words-of-survival

God has created a collection of Picassos in my life…
 
My name is Ana Sofia, I’m 33 years old, my life is a miracle and this is my story.
 
I was born and raised in Guatemala City; I come from a family of working professionals, and I thankfully never experienced any kind of severe trauma in my childhood. I had everything that I needed and I was a happy child, however with time I created a world of expectations that I could not fill based on my desire to be perfect at everything.
 
Looking back, I realize I suffered from a lack of identity. I was a student, a dancer, a daughter and many other “things”, but I couldn’t define who Ana Sofia truly was. This mindset continued throughout my teenage years.  During high school I based my confidence on my boyfriend, my friends, my studies, my work and I pretended that everything was ok and that my problems had disappeared. But in reality I felt under a lot of pressure and created ideas that no one but me expected me to accomplish.
 
I tried all the time to be someone or something that I wasn’t, and irrationally valued being beautiful and thin above all. The desire to be perfect became an obsession to the point that I needed to control everything, especially food.
 
When I graduated, I went to study in England, so I jumped from my own little world into totally different one. I began to live on my own and my life became a mess. I was always a great student, so I immersed myself in my studies and traveled everywhere I could to run away from my problems.  But everywhere I went I carried all my anxieties with me so my anorexia also came along. I traveled to Florence to dance ballet, during that time I began to exercise excessively.  And as my excessive exercise increased my food intake decreased.
 
When I returned to Guatemala I was totally out of control. I started doing triathlon and restricting even further. Nobody but my boyfriend and my friends were aware of the problem, and when my parents found out it was too late, anorexia was crying out loud from within me.
 
I entered intensive care for the first time in 2002; I had repeated hospitalizations, one after another.  I was in a residential treatment program in Miami, tried psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, but every day my problem got bigger and bigger.  My attitude was the worst problem of all.  My family sent me to another center in Mexico for three months until I was deemed to be untreatable. It got to a point that nobody could handle my case and I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
 
I left home again, just me and my anorexia. My life became so messed up that one day I woke up and realized that my boyfriend, my friends, my family, everyone was gone. The only thing left was college and work, but I ended up dropping out. I had lost everything and felt like my life was over.
 
I felt so hopeless and I was suffering so much that I couldn’t even eat by mouth anymore and had to be tube fed.
 
Despite the gravity of my health, I was allowed to work and study Business Administration at a Business School. While in school, I was invited to a religious retreat where was first introduced to God’s love. After the retreat, I went back to the hospital to get the feeding tube removed, and said to myself its time to “Fight” this.  I started fighting for my life and making some progress, but it wasn’t a straight shot.  Thinking that I was stable enough, I went to Barcelona to pursue my masters degree, but I dropped weight again, and i needed to be hospitalized yet again.  But my desire to graduate was so strong that they allowed me to study in the hospital. I only had a small book with biblical quotations, which I read night and day.  The closer I got to God, the more I realized that my gifts and talents had a purpose and I did not have to fill anyone’s expectations. I decided to once more fight for my life and to amend my situation.   I slowly clawed my way back.
 
In December of that year I returned with the dream of working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and got accepted in September 2012.  I was appointed first secretary in the area of multilateral politics and Chancellery.
 
When my niece was born I held her in my arms and realized how precious life is.   Not only do I now want to live, but my goal is to be healthy enough to be able to give life and become a mom.
 
Now, I am a fighter. I am a #RecoveryRockstar! I lead many women to get to know God’s love, and 9 months ago we started a group to help women who are fighting eating disorders.
 
I have everything I want in my life and enjoy it. My miracle is to eat in peace and without guilt. To overcome such a strong disease like anorexia and to prevent it, it is extremely important to strengthen self-esteem from an early age. We must help children find their own identity and empower them based on who they are, not on material or superficial stuff that’s not worth it.  We must especially help our girls understand that they are extraordinary, and let them know that no one in society can make them feel less than who they are.
 
I hope this post and my life story inspires you to fight for your life, and remind you that we are here for a reason.
 
Written for Cielo House by Ana Sofia from Guatemala City.

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