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My Dad is My Recovery Hero

By Taylor Hite--During my last semester, I participated in Senior Exhibition, the project that topped off my recovery. But before I tell you about that, a little more of my recovery story needs to be told.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

When I was 11 my mother passed away and I had to leave my life, family and friends in Ohio behind to live with my dad in Indiana. Right before my freshman year of high school, my dad and stepmom divorced, separating me from my stepbrother, and from yet another mother.

My “best friend” would gossip to me about how our other friends looked. With high school right around the corner, I felt so scared and out of control. Once my freshman year began, my friends and family began worrying about what was happening with me; little did they know, I had a secret. As time passed, I got worse. I was hospitalized and sent to a treatment center for anorexia nervosa.

This experience has shaped who I am, and this is what I brought into my senior project. I wanted to create something that didn’t just “sit there” on a wall and look pretty. I’m not discounting art for the sole purpose of aesthetics at all. But what good design should do—what I wanted my project to do—was evoke emotion, a response—especially with a subject as serious as eating disorders. I wanted to narrow the focus of the project a bit, so I looked through my stuff from my own journey while I was in treatment.

     Related: Taking Pride in My Recovery Journey

I found a collection of 48 faxes from my dad. He sent me a fax every single morning while I was in treatment. Each fax is ½-1 page long, and they’re filled with encouraging words, updates on life, support and corny dad jokes. I looked forward to his message every day, and reading his fax was the first thing I did every morning. It wasn’t until coming across these messages that I realized what my show should focus on. Why is it that only 10% of those with clinical eating disorders seek treatment, and I was a part of that tiny 10%? I was able to get treatment because of my dad.

After doing research on the dynamic of the father-daughter relationship, I realized how crucial a father is in his daughter’s life, eating disorder or not. So, for my show, I created a hypothetical event  called “Dads & Daughters” that would take place the first Friday of January, April, July and October. Fathers could take their daughter out to dinner and share a meal at select local restaurants and receive a percentage off of the bill.

Treatment and my dad helped me come back from this illness. Not only that, but I became a collegiate athlete with an athletic career I could never have imagined. They gave me my friends and life back, and then new friends and new adventures. I survived for a reason, and if I can bring awareness to this disease, it’ll all have been worth it. 

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

About the blogger: Taylor is a recent college graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and studied illustration and graphic design. In addition to being a full-time student, she ran cross-country and track all four years.  

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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