“I am not my mental health”

I recently started going to counseling, where I was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety but I have been struggling since third grade. That was the first time that I started to notice that my body was different and that led to the beginning of a long journey full of self-loathing. I became extremely introverted when I moved into a different district before middle school, which gave me a lot of excess time to think about myself and let the hatred for myself and comparisons to classmates harbor. I didn’t realize that my thought process was dangerous until

I began self-harming at the end of eighth grade.

The addiction lasted for three years and within those years, I internally locked away my emotions. I had never told my parents, and they still don’t know. And I only told a select few of my friends but I’m sure now that the majority of my peers knew about it. The sad part is that no one had ever stepped in to try to help me. In fact, I was bullied throughout parts of high school about my physical appearance, another piece of kindling for the self-loathing fire that burned inside me. The addiction got so bad that I couldn’t wear shorts, dresses or skirts during the summer; track season became difficult for me because the running shorts constantly rubbed against the cuts and would cause them to bleed during the meets. There would be weeks filled with nightly visits to the bathroom where I would take whatever object I had stashed underneath my pillow and make a few cuts on my upper thigh before I could manage to go back to bed. It’s been five years since I’ve last hurt myself and relapsing is my biggest fear.

During my counseling sessions, I’ve realized that my thought process is still very cognitively distorted. I stay up until early in the morning, just hours before needing to get up to go to class, thinking all the negative thoughts about the future and about myself that I don’t need to. You see, the depression feeds the anxiety which feeds the depression which feeds the insomnia which feeds the anxiety. It’s a sick cycle. And I stay up until five or six in the morning thinking about how I’ll never achieve my ambitions because I’m worthless and I’m worthless because I don’t meet society’s standardizations for beauty. And because I’m not beautiful, I will never get into a relationship and relationships directly correlate to how happy and successful you are in life. But I’m working really hard on getting better. I know that I’m messed up. I realize that beauty cannot be defined and I preach not putting your happiness in a relationship and I know that happiness can be found in so much more. And that’s why I believe in healthy self-expression. And it’s why I’m trying to get better. I would never wish the constant prayers to stop eating, the courage to start self-harming, the constant hatred and anger and disappointment on anyone. So why do I let myself settle on it?