My Life After Treatment

How My Life Changed For The Better After Residential Treatment

Recovery is a path we choose to follow every single day, no matter what obstacles lie in our way.

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Discharge day...

I arrived at residential treatment nearly two months ago. I felt utterly hopeless, deeply depressed, and highly unstable. Now, after many weeks of hard work, medication changes, difficult conversations, and education, it is time for me to return home.

In a previous article entitled, "My Life In A Mental Health Residential Treatment Center," I wrote about how what I expected it to be like, was nothing like how it actually was. Every single person was and continues to be so supportive and kind. I expected a prison, and instead, I found hope.

I have learned so much in the time that I have been here, and although I wish I could stay longer, I know that it is time for me to take the step down from residential and into a partial hospital program. Am I nervous or scared? Abso-f***ing-lutely.

And, at the same time, I also know that I can lean on this new program for help in my transition back to the outside world. I know I'm not alone, I know I have support. Residential has been neither a miracle cure for my illnesses nor is has it been an "easy journey" by any stretch of the imagination.

Every single day I woke up, I was the one who had to make the choice to get out of my bed, pay attention, and actively participate in groups. I was the one who controlled my treatment and I was the one who had to take the initiative.

The staff and treatment team can give you all the directions, suggestions, and tools you'll need; but at the end of the day, the only one who can choose to apply that knowledge is yourself. Only you can control the change you want to see. In short, you'll get out what you've put in.

45 days later...

It has been six weeks since I discharged from the residential program, and to be honest, this transition has been very difficult. Every single day has brought challenging situations, intense emotions, and discouraging thoughts. And yet, despite the rickety bridge beneath my feet and the raging storm above my head, I still push on ahead.

Treatment is scary, and making the decision to start treatment is even scarier. But perhaps the scariest thing of all is putting your blind faith in a process that marches to the beat of its' own drum. Placing trust in your treatment program and care team, and walking into the fire is such an intimidating task.

As I write this, I'm reminded of a very important lesson I was taught by one of my providers while in treatment. She told me, "vulnerability creates the opportunity for growth." Each day I go to my partial hospital program, I remind myself to be open and vulnerable and take a step outside my comfort zone. Progress isn't made while inside your bubble, it's made when you face that which is uncomfortable and scary.

The healing process has been slow, grueling, and often feels impossible; It's easy for me to dismiss how much I've gained since starting treatment. Remembering to celebrate each and every victory, no matter how small, is paramount to keeping myself on track.

I've had slip-ups, I've experienced regressions, and I've continued to struggle with the sickness inside my mind. And still, regardless of all the darkness that stood and continues to stand In my way, I remain defiant as I fight to live in its' ominous presence. Make no mistake, I will fight to the bitter end, whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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