Many of you may not have noticed, but last week, October 2 to 8, was Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health is an emotional, psychological, and social issue that greatly impacts our day-to-day life. There are numerous factors that contribute to mental health, and they can be found at this link here.
Since last week, I have been doing a little reflecting on my own mental health and have decided to share my journey and story with you all. I'll try to make it as brief as possible because the view "on the other side" is so much brighter and enjoyable. Nonetheless, I will be real. Because let's face it: Problems are real. Eating Disorders are real. Most of all, and most importantly, GOD IS REAL. And without Him, I wouldn't be sitting here writing from a stand-point of freedom and victory over the enemy.
Unfortunately, in today's society, people are consumed with how other people think they look. Magazines, TV shows and celebrities all give us this false-persona of how people--especially females--should look. This consequently gives us all a "world's eye view" of beauty. Therefore, we end up changing ourselves to be socially acceptable by others.
I'm sure most of you girls have seen and heard about the infamous "thigh-gap," right? Well, let me be the first to tell you that it is not what it's cracked up to be....TRUST ME. I've been there, done that--and will never go back. I thought that "If I could just have legs like 'hers'," or "If I could just lose a few more pounds," then maybe people would notice me. I tried so hard to be what I thought people wanted to see. But I was never satisfied. I created this obsession with exercise and eating healthy. Nothing I did was ever "good enough." Lies were embedded into my brain that I would never be thin enough or fit enough or worthy enough or beautiful enough. So, I continued to try harder. To push my body past its limits of being healthy. In fact, in attempts to become fit and healthy, I became the farthest away from being such. I developed an eating disorder known as exercise bulimia. My clothes no longer fit. My hair was falling out and my face was sunken in. I was cold all. the. time. I was more irritable and had worse mood swings than a pregnant woman. My bubbly personality was fading. Relationships with friends were strained. My mom and dad--my very best friends--were worried sick about their "little" girl who had once been happy and full of life. I worked out for hours on end every single day, yet always left the gym feeling unsatisfied. All because I thought the only way to be beautiful was to recreate what our Creator has already deemed beautiful.
Over the course of four years, I completely lost who I was. I felt like a robot simply going through the motions of day-to-day life. I never felt "fully there," if you will. My mind was never tuned in on what people were saying because I was so tunnel-visioned. I tried for so long to be in control because I thought that's what would bring me happiness. Ironically, my life was completely out of control because I wasn't letting Christ be in the center of it.
I was fighting a war I could not win. And you see, when we are fighting a battle with our own strength, we always end up falling flat on our faces. We must be equipped with the Armor of God, His strength, and His power. When we do, we find victories that can only be won by Him. I can attest to this because this is my story. I was 52 shades of exhausted and needed Christ more than the day I became saved. I fell on my knees one night by my bed and cried out to The Lord. That night, I surrendered all that I thought I wanted to be in order to become all that He created me to be. I gave Him back the control that He had all along.
I found my life when my knees hit the ground.
My story is different from yours, but I realized something that I think you all need to realize, too, especially if you are struggling with any sort of illness, disorder, or issue. My identity, like your identity, is found in Christ ALONE--not in the ways of this world. He is our hope. When I opened my eyes to the truth that had been in front of me all along, it set me free. He broke my chains. And He will break yours, too. He reminded me that I was created for Him and for His glory and that made every lie the enemy had told me vanish.
I realized that I was no longer a slave to my eating disorder; I was, am, and will always be a child of the Living, Forgiving, Merciful, and Gracious God.
Now I know this has been a lengthy post for you guys to read, so if you've made it this far, props to you. But I wanted to be real and raw with you because so many times in life we forget that we are only living for an audience of One. Our Savior does NOT care about the color of your hair of what size pants you wear. Our Savior looks at our hearts--where true beauty is found. Our beauty is not contingent based upon what we do, how the world defines beauty, or what the girl staring back in the mirror says. It doesn't matter what the person sitting next to you thinks. Christ calls you His beautiful creation, and that is enough.
So if you have suffered or are suffering from an eating disorder, a mental illness, or anything of the sort, please don't be afraid to ask for help. I can't stress this enough. Please don't be afraid to ask for help. Never let the judgement of others impair or impede your judgement. When I sought help, I found recovery, and I found my story. You have a story, too, and your story matters, so don't be afraid to tell your story. Show your "scars." So many times when people experience hard times, they try to cover up what happened and forget about it. Even though mental health doesn't leave physical scars, the scars are forever embedded into our being. I was ashamed to tell my story at first, and you may be, too. But here's one thing I've learned: Scars aren't meant to be hidden. Scars tell our stories. They show where we've been and the fact that we are not there anymore.
So when people try to tell you that you're not good enough or that you need to change, remember this: You serve and belong to Someone much greater than the opinions and falsehoods of this world.
"You are loved more than you know by someone who died to know you." -Romans 5:8