Eating disorder leads student to help others

Melissa Ford, freshman from Newburgh, Ind., lived with anorexia for three years before she started talking about her illness. || Anna Taylor/The News
Melissa Ford, freshman from Newburgh, Ind., lived with anorexia for three years before she started talking about her illness. || Anna Taylor/The News

Melissa Ford, freshman from Newburgh, Ind., lived with anorexia for three years before she started talking about her illness. || Anna Taylor/The News

Melissa Ford, freshman from Newburgh, Ind., was 12 years old when she developed anorexia. Coming from a dark childhood that ultimately resulted in stress and emotional damage, Ford believed her diet was her only escape.

“I felt like I was really out of control with everything and I had no control over what was happening,” she said. “So, I thought that was the way I could control emotions – by taking control of my diet.”

For more than three years, Ford kept her disorder a secret from her family and friends. Her mother blamed her weight loss on her age since it was around the time she was experiencing body changes.

“It didn’t start off as (anorexia),” Ford said. “By the time I realized what was going on, it was way too late to do anything about it.”

When Ford was in eighth grade, she experienced seizures and passed out several times. Ford took numerous tests at the hospital, and the results always came back as normal, until she took the Glucose Tolerance Test.

Ford said that test came back with results that normally only resulted from abusive dieting. After that she knew she needed to open up about her disorder to her mother.

“I jumped into my mom’s bed one night and just told her everything,” she said.

Ford then started getting treatment and professional help for the disorder. She stopped her treatments before starting college last fall and claims her real help was not a result of treatments.

“You can’t force someone into treatment,” she said. “I went away and did the counseling and the medications and got treated for the things that were going on with my body but, honestly, what really helped was my faith, and my book really really helped me.”

Ford wrote and published “Cross My Heart, Hope (Not) to Die” through Tate Publishing Company while she was dealing with anorexia. She said she wrote it as a way to vent, since she was keeping the disorder a secret from everyone.

“I sent in (a chapter of the book) as a joke and never expected it to get published,” she said.

The book is about a young woman who is suffering from an eating disorder, too.

Through her suffering and her experiences, Ford decided she wanted to help other young women who deal with the same thing and decided to major in dietetics as a result.

“It’s never not going to be a part of who I am,” Ford said. “I have to watch it every single day. But, I think that being happy now and being healthy and having joy can give me so much more than the eating disorder ever could.”

Faces & Places is a weekly series that profiles the people and places of Murray. Every person and every place has a story. Let us tell it.

 Story by Anna Taylor, Features Editor.