Human Resources Director, Johnson & Johnson
Living in recovery from an eating disorder

Geralyn struggled with eating disorders starting in high school. Despite therapy as a teen and periods of remission, bulimia continued to rule her life over the next two decades, leading to intense feelings of isolation, shame, and depression. After a renewed commitment to recovery and self-acceptance, Geralyn found success. Today, Geralyn knows and accepts herself, shares her story to help others, and finds joy in her professional and personal life.

Geralyn’s Story

How has your illness impacted your life?

Although I believed I was in control of food, ultimately it controlled me. It impacted how I talked to myself — I felt a deep sense of self-hatred, shame, and loathing. I hated my body because it was never “perfect” and I just couldn’t accept myself for who I was. I had a hard time expressing emotions and being vulnerable. I had difficulty in relationships and would disconnect from the people I loved. I felt alone, isolated, depressed and hopeless.

What was your most difficult time?

In 2015 I was having trouble in my marriage and had a very difficult work situation. My eating disorder consumed me to the point of depression.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

I eventually divorced and got a new position at work. I then made 2016 a year of self-discovery, self-care and self-love. I got certified as coach, became a fitness instructor, did a lot of reading and self-reflection, and got the treatment I needed. I surrounded myself with people who supported me – my coaching community, family, friends, work colleagues, my therapist and nutritionist. Talking about it openly at work also helped.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I have to really be conscious about what I eat and plan it out. I now eat to fuel my body and feel good from the inside out. I meditate, and am an avid runner. Fitness helps me release stress and feel good. I removed sugar from my diet because that was a trigger to binge and then want to purge. I also stay away from people who “trigger” me emotionally.

What advice would you give to someone struggling with an eating disorder?

Recovery is possible, but it takes commitment. There is hope and you can have an amazing life. Once you have the awareness that you have a mental health condition, you can act. Find the treatment that works best for you, and surround yourself with supportive people.