This post was originally published on firstname.lastname@example.org on May 20, 2017. It was a cathartic post for me at the time and incredibly personal. A weight was lifted from my shoulders after this, and I felt like I could let go of my old self a bit.
(Writing this is part of the positive process of moving on from my past.)
Grab a drink to sip and maybe some tissues if you get easily emotional. I feel that this is going to be one of the most important and personal posts I’ve written so far. I’m going to address several specific groups of people in my life and release some thoughts that have been burdening me lately. Please read the beginning few paragraphs and at least the numbered section below that relates to you.
This post is about my mental and physical health struggles and their affects on my relationships with people: With YOU, the reader. I choose to be open about them, because it helps me heal from them.
When I look back, I see that my disorders really began to take hold of me at age 15 – sometime during my freshman year of high school. They worsened during my sophomore year, but I was still somewhat healthy. They peaked at junior year, and I was dangerously ill. At senior year I realized that I wanted to heal, but I felt like it was impossible. I had such unhealthy thought patterns built up, and I was still engaging in disordered behaviors. Despite those barriers to recovering, I did start pursing health during senior year.
Now, I’m a freshman in college. Since this school year started, I’ve been rapidly changing. I’ve been seeing a new therapist, learning so much about my disorders, pressing into God like never before, and facing multiple challenges that come with recovering. I haven’t reached some kind of end-goal and received a prize that says, “congratulations, you’ve recovered!” Though my parents, nutritionist, and therapist have all affirmed my incredible progress, I’m still on the journey. And I will still struggle.
For the most part – in my mind – I feel like such a different person today (in a good way!) However, I know that you guys can’t fully understand the changes I’ve been through in my mind. For you, my friends and family, I’m sure it’s been difficult to understand me at times. Some days I’m doing really well, feeling great, and feeling secure. Other days I’m feeling crappy, struggling, or feeling insecure. My mood is easily swayed by my circumstances. If you’ve ever been confused or uncomfortable when interacting with me, I don’t blame you. I can be unpredictable…It’s frustrating to me, and I’m sure it’s odd for you. But please know that I’m still in the process of learning new things about myself, learning about God, growing, and “being transformed by the renewing of my mind” as Romans 12:2 says.
That is why I’m going to write these notes. To explain the changes you may have noticed.
- To My Friends From My Home School Co-op (ELT):
During my time at ELT, I was a mess. My insecurities began to take control of me the same year I started ELT. In fact, ELT was a huge reason my eating disorder came about. Why? First of all, when I joined ELT, I did not feel very pretty. I was overweight my freshman year, and I felt trapped in my body. I was also the new girl, and I had a hard time making friends quickly. I compared myself to every girl in the gym each week (like most high school girls do). I felt awkward, and I just wanted to fit in. The second reason I struggled was because of the stupid nutrition classes I took…I took 2 different nutrition class in the same term, and they fed me a lot of awful information. Because I was already insecure about my body, these classes made me want to “get healthy.” However, the classes were not professionally taught, and the approaches they suggested were not safe. I was vulnerable, and these classes made me want tocontrol my food and exercise. My teachers told me a lot of bull crap about “healthy” food, GMO’s, glass water bottles, and what not to eat. I began to feel ashamed of the ways I was eating and living, because my teachers were not sensitive to the dangerous messages they were giving. Lastly, during the first two years of ELT, I was struggling because of some relationship issues, and they made me feel very insecure. Maybe you recognize the pattern now…I was just a really insecure girl, trying to figure things out. All the while, I was beginning to seek control and validation through my body and outward image. My ability to have healthy relationships was probably damaged a bit because of my insecurities. So, my ELT friends, I’m sorry you had to know me at my very worst state. I was just struggling a lot in high school. I don’t want you to think that I was being a “faker” or anything like that. I don’t want you to think I was crazy. I was still a fairly normal girl, but I was not very confident in myself then. When I took a break from ELT because of my health, you all seemed concerned and tried to understand why I needed to leave. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Thank you for sticking with me through it all. You guys have been some of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had. Brenna, Cassie, Sam, Jonathan, Kezia, Bekah, Bryanna, Sarah, and anyone else (moms included!) who may be reading this: I hope this helps you understand me a bit better. As I’m now figuring out how to be secure in who I am, please keep talking to me about my journey! Keep getting to know me and notice the changes in me. You may encounter me on a great day, or you may encounter me on a rough day. Either way, I am not the same girl I was in ELT. I am on a great journey of healthy change.
