Why I Chose to Share About My Mental Health

 

I have been writing posts about my mental health recovery, on this blog, since August of 2015. However, before then I had been sharing about my recovery for some time. In the early fall of 2014, I posted to my Facebook and Instagram about my eating disorder and depression. That summer, I had been working at a summer camp but taken leave due to “being ill and in the hospital.” Initially, I had expected to go back after my initial hospital stay, but I ended up having to return to the hospital and therefore had to quit my job. In September, I made the decision that I wanted to openly explain to people why I had been gone and that I also wanted to start talking about my recovery more publicly.

FullSizeRender

I originally posted this picture with my full body. I’ve cropped it to lower the triggering potential of this post. You can still see the differences…the smile on the left isn’t genuine because I didn’t want to be photographed because I hated my body so much.

My FB/Instagram post –

I’ve been debating about whether or not to post this. It’s personal, INCREDIBLY personal but I feel the need for honesty & a desire to beat stigma. I hope maybe sharing my current struggle can help someone else seek help or treatment.
I have been gone the past month & earlier in July because I have been battling an eating disorder & depression. The left picture is right before I entered treatment & the right picture is of me currently. Happier, healthier & full of life!
The reason I want to share my experience with everyone is because mental health issues are not something people should be ashamed of. Too many people struggle in silence because of their fear of being judged. The amount of eating disorder patients in the US alone is stifling & we need to start fighting back and educating people on these issues.
My journey towards self love & self acceptance is still ongoing & will be something I’ll work on my whole life but I am starting to learn about true beauty and self love. Some days are easier than others but I am fighting hard. Thank you for letting me share. Xoxo.

Why?

I chose to share because mental illness is more common than most people know, think, or do/want to acknowledge. Recent research suggests that 1 in 4 individuals worldwide have some type of mental health issue. 30 million individuals in just the US struggle with some type of an eating disorder. I chose to share because I want to show people that mental health is important and it is something we need to talk about. A lot of individuals live in silence and shame. I want to show that struggling with your mental health is not something to be ashamed of. I want to show that these things do not have to define you and that you can have a fulfilling life despite significant struggles.

For me, personally, the hardest part of sharing was the anxiety over relapsing. Sharing made me accountable. Once people knew about my struggle, it also opened my life up to others knowing about my “failures.” Now, I do not actually think that relapse is failing, of course. It is the self-critic voice that says those things. The fear is/was very real, though. And, they did know. In November, not long after I shared about my recovery, I went to residential treatment at TK for the first time for 7 weeks. Immediately, I felt ashamed of myself. I had to challenge myself to constantly remind myself of why I was sharing.

Also, some people think an ED is all about getting attention and that it is a choice. I want to help people understand that no one chooses this. It is a disease that kills, and I fully intend to keep sharing, despite what others may think or, to help remove the stigma.

I, and you should not feel shame because there is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental illness is a large part of my life, and it is something that I deal with daily but is does not define me. I am defined by what I choose to be defined by. I am also a painter, a former dancer, a friend, a daughter, a Sara Bareilles fan obsessor. I have mental illnesses, mental illnesses don’t have me.

 

 

 

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