Behind Leena's Mind
I apologise in advance for how messy this post is, I've redone it so many times already and I just can't get it right. I always feel like I have so much to say, but I just can't find the right words and end up rambling about things without getting to the point at all. I just wanted to share the story of how I came to be the person I am today, to be honest and open for once, but it isn't that easy at all, especially when you've been keeping things in for so long.
This post is going to be dedicated to the biggest fight of my life to date, so here goes nothing. I've been struggling with an eating disorder for more than four years now and fighting it is still the biggest part of my mental health journey. Part of the reason why I'm writing this right now is that I've been having a much harder time than usual lately and I just hope that by opening up about it, I can find the strength and motivation to carry on and hopefully get to a better place soon.
So without further ado, it all started in 9th grade, when I was 15. To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure of the cause. It was probably partially my at-the-time girlfriend who had some issues of her own, partially having bought a scale and the obsession with numbers resulting from that and partially my dedication to everything I set my sights on, even if the thing in question was starving myself to the point of being barely anything but skin and bones. Well, whatever the cause, the result was food taking over my entire life. I was constantly stressing about it, getting irritated because I was feeling so terrible all the time, both physically and mentally, and just generally isolating myself even more than I had before.
Eventually, I was forced to start the worst quasi recovery the world has ever seen. I ate the bare minimum required to maintain my all too low weight, exercised way more than my body should've been able to handle and still obsessed over everything related to food. I manically weighed every bit I ate and logged it on MyFitnessPal, I never ever under no circumstances went out to eat and got into a frenzy as soon as I couldn't eat my own planned food at the exact right time. All the while, I couldn't make any friends or hang out with anyone at the new school I'd gone to, because I was just always busy obsessing over food or physically feeling so unwell I couldn't possibly begin to think about having any hobbies or a social life.
So went 10th grade, being miserable, lonely and constantly stuck in a pounding tension headache. Eventually, I was so lost and hopeless that I ended up messaging my old girlfriend again, because she was the one who'd seen me at my worst already. I just needed someone, anyone. We ended up sort of getting back together, but the thing is, it was really just a toxic mess. I mean I did gain some freedom. I had some tiny inkling of support and started going out to eat once a week when we hung out, however, I was still seriously restricting myself for about a year, plus the added emotional toxicity that came out of the relationship. And all along, I saw the people around me being happy and free, making the most of their high school years while I was left wishing and yearning to simply be a normal person.
At last, during the summer of my 18th year, I finally managed to make some steps toward actual recovery. I stopped planning out my meals, counting calories and even gained a bit of weight, but I was still far from okay. The torturous relationship carried on and on top of it, I now had to deal with trying to recover from a serious mental illness on my own. Have you heard how most of the people suffering from eating disorders actually commit suicide during recovery, not in the middle of the illness? Well that’s because recovery is really damn hard. It's hard to go through every day still constantly worrying about your meals and the fact that maybe your body's still changing while at the same time trying to convince yourself that this is what you should be doing. That it's the right thing, even when your brain is screaming at you to feel terrible about yourself.
It’s a lot easier to fix your body than it is to fix your brain, and that’s what I’m struggling with to this day. I'm still fighting my thoughts every single day, the ones that are telling me I'm eating too much or exercising too little and that it's making me a despicable human being. I know they're wrong, but that doesn't make them any less prevalent. Recovery is an ongoing battle between the rational and sick side of your brain, you have to be consciously blocking and shutting down your sick thoughts all the time. And if you falter for so much as a second, they're going to break through, making you despise yourself for the things you should instead be feeling happy about.
Hating myself for going out with friends and having that slice of cake or pizza isn't a life I want to keep living. Although I’ve moved on so much from where I used to be, the fight is far from over. I still have a really long way to go until I can confidently say I’m okay with myself. And that I’m okay with my life, but I’m working on it step by step, challenge by challenge and uncomfortable moment by uncomfortable moment, because in the end, it's going to be worth it. Building a new life full of freedom and happiness for myself is going to be worth it. I can never get back the years I lost to my illness, but I still have a long life ahead of me and I'm doing my best to make it a good one.
This is also why I've started talking about mental health related topics so much. I'm mostly just trying to convince myself of everything I'm saying. I'm trying to be my own support system, to tell myself and others the things I wish someone told me. I feel like wording them out somehow gives my thoughts more power and makes them easier to listen to. There's also another aspect of it, though. I've come to realise what a terrible and selfish person I've been for such a large portion of my life and I want to make up for that, to put something good into the world. I want to create something that's actually helpful to others and I hope it's the right thing to do. Well now you know a bit more about me and where I come from. This definitely wasn't the positivity filled read I'd have liked to write, but it's the most real, raw and open I've ever been. I've been struggling with admitting the fact that I really have been sick even to myself, much less talked about it with anyone else, but I feel like accepting this is the first step toward real recovery. The step that I desperately need to take. I need to get ahold of myself in order to spread the positivity and hope I want to and I think that right now, coming clean about my struggles was what I had to do. The thing is, I'm actually really scared to speak so personally. I've never felt like I have the right to admit that there's something wrong with me, but it's also what I want to do. I want to speak more openly about what I'm going through, what it's teaching me and the things I'm doing in order to help myself. I want to overcome my fear and create positive and uplifting content speaking from personal experience, not as some random person sprouting meaningless words. It isn't easy at all and I'm still learning how to express myself correctly, but I do hope it's going to be worth it and that you're willing to bear with me through the journey.