Overcoming anorexia: Meet Lydia, an inspiring teen
"She has a really big heart. She cares a lot about other people and their feelings.” That’s how Martha Danielson describes her 17-year-old daughter, Lydia.
In August 2017, the one who cares for others was in need of some extra TLC herself. Lydia struggled with body image and was diagnosed with anorexia at age 15.
Working together to face the challenges of anorexia
Lydia had been seeing a therapist who suggested she work with a child and adolescent psychiatrist as well. The Danielsons reached out to another family who had faced challenges with anorexia and they recommended Dr. Susan Jones at Virginia Treatment Center for Children. They contacted Dr. Jones, shared Lydia’s background and, together, they made a plan.
“Everything moved really fast,” recalls Lydia.
Dr. Jones and Lydia’s therapist agreed that intensive inpatient care was the first step. Just a few weeks later, Lydia was on a plane to the Eating Recovery Center (ERC) – a system dedicated solely to the treatment of eating disorders – in Denver. There, she made great progress and friends, though the bubbly and busy teen admits that she wasn’t fond of the activity restrictions in place to limit the number of calories she burned while focusing on stabilization and treatment.
A sweet homecoming and a path towards recovery
Lydia credits ERC for giving her back her life, but she sure was glad to return home to the love of family and friends. That’s when she began regular appointments with Dr. Jones to continue the momentum from ERC and advance on the path toward recovery.
“Lydia and her parents have embraced the advice of her treatment team and worked to address her eating disorder head-on for a full recovery,” says Dr. Jones. “Teens do recover from eating disorders and Lydia is a true success story.”
Lydia continues to see Dr. Jones every 12 weeks. In addition to checking on progress, her appointments now involve a lot of laughing, talking about life and celebrating how far she’s come.
“I love Dr. Jones. We always have good conversation,” says Lydia of the bond the two have developed.
Work hard, play hard
Despite missing out on the first half of her sophomore year during treatment, Lydia has maintained good grades, exceled in her school’s theater program and made plans to attend college, while continuing to focus on her health and well-being. She even earned the starring role of Cinderella in her high school musical this spring – unfortunately, the show was halted by COVID-19.
Although Lydia isn’t performing on stage the way she planned, she is doing plenty of singing and dancing with her mom these days – whether in their kitchen at home or cranking up the radio in the car. They’re laughing until their stomachs hurt and packing in as much fun as they can before Lydia heads off to Christopher Newport University in the fall.
Lydia has a bright future ahead of her
“She’s very empathetic, but she’s also strong enough to stand on her own two feet. I hope she has a great college experience, makes lifelong friends and finds her passions,” says Mom of preparing to send her daughter off to college. “As far as her eating disorder, I’m confident with her going away. Lydia has shown the ability to make good choices. There may be hiccups along the way, but she knows where she’s been and we’re all looking forward from here.”