‘My flesh was decaying’ – Woman describes living with eating disorder

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a place to reconnect with friends, stay in touch with family members and announce big life events. But often times, social media sites become too easy to compare yourself to others. One Florida woman shared her story about her almost deadly battle.

At 24 years old, Lissa Barnett looked like death and even said she smelled like it.

“As a nurse, I have been around death. I have been around dying people and they have a certain scent. I was constantly surrounded by that smell. Come to find out my flesh was decaying. I was actively dying.”

She was down to just 62 pounds all to attain looks that literally can kill. “I knew I was about to die. I remember stepping up the one step and I felt my heart literally having a heart attack.”

That would just be the beginning of a dark road to recovery. Two treatment facilities later, a relapse and a once-rocky marriage, Barnett calls it the battle for her life. “I am faced with this constant demon, this constant battle in my head and I have to proactively choose the right thing to do.”

Social media didn’t make it easy then and certainly, doesn’t now. “These models are airbrushed. Here’s a thigh that is photoshopped. We are comparing ourselves to cartoon characters.”

Barnett’s now just 34. She has osteoporosis. She’s in menopause. She’s infertile. But her story is one of hope. She and her husband adopted a 3-year-old boy and on the bad days, little Isaiah is what keeps Lissa going.

“This is a little kid that doesn’t want to have a mommy that he is embarrassed of (sic), he needs a strong mommy.”

While Barnett battles every day, every meal, every snack to stay strong, her message to you, a simple one.

“I did have people in my life that didn’t know how to approach me and they didn’t say anything at all and that is one of the worst things you can do. You must say something.”

If you or someone you knows is struggling or needs help, you call the confidential helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Feb. 26 to March 4. Learn more about how to get screened and how to get help.

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