by April Ballard
Hope.. There is Hope for Recovery
My name is April Ballard. I am getting married in September, 2017. I am incredibly
thankful for my life and for the love in it. I am a teacher. I have been recognized and
awarded at the university level for critical thinking teaching abilities. I am almost finished writing
my first children’s book with the message of treating all beings with compassion and
kindness. I love to practice Yoga. I suffered from eating disorders, but have now
recovered from anorexia and bulimia. I am a strong advocate for eating disorder
prevention and recovery. Since my recovery, I now know that I am so much more than
my eating disorder.
I want to spend my life sharing this message of hope for recovery. I know this, as I have
lived through this disease and am now on the other side of it; the healthy side which has
allowed me to have a life. Anorexia and bulimia ruled my life for many years. The
torment and incredibly loud voice of the eating disorder rarely stopped. I was held
captive by my eating disorder and was depressed and critically ill as a result. I felt
disconnected with reality; I was in a fog. Life was not enjoyable. I was often exhausted,
terrified and cold, but I found hope for recovery.
My battle with eating disorders began when I was twelve years old and spiraled into the
viscous darkness of full blown anorexia. It was not until I was fourteen when I was able to
make some progress and increased my food intake. Though I was making healthier
choices, the eating disorders never really left my thoughts. It was a battle that I would
fight for years. I used to think that recovery was difficult to attain, but I am a living proof
that it is possible. Throughout my recovery, I have met many amazing individuals, read
insightful books, and learned coping skills for which I am incredibly thankful. I believe
while anorexia and bulimia have been a major part of my life, they do not define me as a
My journey to recovery began when I turned thirty years old. I was in a hospital bed, where I had
been for several days, and thought to myself, I will no longer continue on this path. I
decided that I no longer wanted the emergency room visits, constant fear, depression,
and all-encompassing physical and emotional pain that came along with this disease.
After suffering for many years, I reached a point where I was truly terrified of the
‘shadow self’ that I had become. I wanted to live. I wanted vitality back and to actually
feel again. I wanted to smile. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to love myself again. The truth
is, I did not know where to start; I just knew I had to start on the path to recovery.
In the beginning, the journey to recovery was a slow progression, but each step was
worth it. I started by thinking of myself in a healthy way, which meant self-love and
nourishment. I started talking to myself in a new manner. I worked at minimizing
negative self-talk and silenced the voice of the eating disorder that was ever present. I
also decided that I was worthy of loving myself and treating myself with kindness. In
recognizing this truth, I transitioned into a place in life where I began to attract healthy
people and opportunities. For instance, I met the man who is now my fiancé, Dylan. I
believe with all of my heart that Dylan’s love saved my life because his love for me gave
me the desire to live. With Dylan in my life, I felt empowered and the need to take care
of myself even more during my recovery. I wanted to be healthy for the first time in
many years; and in many ways, for the first time ever in my life. I feel like life was on pause and was there waiting for me to embrace it all along.
When I think about my life now and all that is possible as a result of my recovery, I feel
a sense of accomplishment, peace, and gratitude. I truly embrace the moments in which
I practice Yoga and connect my body, mind, and spirit. I smile with gratitude and reflect
on the kindness and ease the practice allows me to show to my body. I appreciate and
value the strength that I have as a result of my recovery. I am often moved to tears in a
very sincere and uplifting way after a Yoga practice because I feel; I am present and
Traveling is possible again as a result of recovery. I believe that we all learn something
new every day. I feel that traveling teaches us so much about new places as well as so much about ourselves. I am no longer held prisoner by the idea that I must plan my days around safe foods. I am able to step aside and realize that I deserve to nourish my body and treat it with kindness. In order to fully appreciate all that I have in life, I must nourish my body. I want to be able to walk along new streets and gaze upon new places. I want to have the energy to spend hours strolling and exploring new places. I want to be present both for myself and for all those who are important to me.
I am incredibly thankful for the unconditional love that I received from those who have been
there to support and encourage me when I was truly not able to do so myself. I
understand the constant intrusive thoughts of an eating disorder, being physically and
mentally cold; and at the core of everything: the emotional and physical pain. I want to
remind you again that you are never alone in your journey to recovery. Please reach out
to seek help. It is never too late to begin your life.
Continuing, in order to do all of the work that I want to do, I must be healthy and kind to myself. I have many roles that I greatly value and want to offer my best self forth to all of them. In addition, as a writer for the NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) blog and Coordinator for the Charleston, SC NEDA Walk, I want to promote hope for recovery and educate others on all of the resources available to them to encourage awareness and healing from eating disorders.
I feel that our stories are always evolving as we are all learning and evolving every day. I want to share with you again that there is hope for recovery. I am living proof of this. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will dance again. You will feel warmth again. You will travel again. You will experience joy again. You will feel. I will conclude with one of my favorite quotes that has inspired me along my path to recovery and continues to do so every day,
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
April Ballard is a teacher and eating disorder awareness and recovery advocate who has been in recovery from anorexia and bulimia for three years. April also designs curriculum for a national art and music integration program. April is the founder and coordinator of the Charleston, South Carolina NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) Walk. April has been recognized and awarded on the university level for her critical thinking teaching skills. She is also currently writing a children’s book with the message of treating all beings with compassion and kindness. April is a strong advocate for eating disorder prevention and recovery. April is also committed to an educational role with helping The Stone Soup Collective where she will strive to empower individuals and families to discover their strengths, while learning to nourish their bodies, minds and spirits.