Stephanie Serfass: Patient Finds Recovery and Loves Herself Again After ACUTE
Two years ago, I was at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders and Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health for just a few weeks. Little did I know those few weeks at ACUTE would change the course of my entire life.
Prior to ACUTE, I had been battling my eating disorders (both anorexia and bulimia) for nearly 20 years. I spent the majority of my 20's in various hospitals and treatment centers. I was labeled “treatment resistant” and my parents were told I would die of my disease. I was in a treatment center in Arizona and not doing well at all; I was as sick as I had ever been and felt helpless in my battle against symptoms. That's when they recommended I transfer to ACUTE.
My time at ACUTE was difficult but 100 percent what I needed. It was one of the only treatment centers I have ever been to that was strict without being shame-based in their treatment of patients.
Following my time at ACUTE, I went to a step-down program and after that I struggled off and on for a few months. Finally, I got to the point where I was just so sick of hating myself. Spirituality has always been a part of my life, and in all honesty, my struggles with the eating disorder made it difficult because I knew I was not honoring what God had given me.
My identity for years had been my disease and I knew that needed to change; God worked in my life to help me see that I needed a new foundation. I began with, “I am a child of God,” and went from there. I knew I had no self-esteem, but I had also heard that you build self-esteem by doing esteem-able acts (this is from Alcoholics Anonymous, in the later years of my eating disorder I struggled with addiction as well).
I now have been in full recovery, symptom-free and clean/sober for 16 months. I am currently employed at my church and work within the children’s ministry department. I am enrolled in school online and am about a year away from my bachelor’s degree in Theology and Biblical studies. I have been able to repair relationships that I thought would never be ok. I have sponsees that I am able to help. I started taking a kickboxing class with some of my co-workers and it has been a blast!
Most importantly, I like who I am today.
I can sit with myself without feeling a compulsive need to change the way I’m feeling through self-destructive behaviors. I am so grateful for everyone at ACUTE.
Simply put, ACUTE saved my life before I was able to fight for it myself, and for that I am forever grateful.