My name is Bridget. I am a 32-year-old, married woman with three children, and I have anorexia nervosa.

I have suffered with this illness for about 18 years. It began very innocently and progressively became worse over the years.

I had a positive image of myself long ago, as a young girl. There were many events in my life that caused me to change that image from positive to negative, and from worthy to unworthy.

There is not one specific event that I can say is the major cause of my illness. Several have had an impact:

  • Molestation at age 10
  • Growing up feeling unloved
  • Pregnancy at age 16
  • Unhappy/tough marriage
  • Rape

This is just a small list. I feel all of them played such an important role in leading to the demise of "self", into my dark, private and suicidal life of anorexia.

In 1997, I was in and out of doctors' offices for a number of different symptoms related to the eating disorder behaviors. I would switch from one doctor to another when one would no longer give me what I needed to keep me comfortable, or if they mentioned my weight loss.

On Nov. 2, 1999, I began to have numbness and tingling on the left side of my body, my arms and legs were contracting up, and I finally collapsed. I was hospitalized due to hypokalemia (low potassium) and severe malnutrition. That is when I was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I was hospitalized for 27 days as they tried to stabilize my condition.

Then I went to an eating disorder clinic in Arizona for intense therapy for three months. My medical condition improved while I was there. I gained weight and felt well physically, but I was still very emotionally sick when discharged from the program.

Midway through 2000, my illness was in full swing again. I was in a partial-patient program for depression, due to my desire to commit suicide. My treatment followed the status of my eating disorder and depression.

By the following January, the team was so concerned for my life that they referred me to a clinic in Laguna Beach, Calif., which specializes in eating disorders.

The reason I write this now is because I want others like me, who struggle with anorexia nervosa or other forms of self-abuse, to know that that there is always hope. It does indeed spring eternal.