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I Chose Life Over My Eating Disorder – Purge Diaries Author

by nina on March 5, 2011

Nicole JohnsToday we have a special guest post from the author of Purge: Rehab Diaries, Nicole Johns. This was her first book and was  nominated for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in memoir.

It is a raw memoir about her time at an eating disorder treatment facility. Purge exposes the harsh realities of living with and eating disorder and the reality of recovering.  Nicole Johns vividly documents her stay in a residential treatment facility for eating disorders and  sends a powerful message that although the road may be tough, there is always hope.

What Recovery Means To Me

What does recovery mean to me? It means living life to the fullest and not letting an eating disorder inhibit me. I have been in recovery from Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) since 2005, when I chose life over my eating disorder. I had been wavering back and forth between sickness and recovery; some days I was aiming for recovery, and other days I was in the depths of my eating disorder.

At first, my recovery was sheerly motivated by an external factor: a fellowship to study creative writing in Prague. In the fall of 2004, I started writing Purge: Rehab Diaries. I didn’t know that what I was writing would turn into a book. I was just writing because writing about my experience of going to residential treatment for an eating disorder seemed crucial to processing the experience and healing. So I wrote. At the time, I was in graduate school for creative writing, and I submitted my manuscript to a contest, in which the grand prize was a scholarship to spend a month studying creative writing in Prague. I won the prize, and I decided that I did not want to spend my month in Prague distracted by my eating disorder. This was one of my first steps toward health and recovery.

While my trip to Prague kick-started recovery for me, I had to choose to stay in recovery every day, for a long time. Every day I had to choose to eat according to my meal plan, not purge or otherwise engage in eating disorder behaviors. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I firmly believe that I was physically and mentally addicted to my eating disorder, and breaking the addiction cycle was painful.

Gradually, the choice to remain in recovery grew easier. Some days were still better than others, but as time passed, the grip my eating disorder had on me loosened. It took a lot of hard work, therapy, and support from friends to maintain my recovery, but the more time I got under my belt, the less appealing my eating disorder was.

Recovery is possible for everyone, although the recovery experience is highly individual. My recovery will be different than your recovery experience. I found that what helped me were lots of support from friends, a good therapist, an outlet (writing), and faith in myself and the fact that recovery would get easier as time went on. Recovery takes perseverance, but it is worth it.

You can learn more about Nicole on her website and find out about her book, Purge: Rehab Diaries


Nina Vucetic

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn Delage March 7, 2011 at 3:28 am

I love your point about the recovery process being highly individual. I am stuck right now and wanted to cry reading this. But I understand your points. Very nice. Thank you for sharing, Nicole.


nina March 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hi Jen,

I also love the point that Nicole made about the process being so individual.
You WILL find your path and solution. Every problem has a limited life span – stay positive and NEVER EVER give up.
I kept trying different things for 10 YEARS!! Before I finally achieved my recovery.

To your recovery and freedom


Nicole Johns March 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I’m not seeing the original comment from Jen, but I would like to reiterate that recovery is highly individual, just as a person’s eating disorder is individual. What helped me recover: writing, yoga, my husband, my friends, a few good therapists, driving with my windows down and blaring music, etc. That list is different for everyone.

I was sick for about 10 years, but I made it out of my eating disorder. Everyone can recover. EVERYONE.

Take care, Nicole


nina March 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Sorry Nicole, there was an error with the comment – but it is up now!


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