Close this search box.

Shades of Hope Alumni Story: Amanda

Amanda began her journey at Shades of Hope as a very hopeless and broken individual. Recovery is possible! We hope that you will read her story and make a change for yourself today. Call (800) 588-4673 to speak to someone.


“My battle with weight and food began when I was 8 years old. I first purged when I was 13, hit my lowest anorexic weight at 16 and had eaten myself into a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes by age 26.

There were many pivotal events throughout the years which contributed to and maintained my eating disorders. When I initially gained weight at 8 years old, my mom was starting her own battle with anorexia. At age 11, our family which was the ‘typical’ family, was broken when my parents separated and divorced. Things were very different from that point on. My brother and I moved with my mom and we saw my dad infrequently. He got remarried and it felt like he had a new family. There was less supervision and the skating rink became my weekend babysitter. Between the ages of 12 and 13, I experienced sexual abuse. That event would become the lens through which I would view every aspect of myself for the next twenty-something years – I was worthless, broken, dirty, used, and damaged. The bulimia began shortly after the abuse and would continue off and on throughout the next 24 years.

I met my husband in college, and we were married the day I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. Our marriage wasn’t without its ups and downs, but he loved me for who I was, even though I still couldn’t. 2014 was the year that permanently changed my world. In March, my dad was involved in a freak accident which took his life. Our relationship had not been the closest, but we had grown closer those last few years. I always knew he loved me and I loved him. We shared a physical resemblance, a love of music, and a love for overcast days. All of the hurt from the years before paled in comparison to the hurt that I felt the day he died. Five months later, I was in the midst of the grieving process for my dad when I heard the words no wife ever wants to hear – my husband had been killed in a car accident. My world was shattered. I had more love and support around me than anyone could ask for. I had (and still have) an amazing church family, amazing in-laws (who were also grieving), friends, and family. And I had work – which is what I threw myself into. I stayed as busy as I could and life became about just trying to get through the day so that I could go back to sleep; I wasn’t living, I was just existing. I was also eating my way through the pain and misery and my diabetes was completely out of control.

Despite not caring whether I lived or died, I knew something had to change. I remembered Shades of Hope from many years before. I grew up in the area and my mom was almost a client during her battle with anorexia. Upon looking into Shades of Hope, I learned about the Six-Day Intensive. I told myself I could do a week. That week became the catalyst for a life-changing journey. That week I began to experience what healing was and started to experience some sense of freedom from all of the hurt and shame I had carried for so long, and I was learning how to eat in healthy ways; but as the week drew to a close, I started to shove all of it back down because I knew I had to get back to my “life.” I initially declined continuing with the inpatient program, but I ultimately completed the treatment. I worked hard while I was there and was able to experience improved physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I left Shades of Hope feeling great about the progress that I had made, but anxious about my ability to maintain the changes – I lived in a rural area with little to no recovery community.

I got back to work, back to life. Things were okay, but I was too focused on food and weight. Although I should have had my scales thrown out prior to my return home, I hadn’t, and I was weighing multiple times per day. I attended a 12-step convention and purchased a scale while there just so I could weigh in my hotel room. I was in relapse and didn’t even realize it. I got through the next few months and stopped by Shades of Hope for a meeting one evening. Asked to share my experience, strength, and hope, I broke down and admitted that I had not been doing well – I shared that I had been restricting and had even started purging again. My life had to change. After a few months of fighting myself and others, I made the decision to return to Shades of Hope to finish what I started. This meant real changes in my life and it was scary. I resigned from my job, made arrangements for my pets, and made my way back.

I was worried about how I would be accepted by the staff as my behaviors had been less than desirable during my last stay. But to my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms. I spent two weeks inpatient and was free to give it my all. And then, something changed. All along I had been hearing that I was worth recovery and I just never quite believed it. Something I learned about myself through the work at Shades is that ‘I am enough just as I am.’ I had picked up somewhere along in my life that there had to be something wrong with me in order for me to be loved – that was when I got good attention – when I was sick or hurt. My eating disorders, depression, and all of those feelings of worthlessness had served to maintain that lie. I have now found real change and real freedom. I know that I am loved unconditionally by my higher power (God). 

Shades of Hope provided a safe environment for me to unravel, and I was never left to put myself back together on my own. The healing I have done at Shades of Hope and the things I learned there are among the most valuable treasures in my life thus far. My journey has been physical, emotional, and spiritual. Today, I am back home with my beloved pets and back to working. But it’s different – I have boundaries and allow myself a balance of work and play. I continue to follow a meal plan and attend meetings. I have a healthier relationship with my family and we are learning to love one another for who we are. I am beyond thankful to Shades of Hope for helping me to truly start living, rather than just existing. I firmly believe that God used Shades of Hope and the amazing staff there to help me get my life back.”