Not One More 2024 | Center for Change

February 09, 2024

What I Would’ve Told my Teenage Self

I celebrated my 38th birthday this week…inching closely to the big 4 – 0. Some of my friends and family talk about aging in the wrong way like it’s a bad thing. But I liken it more to this famous David Bowie quote, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.

Living with an eating disorder for over a decade before finally getting professional help and treatment, I’m grateful for recovery and the years since I was in the depths of the disease. As years have passed, I have gained valuable insight. I’ve also better understood where I was, where I’ve come from, and how I care for myself daily so I don’t return to those dark days.

Last year, someone very near and dear to me was struggling with an eating disorder and suicidal ideation. She was in middle school, and so many things she struggled with reminded me of when I was that age. I felt at a loss for the right words to say to her when I visited her while she was an inpatient at a local hospital. When I got home that night, I sat at the dining room table, put on some music, and wrote out a letter to her amid tears dropping on the paper.

Here is what I wrote her:

My heart is broken. I’m at a loss. First and foremost, I love you more than you know. Because of early trauma in my life, I thought so little of myself. By your age, I was self-harming, attempting suicide, and struggling with anorexia. I chose to treat myself like I saw the harmful people around me treat me…like garbage. I was quickly discarded. Nothing to live for. The only way I felt relief was by starving myself, cutting myself, and planning my end.

It took until I was 24 to enter treatment for an eating disorder. A lightbulb moment came to me when my therapist said, “Quinn, you need to stop waiting for people to show up at your hospital bed. You need to start showing up at your hospital bed and believe that you’re worth saving.” That hit me like a brick wall. I had to stop looking externally for other’s approval/acceptance/validation. I decided then that I needed to start doing things differently if I wanted a different life for myself and the family I once prayed God would bless me with.

That doesn’t mean I walked a straight, clean line. On the contrary, it was zigzag. Though there were many ups and painful lows, the line went up, and I made progress. This made me a fighter, an advocate, and an overcomer. When I look at you, I see parts of my younger self. Someone who sees such little worth in themselves, who sometimes is blind to look in the mirror and see what the rest of us see…someone who is intelligent, kind, empathetic, compassionate, funny, clever, loyal, and someone who is going to change the world for the better. I don’t ever want you to settle, never negotiate with your demons, or have a life that you must escape from.

Go out and make this world a better place. Get the help you need and deserve. You’re worth fighting for.

Putting years behind us, we’re able to view life through a different lens. I wish that the woman who wrote this letter last year was the same person I was as a teen…maybe I would’ve found recovery sooner. No point in trying to replay those tapes now. I want to help others who may be struggling with an eating disorder so that they, too, can find help and recovery. There is so much to be hopeful for.

The Center of Change Difference: Center for Change is a place of hope and healing that is committed to helping those suffering from eating disorders break free and fully recover. The Center offers intensive treatment for eating disorders and co-occurring issues, including a specialty program for co-occurring diabetes (ED-DMT1). Our holistic approach, rigorous medical and clinical program, wide range of levels of care, and nurturing environment set us apart. Our extensive team includes seasoned medical, psychological, and nutrition experts who treat both the outward symptoms and underlying causes of eating disorders. Located in Orem Utah, Cottonwood Heights (Salt Lake City) Utah, and Boise Idaho, serving females/female-identifying/trans feminine in Inpatient and Residential, and all genders in PHP, IOP, and Outpatient. Accredited by The Joint Commission and AdvancED. Certified by TRICARE® and designated a Gluten-Free Food Service program. For more information, please visit or call 888-224-8250.