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Letter from Emily (2008)

July 2008

Dear Mrs. Collins,

My name is Emily. Four years ago I was diagnosed with anorexia. My parents used the Maudsley Method for my recovery, and during my relapse last summer, found your website invaluable. I would love to post the following in your forum.

“As a young girl I always struggled with a lack of identity and purpose for my life. I hid my insecurities by throwing myself into academics and intense ballet training. Although I appeared to have it all together, behind the façade, I was crumbling. Desperate to be a contribution to the human race I turned inward, losing sight of my goal completely. Constant feelings of inadequacy culminated in anorexia and depression at fourteen.

During the first painful month of recovery, the school principle asked students to make and send Christmas cards to deployed soldiers. Seizing the opportunity for divertissement, my mother encouraged me to create a few cards. Although unenthusiastic at first, the knowledge that I had made even a small difference lessened the worthlessness I felt in my own life.

As my strength returned, I built Happy Day Cards, an organization to craft and collect handmade greeting cards for soldiers both in combat and recuperating in hospitals such as Walter Reed in Washington D.C. I conducted card-making sessions with local churches, scouting groups, and retirement homes; giving kids and elderly veterans an opportunity to participate in the project. Today Happy Day Cards has mailed over 700 cards. A global card drive, enlisting artists from around the world to contribute cards, is underway, and partnerships with several schools, libraries, church groups are pending.

The selfless act of volunteering reaped so many rewards in my life. Happy Day Cards gave me hope and a reason to fight. Statistics say that only one third of anorexics will truly recover. I don’t believe I was born to substantiate that statistic. I believe I was born to send hope to soldiers and to lead and inspire others to reach out and grab a purpose for their own lives.

Maybe some of the AN kids on the forum would like to make cards? It’s a very low key activity that really helped distract me in between meals, snacks, shakes, and Dr. visits. I know previous sufferers are not allowed on the forum, but making cards helped me so much! Perhaps it could help other kids in their own recovery?

Thank you for everything,


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