Kate Heard wasn't yet a teenager when she realized she was struggling with an eating disorder. She shares how treatment saved her life and her advice for others.
Eating disorders are real, complex conditions that can have serious consequences for physical and mental health, as well as relationships. Burrell Behavioral Health is proud to serve and support those who are recovering from eating disorders with our RecoverED program, which has impacted – and saved – numerous lives since its start in 2020.
To raise awareness about eating disorders, as well as other mental health conditions and diagnoses, the Burrell Foundation has collaborated with artist Randy Bacon and his 7 Billion Ones series. Featuring more than 20 Burrell Behavioral Health clients and staff, the Art of Being ME exhibit will showcase personal stories through portraits, motion portraits and videos.
Burrell is honored to share two of those stories, as a preview to the exhibit's launch, in recognition of National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Kate Heard, 14, is a former Burrell client who recognized her eating disorder before she was a teenager. Here is her story:
"There were days when I was actually scared I was going to die and some days I didn’t even care. I don’t think people realize how serious eating disorders are whether it’s anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. My eating disorder started when I was 11 and I didn’t even know the word anorexia. I felt drained, weak, and had no motivation to do anything, but there was another voice in my head thinking otherwise. It was a CONSTANT battle in my head and it was the most overwhelming, stressful, and scary thing. I missed so much of my life from this illness. Memories that I can’t recall and time with people that I can’t get back. I missed a volleyball season with a really good team, a dance with my crush at the time, an entire trip to Orlando, Fl., the last several months with my wonderful grandma that was taken too soon, etc... Not to mention what I put my family through and how each of them thought it was my last Christmas.
My family became depressed. They tried so hard to get me to eat and felt helpless and couldn’t do anything about it. We went on vacation to Orlando in 2018. My family thought, as a last resort, taking me out of my safe environment would shock me into realizing how sick I was. It was a miserable trip for all of us. I could feel my body shutting down but felt as if I couldn’t stop it. I look back and can see how critical I really was. There were days of my parents just holding me while vacationers ran around us, amusement parks with happy kids while I lay there wasting away and my family taking pictures of what they thought were my last.
I can fully say that treatment saved my life. I am almost 15 and still have super challenging days but can say that I have come such a long way. I was on the brink of death and thankfully had the support I needed and am still here today. I am not saying inpatient treatment is for everyone but this was my only option at the time. I am excited that Burrell is part of creating an intensive outpatient program where girls like me can go to find help and not always have to leave their families who are their biggest support systems. I want parents to have hope that their kids can get help locally.
One of my favorite quotes is, 'Comparison is the thief of joy.' Some days I would feel okay about myself until I saw someone else who looked 'better.' My mood would be ruined. I challenged that thought and have learned so many coping skills from inpatient and outpatient treatment. I can deal with hard days and hard battles now because I have the tools. When I am weak, I have learned to lean on my support team. I want to share this with others and let them know they are not alone. Life is about so much more than what we don’t have and can’t obtain."
Watch the video above to hear more of Kate's story.
The Art of Being ME exhibit will launch in the spring of 2022 and will travel across the state in the following months. More information is to come.