As part of their group therapy, patients at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s Eating Disorders Program released 40 Painted Lady butterflies that they had nurtured from caterpillars through chrysalides. Patients were asked to create artwork or write a poem, short story or passage related to transformation.

“You do not just wake up and become the butterfly.”


Butterfly Art

“I never thought I would be that girl. The girl who would cry herself to sleep every night because she wanted to be anyone but herself. The girl who wanted to break every mirror in the world because she despised her reflection. The girl who would punish her body by cutting it open, starving it and drinking to the point of oblivion. The girl who just never felt good enough or accepted for being who she really is. I look back at all those memories and it breaks my heart that I was that girl. I am still that girl but now I’ve transformed into a fighter! I fight to love/accept myself and I fight the horrific voices that scream in my head. That girl will always be a part of me but it’s time to leave her in the past. This way I can blossom into the girl I’m truly meant to be. For I am always changing but no matter what, I am always worth and I deserve happiness and love!”


Butterfly Art

“Once upon a time,
there was a girl
terrified of the unknown.
She lived in fear
of what lied beyond
what she knew,
trembled at the thought
of what her future might hold.
So she hid away in her room,
surrounded by her demons,
her only friends,
comforted by their familiarity.
But one night,
a hand reached out,
told her to trust them,
that it would be alright,
to not be afraid.
And so the next morning,
she took her first steps
into the great unknown,
and witnessed a world of light and beauty.
Two more steps;
she opened her mind to the possibilities.
Eight more steps;
she believed in a better life.
Six more steps;
she was not longer afraid of the beauty of change.”


Butterfly Art

“The inside of the cocoon is known only to the creature curled up inside. To the rest of us, it is nothing but a small shell hanging off a branch. I’ve been lucky enough to get to peek within one or two cocoons, and it is beautiful. Humans don’t get to crawl into a shell and hide for a few months until we are given brand new wings. Our transformation occurs suddenly. It is thrown at us when we least expect it. We can decline its invitation, or accept the challenge. Accepting the challenge is an underrated act of bravery. Suddenly, we find ourselves enduring brand new pain and struggle, trial and error, but finally, success and triumph. People may witness bits and pieces of the story, but behind one’s transformation is a much larger journey only known to the individual. That, is the human’s cocoon. To deny your cocoon is to deny your wings, and an all new ability to fly. Until you are ready to accept it, you will be bound to the ground for the rest of your life, squirming around the soil and watching everybody else fly away.”


Butterfly Art

“We all go through processes and what matters is the outcome. The butterflies went from caterpillar to cocoon and they were beautiful in each step. Now look at them, the best they can be after all of the steps it took to get here. It was worth it. We (patients/people) are pretty similar to them in the sense that we’ve always been beautiful inside and out but we go through things that change us. In the end, we turnout well and the difficulty of our journey shows us our bravery & strength.”


Butterfly Art

“Changing can be a little scary
But no need to feel a bit wary.
Life is all about growing
Just how a river is always flowing.
It’s always hard at first
And you will feel at your worst
But that is how you become strong
In order to move on with the melody of your song.
Everything takes patience and time
And eventually you’ll feel sublime.
Just how a caterpillar turns into a cocoon
Soon you’ll find yourself as a butterfly
Reaching to the moon.”

Patient Stories

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