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‘Watch what you eat. Work harder in the gym.’ I started purging. To be better means to be smaller.’: Young woman overcomes eating disorder, uses her recovery to help other young women change their way of thinking

“‘I feel fat’ was one of my most commonly used phrases growing up. Most people worry about zits and grades, I was worried about staying alive. ‘You didn’t fight for so long to just give into the eating disorder now.’ Six months later, a woman walked into the store. She lit up. ‘Oh it’s you, you helped my daughter!’ I had no clue who she was. ‘My daughter is the one you talked to six months ago!’ Not only was she doing better, but she was ready to share her story ‘like the girl in Lawrence.’ How proud it made me.”

‘What’s that? It could be something sinister. You might have a tumor.’ I got fired for being ill.’: Young woman diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome after countless tests, ‘I was getting sicker and sicker, but with no answers’

“I was sobbing in bed one night angry at God. ‘Why won’t you take the pain away?!’ I had worked so hard despite being unwell, pushing myself to achieve. I got the grades to study music, my true passion, but was too unwell to go! I was gutted. The emergency doctor uttered the word ‘stroke.’ I was in disbelief. I was only 19 years old.”

‘Are you planning to have kids?’ At 28, my husband had a vasectomy in his first marriage. I felt robbed.’: Stepmom battling infertility laments ‘my husband ‘had it all’ with another woman’

“‘Everything will change when you have your own kids together.’ The comments stung. He had a vasectomy in his first marriage. I felt robbed. He had the young love. He married young. As we enter our 3rd year of infertility, will his first wife will be the only woman who will share this part of him? The part I always wished for? I made it ‘my fault’ we couldn’t get pregnant. I lied, covered up the truth.”

‘Two months before college graduation, my symptoms returned. The bloat, the blood, stomach pain, and fatigue.’: Young woman diagnosed with severe Ulcerative Colitis, ‘I felt I would never get my life back, now I embrace it all’

“‘Natalie. He died.’ I can still remember it like yesterday. Being woken up in my freshman year dorm from a call. All I remember next is screaming, ‘No, no, no, no, no!’ Dead. Died. Gone. As time went on, I started feeling sick. Very sick.”

‘I was scared she’d die. They said it’s ‘new mom jitters.’ I didn’t want to be the ‘depressed, baby-less mom’: Mother experiences postpartum depression, PTSD after first son born still, ‘I was hiding it well’

“I was losing clumps of hair. I assumed it was stress because we just moved for my husband’s job. My doctor asked about my children. She was the first doctor who actually had a conversation with me. Then she dropped a bomb. ‘I’m prescribing you an anti depressant.’ I left the appointment bawling. ‘Who does she think she is!? She didn’t know everything I’ve been through!'”

‘I’m young. Doesn’t everyone drink?’ I chose to be homeless. On the streets, no one could hold me back.’ : Young woman gains back ‘self respect, dignity’ after overcoming alcoholism

“I traded a life of steady income and comfort for a life on the streets in order to support my addiction. I slept in homeless camps, under bridges, along railroad tracks, and in strangers’ houses. My sign, ‘Support my whiskey right for a frisky night,’ made more money than any other sign asking for help. I was living on the street, so no one cared. It came with the territory.”

‘Someday, I hope we meet again.’ She didn’t forget me. They regretted the adoption. ‘We can take care of you.’: Mom re-adopts baby she gave up at birth 18 years later, learns to ’embrace the journey’

“I shared my story as a birth mom. ‘Will you adopt my baby boy?’ I broke into a smile and said, ‘Yes!’ Later the child I gave up previously was instructed to choose between us and her adoptive family. I am a birth mom of one adult daughter. I am a biological mom of three boys. I am an adoptive mom of one eleven-year-old boy. I didn’t realize dreams could be rebuilt, and emerge as something brand new and, one day, beautiful.”

‘You had the baby 15 days ago. You’re in the hospital.’ Was he kidnapped?’: Mom births baby in medically-induced coma after frightening flu symptoms, ‘They knew I was dying’

“I remember multiple vivid dreams of violent rape. As I woke, my ‘dreams’ transitioned to reality. The sorrow I felt was indescribable. I was devastated I’d missed those precious moments after birth. I wept, begged the doctors, ‘Please downgrade me out of the ICU so I can meet my baby!’ FINALLY, after 24 days in the hospital, I met my precious son. I smelled his skin. I’d almost died, and was now reunited with him.”

‘Your baby’s heart is on the wrong side.’ I cried. ‘PLEASE be with him, I don’t want him to be alone.’: Mom devastated to learn of newborn’s heart defect, wishes she could ‘take his place’

“The sonographer went very quiet and kept putting her body in strange positions. She said the baby was laying awkwardly. We had to sign papers prior to his surgery warning us of the risks… death being one of them. We were so helpless. He was so tiny. It didn’t seem fair. I was so excited to see my little boy and give him a big kiss.”

‘How dare she take away my unique quality?’ I was the ‘girl with one arm.’ I was MORE popular.’: Young woman with missing arm always embraced her difference, ‘My sparkle is who I am on the inside’

“I was scared boys wouldn’t want to date me because of my arm, and I was scared of going in public because I did not want strangers to ask questions. I remember one time a kid got angry with me and said, ‘You one-armed freak!’ It hurt. People would say, ‘You are so brave! You are so inspiring!’ It was annoying! I wasn’t doing anything different than the other children.”

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