The relationship I had with myself growing up was toxic– and I broke myself down every day because of it.

I broke my own heart and spirit.

The only experience of heartbreak I have had didn't come from a boy; it came from me, when I refused to love, value and accept myself.

I spent most of my first twenty years of life– that I can remember– hating myself.

I spent long nights crying and heaving on the floor of my bedroom, not because of a boy, but because of myself. I would walk around feeling completely empty inside because I wasn't giving myself enough compassion or love.

I would use my energy to tear myself apart day after day– rather than uplifting myself and living life. I would scar myself and question the value of my life because of how wrong it felt to be living it.

I spent years feeling completely broken.

I spent years trying to pretend everything was ok. For much of that time it worked; however, just like anything else you allow to build up past its capacity, I broke.

I isolated myself from the people that cared about me. I would cancel plans, ignore people and give up activities I loved because I no longer had the energy or motivation because I would deprive myself of food and overwork my body believing it would make me feel happy and worthy.

Any energy that I did have left would be used to fuel the anxiety that would then deepen the darkness I was stuck in.

The thoughts and behaviors were completely exhausting. Being alive felt like a full-time job, and at some moments, it was one that I wanted to quit.

While much of the toxic relationship I had with myself can be contributed to my mental heath– I promised myself in college that I would work on loving and accepting myself as I am.

College has been a rollercoaster of emotions– which is to be expected. However, throughout the last two years, I have been able to find an inner peace that I had desperately been searching and praying for.

I was able to end with the toxic relationship I had with myself.

My mental health is a work in progress and takes constant self-care to keep in check, and while I have bad weeks and good weeks, I am not in the same mental state and patterns I was a few years ago. By being able to identify and come to the realization that I deserved a better life and deserved to seek help, I've been able to lead a healthier life.

I feel free.

I no longer tear myself apart when I look in a mirror– I understand that I am a work in progress. I see my imperfections and rather than using them to fuel my self-hatred, I see them as things that make me my own person.

I live a balanced lifestyle that no longer makes me want to deprive myself or push my body to a dangerous point. I use my energy to work on goals I have because I now believe in myself and my capabilities.

I feel like a whole person.

I no longer feel as if I am just a fracture of who I am supposed to be. I am who I am and that's completely okay.

I no longer question the value of my life– I believe that I do have a purpose, even if I don't know exactly what it is yet.

I feel like I am actually living.

I no longer feel like a bystander watching everyone else enjoy life. I am enjoying life. I now always say yes to plans– mostly because I know that now I can go out and genuinely have a good time, which is something I was incapable of doing for such a long time.

I am no longer faking a smile or faking being okay.

I am happy and I am okay– and I actually mean it.

When I laugh, it's genuine– and ridiculous, ask any of my friends, my laugh is obnoxious.

I now see a future and life for myself I once questioned if I would even exist for.

I've made goals and envisioned what my life will be two, five, ten and so on years from now. I am genuinely excited and hopeful for what the future holds from me.

**If you made it through this then thank you. It wasn't easy to write. I guess the point of this is that no matter how low you may feel or how much you question your life, worth or purpose, things will get better. I know how lonely, suffocating and paralyzing being in the dark can get. You are never alone –– even if you believe it with every bone in your body. It took me years to be vulnerable to share a fraction of what was going on –– but, a weight was lifted that made me realize that there was hope for me in the future. I promise there is hope for you too.

**This also wasn't to try and provoke sympathy or change any perspective you may have of me as a person. When I was in middle school and high school, I specifically went to this Odyssey in hopes that I could read that other people have gone through similar experiences and felt similar ways. I wanted to read that I wasn't alone. I feel as if I didn't share a fraction of my own story and how my life has improved, my younger self would be disappointed.

Here are numbers you can call if you ever feel like you need it– from experience they can help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255

National Sexual Assault HotlineCall 1-800-656-4673

Eating Disorder Association Hotline: Call 1-866-556-8539