Mental health…what a taboo topic. In 2019, things have come a long way and the discussion on mental health has definitely increased, but there’s still an air of negativity surrounding individuals who are open with their struggles. For three years (2016-2019) I have had the most up and down journey with mental health to include depression, abusing substances to make myself feel better (legal not illegal) and my eating disorder, which I have struggled with for upwards of 10 years. To add to the mess of my mental health, I am an extremely empathetic person and that has gotten in the way of me really focusing on what is important for my personal recovery. Being open about my struggles has been extremely hard because admitting to not being able to take care of yourself is something that no adult wants to do, especially someone who has a job that involves making sure other people are taking care of themselves and making time to do things that all adults need to do. For the past three years I have had to make sure that others around me are doing great, all while feeling isolated and unable to identify what I was really struggling with. This lead to me pushing those who loved and cared for me away, letting those who wanted to use me in and allowing them to have a negative impact on my life and completely letting myself go leading to me hitting my rock bottom.
When you’re struggling with any type of mental illness, it’s incredibly hard to pull yourself out of it because denying there’s a problem is so much easier. Even when those around me who cared voiced their concerns I would brush it off and project onto someone, making it seem like I had it all together. Throughout the last three years I have unsuccessfully gone to therapy, thinking that I could handle all of the negative aspects in my life. I used my eating disorder, negative relationships and any substance I could…mainly alcohol (never to the point that it impacted my ability to do my job) to escape my problems and make it seem like I had it under control. Controlling the negatives things I did to myself gave me a fall sense of “having it all together”, when in reality I had nothing together and every day was a struggle. I found myself punishing myself daily with exercise, controlling my food to an absurd level, bingeing, purging…anything to make myself feel something because feeling pain was better than feeling the nothing that had consumed my life. I’m not writing this for pity, I’m simply writing this because although my sense of positivity is newly found, I feel like I’m finally on the other side. I no longer feel the need to punish myself because that’s not helping anything, I’m working to improve the relationships I let go to the wayside, I’m cutting out negativity from my life to include people and things that do not spark job and I’m finally focusing on me for the first time ever.
As cliché as it sounds, you become your thoughts, you become the people you surround yourself and only you have the ability to change the way you feel. Yes, people around you can help with that, but you ultimately have to decide you want to be better. It took me 3 years of pain and suffering to finally decide that enough was enough…I woke up one day and decided that I was going to eat because I want to fuel my body, workout because I love my body and want to be healthy, put down anything that didn’t make me feel 100% and work every day to make myself and my relationships with the ones in my life that have always been there better. I don’t have it all figured out and I will never claim to, but every day I’m taking steps to figure out how to cope with sadness, grief, loneliness, and letting go of what I cannot control. 2019 is my year to really focus on myself and become the Sara that I know I’m meant to be and the first step in doing so is letting go of my past and making sure that I take steps everyday to change the things that clearly did not get me anywhere. If I can help at least 1 person see that they are not alone and that we all have demons we struggle with, my job here is done. I like to be an open book and not hide my struggles because that honestly does no good. I am not ashamed that I have struggled, I am proud that I finally found the strength to pick myself up and find value in my life. If any of you needed a sign to keep going, this is it.
P.S. I don’t know if this made sense and I’m sorry to anyone who proof reads my writing. I really just wanted to get this out and maybe help one person today. If you are struggling, it’s okay, it does get better and you can do this!