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Julie Graybill, Mrs. Georgia United States 2004

A Hunger for Something Greater

By Jim Herman


Just another annual beauty pageant?  Not so if Dacula’s Julie Graybill is participating.  After being crowned Mrs. Georgia United States,
competing for the National Title in
Las Vegas in August is next.  Win or loose, this 26-year-old brown-eyed beauty is on a mission! 
Her platform will consist of a topic that was born from personal experience; one that every young person, and parent, should be aware of.


As a 20-year-old college student, Julie Graybill’s personal torment and despair peaked.  “Honestly, I did not want to live.  I would go to sleep
every night hoping not to wake up,” she says.   “I was alone, consumed by guilt, and too ashamed to seek help.”


Graybill’s journey has been a long one; one she feels God called her to share.  The topic, her pageant platform and personal testimony, is
called “A Hunger for Something Greater: Eating Disorder Awareness and Prevention.”


Unknowingly to the freckled face young Julie at the time, the root of her disorder would begin at age 8 as a third grader.  Following the
summer before school started,
Julie began her first diet due to some weight gain during the summer months.  Compliments began immediately.

“Oh, you have lost weight and look so good!  Your dress looks good on you,” says
Julie, recalling the comments.  “I remember how good
I felt when people noticed and commented on my new shape.  This is where it began although it did not progress to the point of desperation
until 13 years later.”


During high school Julie Graybill was a member of the Parkview Cheerleading Team and was crowned homecoming queen in 1994.  She
competed for and was crowned
Miss Teen Georgia 1994, and went on to receive the honor of first runner-up at the 1995 Miss Teen America
pageant.  Julie’s busy life as a teenager did not allow her disorder to surface; that would occur later in college.


In 1995 she enrolled at Graceland University, Lamoni, Iowa.  The busy everyday life as a teenager in her home setting was replaced with the
anonymity of a first year college student in a small town, far removed from the populace and comfort of
Gwinnett County near Atlanta GA.


“My eating disorder owned me,” says Julie.  “It lied to me and made me miserable.  In college I finally faced my darkest most desperate moment. 

In the fall of 1997, I dropped to my knees in my lonely apartment weeping in hopelessness, completely fatigued, emotionally and physically.  I cried out to
Jesus for help.  Jesus knew my secret, but He was the only one.  I couldn’t stand it another day; I was in a destructive cycle  that I could not get myself out of.  I knew that Christ was my only answer.”


Finding the crumbled piece of paper where she had earlier written the phone number of a local hospital, Julie, with God’s help,
summoned the energy to depress the numbers on the telephone.  The desperate call was disappointing as it was answered by an answering
machine, where she left a crying plea for help.  Within 5 minutes she received a callback from
Leslie, a nurse from Iowa Lutheran Hospital’s
Eating Disorder unit. 


“I told Leslie everything,” says Julie.  “I told her how both of my eyes had broken blood vessels; how I had a sinus infection for months because I could not keep antibiotics down; how I was running 7 miles a day; how I had 18 college semester hours and was burnt out; how I couldn’t ever measure up to what I wanted to be, and how I couldn’t control my life.”


Facing serious challenges, Julie began treatment by letting her family know of her disorder.  Their support would eventually be the key to
recovery.  Continuing her education and attending support therapy, while renewing her faith in Christianity,
Julie graduated with highest honors, both personal and academic (Magna Cum Laude), from Graceland University in 1999.


Mission for others

Married to husband Nathan whom she met in college, Julie is now a stay at home mom to their two year old daughter Faith.  Previously she taught elementary school for three years.


“I have a personal testimony of recovering from an eating disorder and now dedicate myself to helping others who are struggling,” says Julie. 
“I entered the
Mrs. Georgia pageant with one goal in mind—to share my struggle, my new hope, my victory in Christ, helping others who are
going through similar situations.”   


Julie Graybill leads an eating disorder support group.  The group meets each 2nd and 4th Tuesday at Gwinnett Community of Christ Church
in Dacula, GA from
6:308:00 p.m.  It’s free and open to anyone.  Julie will be glad to give you more information by phone at 770-654-0956.