In 2014, I was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and scoliosis. I broke into tears in the middle of the night in front of my housemate, one of the few closest friends I have.
I was furious and extremely upset to find the betrayal of my body and my mind. My body and my health, I thought, were entirely dysfunctional. At the time I was about to start a career and was ready to bleed myself for work while making money for myself and my family. The discovery of my illnesses was a nightmare.
Years later, and after dozens of consultations and thousands of tablets from seven psychiatrists and a handful of doctors, the anger and self-pity remains in my head and my heart. It would be a lie if I say otherwise. My journey is not about the glorious victory of a person, a young woman and a daughter of single-mom who successfully overcame poverty and the disabilities. I apologize in advance if you read this piece to find an inspirational story.
I thought I was only struggling to accept myself. My big ego led me to reject the idea of self-acceptance. I thought I was simply having a hard time bearing the enormous financial costs of taking care of my health. The thought of “mediocrity” in my future, especially in terms of career, haunted myself every single day. The thought of a lifelong dependency on medications and its consequences took over my beliefs on autonomy, individual agency and control.
Until last night, five years later, I came to realize there is another demon haunting myself, corrupting my confidence, and dragging down my self-esteem. The demon was my dishonesty about the ways I felt good and sexually attractive in a skinny body. I lost about 10 kilo in a couple of months after my diagnoses. It was the skinniest I had ever been in my life. My clothes size was down from medium to small, and I began to joyfully spend money on clothes.
I was proud of my physical appearance. My illness turned into something I felt grateful for, having realized my secret wish to be skinny. The best news was I could eat everything I wanted any time including loads of sugar and junk foods without ever having to worry about weight gain. There was no need to exercise to keep my weight. I had had a history of bulimia in the past, when I occasionally tried to throw up after meals.
I was happy to finally have ‘my dream body.’ Suddenly I was happy to be depressed and to consume a bunch of pills on a daily basis. The huge irony eluded me.
It took roughly six years to come to be honest with myself. Since 2019 my weight has skyrocketed and now I hate my body, again. I use present tense because nearly every time I look in the mirror, I feel ugly. I can’t fit in my old clothes. I have losst any interest in shopping. I am in denial of my size change. The worst part is I sometimes wish my depression would return so I could get back my slim body back.
Self-acceptance is a painful journey. It is easier to starve myself than to watch the foods I consume and exercise. But I still have hopes. I want to enjoy life more, especially because I’ve lost half of my time fighting back depression and enduring the physical pain on my back. My depression comes and goes, and there is no fun in drowning in a sea of pills. The challenge is to be compassionate with myself, and to set a realistic expectation about my future, rather than preferring to be trapped in a black hole.