A Southern California woman who at 5-foot-7 weighed only 40 pounds because of anorexia has made major improvements and was almost unrecognizable Tuesday.
Last May, 37-year-old Rachael Farrokh was so gaunt and weak from the disorder, she could barely speak. The Orange County resident was bedridden and fighting for her life.
"It's never being good enough, never feeling worthy," Farrokh, now an eating disorder activist, told NBC4 in May.
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Her story and public plea for help, covered by NBC4, kick-started donations through her GoFundMe account and helped Farrokh raise nearly $200,000 for treatment.
Farrokh said she used the money to pay her mounting hospital bills.
Today, she is on the road to recovery.
"I have a huge family – it's called the world," Farrokh said. "They embraced me with one big hug!"
Farrokh has gained back much of the weight she had lost. She is still frail and weak, but now the woman who was once an aspiring actress is a determined activist.
"They were so worried about my body, and my body wasn't responding because they didn't understand the brain had to come along with the body," Farrokh said. "My mind is so much more clear and my thinking has developed."
Farrokh and her husband, who had quit his job to care for her, were among hundreds of people who marched in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to bring attention to the impact of eating disorders.
She explained why many of the treatments she tried had failed, and why she ultimately agreed to be treated at a clinic in Portugal.
"I was finally treated with respect," Farrokh said. "I didn’t know that I deserved it."
She said she will join other families who are asking Congress to mandate insurance coverage of inpatient care for people with 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 said.