When Lauryn Lax was 23 years old, she stood at five-foot-four and weighed just 79 pounds. The graduate student was on the brink of death, suffering from an eating disorder which ruled her life… until 9 total strangers intervened.
It all started when a couple named Frank and Louise Grant noticed Lauryn at their local Nashville YMCA. The pair noticed her working out constantly and growing dangerously thin. They worried for the young woman, young enough to be their daughter, but when they realized she was working out multiple times a day, they decided they could no longer stand by and do nothing.
That’s when Louise made the bold decision to approach Lauryn. “I know we don’t know each other,” said Louise. “I have to tell you that I would like to get you some help. I believe that you have an eating disorder, and I really want to do something to help you.” Lauryn rejected Louise’s help, saying she was fine.
That’s when a group of concerned gym-goers came together and began to form a plan.
It started with Louise and another gym-member tracking down Lauryn’s father online. They gave him a call, explaining their worries, and Lauryn’s dad confirmed their suspicion: Lauryn had an eating disorder. In fact, she’d struggled with eating disorders since she was just 10 years old and had already been hospitalized a dozen or more times. Lauryn’s dad recalled how– the last time he saw her– he got in his car afterward and just cried, wondering if his daughter would make it.
After that conversation, the group knew they needed to get Lauryn to a doctor.
The next morning, 9 gym-members gathered at the gym early in the morning, before Lauryn’s workout. When she arrived, they staged an intervention in the YMCA parking lot and– despite Lauryn’s protests– convinced her to go with them to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
There doctors found Lauryn’s heartbeat had slowed down to such an alarming rate that doctors nearly had to install a pacemaker. If the group had not intervened, Lauryn likely would have died.
Lauryn spent three days in intensive care and three and a half weeks in a cardiac unit. Although this was not her first time in the hospital, it was the intervention at the gym that finally gave her the strength to get healthy. So, after she was released from the cardiac unit, Lauryn moved to Miami where she would spend the next 11 months in a treatment center.
Over the course of those 11 months, Lauryn received constant letters and emails from her “angels” back in Nashville, the strangers who had stopped her at the gym.
After a year of treatment, Lauryn was finally healthy and no longer ruled by her eating disorder.
In fact, Lauryn went on to graduate from an occupational therapy program. She now lives in Austin, Texas where she helps other struggling with eating disorders.
She’s even started her own recovery support system called THRIVE Wellness and Recovery. Through THRIVE, Lauryn teaches classes on women’s empowerment, self esteem, and life skills sessions. But Lauryn has never forgotten the brave people who saved her life.
“I consider them some of my greatest friends in Nashville,” said Lauryn of her angels. “I think our hearts kind of bonded through that experience.”
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