Katie s Story
Philadelphia, PA USA
"Eight year olds are supposed to be happy. Eight year olds are supposed to be carefree. I never had this opportunity. One note changed my life forever. It thrust me into a black hole, one I still am clawing out of today.
The black hole I entered is unique to me. It threw me curve balls every time I thought I was finding a path towards the stars. It would rip me to shreds, mentally and physically. I felt like I had disappeared, and became someone I didn’t recognize. It can still hurts me to look in a mirror due to the effects of the trauma. A mirror holds two images of me every time I look: a 90-year-old, wrinkled and alone, and an 8-year-old, scared and alone.
Alone. This has always been the biggest fear of mine. It never existed prior to that day- the day the black hole swallowed me whole. A single note changed me. I remember the overtaking feeling as I read the words scribbled on the page in hot pink glitter pen. 'You’re Fat.'
The biggest mistake I made was not telling anyone. I look back on that day now and wish I had told the teacher, or my mother, or the guidance counselor. I wish I had screamed from the rooftop what I had read. But instead, I pushed It into the background noise of my head. I let it eat away at my brain until it finally reached the forefront.
It consumed me in every way possible. I entered into the depths of an eating disorder at the age of nine. I was crippling day by day with anxiety and depression, unable to put a name to such concepts at the age I was at. I didn’t know how to talk about it because, in 2003 and 2004, mental health was not discussed in schools. Words would spin through my head until I pushed them out with bad habits.
Disgusting. Fat. Worthless. These all plagued me- each one like a stab to the heart with every thought. It was not long before these were the constant thoughts running through my head.
But, today is different. Today, I am choosing me. Today, I'm saying no to the thoughts running through my head. Years and years of therapy helped me see the light, but I could never reach it. So, for the past 3 years, I’ve been working on climbing, closer to the edge of the black hole than ever before. The light is there and I know it is finally reachable.
I hope to shed the stigma related to mental illness. I want the world to be able to talk about this, and not hide from it. I want this to be talked about openly, in homes, around kitchen tables, and in schools. I want to share my story because I want anyone who is struggling with mental health, with bullying, with hatred inside themselves, that you will see the light.
I might still have dark days and times where I find my eating disorder controlling me and I might still have times where my nail beds are bleak from biting with anxiety. I might have days where I cannot get out of bed from the emptiness I feel and it might have taken me 14 years to realize that one statement from another eight-year-old should not have impact on how I define myself. But, today I am choosing me. I am shooting for the stars, and you can too. Everything can stop when you start talking. You are not alone.