If anyone had told me several years ago that everything would get better, I would have nodded while screaming disbelief inside my head. I thought things simply could not get better, that I'd be forever feel imprisoned in a dark room.
While my friends went out, I chose to remain home. When I went to parties, I couldn’t help but think I'd have had a better time on my own. Even when surrounded by others, I felt shut out, as if I were different from everyone else. And when I found myself in intensive care in the hospital, I couldn’t even bring myself to reclaim my life.
It took time, but even I (so skeptical) learned to envision a recovery. And I envisioned myself writing about my recovery, helping others even if I wasn’t quite sure if I would recover. I battled my inner demons for more four years. I thought I wanted to be perfect, but it turns out that I never quite knew what that really was.
But I’m a survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome your struggles. If I can do it, so can you. I believe in you. I believe in recovery.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 2009, although the roots of my illness came from a depression long unnoticed. I received therapy for about four years from two different therapists. When I moved to Slovakia last year, I got a new therapist who is very patient and a great listener.
However, my greatest remedy is writing. My novel, Just Perfect, is based on the difficult times I’ve gone through. It took me more than three years to write, but it was definitely worth it. I wanted my work to inspire and help others by sharing my own struggles. I wanted to persuade people that they are not alone and that they, too, have a life worth fighting for.
Writing also lifted a heavy burden off of my shoulders. Penning my thoughts and battles was vital, as was the incessant help of my family. Because you can’t win this kind of battle on your own, I urge you to find that person to open your heart to. Speaking with my sister helped me tremendously, preventing my chaotic mess of thoughts from piling up and making me feel more miserable. Without family support, I would not have been able to fight as bravely as I did.
I just want to stress that you, too, should not keep it all locked up inside. So if you have anything you want to discuss or need to let go, I hereby offer you my listening ear in case you ever feel the need because I know you are worth fighting for. I'm sure of it. To all the fighters, don’t give up—and don't be afraid to talk to family, friends, or a professional. I know you can do it. Build trust in yourself and make it happen!
Hanne Arts, who lives in Slovakia, wrote her novel, Just Perfect, hoping to help others struggling with depression and eating disorders understand that they are not alone, and that they can overcome their inner demons. “I hope with all of my heart," she says, "that it will help you on your road to recovery.” For more information, visit her website here.