Peace Meal’s Recovery Stories series features voices of individuals in eating disorder recovery and beyond. This episode features Sarah Churchward, a professional writer and makeup artist. In her late teens, Sarah was diagnosed with both anorexia and chronic narcolepsy. She discusses the process of coming to accept her chronic illness while being in eating disorder treatment and how that process made her into who she is today.
Episode show notes:
Sarah Churchward is a writer and professional makeup artist who lives in Washington. At the age of seventeen, she launched her own cosmetics line and started a blog called Thought Outlet, where she discusses various topics that she is passionate about. In February of 2018, Sarah ran into health issues, which forced her to take a hiatus from both work and school.
Following disordered eating and a solo attempt at recovery, Sarah’s struggles spiraled into a full-blown eating disorder that led her to call The Emily Program and start treatment. In addition to her eating disorder diagnosis, Sarah was also diagnosed with the chronic illness narcolepsy with cataplexy. This illness left Sarah falling asleep in strange situations, having minor sleep attacks and confusion, and cataplexy—temporary muscle paralysis that is caused by strong emotions and stimuli.
Sarah states her eating disorder got significantly worse after she was diagnosed with narcolepsy and that her symptom use increased. She attributes this worsening to the stress of being diagnosed with chronic illness, functional body dysmorphia (the feeling that her body was betraying her), and the stimulants used to lessen the severity of her narcolepsy. However, after starting treatment at The Emily Program, finding recovery, and learning successful coping skills, Sarah believes her body is absolutely perfect just the way it is.
Today, Sarah acts as an advocate for those struggling with narcolepsy and encourages those suffering from chronic illnesses or eating disorders to seek support. Her advice to those struggling with a chronic illness is to stay educated and act as a self-advocate. For those in eating disorder recovery, Sarah says find faith, trust, and hope.
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About the podcast:
Peace Meal is an Emily Program podcast that discusses topics related to eating disorders, body image issues, and how society may contribute to distorted thinking.
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