Trigger warning: this article contains elements of self-harm
“Today, I ran into an old acquaintance who I haven’t seen in years.
She told me, ‘You put on weight! You look so healthy! I’m so glad you got better!’
She meant it as a compliment.
The last time I saw her, I was deep in depression, struggling with an obvious eating disorder. But her words still cut deep today, even though they weren’t meant to.
And I hate the thing she noticed about me was my physical appearance.
Even my parents will call that time in my life a ‘phase’ and have no problem announcing that ‘nobody had eating disorders in their day.’
When my anxiety and depression was bad enough that I was digging ‘holes’ in my arms; everyone around me asked me if I was doing it on purpose. Or maybe I was abusing drugs? But self-mutilation is so misunderstood.
I never comment on anyone’s body because I know.
Because I know what it’s like to wither away in silent shame.
To look in the mirror and feel nothing but hate.
What it’s like to compare yourself negatively against every single person you meet.
I know what it’s like to be trying to stay afloat and to feel like you’re going to inevitably drown soon.
I’ve been less than 90lbs.
I’ve listened to people tell me to ‘Eat a burger. Put some meat on those bones.’
I’ve also been 130lbs.
I’ve complained that I’m fat and listened to the advice of loved ones tell me ‘If you don’t like how you look, work out more. Do something about it.’
I’ve had anxiety so bad that I picked the skin off my arms because I’m so concerned with what others think of me.
There have been days where my depression has overwhelmed me so badly, it’s debilitating.
I know what it’s like to spend days without eating, and then to feel guilty when you finally cave and do.
So, I don’t comment on others bodies because I know some people are struggling.
I see some of you struggling because I’m STILL struggling.
I’m a nurse. I’m educated. I work in mental health and addiction services.
But I still have the same battles every morning.
I struggle with myself worth.
I fight every day with my inner voice telling me I’m not enough.
I still put my body through more abuse than it deserves because this battle is still very real for me.
To the girl who saw me today, I look ‘recovered’. I’m a healthy 115lbs. The abrasions on my arms have healed nicely into scars that you can only see it you look REALLY hard. I don’t find myself wishing I could disappear quite as often anymore.
But this disease…it’s not just a physical one.
It’s not a phase I went through in high school.
I can’t just stop.
And you’re right. I have put on weight. And I am healthy. Mostly, I am better. But I’m only better because I choose to be. And it’s still a battle I fight daily. I’m still learning to love this abused and hated body the way it deserves. And I am more than my physical appearance, my weight, my anxiety or my depression. And I wish you would’ve commented on any of the ways I have changed besides that one.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Betsy Hendrickson – Minton, 25, and a mother of 5. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Betsy here:
‘I cried in my car for an hour today. I think, ‘I have NO idea why I became a nurse.’ I am dispensable…just a number on payroll EASILY replaced.’: Nurse says ‘remember no one’s out here taking care of me’
‘When he died, everyone reminded me ‘once an addict, always an addict.’ After 5 years sober, he bought a pill he thought was Percocet. I’ll never know why.’: Mom of 5 says ‘life after addiction can be so, so beautiful if you let it’
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.