Author: Val Berenshtein
I wake up and tell myself that today is going to be a wonderful day.
Every night, I go to sleep with anxiety and doubt and sadness.
How is it that the nature of mental illness is to attack a human being during his or her most vulnerable and weakest moments, adding to the pain and confusion that already cripple and seemingly kill?
I am a little over a month and a half into my self-recovery from anorexia and restrictive eating, and suddenly, I am feeling like all of the mental progress I made at home, over my winter break from college, is slipping through my fingers. The spring semester has only just begun, and already I am feeling the chains of lonesomeness, doubt and lack of understanding – which is truly nobody’s fault – holding me back from the path I have been on – the path to happiness, to life and to a cultivation of the most power force an individual can have: self-worth.
During the past couple of days…
I have been feeling extremely anxious after eating foods that people typically associate as “unhealthy” – though there is no such thing as “healthy” or “unhealthy” for my recovery right now. This anxiety has been rising more so during dinner than during any other meal or snack of the day.
There are times when I am able to sit with this anxiety and let it pass, reaching out to one of my best friends on campus for support; however, there are other times when I feel so overwhelmed, so upset and so crippled that I feel the hope of recovery and inner-peace completely dissipating from underneath my feet.
Perhaps, the scariest part of my debilitating feelings is that I have to sit with them alone.
I look outside, and it is dark – nighttime. I look around at the people in my residence hall, and all of them are talking, laughing, walking around with friends, sharing jokes and laughs and memories that will probably be held onto for life.
Yet, I feel alone.
I feel so helpless…
My eyes water as I watch people walk by me and I wish that I could just pull them over and cry – let every hardship and anxious thought dissipate through the power of conversation. I wish that I could just be held and told that everything will be OK. I wish that somebody else, besides myself, can sit me down and say that my mental illness, sensing that I am destroying it, is the reason distress and anxiety overwhelm my life.
But, that is not what my reality is right now. Perhaps, I do not have enough courage to reach out for support when I need it and to let people truly know what I am going through. It is my fear that people will not understand – or even try to understand – what recovery from anorexia and restrictive eating entails and feels like. It is awful. It is hard. It requires one to be his or her own hero, especially in moments when everything seems to be going downhill.
I am trying to be my own hero…
but I am scared, and I feel alone.
How do I explain my feelings of lonesomeness and isolation when, deep down, I know that I have people who love me for me and who are there for me if I need them? Why is it that my mind is always at war with itself when, right in front of me, I have a family of peers who are ready to give me support and love?
Being my own hero is tough, but making proactive realizations of the love, care and support I have from my community nine states away from home is an ability I am lucky to have.
Even though these realizations do not come often – perhaps even rarely –, I believe they drive me to get up every morning and to try again, try again because I deserve happiness, freedom, life and love from the beautiful world that I am lucky to be a part of.