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Healthy Living: ‘I didn’t want my life to end that way,’ local woman on overcoming addiction and an eating disorder

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 8:18 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Leslie Crandall was born in Petersburg, Alaska, but raised primarily in Anchorage. Growing up she dealt with trauma. She was physically and sexually abused. Her parents divorced and by puberty, thoughts of her self-image started to take root.

“Probably around 13, I really started consuming alcohol. I was drinking and experimenting and smoking cigarettes and kind of getting into the party scene pretty young and then the bulimia onset at that point,” said Crandall.

Crandall said it was a combination of not knowing who she was and trying to fit in.

“Everything was about food and alcohol and not feeling myself, not feeling the pain and not feeling chaos or whatever it was that I was feeling and always needing that escape,” she explained.

By the age of 15, Crandall was dealing with full blow bulimia, which was her way of being in control.

She said, “We think we’re controlling something and we’re not, my life was completely out of control and I was spiraling.”

It was seven and a half years ago when Crandall hit rock bottom.

“Basically I almost lost my life. It got to the point where if I continued on, I was not going to be alive anymore,” she said.

Having been in and out of treatment centers continuously, Crandall had to make a choice. She said it was her family, her faith, finding a sponsor and going through a 12-step program that helped her get her life back.

“I didn’t want to end my life that way I didn’t, so I had to make a choice and I made a choice to get sober and to deal with my bulimia. The more I talked about it, the less power it had over my life and I had to want it because I wanted it for myself, for my own health and my own life really,” said Crandall.

She explained her biggest challenge was learning to view food differently, but her biggest inspiration, her five children. It was for them that she wanted to set an example, so she set a goal for herself and a lofty one at that.

“I was like you know what, I’m going to do a marathon,” she said.

Never having run one before, Crandall trained and dedicated the last five miles of the race to her kids.

“I pushed through and by mile 19, man I took off. I did this marathon in five hours and 49 seconds never running a marathon before,” said Crandall.

Once upon a time, Crandall hid her emotions, her guilt and shame, but in the moment of crossing the finish line, it was her pride that took front and center.

“It was one of the, like one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

The Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance is an organization to help those in Alaska struggling and also offers support. If you’re battling alcohol addiction, check out Recover Alaska for help.

If you have a health topic or story idea that you’d like to share or see covered, send me an email to aaramburo@ktuu.com.

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