Updated: Jan 10
I met my best friend Randi (now business partner) in December of 2010 at the end of our fall semester as freshmen in college. After hanging out with Randi for the first time, I immediately called my boyfriend (now husband) and told him that I had just met my soulmate. Our friendship felt like one of those relationships that had always been. I never
anticipated the trials that our companionship would endure. Randi watched me struggle with my PTSD, anxiety, paranoia, and literally saved my life when I was deeply depressed. At the end of a trialing time in my life, she was the only friend I had left and was the only friend I needed.
In May 2012, Randi announced that she would move to Palm Beach, Fl, to continue her dream as a performing arts major. I will admit that I was unfortunately sad that my best friend was
moving so far away, but I knew that it was what she had always wanted. So after the summer, my best friend left for Florida. I did not physically see Randi again until my bridal shower in December of 2012.
When I saw Randi, it was like no time had passed between us. We picked up exactly where we left off, except one thing was majorly different about my best friend.
When I saw Randi, she physically looked like she was
disappearing. I knew that we would have to talk about what was going on, and after the bridal shower, we went to the mall, and Randi discussed how she hated Palm Beach. I listened as she talked about her loneliness, inability to make friends (which was weird because Randi had always made friends easily), and her overall unhappiness. I hesitated to mention her appearance because I wanted to be sensitive to her feelings. Still, I did ask how she had been health-wise. Randi explained that she had been exercising and eating healthy. I then more or less told her to be careful and not focus so much on the food she ate, knowing that she was harming herself. However, I didn't understand the extent of the downward spiral which she was living in, and I am not sure she did either.
After my bridal shower, Randi returned to Florida, and I had a nightmare about Randi that I will never forget. I dreamt about being at Randi's funeral, and at the funeral, I was speaking about how she was the only true friend I had ever had. I woke up thinking it was just a terrible dream and did not mention it to Randi when we later talked on the phone. Then a
few weeks later, Randi was admitted to the hospital. I was worried about my friend and felt like I had failed to help her somehow. Then when Randi was released from treatment, she stayed with me for a weekend in my apartment. That was when Randi finally told me everything.
She told me about how a boy she had been dating said she was fat and how she had obsessively counted calories and exercised. She told me about her food restrictions...everything. Then as we both sat there with tears in our eyes, I told her about my nightmare and how I couldn't lose my best friend. That was when Randi explained that before she was admitted to the hospital, her doctor told her that "she was like a light bulb that was about to go out." That is when I realized I had to help my friend in whatever way I could.
I would like to say that after the hospital, everything got easier for Randi, but it was a process for her. I watched as her other friends left her, judged her, or told her to "stop" when she was exercising. As I mentioned at the beginning, Randi and I were soulmates. I just knew she didn't need people telling her the obvious (to just stop), and she needed someone to love her through her struggle.
Mental illness doesn't just turn off and on, it is a process of retraining your brain to react differently, and it is, at times a lifelong struggle. I understood from my personal mental health struggles that Randi's eating disorder and OCD would be lifelong struggles. If I witnessed her having ticks or triggers, I would talk to her about why or what she was feeling or thinking. We would talk, and we would pray a lot. However, at the end of the day, Randi had to decide to get better... I couldn't heal her; I could only support her and refuse to give up on her. She was and still is my best friend/soulmate/sister. We have been through a lot in our
friendship! No matter the struggle, she's got my back, and I've got hers!
I am proud to announce that Randi is in recovery and has been for a few years now! Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong journey, but she is the bravest woman I know! I love her dearly.
Watch Randi give her testimony on the 700 Club.
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