Turning Struggle into Strength: Breaking the Mental Health Stigma
I truly thought I would die feeling the way I always felt: addicted to food, hating my body, and truly thinking it was all my fault. It made perfect sense in my struggling. self-hating mind. I was the one binge eating. I was the one unable to maintain a “good weight.” I was failing to meet any of my expectations.
I developed a deep sense of self-loathing at a young age. I never felt like I was enough, and this deep sense of emptiness needed to be filled by food. I obviously had no idea of how empty I felt at the time, but now having pursued recovery and a path to greater mental health, I can see it so clearly.
The patterns I created and the relationship I built with food were so obviously a result of everything I was missing and desperately needed.
I’ve made it my life’s mission to break the stigma on mental health. I sought help and therapy changed my life. My old self (before opening my mind to the idea that working on my mental health was truly the answer) was terrified of the idea of therapy. It’s extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re struggling. Then, it’s intimidating to think of trying to “fix” yourself. But I needed to remind myself that I am not a failure and I am not broken. I deserve a better life and I have to put in some work to actually get it.
Anxieties and fears with food and my body did not just manifest on their own. I had family issues, I did not feel very loved or wanted in my home growing up. I found it nearly impossible to find anyone who understood me. I felt excluded from all the cool girls in grade school, high school, even college. I turned to food to make me feel better. But I would eat until I couldn’t breathe and immediately hated myself. The food was not able to serve the purpose I was hoping it was. Every single night for basically my entire life. It was a cycle that did nothing but make me hate myself even more. I didn’t realize that I needed to love myself and gift myself compassion for this deep struggle.
Therapy opened my eyes to the idea of self-love, self-worth and patience and compassion for myself. Most of us are never taught these things growing up. It is actually far more difficult for me to be nice to myself. My automatic mind is to ridicule myself until I get it “right.” But, my past with anorexia, binge eating disorder, body dysmorphia and bulimia have resulted in the complete opposite.
I have been going to therapy at least once a week for over two years now. And I have finally completed over one full month of eating disorder recovery. Successfully working on my mental health does not mean that I no longer struggle. It does not mean I am completely cured of my disorder. Mostly because these are not even close to my actual goals. All I want is to continuously work with myself. Understand that I will have ups and downs, I will fall hard, but I will never shame myself for doing so. I have now developed ways to love myself through even my darkest moments. Thanks to therapy. Thanks to feeling my feelings. Thanks to finally opening my mind and transforming it into a self-loving one.
Kelly is incredibly passionate about breaking the stigma on mental health. She has overcome eating disorders, anxiety and depression and utilizes social media to encourage her fellow warriors to love themselves more. Her posts, photos, videos are raw, vulnerable and inspiring to many who struggle with their relationship with their bodies, food, and many other aspects of life. She feels grateful to share her journey! You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.