When I was younger, happiness seemed quite elusive.
I woke up each day going through the motions of one who was living. I would enjoy time with friends, eat dinner with my family, and at night immerse myself in various worlds with every book I read. Often it felt like I was living my life through someone else’s; through the hundreds of pages in which they told me their stories.
To me, I was simply lacking what I called “my passion”. And as soon as I found this thing that I was passionate about all would be better.
I was depressed. And I didn’t know it. Depression runs in my family, but that meant nothing to me. I was 15. And probably one of the most stubborn 15-year-olds in the history of the universe (I like to blame that trait on being a Leo).
My mom asked me if I wanted to see a therapist and I was appalled. In my mind, therapy was for people who were crazy and I was obviously not one of those people.
High school was a blur of mundanity, people who cared far too much about things that didn’t matter, and friends who either stuck by my side or faded off into the distance.
The kind of people who twisted my words, turned against me, and decided to taint my final year. I have gained the ability to let go and move on and for that I am grateful.
In the first semester of college came the happiest few months of my life up to that point. I was in a new state, a new school, surrounded by all new people; and I loved it. I joined a sorority and suddenly was surrounded by a strong group of dedicated and loving women.
Second semester I fell into a deep depression, although at the time I wasn’t all too sure what it was. I was tired all the time and lacked any form of energy and motivation. I have always been a driven individual, so dealing with this sudden loss of interest was the hardest part for me. It was like I was living in a hazy daydream; living in a fog in which I couldn’t shake.
Then one day, after about a month, everything changed. I woke up and felt as though my depressed episode had never happened. To this day it has been one of the weirdest experiences. It was as if someone finally decided to flick the light switch of my heart and mind back on, so I soldiered on.
Life during my sophomore year of college became excruciating. The weight that I had gained my freshman year hung heavy on my mind and heart. I was finally at the weight my doctors had pleaded for, but I wasn’t happy. Thoughts became obsessive, relationships with those close to me became strenuous, and I began to once again restrict my diet.
This restriction was not a new concept to me. After a tremendous growth spurt my sophomore year of high school I had fought long and hard to keep myself at 100 pounds. Looking back I find it hard to comprehend how I kept my 5’9 frame at such a weight. I was at the lowest point in my life.
Every day was a battle to get out of bed, an attempt in vain to connect with others, a struggle to accept harsh criticism, and a fight to fend off disturbing thoughts of suicide. I was so low I wasn’t sure if I could ever find my way out of the abyss I had landed in.
I reached out and found help for myself. I realized that I would never get better until I decided I wanted to and made strides to do so. I went into counseling for the next months to tackle these problems that I had been facing yet couldn’t define.
After a few months I came to terms with my depression, and after a few more I came to terms with my anorexia. It was with the help of my therapist and some internal reflection that I decided this: these labels do not define me. No matter the comments that were made or the doctors that I saw, I was not my eating disorder. And I was not my mental condition. And to this day I am not.
Sometimes you need to put labels on the battles you are facing, but that does not mean those labels will stick to you. They are simply used to help you sort out the chaos of the mind and help to organize your life. I can and have written whole stories on my eating disorder alone, but that is not all that I am made of so I do not choose to do so here.
Off I went to England to study abroad and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Now there was finally a time for me to work on myself. To feel okay saying “I want to learn to love myself before I can love anyone else”.
For understanding that pursuing my passion for writing and exploring the world with me, myself, and I was all I really wanted right now. I realized that now was my time to be selfish. I had spent so long being overly-conscious of others’ feelings that I never actually looked out for my own.
But not anymore.
Today, I care for myself. I have learned to live and let go of my past and those who no longer want to be part of my future. I have learned that being comfortable in my own skin is not an easy task, but it is something I will happily work towards. And I have learned that it is up to you to give your life purpose.
Every day I strive to fall in love with something, someone, or someplace. Life has a lot to offer if you let it; and I have found that having a sense of adventure can lead you to finding peace within the world.
So here’s to losing yourself in nature and finding yourself again among the sea. It is with this search for peace of mind that I am learning to love my life.