They say, “Love covers a multitude of sins…” and “Love conquers all.” “All you need is love.”
I’ve been a sick person most of my life… from the time I can remember, it all stems back to a moment from my very early childhood, when I got a severe kidney infection. The only thing I remember through the fog of a dangerous fever, was collapsing from pain while walking outside and waking up shivering and shaking in my bed. I have one little memory of being in a secluded hospital room with equipment around me. That’s it.
My mother told me she had argued with the doctors about the antibiotics they were putting me on. They were so strong, it would actually suppress my immunity. The fever was going to kill me. And so was the infection. My mother didn’t have an easy choice before her. The drugs would affect the rest of my life. The disease would have taken it.
And ever since that moment, I have battled sickness. That wouldn’t be the last time I’d end up in the hospital, battling for my life: Mono–or mononucleosis–the kissing disease. But I didn’t get it from kissing anyone. I got it from sharing a drink with a friend, who got hers from kissing a boy! Long story shortened, after weeks of illness, I developed a complication. I developed staph infection in my lymph node along my neck–how the hell did I manage that–and the swollen abscess grew to the point that it was applying pressure to the blood supply to my brain. All the weeks I had lain under blankets, my body had secretly withered away until almost no fat remained. When my mother saw me for the first time being carried to a tub, she broke down. It wasn’t her fault I’d gotten this way. She had been working so hard to build a business and a good life for us. Sometimes, the slow deterioration goes unnoticed, until it gets to the point of extremity.
But besides the physical ailments that come and go, and the struggle with health complications, I would say the biggest battle of my life has been living alongside depression. And one of the ways depression has taken liberties with me is through Eating Disorder.
Oh, the taboos we have in society. The taboo of discussing such a private topic. Never mind that Eating Disorder affects 30 million people in the US and has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Eating Disorders are good at being hidden. They hide in diet trends and restrictive eating habits. They hide in the quiet bathroom behind locked doors. They hide on the numbers of the scale that is obsessively stepped on. They hide in the thinning waistline, and even in the over-consumption of junk. It affects all sizes, gender, and race.
The common misconception is, that Eating Disorders are purely a manifestation of the pressure of society to live up to an unrealistic image and expectation. And while I believe this is a truth and a big problem, my experience has shown me that there is often another thing going on when someone struggles with this: the desire to inflict self-pain and the desire to control what happens to you. You see, something wrong had happened in my years of young womanhood. Eating Disorder took root in a mind that had lived alongside depression since early childhood. It found the soil there, primed. Some years ago, someone took something of me they had no right to. And after this happened, I felt so dirty, so ashamed, so worthless, and so lost. Because of the lack of control I had felt, I began inflicting pain on myself. I couldn’t control what I was feeling, so everything I ate would come back up. And after a while, it became better to not consume anything. I wanted to fade away. I wanted to disappear…
Until a couple years later, a little therapy, and a stubborn determination that I would not be admitted to the hospital and would go my own way–find my own way–back to Love. A helping hand, a life-preserver was thrown to me by a college friend and mentor, another by family, another by my most best friend turned husband, more friends since then, and the Love that created Me. And most importantly, I reached out and took hold of that which I found to be stronger–I reached out and took hold of myself.
Part of this journey I’ve been on is recognizing when I am struggling and to acknowledge the struggle, then find my way back to gratitude and peace with myself. I’ve overcome extreme weight loss and extreme weight gain–the irony in that one! But each time, although the journey was sometimes dark and lonely, when I made it back to the Light, I felt stronger! I believe in Me! And I believe in the strength of others to climb their own mountain top!
I’ve been learning so much about the gut-brain axis and the role of the microbiome on mental health. And I hope that one day, the information we find will lead to healing millions of people who suffer with mental illness and autoimmune disorders. My personal goal is to go back to school so I can gain the tools to not just help myself, but to also help others.
I’ve been fueling my body with what I believe is the best nutritional sources for a healthy brain and gut, and even though I still struggle sometimes, I have continued to see personal improvements over the past almost 2 years. There’s no such thing as perfect in the human life, and I’ve been embracing that and loving myself through the changes. This doesn’t even dive into the spiritual journey I’ve been on, for how can you separate the mind, body, spirit? You must also feed the right food to the soul.
I’m aware that others will judge this progress and think I starved myself to get here, and I can’t do anything with those thoughts. I’ll continue in My Truth knowing that I fuel my body to the best of my knowledge and understanding of nutrition and continue to love others where they are, no matter what they may think of me. I live in a place where my body craves the physical exertion. I have a simple routine that works for me. That is enough.
We may think because the vessel is cracked or broken, it’s unworthy of this life. Or we may question the Creator or Universe, why this vessel? Why this struggle? Why this pain? I believe you have to answer that for yourself. For me, the pain is not meant to destroy– it’s meant to build.
Some people think that affliction is only what shows up visibly. I can tell you, not always. There have been days when it hurts so much inside, the getting up is difficult. It’s not always a physical pain that manifests, although, it can and may often become physical in many forms. The brain is a powerhouse.
Life is full of mysteries. Ourselves may be the greatest of them. I’ve always been fascinated with the Human Experience. I always want to riddle people out, and learn about the motivation behind behaviors. And in doing so, maybe I’m trying to get to know myself better.
Sometimes, we self identify with our struggles, our affliction. We think we are our sad story. We become addicted and depend on this identity, to the way we feel. We’re “being true to ourselves by not getting better.” Who would we be without this…? Who are you? Who am I?
“To love others you must first love yourself.” -Leo Buscaglia
In loving Yourself, you are creating something, like being born again. You are allowing your vessel to be its full potential. You are being what You were created to be and partnering with the Creator to be something almost new. Maybe, a reforming of what already exists.
It doesn’t mean the cracks won’t still be there, or the shape is no longer dented. It doesn’t mean your illness will be cured.
I saw a quote the other day which made me stop and think. It said, “Physical fitness is the prerequisite to happiness.” And I didn’t quite agree with the statement. I thought–surely gratitude is the prerequisite to happiness–for without gratitude, I cannot focus on the good I have in my life. But I think I may understand it differently now. Physical fitness reflects something going on inside. And your physical fitness may not be the same as another’s, because we are not all the same in body and mind.
You have to want to get better, whatever better may reveal itself to you. Better may be the smallest of steps: Getting out of bed. Reaching out to a friend. Going for a short walk.
Your body listens to your thoughts and what you say. If you believe, you are never going to get better, does it listen and behave accordingly? If you believe, this life is terrible, do terrible things not manifest?
Whatever the struggle is, hold on to the truth that what is sometimes necessary may also be difficult. We have the ability to grow through our hardships. Struggle is a part of Life. A beautiful life is not one without struggle. The beauty of Life is that it is.
You have to love Yourself, in whatever shape or form you come out to be. You have to embrace your struggle and believe in Yourself. Believe that life Is worth living for and fight for it. You are worth it! 💛