This week is a very special week for me and so many others as it is National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week! This is a week where those who have been affected and also those that haven’t come together to fight this horrible, yet serious illness. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with nearly 1 person dying every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder. Also, more than 30 million people in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder; 10 million of those individuals are men. I, personally have been affected by this illness and have come close to death twice as I didn’t feel like I was beautiful nor believed in myself. I almost let this illness win, but with my platform, “Staying Hope•Full,” I am fighting with so many others who are fighting back to combat eating disorders and mental illnesses. I have shared my story with the local news and am in the process of writing my own book about my personal experiences and how to help others that may be struggling. It is so healing to be able to share my story and have personally helped four young girls around my area that were struggling with this illness to seek and find a treatment center for help. I am proud to say that I am recovered and am achieving the goals I set for myself that I never thought I would achieve. But, I am “Staying Hope•Full” and am working to help others to believe in themselves again and to never give up hope! There is so much more to live for than food to be overpowering your life! If you or someone you know needs help, I am always here or you can always call the National Eating Disorder Awareness Hotline at 1-800-931-2237. You are beautiful just the way you are!