A Talk with CFD Alumnus Savannah Voci: Life After Eating Disorder Treatment
At Center for Discovery, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to talk with Savannah Voci (alumnus of CFD Tampa) about her experience with anorexia and perfectionism. Her story and message for others in college and corporate work environments who may be struggling with an eating disorder is inspiring. Read our conversation below:
Can you tell us about your life before going to treatment at Center for Discovery?
I went to CFD in June of 2020, but for about seven years before that I had struggled with anorexia, starting around my senior year of high school. It got a lot worse when I went to college in Florida. Being in a sorority didn’t help because I was surrounded by people in similar situations to me. My eating disorder started out dealing with depression and anxiety, not with the goal to lose weight. I was a perfectionist and very controlling. In college I’d be up 24 hours studying and taking Adderall.
College came and went. People wanted me to get help. I lied to my parents and said I was fine. They live in New York, so they couldn’t see what I was doing on a day-to-day basis. After college, I thought: “The stress of college is over. You did it. You won’t be stressed with homework and assignments.” Then I got to the corporate world, and I realized that’s not the case. I had been dealing with anorexia for four or five years. I really struggled in corporate America. My job was in tourism, so I would take people out to dinner and not eat anything. I had a breakdown in my boss’s office where I just said, “I cannot go to this dinner, do not make me.” When the pandemic hit, I got laid off because of my industry. I realized: You have literally nothing else to do. Your life is a disaster. You hate your life. Just go to treatment. You don’t have to get another job and deal with this. Previously, anorexia was a way to numb my thoughts, but now that I’ve recovered, all of those things to numb are gone. Anorexia was a reaction to a problem.
What is your life like after eating disorder treatment?
My life is a complete 180. I was at such a point where I was ready to be done with my eating disorder because it had been so long. I felt dumb in treatment because I was the oldest person there, even though I was only 24. I was like, “I’m not going back, this is it, I’m just doing this.” If I didn’t get treatment at that time, it wouldn’t have worked because I wasn’t ready. I also came out. That was a whole other thing, and I have a great relationship. I’m very intuitive with my eating. I never really think about anything I used to think about. I used to have horrible acne when I was in my eating disorder. That has completely changed. I used to have such bad brain fog. I feel like I can remember things and be super present in conversations. I never had a relationship with exercise because I didn’t have the energy to do anything, and I wasn’t an athlete. I can incorporate movement when I feel like I want to now. I actually enjoy walking to the subway. I never thought I would enjoy that.
What advice would you give someone who is considering treatment for anorexia or another eating disorder?
If you are not willing and not wanting to get better, you really need to take a look at why that is. The first couple of weeks I was in treatment at CFD, I was like, I hate this, this is so stupid. I resisted it. When I realized I had nowhere else to be and nothing else to do, I was like, I can lean into this, and that’s when everything changed for me. I think that’s the difference between a successful treatment outcome and one that isn’t so successful. A lot of it is physical, but you have to know you can do this and lean on your support system and open yourself up to it. If you aren’t open to it, it’s going to be really difficult to change. It really is work. If you are thinking about going to treatment, you probably need to.
How is work going for you now following treatment for your eating disorder?
Once my eating disorder was put to the side, I haven’t actively tried to be a perfectionist. I actually started my own social media agency. My past self would’ve been critical or anxious doing that, but now I’m just like, “meh.” Recovery has transformed me. People will say, “We didn’t like you in college, but now we do.” I don’t know how I got out of the perfectionist mindset… maybe I just realized that nothing is that serious. Maybe it was having to dive into my inner thoughts in treatment. It’s just not worth it to me to get stressed out about little things. I don’t remember anything I was stressed out about a year ago. If I was working in an office, I think it would be different. I hated the diet culture. Before, it would’ve triggered me. I think being able to work from home and be in an environment that I feel comfortable in helps a lot. Being in my own environment has helped me recover for sure.
If you or a loved one find yourself struggling with anorexia or another eating disorder, Center for Discovery is here to help. Contact us today. Our experienced team of clinicians is ready to help you live life free from the restraints of an eating disorder.
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