For over 10 years, I have struggled with varying degrees of depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. Each one of these problems is intertwined with the others.
In college, I got a little help for my eating disorder, but I didn’t admit that I had a problem. The bigger problem was that I didn’t want to change.
Anxiety runs in my family and I was aware of it at an early age. I have always searched for ways to self-soothe and calm my anxieties, but I didn’t think I was worthy of any real help.
It was my struggle with a deep depression that eventually caused me to raise the white flag. And in doing so, I began to recover from all three.
Just like one of the steps of the 12 step program for AA, admitting that there is a problem is the first step toward recovery from anything.
I did not admit that I had a real problem until about a year ago.
Since then, I have made huge strides…more like leaps and bounds.
I am really thankful that I made that first step.
I compare it to getting glasses.
I finally went to the eye doctor and I got glasses when I was a junior in college. I admitted that I could not will myself to see better by just trying harder. I admitted that I couldn’t eat enough carrots to improve my vision on my own. Therefore, I made an appointment.
After I started wearing the glasses, I could not believe all the wonderful things I could see. I could see definition in the tree branches, I could see the man on the moon, and I could see across campus and wave to my friends. After I got used to wearing them, when I took them off, I could believe how blind I was. Everything was so blurry!
How could I have possibly lived that way for so many years? How much have I missed because I couldn’t see clearly? Why did I put off going to the doctor for so long? Why didn’t I get glasses ten years ago? I wanted to return to Europe and revisit all the cathedrals and museums I had visited in the semester before. I shudder at the thought of all the beautiful artwork I missed.
In a way, that is what it was like when I finally asked for help for my depression.
I finally admitted that I couldn’t do it on my own. I admitted that I could not will myself out of my depression. I admitted that I needed to get help.
After I started seeing a counselor and taking medicine, I could not believe how much better I started to feel. I could see beauty in my life again. I could see a life worth living and a purpose to fulfill. Not at first, but eventually, I started to become less depressed. After almost a year of receiving treatment, I cannot believe the difference I can see.
How could I have possibly lived that way for so long? Why didn’t I get help ten years ago? I wanted to re-live the last ten years of my life again because of all the things I might have missed.
But honestly, I wasn’t ready to do it two years ago, let alone, ten years ago. I have to remember that everything that happened in the past has shaped me into the person I am today. I cannot dwell on the past or worry about the future. I can only make decisions for the present.
Instead of glasses, I wear contacts now. Every morning when I put them in my eyes, I am reminded of the past and I say a prayer. I say a prayer of thanksgiving. In one eye, I thank God that he has given me this wonderful gift of sight. In the other eye, I thank Him for the gift of insight.
I realize now that my life has value because I am a human being, not because I say it has value.
I am created in the image and likeness of God, just like every other human being in the world. My life is beautiful, and I am worthy and deserving because He created me. I am worthy and deserving of getting help and trying to recover from these illnesses.