Accepting and loving myself has been a struggle for far too long.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time tearing myself to pieces and yearning to be someone else: someone who wasn’t plagued with mental illnesses galore; someone who caught the boys’ attention; someone who had too many friends to count. Anyone but me would would have been perfect.
I hid my demons in the dark, convinced that if anyone found out, they would run away and never look back. I struggled with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and eating disorders on my own. I wore a mask in public and refused to let anyone know. I wore bracelets to cover my arms. I refused to go to parties or events. I feigned sickness when I didn’t want to leave the house. I acted like I had a big breakfast and didn’t have room for lunch. I silently begged for someone, anyone, to notice the pain I felt.
That’s the twisted side to mental illness: you desperately want help, but can’t explicitly ask for it.
So I suffered in silence for many years. I figured it was better for my friends to not know than to think I was crazy and leave. I was terrified of being alone, and yet I craved it. So I built my walls high and locked the gate. I grew my own garden and found beauty in the isolation. But sometimes a storm would roll in and I would crave the shelter of another’s arms. And sometimes, that storm would last for days. It seemed like the darkness would last forever. I couldn’t find any light, and I believed I wasn’t worthy enough to ever see it.
When you’re in school, no one teaches you how to love and accept yourself. You learn about math equations, biological functions, dates in history, and how to use a comma. But is any of that really important? When you look back on your life are you going to wish that you had memorized those dates, or that you had learned to love yourself?
Now that I’m entering my early 20’s, I’ve realized that it’s exhausting to hate myself.
College and adulthood are hard enough on their own. Everything comes in a whirlwind of colors and emotions and it takes so much to simply be able to catch bits and pieces as it whizzes by. Add mental illnesses into the mix and it’s a crazy ride.
I’ve slowly been working on learning to love and accept myself. Yes, I have mental illnesses. But those do not define who I am as a person. They don’t detract from my loyal and caring nature. They don’t hinder me from loving people with everything I have. They do not control my life. They are not me.
I am me.
My kindness, strength, love, and determination are me.
I am not my mental illness and my mental illness is not me.
I am worthy of friendship, love, and happiness.
I am allowed to love myself.
I am allowed to accept myself.
I am allowed to suffer and I am allowed to ask for help.
I am who I am, and I’m tired of running away from it. I will fight back the demons who try to crawl to the surface. I will hug myself when no one else can. I will take pride in my small achievements. I will continue to improve myself for my own happiness.
I will find acceptance in myself and I will never let it go.