A Journey Towards Well-Being
Life After Mental Illness
After having just completed an intensive program for my eating disorder, I stumbled upon the beginning of an old blog I had started.
It is certainly amazing to overcome mental illness but often times it leaves a hole in our lives, an emptiness that we need to refill. I think this is often the cause of relapse- we cannot fill this empty hole or we are too uncomfortable having this sense of emptiness within us. But we can learn to be okay with the emptiness, even love the emptiness because it signifies that we are healthy, that we are normal and that soon enough it will be filled with our reasons for being, our passions and our destiny. But those all take time to cultivate; you can’t come straight out of treatment and expect to be 100% sure what direction you’re headed in let alone be passionate about such direction.
I feel like I wrote this as a reminder to myself for right now. I DO feel empty, I DO have more time to focus on other things, I’m NOT 100% sure which direction I’m headed…but at least I’m over 50% certain sure that it will now be a life that is worth living. Because life with an eating disorder is agonizingly stressful and unhappy.
I once wrote in my journal: “It’s dangerous to feel empty inside. If you’re feeling empty for too long you start to believe that you are empty and the world is empty too. And if everything is empty- what’s the point of living?” (2007)
I am challenging this journal excerpt from age 21. It is only dangerous to feel empty if you believe it to be true about yourself. Don’t let yourself believe this. Trust me, it is easier said than done- I am well aware of that! But I am challenging myself at this time when I feel like what the heck am I doing in my life, to accept where I’m at right now is a crossroad in my life. I can choose to fill this so-called “emptiness” back up with things that are important to me, or I can choose to go back to the safety net of the eating disorder; but with it comes the abysmal state of unhappiness. I’m not saying having an eating disorder is a choice, because that’s a common misconception. I’m saying I have the choice to keep choosing recovery – and that is the choice I will make meal after meal- but I also know it becomes easier to keep choosing wellness until it’s just your way of life. After all, this is a journey to well-being that we’re all on…
About the Author
Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.