By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)– A paramedic in Denver is saving lives in the city where hers was saved four years ago.

Sydney Fitzgibbons struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and diabulimia from her mid-teens through her early 20s.

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Sydney Fitzgibbons (credit: CBS)

She’s sharing her story of recovery for National Eating Disorder Awareness week, which begins on Monday.

As an emergency paramedic, Fitzgibbons remembers what it was like riding in the back of the ambulance she now works out of.

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(credit: CBS)

“At my worst, I saw the walls of ICUs about 20 times in two years. I was really sick. I was really in my eating disorder. And I was being told I could possibly die from this,” Fitzgibbons said.

Fitzgibbons finally found healing in 2014 when she came from her home in Arizona to the Eating Recovery Center in Denver.

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(credit: Sydney Fitzgibbons)

She received inpatient treatment and the follow-up care she needed to get her body and mind healthy again.

“I really feel that I owe them my life,” Fitzgibbons said. “They helped me reconnect with my values about what I’m passionate about.”

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(credit: CBS)

After recovering from her eating disorder and finishing life-saving training, Fitzgibbons moved to Denver as her permanent home to pay it forward.

“The city and the people here saved my life. And they did for me what I couldn’t do for myself,” She explained. “So now… I’m here to do for you what you can’t do for yourself.”

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Sydney Fitzgibbons (credit: CBS)

Recovery has not always been easy, but she wants people to know that there is life after an eating disorder.

“I had bad days and bad moments. But the biggest miracle for me was that I didn’t have a bad life anymore… (Eating disorders) are prevalent and they’re difficult to deal with. But there’s hope. And people get better from this.”

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(credit: Sydney Fitzgibbons)

Anyone struggling with an eating disorder can call the Eating Recovery Center for a free confidential assessment at 1-877-711-1690. Assessments are provided by master’s level clinicians who can recommend the right level of care for each individual.

Additional Information from the Eating Recovery Center:

https://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/recovery-centers/denver

The NEDA Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET.

You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237.

For more information on eating disorder awareness:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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