Journey: The Road to Health and Self-Love

Intro

After forcing myself to become someone socially acceptable, I lost sight of who I truly was. I spent years collapsing when faced with peer pressure and it ultimately destroyed my confidence. After realizing what I had been doing to myself, I found the strength to correct myself and promote a healthier lifestyle. This has been a long journey, and I’m ready to share my story with those who may be looking for motivation to help themselves.

Key in the Ignition

I can’t lie to you, starting this process took more than one look in the mirror. It took about 1,460. And once I took that final look and decided to make a change, it wasn’t set in stone. I spent days at a time arguing with myself over whether or not it was truly worth it in the long run. I doubted my strength and courage to take on such a demanding challenge. But once I noticed how much negativity I directed towards myself, I realized that something really needed to be done in order to rescue myself from the downward spiral I was heading towards.

On the Side of the Road

A few weeks after going through an emotional end to a relationship, I was distraught and depressed beyond comprehension. I didn’t care about my schoolwork or relations with others. I shut down completely and never left my bedroom. Eating became a challenge, as I imagined that whatever went down would come right back up moments later. I ate about one meal a day and rarely cleared my plate when I did decide to eat.

Not only did I suffer from a potential eating disorder, but I also lacked efficient amounts of sleep. I stayed up late crying to John Legend songs and reading Atticus’ poetry on Instagram. I watched as weeks went by and my physical appearance seemed to deteriorate. Looking back at it now, I am truly blessed to have recovered from all I had been going through.

Now, I am in no way blaming my ex for what I went through. This was all my own doing- my own heart and my own decisions. I completely empathize for him now, since I understand where I had gone wrong before. I just felt that I needed to clarify since a lot of people would take it as a jab in his direction. But I am actually thankful for the pain brought on by the tragic end to our relationship because it helped me realize what I had been doing wrong and it motivated me to finally change.

Are We There Yet?

Being new to recovery, I was unaware of how long of a process it would be. I’d spend a few days being nothing but positive and caring, but come home feeling nothing but drained and stuck in one place. I didn’t see any progress nor did I give myself the time to. I wanted to be better, and I wanted it right away.

Eventually, however, I came to grips with the reality of the process. It wasn’t going to be ok in a day or two, maybe not even a year or two. It was just going to run its course and whatever happened, happened. And fortunately, being accepting of the truth of the matter helped the process move faster than it originally had been.

You Have Reached Your Destination

Ok, so “reaching my destination” may be a slight exaggeration since I have so much further to go, but I have definitely seen remarkable advancements in the right direction. I’ve learned to love myself and others for the littlest things. I’ve promoted self-love and independence. I have no longer relied on others for my happiness and it has made me realize how precious life is. Oh, God that’s cliché, but let me explain.

Life is like driving down a long and winding road. You’re in control of where you take yourself. When faced with an obstacle in that road, you can either keep driving through it in hopes that one day the pot holes and rain storms will become routine, or you can turn right onto a freshly paved road with beautiful blossoming flowers and welcoming brick houses. But before you can decide which route to take, you have to recognize where you are and where you want to end up.

 

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To Those Affected by My Anxiety

Anxiety is a bitch. It not only hurts me, but everyone around me. A lot of the time, it can scare others enough to make them leave. For those who stay, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. The struggles involved are draining on both ends. That’s why I’m writing this. This is for anyone who has been impacted by my anxiety.

I guess I should start off by apologizing. Sometimes it can get exhausting and I recognize that. It takes plenty of patience and practice to deal with me. Anxiety affects me in many different ways, some of which I have yet to master. I know it can get excruciating at times, and I am deeply apologetic for the amount of effort I require from others. There are times when I am fully aware of how ridiculous my anxiety can be, and how annoying it may seem to others. Trust me, I know I’m being a pain in the ass, but it’s not something I can handle. Irrational fears can swallow us alive. We need reassurance almost all the time, and I know for a lot of people that can take its toll. It’s a scary thing for those of us with anxiety. We often worry that asking for the affection that we need may start to feel repetitive to others and maybe eventually ruin the relationship. So for every chaotic moment that we have shared where you have questioned your sanity as well as mine, I am deeply sorry.

Although I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused and the seemingly unnecessary chaos, I am also thankful for your constant support. The reassurance from everybody helps more than you could imagine. I’d especially like to thank everyone who has taken time to research anxiety disorders and how to respond to them. I know that it can be scary at times, but having stable relationships with people is extremely helpful. I feel a sense of trust between us and it helps prevent attacks. I owe you all so much for watching out for me.

My boyfriend deserves recognition for his hard work in taking care of me. In our nine short months together, he has learned how to effectively calm down my breathing and get my attacks few and far between. He has become my second home, and even the sound of his voice can calm me down in my darkest moments. One night that I will never forget is when I had a panic attack in my living room. For those who don’t know me too well, I rarely go in my living room. There’s no real reason behind it, but I just feel more comfortable in my bedroom. Once my boyfriend realized that I was breathing heavily, he took action right away. He held me tight and told me, “everything will be ok. Do you want to go to your room? Let’s get you out of here.” I felt my body trembling as he helped me out of my seat. He helped me to my room, where he continued to assure me that things would pass. He rocked me back and forth and reminded me that I had beaten these types of attacks before and that I could do it again. He told me to remember my breathing, and then held me silently until I calmed down. If he hadn’t helped me get to a safer environment, I wouldn’t have moved and things wouldn’t have gotten better.

As I said at the very beginning, anxiety is a bitch. It’s something that I’ve been learning to understand and cope with, however, because without it, I may not have met many of the people that I have. As strange as it sounds, I am thankful for my anxiety and for the doors that it has opened for me. That was such a strange sentence to type. Optimism and anxiety in the same sentence? It’s kind of weird, but if you think about it, it makes sense. It’s taught me plenty about myself and others, and that has helped me grow. So for anyone who has been directly affected by my anxiety, I apologize, thank, and applaud you. You are the greatest friends I could ask for. Thank you for constantly believing in me and for encouraging me to better myself despite my disorder.

Photographer captures anxiety in a new light.