NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In time for National Eating Disorder Awareness week, a 22-year-old Nashville woman shared her recovery story of her struggle with an eating disorder.
"I didn't know anything about it. My family didn't really know anything about it. I just started doing it...I just all of a sudden was like, 'I hate the way I look, I'm gonna change it,'" explained Amelia Frutiger.
At age 14 she started struggling with an eating disorder but for more than six months would not admit she needed help.
"I kind of had a double whammy, kind of, I say that. I had anorexia and I had bulimia, I would purge every time I ate, and I would restrict anytime I could," she explained. "It was hard, hard, hard, hard because you have this voice, I say it's a voice, in your head. It's something that's not you, and it's screaming at you constantly saying like, ‘You can't do this, no.'"
Frutiger said it took months of treatment before she turned the corner.
"I was like, ‘Wow, like, why am I doing all this? Why am I starving myself? Why am I doing everything?’ And it was mainly because my mom and my sisters I saw how it affected them. I saw how it not only affected me, but it affected a lot of people around me. I didn't want them to go through like not having a sister, a little sister, not having a young like the youngest daughter like it was. It was. It was like a like a epiphany," she recounted.
Selah House Outpatient Nashville Executive Director Robin Morgan said eating disorders are more prevalent than most think.
"Eating disorders affects every segment of our population, all genders, cultures, you know, socio-economics. So it's a disorder like any other mental health disorder. So it doesn't discriminate. So I'm sure all of us have someone in our lives who has been affected by an eating disorder of some kind," Morgan said.
According to the Selah House, 9% of Tennesseans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. In a recent study, the overall incidence of eating disorders increased during the COVID-19 pandemic by 15.3% in 2020, compared with previous years
"There's such a need for eating disorder treatment here in Middle Tennessee," explained Morgan. "We're a chance for folks to get treatment earlier on in the in their illness, and prevent the further complications that can happen with eating disorders."
The Selah House is the only outpatient treatment center in Nashville that treats both men and women struggling with eating disorders.
"[We're] a day treatment program for eating disorders for adults 18 and older, all genders," explained Morgan. "We provide care that allows folks to stay at home and receive intensive treatment during the day and avoid, you know, hospitalization or residential treatment. And we're providing patient-centered care meeting clients where they are provide individualized tailored treatment plans. Not one size fits all."
Both Morgan and Frutiger encouraged all who may be struggling with an eating disorder to catch it early by seeking help as soon as the concern of the disorder arises.
"Seek help as soon as you can. Don't let it go on too long because I didn't seek help as soon as I could," pled Frutiger. "I thought I didn't have an issue. I thought ‘oh this is normal.’ When I know in all honesty, it's not normal. It’s not."
If you or someone you know needs a consultation or further help with a eating disorder, click here for how to contact the Selah House.