CO anorexia survivor shares story of recovery

Posted at 8:28 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 22:28:24-04

Eating disorders are a choice, or they only happen to women.

Those are just some of the many misconceptions surrounding eating disorders.

More than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders and it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Kristal Dulleck struggled with anorexia for thirty years. She wanted to share her story on national Eating Recovery Day in hopes of helping just one person who may be struggling.

"I hit rock bottom when I was in college," she said.

At just 78 pounds, Doctors said her internal organs were shutting down.

"Family flew in to say goodbye, and then my husband walked in, my boyfriend [at the time], and proposed to me and that's the first time I realized that no matter how rock bottom I felt that I still had a little bit of fight in me," Dulleck said.

For her, she says it was a wake-up call and the beginning of a long battle with anorexia.

"I did very well for a while and then I found several situations where, again I felt like I wasn't good enough," said Dulleck.

In her case, her illness wasn't necessarily about being thin.

"It was my way of showing I hurt, and it just about killed me," Dulleck further explained.

Then in 2013, with support from her family. Dulleck went into five months of treatment at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver and for the first time, she said something stuck.

"It's very close to my heart to think that it took me that long, but I don't feel guilt about that anymore," Dulleck said.

"Once the eating disorder clicks in it really is difficult to get out of," said Medical Anne Marie O'Melia, Medical Director at the Eating Recovery Center.

O'Melia said the primary root of eating disorders is genetics.

"50 to 80 percent of the risk of developing an eating disorder you were born with - it's just in your genes," she further explained.

O'Melia also said they've started to see kids as young as 10 with eating disorders brought on by dieting too young.

"We're pushing that first diet into lower and lower ages, we're pushing down to 3rd grade, 2nd grade," she said.

No matter what age it starts, Delleck wants people to know - you can find a road to recovery.

"I feel very healthy, I love and accept myself - I don't pay attention to the size I wear, I don't own a scale," she said.