Earlier this year, Rachael Farrokh was almost on the verge of death, weighing just 40 pounds after anorexia left her frail and sick. But after she put out a desperate call for help on GoFundMe, she raised nearly $200,000 — and has made a tremendous recovery.
At first, she was treated at home and then taken to a nearby hospital in San Diego where she underwent physical and mental therapy. In recent months, she has been admitted to a treatment center in Portugal. Though she’s still frail, and has a hard time standing and walking on her own, she has gained weight and looks very different than she did a few months ago. “I’m excited about life, because what was a glimmer of hope 3 months ago has turned into a certainty to live,” she wrote on Facebook. “I regained the clarity and strength of my mind.”
She has been walking several times a day, for 15 minutes at a time, in hopes that her leg muscles will strengthen and help her balance. According to her doctor, who posted on Farrokh’s Facebook page with her permission, her mental recovery has been quick, and she feels hopeful rather than despondent. She has a “rescue cat” who keeps her company during treatment, and is even thinking of gardening on her terrace. “I was finally treated with respect,” Farrokh told NBC Southern California. “I didn’t know that I deserved it.”
With the blessing of her medical team, Farrokh has traveled to Washington for the second annual March Against ED, fighting for eating disorder awareness. The group is lobbying lawmakers about the Anna Westin Act, a comprehensive eating disorders bill that would train health professionals and teachers, clarify mental health laws, and ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate digitally altered ads’ effect on eating disorders.
“I have so many people backing me now and I have a platform to actually create this awareness so to sit on the sidelines is impossible for me,” Farrokh told NBC Southern California.