Captive No More: Maggie’s Story of Freedom From Her Eating Disorder


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Maggie McGaw testiominal picture


My name is Maggie, and I feel so blessed to be alive and well to share my rescue story.

Taken Captive By Her Diagnoses

My life was taken captive by the chains of multiple eating disorder diagnoses, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression for several years. After years of holding trauma from loss, natural disasters, sexual harassment, and the society we live in, these came to be my top coping skills. My only way of coping with life was slowly killing me.

I was always a kid that lacked self-confidence, struggled with social anxiety, and had a fear connected to superstitions, numbers, and intrusive thoughts. All these things were huge components of the eating disorder. The eating disorder robbed me of friendships, college, memories, my personality, my physical and mental health, passion, and life overall.

Seeking Treatment to Change Her Life

In 2020, my life was nearly taken, but still it wasn’t enough. Nothing was ever enough for the eating disorder. Unwillingly, I found myself in residential eating disorder treatment for the first time and left in worse shape. It’s so crazy to look back on those moments and how strong the eating disorder really was. A month later I was hospitalized after the eating disorder almost won. I tried for several months to convince myself I’d be okay, but I wasn’t okay. I didn’t understand the complexity of recovery, both physically and mentally. And I had no idea how trapped I really was.

In January of 2021, my life changed. I needed inpatient care again, and my family and outpatient team found Selah House. My family and I were still traumatized from my first treatment experience, but we knew my life was on the line. I couldn’t be more thankful because Selah House saved my life.

I found myself entering the doors of Selah House for treatment three different times over the course of two years and each time I distanced myself farther from the eating disorder. Each treatment stay was so different, and I learned so much. Most importantly, my mindset shifted positively each time.

Learning To Take Control

I remember when I first started the recovery process, I was so confused. I was ready for someone to just “fix me.” I didn’t understand how to do it, I wanted someone to do it for me, and I was terrified. Slowly I started to learn how in control I had to be. I learned that I was the deciding factor if I would recover or not. I was in charge of myself.

This took a lot of trust in professionals who tried to assure me, confidence in myself and my body, support from the people who love me and walk alongside me, and most importantly, faith. Jesus saved me. I was dead, but now I’m alive and it could only be Jesus. During my time at Selah House not only did I find myself, but I also found Jesus. I learned the importance of connection, trust, faith, hope, prayer, confidence, and the inner strength God gave me.

There are so many things I learned in treatment. And there was a lot of trial and error in finding out what would work best for me and my recovery. I soon discovered the importance of patience and giving myself grace. I also learned that relapses were inevitable as was “messing up”. I learned that it was all about what I did in these moments. These moments started as spirals but turned into really important lessons.

At the very beginning of my journey, I was told two things: (1) “you’re going to have moments, but you can’t give up”, and (2) “feel the fear and do it anyways.” This journey was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding. I wouldn’t wish my best day in the eating disorder on anyone, but I know now that recovery is worth it, and recovery is possible.

I remember when I believed there was no life for me and that I would never be able to escape the eating disorder, but here I am – truly living not just simply surviving. Each day is another step away from the eating disorder and a step toward light. And each step toward light is a step further into the beautiful life God created.

Living A Life of Gratitude

I’m thankful I’m no longer bound by the chains of the eating disorder. I’m thankful I chose recovery. I’m thankful for Selah House. And I’m so very thankful for life. I’m filled with gratitude for my time at Selah House, the lifelong friends and amazing staff I met while there, and the motivation to keep going and keep choosing life. I am so proud to be a Selah House Alumni.


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