As stated by Laurie Halse Anderson, “There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
Actress Rachael Farrokh knows that reality all too well as a sufferer of anorexia. She weighed a mere 40 pounds at her thinnest, and her husband had to quit his job to take care of her around the clock. That’s when she knew it was time to get help. The 37-year-old has been struggling with the eating disorder for many years, but it took a brush with death for her to know it was time to seek treatment.
She created a heartbreaking video explaining her dire situation and pleading for help from anyone who would be willing to offer it.
And they responded in a miraculous way. Strangers from around the world launched a fundraiser for her treatment which raised nearly $200,000.
The money was exactly what she needed to get medical help at a Portugese clinic where specialists worked with her to gain weight and muscle mass as well as the mental strength required to overcome the life-crippling disorder.
That’s why so many attempts at helping her had failed in the past. According to Rachael, the caring specialists at the Portugese clinic finally realized that the brain had to come along with the body.
Plumping somebody up with a feeding tube won’t do any good if the mind continues to reject the treatment.
In an interview with NBC-4 she said, “I was finally treated with respect, and I didn’t know I deserved it.” She explains what it feels like to finally feel like she’s becoming whole again, as she slowly conquers the disease that has tried to conquer her life:
It’s only been 6 months since she began the program, and she is already gaining back a significant amount of the weight she lost. Her radiant glow and fuller cheekbones are finally starting to shine forth a happier and healthier Rachael, a side of herself she hasn’t seen in years.
Standing up is still a challenge, but she’s continued to achieve marvelous feats in such a short period of time. Rachael even participated in a D.C. march raising awareness for others suffering from eating disorders.
Her battle isn’t over, but she’s come so far and is eternally grateful for the gracious financial and emotional support she’s received in her painful journey of recovery.
The stigma surrounding eating disorders has been one of vain girls who just want to be skinny. People want to tell you, “Just eat,” or “Stop throwing up.” There’s a mentality that you’ve done this to yourself, which only perpetuates self-loathing and self-punishment through diving deeper in into the warped relationship with food and body image.
Rachael is so thankful for the strangers who were kind enough to hear her plea and respond with such overwhelming support. She’s not in this alone. She’s now got a band of fighters along for the rocky road that is the journey to loving yourself as your are.
That void of unworthiness is where eating disorders start, and the the fullness of self-acceptance is where they end.
She’s not there quite yet, but Rachael has her eyes on the prize for that miraculous day when she sees a reflection in the mirror of a woman she dearly loves—just the way she is.