One of the hardest parts of leaving for college was having to move away from my best friend: my little sister, Lauren. I was going to miss our random dance parties, Netflix marathons and going to our favorite restaurant.
What I didn’t realize, however, was how much she was going to miss me and the toll my absence would take on her.
After I left for my first quarter at school, my sister’s eating disorder rapidly progressed. I came home for Christmas and my best friend just wasn’t the same. She looked so frail and the light inside of her was gone. The person I waited months to see was no longer really there.
There weren’t any dance parties or Netflix marathons, nor did we eat at our favorite restaurant or go out for ice cream.
I watched as she locked herself away in our room everyday while my mother begged for her to just take a couple bites of her dinner or to come watch a movie with us.
I watched as this disease took away my sister and tore apart my family. We no longer were a team. In between the arguments over every meal with my sister, we argued with each other over how to deal with this. None of us knew what to do and we took out our frustrations on each other.
We were providing the perfect environment to perpetuate an eating disorder.
What we now realize after my sister’s treatment is that we play a direct role in her recovery. We must work every day to make sure that we are all on the same page and that we provide an environment in which Lauren can thrive in.
My sister and I are now closer than ever and I get to watch her as she rediscovers her love of music. Our random dance parties are crazier than ever and we’ve watched way too much Grey’s Anatomy.
I feel so blessed to be able to have a wonderful relationship with my sister again.
I also had the opportunity to photograph the pictures featured in this campaign and though Lauren has been featured in my photographs since I began doing photography, I have never seen her so genuinely happy and confident as she does in these photographs.
Project HEAL provides lifesaving grants to recipients who might not ever be able to afford treatment. My sister was one of them… her life like so many others can be saved. We are asking the world to acknowledge eating disorders. And to donate to help fund more treatment grants. My sister is worth it and so is every other person suffering from an eating disorder.
Click here and make a donation to our treatment grant fund, which will help individuals just like Lauren.