I’ve put my mind and body through it all, and interestingly enough, it seems like I almost played no part in it. Struggles with mental health are not something we can easily understand, and I only began to tackle it when it became too much to handle.

I was 10 when I first began to struggle with food and my body. Playing with my classmates after school, a boy that I had a crush on called me “chubby.” Being an already insecure young girl, this destroyed me. I walked home, stepped foot in the door, and decided that I was done eating. For 8 months, I starved myself. I refused to drink water and would move constantly in hopes of burning calories. I stood at a bony 64 pounds. My family, friends, teachers, and classmates were all concerned. I was taken to the doctor and forced to gain the weight back. That was it—no proper recovery. Now it makes sense that I immediately spiraled into developing binge eating disorder. A never ending cycle of restricting and binge eating, until it became so severe at the age of 20. My college years, like anyone else’s, was full of stress and anxiety. Constantly having a full plate of schoolwork, jobs, internships, research positions, food became my release, my drug, my best friend. But it soon became my enemy. I ate until I was sick and hated myself every day, because I could not break the pattern. Depression and anxiety always followed me throughout my life as I struggled to stop hating myself for “messing up, overeating, “getting fat.” There was no room for any self love or compassion, and my perfectionist nature regarding everything damaged me further.

I could not break my patterns and soon would refuse to leave the house because I felt like such a disgusting failure. I decided I needed therapy. 21 years old, knowing I should have started a lot sooner. Unfortunately, I started therapy only with self hate. Only with the hope of “fixing” myself because I really thought I was just that terrible. Luckily, I have developed so much self love, compassion and self care since those days.

I am now 23 years old and have been working with a therapist for 2 years, one that specializes in body image and eating disorder recovery. By talking about my feelings, embracing my struggles, and learning how to love myself through the process, I am continuously learning how to cope without food. It is difficult, but I am so proud that I have survived through so many of years of struggle, and I am now thriving. Mental health deserves more attention, and self love is something not taught to us, and we must learn to teach ourselves. Why suffer when you can put a little bit of time and effort into truly improving your life? You deserve better. You are wonderful and worthy, and you have the power to change and love yourself through it all.

By: Kelly U

INSTAGRAM: @_kellyu

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