With the Looking Glass Foundation's Summer Camp just a handful of weeks away, camp alumni and eating disorder survivor, Alison, remembers how she left summer camp feeling like she had been given new life...
It seems as though summer camp is a quintessential part of every childhood. Whether we liked it or not, we all got shipped off to some ilk of wilderness at least once. Art camp, music camp, sports camp, co-ed, teens only, Boy Scouts - the possibilities were endless. Good or bad, most of us have memories of camaraderie, mosquito bites, campfire singalongs, outhouses, hiking, fishing, swimming, and the odd prank or two. Those were the golden years!
Not every childhood though includes a life-or-death struggle with an eating disorder. Although prevalence of eating disorders among youth is high, many kids enjoy their young lives without the mind-and-body imprisonment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating, and other related diseases. Those that do, however, find themselves cut off from such normal adventures when they are immersed in the world of medical intervention for their condition. That was how my story went when anorexia took hold of my life. Once so social and spirited, I no longer had the energy for anything outside of surviving the torment of my disease. I felt alienated from my peers and stuck in my small world of hospital, refeeding, blood tests, and weigh-ins. Even when I was discharged, medically stable and finishing school, my life had only the depth and spirit of a laundry cycle.
So when I heard about the Looking Glass Foundation’s Summer Camp, I felt my old self stir. My laundry cycle trance shifted just enough to register feelings of excitement and intrigue - followed swiftly by fear, doubt, and anxiety. The thought of a week-long retreat from my monotonous yet familiar and safe lifestyle was like a flash of hope - tremendous and terrifying. I got the “all clear” from the doctor and drove with my parents out to Zajac Ranch, just outside of Mission, BC.
And what a week it was! Sick of the introspective broken record of therapy and the crushing tension at mealtimes, the chance to meet others in recovery and cavort freely in the great outdoors was literally a breath of fresh air. The days were filled with activities like horseback riding, meditation, mani/pedis, zip-lining, and crafts, which left little space for my eating disordered obsessions. The gentle support at mealtimes was all I needed - but there was always help available if I hit a rough spot.
The brief reprieve I had from my eating disorder was like nothing I could have imagined during my isolated rehabilitation and my time at camp was nothing short of transformational. Before I knew it, I was driving home again with a book full of notes from new friends and a heart that seemed to have been given new life.
Just when I thought I was broken and could no longer hope for a “normal” life, I went to The Looking Glass Foundation’s summer camp - possibly one of the most special summer camps out there - and tasted life again. Thanks to the Looking Glass, I discovered a flash of hope for life in recovery.
The Looking Glass Foundation's 2013 Summer Camp is from August 18-25 and will be at the beautiful Loon Lake Forestry Camp in Maple Ridge, BC. Click here for more information and to register.
Alison is a regular contributor to The Looking Glass’ blog, is an eating disorders survivor and is an inspiration to those around her.