For 18 years, Grand Junction resident Dalene Brueggeman battled an eating disorder. It started in high school, and got worse after having kids, she said.
She shared her story with KKCO 11 News in hopes of getting her message out during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which runs February 24th - March 2nd.
"It was one of those things where anything that went into my mouth was terrifying," Brueggeman said. "My life was out of control so whether it was conscious or not, I controlled the one thing I could control and that was my food intake."
She limited her food intake to 200 calories per day. If she ate more she purged, sometimes up to ten times per day.
Five-foot-seven Brueggeman got down to 92 pounds. When she started "blacking out" while driving with her kids in the car, she knew she needed help. She spent three months in treatment at Remuda Ranch in Arizona, where she was under supervision from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Now, 14 years after treatment, Brueggeman has recovered and wants others to know it's possible to recover. She said the key to her recovery was having a team of support when she got out of Remuda Ranch. Her team included a therapist, doctor, nutritionist, and supportive family members.
Not only did Brueggeman win against her disorder, she defied the odds by seeking help. Eating disorder therapist Krista Carpenter said only one in ten people who have an eating disorder seek help.
"Usually patients are a little embarrassed and the social stigma is really about people in the community thinking it's a choice rather than it being a disease and that's simply not true," Carpenter said. "Over 60 percent of the factors relating to an eating disorder are genetic."
Eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating, affect more than 40 million Americans at some point in their life, according to the National Eating Disorder Awareness website.
Warning signs of an eating disorder include:
- rapid weight loss
- avoiding eating with other people
- preoccupation with food and calories
- excessive exercise
- self-induced vomiting
- depression and isolation
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the confidential hotline at 1-800-931-2237. To know more about National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, visit: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.