CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) - It's time to talk about it.
That's the theme of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week which kicked off Sunday. The goal is to raise awareness about the disorder and get resources into the hands of people who need them.
Lauren Crotts has come a long way since she was first diagnosed with an eating disorder.
"When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa," she said. "As I grew up and got older, I was diagnosed with binge purge anorexia nervosa and with over exercising binge purge anorexia nervosa."
That's not uncommon. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), symptoms of an eating disorder can change over time. A person can also recover from one eating disorder but relapse later with a different disorder.
Crotts recalled stress would lead her to something else.
"I would deal with it by either binging and purging or by not eating or I would go and exercise for five or six hours."
It was her way of taking control, she said.
"Unfortunately since then I've done inpatient 10 times. But this last time I got out, I just really feel like I have life."
At almost 34-years-old, Crotts says her last treatment at an inpatient facility in Denver, CO four days after her wedding, was different.
"They had to step down program where as the other times that I've been in treatment, it was kind of like go in and come out into the real world. This one was a step down-- from an inpatient to an apartment type setting."
Crotts says now, in recovery, she's now able to connect with others.
"My husband often comments that he didn't have the real Lauren around. My parents will say that too. I'm able to focus, I can do fun things. I don't really think about what I'm eating I just eat."
Today, she's talking about her own experience her struggle, in hopes of helping others know they're not alone.
"I want people to know that recovery is not perfect. Struggling with the disorder like this, you don't have to be alone. Without the help of my husband, my parents, my family, my coworkers, my friends, I wouldn't be able to do this," she said.
She's hoping others will talk about the disorder and reach out to get help without being ashamed.
"It's up-and-down and all over the place and trying to keep it perfect has been hard for me. It's not perfect but it (recovering) is so worth it," Crotts said.
NEDA estimates 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. NEDA offers a number of resources, including a screening tool and help line on its website.
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved