“We walk around this world insisting “I am not my mental illness” yet we spend most of our waking hours browsing social media for people that HAVE a mental illness just like ours. Your mental illness does not have to define you, but it IS a part of you. And it’s up to you if you choose to use your story to encourage hope and promote happiness in others.
I was 8 when someone first told me I was fat. I was 12 when my eating disorder officially began to rear his nasty head, and I started my first stint with therapy 6 weeks later. In January of my senior year of high school, I went back to therapy and when I graduated, I entered a facility full-time; I spent the summer before college in a windowless room painted bright orange, trying to decipher just how many hours I could spend processing feelings about pizza before my mind gave out on me.
On the night of my 18th birthday, I withdrew my college acceptance. I fielded text messages from friends asking where I was on move-in day, and avoided any conversation that centered on how I spent my summer.
After 4 months of treatment, I was finally discharged. That is when my life officially began. Some people begin their lives when they are born; some people don’t start theirs until they conquer their addictions. And I’ve definitely made up for lost time since then. Since I left treatment, I started dating my brother’s best friend, began and graduated college, accepted a college internship for bachelor’s-level students when I had only been enrolled in an associate’s program for a year and, last year, married said brother’s best friend.
No matter how much of life you feel you missed out on while you were suffering, you can always make up for it. Go to concerts, book plane tickets, and always, ALWAYS reach out when the world starts to crumble again. You know what feeling to look for, and you have the skills to achieve recovery over and over again, as many times as it takes to stick.
So no, you aren’t your mental illness. You are not your eating disorder or your alcoholism or your self-harm tendencies. But you are who you are BECAUSE of those. And that is the greatest thing your mental illness could have done for you.”
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