Miss America 2008 Visits Sober Living by the Sea, Speaks to Clients about Her Own Battle with an Eating Disorder

Posted at October 5, 2009 | Categories : 2009 | 0 Comment

Sober Living by the Sea recently welcomed Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund, with a special luncheon and tours of each of the facilities. Kirsten then spoke to residents about her own struggle to overcome anorexia.

As Miss America, Kirsten has traveled the country creating an awareness and open dialogue about eating disorders in entertainment media, the fashion and beauty industries, and with the many young women who look to Miss America as a role model.

Kirsten’s visit to Sober Living began with coffee and an orientation about SLBS from Ryan Franke, Director of Clinical Outreach, and Melissa Preshaw, CRC Director of Corporate Outreach. Then, Kirsten toured each of the facilities (The Landing, The Rose and The Victorian).

“The homes were absolutely beautiful, with large glass windows looking right out to the beach, stunning decor, and the most warm, loving, engaging staff,” wrote Kirsten on her blog (see www.kirstenhaglund.org). “I couldn’t help but think to myself… what a blessing it would be to retreat to such a place, and spend all day, every day, caring for your soul and yourself; minus distractions, expectations, judgments, or other stresses.”

After the tours, Kirsten joined Michele Lob, The Victorian’s Program Director, Kathy Sylvia, Executive Director of Sober Living by the Sea, and other eating disorder professionals from around the community for lunch at The Dock in Newport Beach. There, she and an alumna of The Victorian were honored for their tremendous work raising awareness and scholarships to help those afflicted with the disease.

Following lunch, Kirsten spent an hour with the women of The Rose and The Victorian telling them of her personal struggles with anorexia that began with ballet classes as a child. Through the help of professional treatment, Kirsten is now in recovery and has dedicated herself to helping others by speaking about her past experiences.

“I’m struck by a wonderful and humbling realization every time I speak about this issue to people… that it is not my skills, or my talent, or my accomplishments, or any other measure of greatness or worth that enables me to connect with these other women, or make any kind of impact in any way,” tells Kirsten. “It is my flaws. It is my weaknesses. It is my humanity… There is tremendous power in honesty, disclosure, and the admitting of insecurity and vulnerability. Imperfection. It was a wonderful talk with those women.”

She goes on, “I (left) with such a feeling of hope, for them, for me, and for the triumph of love and understanding over moments when it seems like our personal demons are certainly going to drag us over the edge.”

“They are so extremely lucky to be in a place with such love, warmth, and specialized care. If only all those struggling with addiction and/or eating disorders had the resources to go to such a place for healing.”

Kirsten Haglund has established the Kirsten Haglund Foundation (KHF) to raise awareness about eating disorders while also providing hope, resources and scholarships for those seeking treatment.

“It is devastating to see a family left heartbroken and bankrupt because the insurance company does not recognize an eating disorder as an illness,” states the Foundation’s website. “Not one man or woman should die a victim to the disease, guilty and alone, because their family is… unable to pay for treatment.”

With such passion and commitment to a worthy cause, Kirsten sums it up best by writing: “We all have the right and the responsibility to define beauty on our own terms, to love and respect ourselves and our bodies. With complete recovery from eating disorders comes this peace. It is real, it is beautiful, and it IS possible.”

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