This post was originally published on firstname.lastname@example.org on August 29, 2017.
This will be a two part post: Part 1 is mainly a personal account and background story. Part 2 will be more of a practical application, encouragement, and some insight for others.
There is a part of my story that I’ve only shared it with a handful of people. Now that I’m ready to talk about it openly, what better day to post about it than the anniversary of when it happened?
One year ago from the day I’m posting this – August 29th of 2016 – was one of the most pivotal days of my life. But I need to rewind the story a bit to explain why.
I’ve been aware of my struggle with disordered eating and body dysmorphia for a few years. At some point along the way, I heard about this process of “recovery.” Through social media, I discovered that thousands of girls (and boys) like me were working towards freedom from disorders. At that point, I did not really want to give in to the process myself, but I was afraid for my life…So I began self-motivated recovery.
For many months before last August, I had been trying to improve my suffering health. I tried to eat more, set healthy boundaries with exercise, and focus on my spiritual growth. I was reading books about recovery and talking to the few people who knew what I was struggling with. However, since I had minimal accountability, my efforts would often fail. It was a roller coaster of small victories and major setbacks.
Last summer, I became increasingly aware that my energy levels were abnormally low; my mood was often unstable; and my mental “space” was often occupied with thoughts about my body and insecurities.
For several weeks, I had this nagging feeling that something had to change. I could not continue living this way, especially as a new college student. When I though about college, I became petrified…How could I focus on lectures and take good notes if I was tired, foggy-headed, and anxious most of the time? How could I be a good student if 80% of my thoughts were focussed on my body and my self? How could I walk around from class to class if my muscles felt weak?
I finally admitted to myself that my suffering surpassed the “benefits” I felt I was getting from my disorder. I was exhausted; I was tired; and my anxiety was intense. However, I felt stuck. I did not know how to move past the point I was at, because clearly my efforts were not enough. My disordered thought patterns were deeply ingrained and creating a prison in my mind.
Full recovery seemed impossible. When I felt like giving up, though, God would remind me of verses like Philippians 4:13, which says:
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Or Jeremiah 29:11:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
And especially Galatians 6:9:
“So do not get tired of doing what is good. For at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up.”
So, I did not lose full hope; But I knew I still needed something to change.
The idea of finding a therapist popped into my mind. I wrestled with the idea silently for a while. I would waiver between, “No, I can power through on my own,” and “I definitely need professional help.”
Out of embarrassment, I really did not want to see a professional. I also wondered, “Am I skinny enough to be sick? Will the therapist turn me away?” Among other things, I thought going to therapy would mean I was admitting that I was “troubled” and weak. It would mean I would have to take time out of my schedule to sit in an office and have uncomfortable conversations. It would affect my family’s finances. It would mean surrendering control, giving up my behaviors, revealing my secrets, and probably gaining weight. There seemed to be way more cons than pros!
Yet, I still felt that nagging feeling that I needed to get help; and this feeling increased until I finally gave in.
On August 29th, I sat on my bed, full of fear. I remember being wrapped in a blanket and shaking with anxiety. In one hand, I held a piece of paper with my doctor clinic’s mental health line phone number; and in the other hand, I held my cell phone.
I was scared, lonely, and filled with regret that I had allowed myself to get the point that I was at. I felt like a failure and a fraud. I thought about all of those cons that I associated with therapy. But because I have hope in the promises and forgiveness of my savior Jesus Christ, I made the best decision I have ever made: I ignored the screaming voices of my perfectionism, the stigmas of therapy, and everything in me that wanted me to remain silent and sick; and I called that phone number.
A man from the clinic gave me an “assessment” over the phone and directed me to a therapist, who I started seeing a few weeks later.
August 29th is important to me, because it was the day I overcame the overwhelming fear, anxiety, stigmas, pride, and vanity that were holding me back from living an abundant life, pursuing a better future, and trusting God. I walked into something that I knew would be painful, but I trusted that it would eventually pay off. That day was the day I said yes to recovery and yes to God’s plans for my future. It was the day that the course of my life fundamentally changed. It was pivotal
One reason I’m sharing this is because I’m proud of myself for doing what was so incredibly difficult; and I know I would be suffering so hard today if I hadn’t taken that step of faith. Just as importantly, I also believe and hope my story can encourage you to overcome hard things, too.
If you’re not sure you can really get past the fear in your life, I will hopefully persuade you in Part 2 of this post…Stay tuned.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17
” So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed every day. For this light momentary trouble is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17