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Student returns to eating disorder clinic a fourth time — to support other patients

(Photo courtesy of Winter Groeschl)

(Photo courtesy of Winter Groeschl)

Counseling graduate student Winter Groeschl  began her struggle with anorexia and self-harm between the ages of 12 and 14. Her mother was also anorexic, making her a “role-model” that Groescho picked up the eating disorder from, she said.

At 19, Groeschl entered treatment at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. She was to return to Rosewood at age 20 and 21 because of relapses into her disorder. 

The third and final time, her parents decided that they weren’t going to pay for any more treatments.

“That year was the hardest,” Groeschl said. “Last time, I really had to fight to get back into treatment. ... But (Rosewood) didn’t give me any shame.”

Groeschl said Rosewood never told her, “we told you so” or “you should be better by now,” she said. They told her to come back, despite her discouragement.

This past summer, Groeschl was not a patient. Instead, she worked for Rosewood in tech support. Now, she is a graduate student at ASU pursuing her master’s degree in counseling.

There were many factors contributing to her eating disorder, she said, including perfectionism and anxiety. She would often resort to self-harm.

At one point, her mother found out and attempted to take away all the sharp objects around her. This continued, but her boyfriend at the time also found out. He threatened to tell her mother if she didn’t stop.

“In the moments that I felt really overwhelmed and had so many thoughts going on in my head, it was something I had to numb out,” Groeschl said. “I didn’t want to have to feel everything I was feeling at the time, and this was something physical I could take out on myself right away. It released some of that pressure I was feeling. I literally felt like I was going to explode inside.”

The change began when she left for college in Idaho to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Reaching out to her father, Groeschl entered Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders.

Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders, which has three locations in Wickenburg and one center in Tempe, works with patients suffering from both eating disorders and substance addiction.

“Do what you can in order to save your life because you never know if it’ll take three times or twenty times, but always give yourself that chance and never feel ashamed about getting help,” Groeschl said.

Jacob Lost, one of Groeschl's friends during treatment, met Groeschl in February of 2011 at a Rosewood group meeting. The two stayed friends long after leaving treatment.

“I literally watched her grow into the person that she is now, working at Rosewood and figuring out that she can be loved,” he said. “I’ve just seen so much growth in the past four years.”

Had Groeschl not gone to Rosewood, Lost said she would not be the person that she is today.

Lost also admires the fact that she decided to pursue her master’s degree in counseling. He also works in mental health.

Rosewood offers several levels of care, including inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization and outpatient care.

“Every client is very individualized here,” said Shannon Hershkowitz, Rosewood alumni coordinator. “It really depends on what addiction level they’re at.”

The 24/7 nursing staff and support is what helps the most in the beginning of treatments, Hershkowitz said.

“With people who battle with addictions and eating disorders in general … they can easily talk themselves out of why they shouldn’t come,” she said.

Hershkowitz said the tech, who are there to support the clients, encourage the patients because they understand what the client is going through.

“When you’re surrounded by people who understand, it makes things a bit easier,” Hershkowitz said. 

Related Links:

Eating disorder survivors seek to dispel stigma of illness

Eating disorder survivor shares experience

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