KEEPING IT REAL
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Over the past 4 years I dedicated my life to breaking the stigma associated with mental illness. When I first published my book, Where the Monster Weights, my goal was simple... if I could help one person by telling my story, exposing the pain I had worked so hard to overcome, it would all be worth it. Since the beginning of my recovery journey, I grew tremendously and so have my goals. In this growth, I discovered my mission.
When I was accepted into a graduate program, my mission was clear. I wanted to touch as many lives as possible by emphasizing hope for the future. I sat in classes and mastered “tools” to keep in my toolbox, fully aware that each intervention could be the key to someone else’s recovery. Even now, I keep my future clients in mind as I continue on my journey as a therapist. My goal is to help people- through my lens, through my narrative, with all that I’ve learned- my motivation is stronger than ever.
Over these past couple of months, I was moved to get back on the podium and share my narrative ofovercoming my monster, anorexia nervosa. Recently, I wanted to connect with my colleagues, my community and practitioners that share the same mission. I visited eating disorder treatment facilities, became a certified speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and had the amazing opportunity to present about eating disorders at Chapman University. All of these experiences were different and special.
Many individuals approached me, opening up and sharing that they were inspired by my story. I was also confronted with negative feedback about my decision to be so open about my experience. For a short moment, I was taken aback and wondered if I should continue to tell my story. I reflected on the feedback and recognized that these statements were subjective, they were more about them and less about me. I decided to take them as a compliment- a twisted compliment.
My narrative is out of the norm. People and families hide from these stories, and deep down, that's really the problem! My story isn’t a censored, carefully printed manuscript that fits societal discourses. My recovery journey is raw and real. I share deep pain, sadness and brokenness, I am vulnerable in my story, my family is vulnerable in my story. Why? Because I want to break this silence. The silence that binds us to our illness and makes us feel like we do not have control. Out of my silence and brokenness, I was able to give it light. My story allowed me to find indescribable joy, and through my recovery came light and that light may help someone.
I understand that being authentic means that not everyone is going to like you. This is difficult for me. I like to be liked. I think a lot of people can relate to that. What I’ve learned from these experiences is that I like to be authentic more than I like to be liked. Maybe my narrative does not fit into someone’s idea of what a clinician should be, maybe it does. I do know that when you take a stand and speak out against the crowd, you’re bound to meet people who disagree. I’ve learned that when people make negative statements about my story, it truly isn’t about me… it’s has more to do with them and where they are in their own journey, and perhaps where they choose to stay.
Have the courage to speak your truth! Take control of your wellness. Not everyone will be able to handle it, AND THAT’S OKAY. Be proud of the fact that you are who you are because of the path you’ve walked, the mountains you’ve climbed and the seas you’ve crossed. You’re brave for getting up every day and you are the author of your story. If no one else will hear you, I will.