2. To My Church Friends, Highlife Leaders, and Community Group:
Right now, I’m on a wonderful and hard journey towards whole health. I love Jesus a bunch. I’m pursuing God, and my relationship with him is very strong! But: At church, I often struggle. I struggle to figure out what kind of face I’m going to wear when I walk in the doors. I want to be joyful, inviting, and smile, because I’m at church. That’s how I should feel, right? But some days I don’t feel like that would be genuine. Some days are just difficult, because I’m still recovering from a mental disorder. Every week, I also know that I’m guaranteed to be asked “how are you?” The hard thing for me is that I don’t always know how to answer. Some days I’m honestly doing so great, and some days I’m feeling severely insecure or anxious. I know that church is a safe place to tell people the truth, however, I don’t always know how to explain the complexities of my mind…So during the socializing time, sometimes I just kind of “shut down” and come off as uninterested in people. I’m sorry about this. I’m trying to work it out.
On another note: I want my highlife friends to know that leaving Highlife was a hard but very important choice for me. I loved Jesus just as much then as I do now. I believe I would have been fine and well equipped to keep leading a small group; but leaving allowed me to have the time to go to therapy and to work harder on recovering from my disorder. I know I’ll dive back in to ministry one day, whether it’s highlife or not. When I do, I’ll be even better than before!
3. To My Skit Theatre Friends:
During my time at Skit theatre, I was awkward. Haha, it makes me cringe to think of how awkward I probably acted. In high school, I did not know who I was. I was quite “up and down,” and I was beginning to develop a mental disorder because of my insecurities. During Skit rehearsals I compared myself to other girls in the plays, and I felt insecure and jealous in the relationship aspects of Skit. During Anne of Green Gables and Go Dog Go/ JGP, my eating disorder was beginning. This took up a lot of my brain space. And sadly, during Narnia, I was at my absolute worst point. Not only was I having health problems totally unrelated to my disorder, but I was also depressed, anxious, and not eating a lot. That is why I didn’t do a play during my senior year. So, my Skit friends, I’m sorry you had to know me at my very worst state. I was just struggling. Thank you, though, for bringing me so much joy and laughter during that time. Thank you for caring about me and remaining my friend after Narnia. I love that Skit gave me some of the most amazing friends. Christian, Maddy, Katie, Kim, Jacob, Maddi, Drew, Elysa, and everyone else you all rock my world. Now that I’m in a healthier mindset, I hope you’ll not ignore what I’ve gone through, but take me where I’m at. Talk to me about my journey, and make new memories with me!
4. To My Long Time Friends (from church, childhood, etc.)
Hey you guys. Maybe you were a large part of my story, or maybe we didn’t talk a lot during my struggles. Some of you are my biggest supporters; some of you have offered prayers; some of you have only kept up with me through social media. Whatever the nature of our relationship has been, I just want you to know that I’m still figuring out who I am and how to be totally secure. I really value our friendship and that you’ve stuck with me through all of my high’s and low’s! In the future, some days I’ll be feeling wonderful, and some days I’ll be feeling “meh.” I need you to do something for me, though. Please don’t ignore what I’ve gone through. Please don’t feel awkward talking about it or listening to me talk about it. Ask me questions, pray with me, tell me the truth about myself. I can’t fight alone, and I need friends to keep me grounded.
5. To My New Friends:
Maybe we don’t know each other super well yet, but I want you to know that while I have a complicated past, I’ve been changed and transformed through the healing of Jesus Christ. I like talking about what God has done for me, and it’s one of the most important things to me. I’m passionate about Him, and He shapes how I live.
6. To My Family (in Salem, Vancouver, California, and Illinois)
Last but not least……Guys. Each of you has played a different kind of role in my life and struggles. I guess I just want to thank you for your prayers and for not taking my struggles lightly. I’ve realized recently that I’m being “transformed by the renewing of my mind” (Romans 12:2). I’m really relying on God, and He’s still transforming me and changing the way I think today. I hope my life will forever be evidence to you of God’s goodness and power. The girl you see today has learned a lot about life, suffering, joy, healing, and faith. I can guarantee you I’m going to keep learning and being transformed. But I will have bad days. I will feel weak and need you to encourage me. Never assume I’m doing great, and never assume I’m not doing great. Ask me genuinely, and I’ll tell you. You’re the most valuable people to me. I love you. Thanks for loving me.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2