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CBN.com "I remember sitting in a room with my mother and the doctor, and he looked at me and in all seriousness said, 'You need to prepare yourself that this is what your life is going to be like. You're going to be in and out of hospitals for the rest of your life. Eating disorders are not curable. Depression is not curable,' " Laura Schultz recalls.
Laura Schultz was a classic overachiever. She graduated at the top of her class, was active in her community, and was even a mentor in her church. But what people didn't know was that Laura was using her outward successes to cover up her inward insecurities.
"At a very young age I turned to food for comfort," she says. "It was fulfilling. It was an escape. I didn't notice the world around me if I was eating."
Laura found that food numbed her pain and eased her depression. But as she watched her body double in size, her insecurities and self-hatred intensified.
"My family tried to be encouraging, telling me, 'You're still beautiful.' They tried to help, but I knew that I didn't like who I was, and I had transferred not liking myself physically into not liking myself at all in anyway," she says.
So Laura thought that if she could just loose the weight, then she would be happy. But that seemed impossible. Food was her addiction, her vice.
Then a friend explained how Laura could loose weight while eating as much as she wanted.
The first time Laura forced herself to throw up she says she remembers thinking, There is something just innately wrong with this, and I'm never going to do it again. I'm just going to do it this one time because I've eaten way too much.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen the way Laura had planned -- one time turned into a 10-times-a-day habit.
"I can remember being in college and living in the dorm, and my roommate would go home on the weekends and leave me there in the dorm. I would just take the phone off the hook and binge and purge and then take laxatives."
Laura took the phone off the hook because she says she didn't want to be interrupted.
"I didn't have to think about my classes, my family, my emotions. I didn't have to think about anything but the food that was in front of me. If the phone rang, it was like a wake-up call back to reality," says Laura.
'Reality' was thousands of dollars spent on therapists. 'Reality' was three failed suicide attempts. 'Reality' was facing the fact that her life was totally out of control.
"One night I had taken about 45 laxatives, and the next morning when I got up to get ready for class, I remember getting into the shower. The next thing I remember was waking up on the floor covered in vomit. I had thrown up and passed out and was just a mess," she recalls. "I just remember feeling so shameful that I had done this to myself and so embarrassed. I knew at this point I really needed help, but there really wasn't anywhere to go for help."
Laura admits to feeling like she was living a lie.
"That year I was very involved in living a Christian life, yet, on the side, engaging in these horrible self-destructive behaviors. I knew that it was wrong, but I didn't know how to stop."
As a last resort, Laura checked herself into a girl's home called Mercy Ministries.
"This place is all about God," she says. "All the counseling was straight from the Bible. My counselor didn't even really deal with the food stuff because she was more interested in dealing with the root causes and things that were underneath. They told me up front, 'This is your choice. If you want to throw up you can. There is no physical way anyone will ever be able to stop you. But you have to decide that you want this and learn to come to us when you're struggling, and we will pray with you and we will help you. But bottom line, it is your choice.'
Being personally accountable for her decisions helped Laura greatly.
"I think giving me back that responsibility helped me be able to let go of that 'victim mentality' of I have no control; this is just something happening to me," she explains. "It turned into 'This is something I can work on. God's going to help me through this.' "
"I never knew to cry out to God in the time of struggle," Laura continues. "I didn't realize that He was right there with me all the time. I felt like I had become a big failure in that I couldn't go to God because I had messed up so badly."
But God met Laura right where she was and gave her what no doctor, therapist, or medication could give her -- freedom!
Laura says there were two keys to her healing and deliverance.
"One of them was choice, knowing that I had a choice and taking responsibility, realizing that no one ever put a gun to my head and forced me to throw up, and no one was ever going to put a gun to my head and force me to stop. I think the second thing that was so life changing was realizing who I was in Christ. I researched Scripture after Scripture on who I was in Christ, and I wrote them down on cards. I said them out loud every day: 'I'm fully loved, completely accepted, totally pleasing to God. I am the redeemed. I am the beloved. I am the apple of His eye. I am a princess. I have a destiny. I have a future.' I mean, when you start saying that out loud every day, your life just begins to change."
Today Laura is a completely different person. She's free from bulimia, depression, and thoughts of suicide. In fact, the one place she sought refuge in, Mercy Ministries, is the same place she now works as a full-time staff member.
And Laura has a message for young women today who are struggling with eating disorders.
"I tell women all the time, 'You have a future. You have a destiny. You are a princess. God has a plan for you.' You may feel like you're not in that plan right now, but if you seek Him and find the resources that you need to overcome and renew your mind, you can be on that plan and you are in your destiny. You have to know that it may seem hopeless, but with God, we're never without hope."
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