About Abigail Natenshon
Over 35 Years of Eating Disorder Specialty Practice
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(847) 432-1795

Eating Disorder Specialist

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Kim's Story
Dear Abby,

I am writing to share a success story with you. My maiden name was ...... ........., and I was one of your long-term patients struggling with an eating disorder in your practice more than 10 years ago. It was so wonderful to see your picture on your website this evening and to hear all that you have been doing over the last 10+ years.

I happily live in San Diego, CA with my husband and my little dog. I moved to San Diego four years ago after completing graduate school, to begin my career as a clinical social worker. I graduated with my MSW and MPH (Master of Public Health) degrees from the University of Michigan in 1999. I am now an LCSW working as the social worker for a k-8 school district (I am the only social worker working for a school district in the northern part of the county—unlike in the midwest), coordinating all of the counseling programs in the district, supervising school counselors, and working directly
with students and families. I will be opening a private practice focusing on school-based services in the next three months. I am proud to say that I am currently living a rewarding life, that I am happy and that I am doing all the things I had imagined as a young adult. 

The journey was a long one. After loosing contact with you in 1996 (my memory is still fuzzy about the exact year), I proceeded to grad school and a series of new interventions related to my recovery. My first intervention was to separate from my family of origin and to challenge my issues of dependency. I hit what I would call my “rock bottom”—my lowest weight and most depressed stage of my life—with this separation and knew that I needed to make a choice, either stay sick or get better. 

I had for so many years dreamt that I would experience one moment where the eating disorder would go away. In truth this never happened, but the reality of my experience was that I did have a moment of clarity. I remember sitting on my bed crying and in the fetal position, home for a holiday break from grad school. My parents came in the room and asked me what they could do. It was that moment when I decided to let go and allow others to help me. I begin taking a combination of prozac and buspar (I resisted for years), asked my friends and family to support me in coaching me in better choices (and actually accepted their help), and I worked intensively with a therapist who challenged me and believed in me. Within two months, I was feeling better, regaining my weight, and focused on beating my internal monsters. Not without struggles, my eating disordered behaviors became less severe and I began what I now see as a chance for life again.

My story continues in California. I continued the counseling and medication treatment, and began working with an acupuncturist. I regained regular periods after 10 years just a few months into the treatment and have continued to have regular female functioning since that time. I continue to see an acupuncturist weekly, now in preparation for my trying to have a baby. 

The past few years have in no means been perfect, and I would not want to give you the false impression that I am living in a recovery world without challenges.
I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2001 and minus having 5 surgeries, I was so grateful to not have to go through horrible chemotherapy treatments. Just last year, after six incidents of unprovoked fainting (and my family in Chicago thinking I may have regressed in my eating behaviors), I was diagnosed with neuro-inhibitory syncope, a condition that caused my heart to stop suddenly with no clear provocation (I am still convinced that this is a long term result of the low weight, but my doctors and the research find no correlation between the condition and anorexia). I had emergency pacemaker surgery one year ago and have been symptom free since that time. My weight is the highest it has been in 13 years, healthy even in my doctor’s minds!!!! 

The best news of all, and the one I wanted to share with you, is that I feel love, happiness, pleasure, success, warmth, intimacy, compassion and appreciation for life, none which I could feel when I was in the depths of my eating disorder. I am closer to my family and friends than ever before—as I have the capacity to love and be loved, to accept and forgive and to see the world in a positive rather than in a defeatist way. I attribute being able to do this to the support of the wonderful therapists who challenged myself (and my family) to look inside ourselves to find the strength to see ourselves in the world. My hope is to be able to support other children, young adults and families in their struggles to make sense of the world as well…

Thanks for all you contributed to helping me become the person I am today. 

With appreciation,

........ ............
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