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Renfrew Alumni Stories: Bailey C.

Connection with other humans who know and see your struggles is a vital part of recovery.

Growing up in a small town in rural PA, I struggled to find acceptance and genuine connection. I felt the pressure of social expectations constantly dragging me down, and the pressure I placed on myself was even heavier. Between worrying about my weight and appearance, discovering my sexuality, navigating family issues and trauma, and trying to find my place in an ever-rotating cast of friends, my sense of self disintegrated over time. I became a shell of who I was and had no idea who I would go on to become. The coping mechanisms I had developed to work through my anxieties were self-destructive and made things much worse in the long run. This is how I lived for many years of my life.

In my last year of college, I was feeling isolated and alone. COVID-19 had forced me to move off campus and back home with a very small support system, where I found myself in the depths of my eating disorder with seemingly no way out. Thankfully, my therapist gently but firmly guided me towards treatment. She slowly convinced me that I was worthy of the help I needed. I attended PHP and IOP with Renfrew in Pittsburgh in 2020, and in 2021 I found myself in residential treatment at Spring Lane. I met people through Renfrew who showed me that I wasn’t alone. I realized that there are people who will accept me regardless of my weight, body, personality, sexuality, and anything else I grew up to believe were “flaws” but can now accept as just another part of me.

At Spring Lane, I explored the roots of my emotions through art therapy, mindfulness, and group discussions with supportive peers. I added a collection of new coping skills to my toolbox, which were an important part of integrating structure into my recovery. Two years later, I still complete ARCs and fill out an EDA every day, because they help me understand myself and my emotions more clearly.

Of course, there are days when I still feel the struggle because I’m human. Recovery, after all, is not linear. But I know now that there is so much more to life than my eating disorder had led me to believe. Renfrew taught me that recovery may be hard, but I can do hard things.

-Bailey • Alumni, The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia – Spring Lane & Pittsburgh

I’ve lived full time in Pittsburgh since 2021 with my loving fiancé and our cat. I went to Chatham University where I received my bachelor’s degree, and I currently work in the mental health field. I enjoy drawing, painting, and writing, as well as spending my free time being outside, exploring Pittsburgh, or having cozy movie nights indoors.

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