Jen's Story

Seattle, Washington USA

Editor's Note: The following story could be potentially triggering for those who have struggled with an eating disorder or suicidal ideation. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741.

"Today, I’m grateful for the breath in my lungs, the people in my life who believe in me, a God who loves me unconditionally, a second chance to follow my passions, and the journey that brought me here. I’ve recently opened up about what this journey has entailed because I’m no longer ashamed of the struggles and demons I’ve faced, but also in hope that sharing my story can help erase some of the still ever-present stigmas surrounding eating disorders and mental health.

 

I struggled with my eating disorder, anxiety, and depression for quite some time before I was finally able to admit that I was battered and broken enough to need help. I’ve been fighting my eating disorder since I was eight years old, yet I only entered treatment two days after my 20th birthday.

 

For over a year now, I’ve been living in hospitals & treatment centers, healing, growing, & recreating myself. Treatment has been a place for me to struggle, to search for who I’m truly meant to be instead of who I think society wants me to be, a place for me to cry, a place for me to grow and form rich connections with others going through similar things, a place to build the courage to do hard things, a place to start finding freedom. Treatment has brought out a different side of me. I’ve sat in the most uncomfortable pain of change and growth, and let others fight for me when I no longer had the strength to fight for myself.

 

I won’t lie, this has been the most frustrating, exhausting, conflicting, and infuriating thing I’ve ever done. But, I’m here to say there is hope. Even when you don’t feel it, it’s still there. While in treatment, I had a suicide attempt. It didn’t work, and now I’m glad it didn’t, but in the moment, I was feeling so hopeless I didn’t know what else to do. Part of the healing process from this was learning that it’s okay to not have everything together, and it’s okay to rely on other people when you need help.

 

For as much of a hell as treatment has put me through and for as isolating as it has been to be over 2,000 miles away from home, I’ve found an overwhelming sense of peace that I’ve never experienced before from the connections I’ve formed with people and from meeting others fighting similar battles, all of us with stories & scars we understood.

 

My journey is still far from over. Things aren’t perfect and every day is a fight, but I have so many people on my team fighting for me and holding the hope for me when I can’t do that for myself. I’m learning to accept that I’m not a mess, rather a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the future ahead of me, and the new perspective I have on life.

 

Navigating through the darkness that can come along with living with a mental illness isn’t easy, but it’s especially difficult to get through without other people on your side. I wouldn’t be here today without everyone who has been so supportive and patient with me throughout this whole process. Reach out to your friends. Reach out to the people you know are struggling. Reach out to the people who seem like they have everything together. It could save somebody’s life, and I’m eternally grateful for my friends for doing that for me. Speak up. Stop the stigma. Save lives…because everyone’s story deserves to go on."

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P.O. Box 491309, Los Angeles, CA 90049-9998

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