We Lost a Beautiful Soul

About a week ago today we lost a blog reader to anorexia.
Elizabeth Ellie S was not a close friend of mine; heck, we never even met in person. I don’t know how she found my blog, but when she did she added me as a friend on Facebook and has been supportive ever since, “liking” my Facebook updates about the blog and giving me words of encouragement here and there. I admired her bravery, love, and kindness and wondered if we could meet someday. If anything, it just felt good to have support on Facebook when it feels a little quiet with the blog posts besides the occasional “likes” from close friends and family.

I awoke Friday morning to find out, through Facebook, that anorexia had taken her life. I remembered thinking months ago that she could die from this, but I never thought this soon, this sudden, and honestly … a big part of me said “Nah, that won’t happen.” Elizabeth had been working so hard to recover while helping others too, and it seems she just wasn’t able to get there fast enough.
I found a picture of Elizabeth in June of 2013 (below) and commented on it, telling her how I found it so powerful (I still do! I hope I don’t sound too creepy when I say I saved it to my computer…it just really spoke to me and I’m sure it speaks to many people). Elizabeth told me, “God has carried me far, I can tell you that. and I want to say, your blog/future project thingy is/will be very powerful as well.”
It was so cool to read that from a Facebook friend I had never met face-to-face. I’ll admit that I am still nervous about posting my blog (who wants to talk about dark feelings surrounding food?) but people like that (and you, my readers) make me feel like it’s okay to stay open. Also, being more open has helped the recovery process (and made me feel accountable to get better). And if Elizabeth said she was looking forward to reading what I had to say, if anything, I had to keep writing for her.

A powerful picture I found on Elizabeth’s Facebook back in June 2013. There are so many days where I’m sure many of us feel like this.

“i’m still a trainwreck im just a bit heftier,” she said in her comments below the picture.
I get it. The difficult part about eating disorders is most people think that once you gain the weight you are “better.” Gaining the weight for me (although it was never too dangerously low) was the scariest thing not only because I hated the weight gain, but because it was even more difficult to explain to people that I struggled a lot, if not more, than when I was at my lowest weight.
There are so many days where I feel like the “train wreck” Elizabeth portrays. There are so many days where I wonder how I can keep enduring the constant ups and downs with every meal, battling the love/hate relationship with food. It is emotionally and physically exhausting. As far as I have come with everything, I never knew it would take this long. My disordered eating was not as severe as Elizabeth’s, but if it took this long to work through my own recovery, I can’t imagine how long and intense it would have been for Elizabeth.
Right now I am in no way in danger of dying from my struggle with food. But I will say that I understand how difficult it is to push through it, that it is so much a mental disorder and not as easy as “stop eating so much” or “just eat more!” I can understand that, even in the face of death, Elizabeth couldn’t “just eat more” to save her life.
She worked hard. You can see from all her friends on Facebook that they knew she worked hard. And for Elizabeth, in her honor, keep working hard and fighting your demons. Do not let her have died in vane. Keep pushing through, hold onto hope in your darkest days, and know that we are all our own train wrecks sometimes; it takes strength and perseverance to just keep doing the best we can.


Elizabeth Ellie S

Elizabeth Ellie S, rest in peace. This blog post is dedicated to you for doing so much for others. May everyone exemplify your kindness and love.

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.
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7 Responses to We Lost a Beautiful Soul

  1. Tamara Steil says:

    That picture is a knockout. And your piece is a fine tribute to a wonderfully influential internet friend. I hope it touches people and motivates them in constructive and positive ways as Elizabeth would have wanted.

  2. Dean M says:

    Rachel, well said.
    Elizabeth, my prayers for you, your family and friends.

  3. Jen B says:

    Rachel, thanks so much for sharing. I’m in recovery for my life. I have dealt with my ED for longer than I lived without it and this really hits home. I’m so sorry Elizabeth didn’t get to realize a life without the disorder. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends. My she rest in peace!

    • Rachael says:

      Oh Jen! Thank you so much for your comment. My heart breaks for you and I send you my virtual hugs. :( Hang in there and keep your chin up! Good luck in your journey to recovery–you can do this!!

      • Jen says:

        I so appreciate your support and words of encouragement Rachael. It helps to know I’m not alone in this journey. So often I feel I’m a fish swimming in the wrong direction from everyone else. Knowing that others have made the journey helps me to continue to fight for my life!!!

        • Rachael says:

          Of course! And yes, you are CERTAINLY not alone. I found that the more vulnerable I was, the less scary it seemed, and the better I understood the ED and the more I could connect and sympathize and empathize with others. I realized I wasn’t so “crazy”–that there is a psychological AND biological aspect with all of this and that SO MANY people go through it. And society, unfortunately, stigmatizes and normalizes it, as if it’s a phase all girls go through :( It should never be a phase!! Keep fighting the good fight–and please, feel free to email/connect with me in any way!! :)

          • Jen says:

            You are so right and I pray for the day that society is more accepting of all shapes and sizes. Thank you for listening and responding to my comments. It helps more than you know to hear from someone who has been able to manage this disorder and live a happy and fulfilling life!!! You’re a true inspiration!

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