Sharing a story is sometimes hard. Sharing a story about yourself is even harder. You never know where to begin, what to say or how people may react. However, throughout my recovery I found that sharing my story was one way to keep my own two feet on the ground. The school that I was asked to speak at, asked for me to give a title for the talk, which became the hardest part to do. As I began to write, I realized it was hard to find just one heading for the talk. I had to pack my six-year battle into one heading, which was entirely impossible.
Feeling like I wasn’t good enough for everyone was always one problem of mine. Whether it being grades, athletics, or with my family I always felt a little bit behind. I struggled academically, which made me different than all my straight A friends. And being an athlete was a big part of my life, so I always tried to be my best on and off the field. This all changed for the worse, one afternoon when I found out my best friend had committed suicide. I never truly began to realize the impact my friend had on my life until the day I realized I was never going to see him again. There would never be walks up and down the hallway while we were skipping our “academically enhanced” class or swimming and jumping off trees during the summer.
I woke up one morning wanting to be better. To get out of this rut and finally get back to being happy cause I always thought, that’s what my friend would have wanted. First, I couldn’t control my academics because no matter how hard I tried I was always the B-C student. Secondly, I couldn’t control my coach’s thoughts of what boat to put me in, no matter how hard I tried at practice. Finally, I couldn’t control the fact that my friend had died and I would never get to say anything to him again. One thing I could control was my weight. Somehow in my mind I thought losing weight could get me in the A boat as well as fix my grades and in some messed up way, get my friend to come back, which trust me, didn’t work.
Fast forward a year, my mom came running up the steps to find me laying on the bathroom floor. No child ever wants to see the look I saw on her face that day. I knew I needed help. Somehow I couldn’t control anything anymore. I got help and slowly began to recover. I gained control over this issue until the day things slipped again.
Fast forward two years, I was sitting in the Renfrew Treatment center, they told me that I would develop heart palpitations or my mom would find me dead on the bathroom floor if I didn’t get control over this. I was supposed to be graduating high school in four months and they had wanted me to stop everything and go into an inpatient hospital to fix my issue and then move on with my life.
By this time, I was actually getting worse at rowing and my grades slowly began to fall, and of course, my friend never came back. This was also the time I was hearing back from colleges and all I could think about was having to stay back a year to finish high school. My mom gave me the ultimatum of getting help and gaining enough weight to go to college and maintaining it so I could stay at school. My mom never understood what I was going on and her way of fixing it was telling me to “just stop”.
That’s not real life though. If you physically stop, your mental block will be harder and harder to control and ultimately you’ll fail even harder than you did before. My mom had good intentions, she just didn’t understand and I don’t blame her for that. Outsiders looking in thought I was crazy. In some ways I was. Crazy in the sense I was trying so hard to be someone I wasn’t.
Two weeks into my freshman year at college I was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with heart palpitations because of this illness. By this point I was still at a healthy weight and I was doing better but my body was tearing apart because of the years of abuse I had given it.
The cycle of relapse and recovery went on for a while. Until recently I woke up and decided enough was enough. All in all, if you’re going through something like this, I can’t tell you how to fix yourself, I can tell you, if you want saving, you need to save yourself.
One day, I opened my bloodshot eyes from getting two hours of sleep the night before and just started crying. Crying because I just wanted this pain over with. Six years of battling and I felt as sad as I did day one. In rehab they tell you “you’ll always have this problem, but learning to deal with it will get easier”. I always thought it was crap because it’s like setting you up to fail, but I decided to say hey let me try it out for sometime and see how much failing I can do.
Trust me, I failed, probably more than the average person. But every time I failed I realized something new about this horrible disease. First I realized that I was hurting my body to try to be good enough for this world. I tried pleasing everyone so people would like me. I went out of my way to help people before helping myself. Some call it selfish and trust me I thought it was.
My second fail led me to understand that people are mean. They will judge you, hurt you, and try to tear you down. In the end we are all trying to save ourselves from everyone else. My most recent fail led me to obtaining control back into my life. I always gave my control away. Giving it away to others to let them control me was the problem. I ultimately needed to control my control and worship it to be something precious. Trying to be alone is hard when you’re dealing with these issues. If you are alone, you usually have 100% control and for someone like me, that is a hard pill to swallow.
I learned that by being alone you figure out a lot more about yourself. I found that I love coloring, taking walks and dancing in my room alone. I realized, when I was the girl in control, I began begging my friends to go out and dance our butts off for no apparent reason. I started to laugh with my friends till my stomach hurt and say stupid things that made no sense. I learned control is empowering. It feeds my spirit and my personality.
My story with this awful disease isn’t over. I wake up everyday telling myself to smile and keep walking. Smile, because if someone else is having a bad day, maybe there is a slight chance they will be impacted by the smile I bring. I say keep walking because no one should stop their story from growing. Each day we have the power to build upon our stories, make them great and fill them will amazing memories. Stress, work, money and many other things will always be an issue in our lives. Surround yourself with the good people, move on from the bad. Make time for yourself and understand that no one is perfect. We all have stories. Stories that all make us who we are.
That’s why my story doesn’t have a title and why I learned that sometimes not having a title is just where I belong. I continue to write my story for my friend and for everyone else willing to listen just in the hopes my story will help someone else write theirs.