Another Face, Another Story

September 9, 2016

Everyone has a voice. Everyone has a story to tell. What you decide to do with your own voice and story is completely up to you. As for myself, I am working on raising my voice in order to share my story with others in hopes of reaching out and showing people that life is a struggle, but we can get through it with the help of family, friends, and belief in our own selves.

To sum it up in the shortest way possible while still covering the important details, I’ll start from the beginning. Or where it all began, that is, the summer before sophomore year. I was caught in the quick sands of a young-love, toxic relationship. I had developed a mindset that I wasn’t “skinny enough” based off of his constant commentary that I could “always improve a certain part of my body”. I worked out nearly every hour that I was awake, whether it be biking to work or the store, running down a new trail, or traveling on foot to the gym to lift weights and swim. I was fatigued before halfway through June but kept grinding forward with my “motivation” to be skinny. By the end of the summer, I had developed an eating disorder and excessive compulsive exercise disorder and had learned during a physical exam that I had enlarged nodules within my thyroid.

Learning about my thyroid changed everything for me. I ended up getting a thyroidectomy on Halloween day following that summer. My life post-surgery took a complete 180. Recovery felt like the end of the world to me. I no longer had the energy to make it through a full 6-hour day of school, let alone a mediocre half hour at the gym. I had adapted to a lifestyle that allowed no more than 1,200 calories a day and an exercise routine that had to meet a minimum of eight hours each day. After the surgery, I was yanked away from my progression to “skinny” and was forced to face a brutal awakening—reality.

Recovery is the worst and best thing that has ever happened to me. While at first my body was in miserable shock from such a major flip in lifestyle, I have come to realize how the surgery has been my saving grace. It opened the doors to an internal mirror where I was finally able to see who I had become. It’s so scary thinking back on it now—the feeling of looking in the mirror and being terrified of the person staring back. It was then I declared my movement to change, to work on a progression towards the real Kelly.

Being brave to me is an every-day process. It’s knowing who you were in the past, and instead of regretting who you were and carrying a fear of becoming that person again, you push off far from the past with confidence and live fearlessly in the present. It is something I carry with me and work on every day. I still struggle with balancing food and exercise, and I face the fear of not eating enough and returning to my old self nearly every day. Now, I have accepted that “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. I’m learning to use the person I was yesterday as motivation to be an even better person today. I am aware of my fears and my past, and work every day to push past those fears and leave my past in the past in order to become the Kelly I’m meant to be. That is what being brave means to me.