looked like. Today, I know my worth lies far beyond my body’s physical appearance. I take care of my body and view it as the vessel that carries the qualities that make me the valuable human I am. 

Currently, I am studying Political Science and Health & Wellness with a minor in Psychology at Tulane University. I’ve gone from being someone who used eating disorders as coping mechanisms, to co-founder of a student organization called Tulane for Every Body – a group that promotes advocacy, self-compassion, body inclusion and which has given me a community that helps me embrace my recovery while navigating life’s triggers.

The spontaneity and flexibility that recovery has given me feel instinctive for me at this point. On days when I struggle to feel connected or secure, I remind myself of how far I have come and keep going.

I would definitely recommend Alsana to anyone who even remotely wants to heal their relationship with themselves, food, and their body. The community and clinicians at Alsana all understand the deeply rooted issues that contribute to the development of an eating disorder. The individual attention, empathy, and compassion that is held for each and every client instilled hope in me before I even had it for myself. 

Something I wish I could go back and tell myself is to stop fighting the process. Had I never stepped foot in Alsana for treatment, I do not think I would be at the place I am today. 

That feeling of not being “sick enough” for treatment comes from the part of you that doubts whether you have the strength to recover, but you do. It is so easy to believe something you have yet to experience is impossible. Recovery is hard; I won’t sugarcoat it. But eating disorder recovery is possible and perhaps the most rewarding thing you will ever do. 

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