Goodbye Eating Disorder, Hello Restaurant Career

May 01, 2020

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders patient Hayley Charles

By: Hayley Charles

Before accepting help and arriving at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health, I was in a very difficult place.

Anorexia has been a part of my life since I was 13 years old, but before coming to ACUTE, I was very sick and struggling more than I ever have in my life. I could not get a grip once I was that deep into my eating disorder.

Depression, anxiety and obsession overcame me and I was in so much pain that death seemed like the only escape. I was flown to ACUTE and that's when I really started the long, painful journey to recovery.

The staff at ACUTE helped me get to a stable place where I was able to step down a level and start working on the real issues behind my eating disorder. Everyone who works there is amazing and my team was very understanding, despite my often temperamental attitude. Dr. Philip Mehler was very kind, I owe him so much. A big shout out to the physical therapy team as well, their visits were everything to someone stuck in a bed most of the day.

My life now is so much different and more beautiful than when I was in my disorder. I still have hard days and experiences where I struggle in a healthy body – that's to be expected – but I will never return to the throes of my illness.

Being trapped in and controlled by the eating disorder took everything from me and while it has required much time to restore what I lost, I am getting there. I cannot ever get back that time lost during my sickness and recovery and for that reason, I won't waste any more. I value the long year I spent at many levels of treatment and the insanely hard work that I, with the help of many others, did. That time has allowed me to be at a place where I truly exist in this world and can appreciate both the good and bad that life will inevitably bring.

I am now in a committed relationship, run a restaurant and enjoy food again! Never did I think I would willingly eat ice cream and French fries but here I am. ACUTE was the starting point for my path to a healthy, full life. I am very grateful for my time there and the staff's willingness to accept and help me with open arms and zero judgment.