Lindsey Wert was 13 years old when her back-and-forth struggle with anorexia nervosa and bulimia began.
While she said that living in a culture where the pressure to be thin is overwhelming, Wert said it was a mixture of situations that led her into a battle with eating disorders.
"The main reason it started for me was at that point in my life, I had come forward about an abuse that happened to me as a child," said Wert, a marriage and family therapist intern. "The eating disorder was my way of dealing with it. My family didn't handle the abuse. Nobody supported me. The eating disorder was a means for me to control what I couldn't control. I could control what I ate and didn't eat. It was a coping mechanism for me because I couldn't deal with the trauma and hatred shown to my body."
The abuse done to her eventually became an abuse she carried out on herself through anorexia, bulimia and compulsive over-exercising. It wasn't until she was 17 that she began to realize she had a problem.
"I was an athlete and the eating disorder was starting to affect everything," said Wert. "I was throwing up blood and getting stress fractures because of what I was doing to my body. Something in me, however, always drove me to surround myself by what I didn't have — supportive women and mother figures."
Wert was able to get help, and now at age 26, she is on the path to becoming a therapist dedicated to helping others recover from eating disorders. She's half-way done with her internship and will become a "full-fledged" M.F.T. in another year.
"I just always have known that I wanted to become a therapist and work with people with eating disorders," said Wert. "It's because of the trauma of my own personal story that led me to that decision. Now that dream is coming true."
Wert is already active in the field of eating disorders and has done presentations on the topic at local high schools. Through a connection with Michelle Minero of the Petaluma-based Eating Disorders Recovery Support, Wert has becoming involved in the organization's annual conference in a unique way.
"I'm performing &‘From the Inside Out: Finding My Inner Light,' a one-woman show I put together a few years ago for EDRS week that tells the story of a young woman's journey through years of eating disorders, trauma and sexual abuse," said Wert. "There are about five or six characters that tell the story. It's a heavy, horrific and sad story, but it's also about the power of love, finding a voice and transformation."
Wert was inspired to write the show after attending an eating disorders summit in Sacramento several years ago where a woman performed a similar type of show.
"I thought it was so cool and wanted to do one myself," said Wert. "I wrote my piece five years ago. It had such a flow and it was such a pleasure performing it."
Wert will perform "From the Inside Out — Finding My Inner Light" at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4 during the EDRS fifth annual conference for Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Pathways to Eating Disorder Recovery. Wert's show is open to the public. The cost is a donation.