journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · Uncategorized

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

Today marks the first day of eating disorder awareness week 2017. This is such an important week for me as most people know and I will be sharing lots of information about eating disorders to try and raise as much awareness as possible.

Awareness is key to diagnosis and recovery. Because of a lack of awareness, my eating disorder went undetected for 14+ months until my life was at risk. People deserve to get the care and treatment they need in terms of their eating disorders from the moment they develop one.

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively
  • bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight
  • binge eating disorder (BED) – when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time

Some people, particularly those who are young, may be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This means you have some, but not all, of the typical signs of eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

I was diagnosed with Anorexia in 2014. Anorexia Nervosa is currently the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death. Although Anorexia is by far the deadliest eating disorder, death rates are also higher than normal in people with bulimia and “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS, a common diagnosis for people with a mixture of atypical anorexia and atypical bulimia). Suicide is also a particular risk as 1 in 5 Anorexia death are due to suicide. People diagnosed with Anorexia between the ages of 20 to 29 had a higher death rate (18-fold) with the age group 15-19 following close behind with a ten fold.

Spotting the signs of an eating disorder can be difficult. Remember – a person with an eating disorder does NOT have to appear thin or underweight.

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • missing meals
  • complaining of being fat, even though they have a normal weight or are underweight
  • repeatedly weighing themselves and looking at themselves in the mirror
  • Losing interest in social events, not attending classes or school, becoming withdrawn
  • making repeated claims that they’ve already eaten, or they’ll shortly be going out to eat somewhere else and avoiding eating at home
  • cooking big or complicated meals for other people, but eating little or none of the food themselves
  • only eating certain low-calorie foods in your presence, such as lettuce or celery
  • feeling uncomfortable or refusing to eat in public places, such as at a restaurant
  • the use of “pro-anorexia” websites
  • Use of dietary aids such as weight loss products, diuretics and laxatives
  • eating in secret or having days of ‘normal’ eating
  • Using the bathroom frequently after eating

Eating disorders cause a wide variety of complications, some of them life-threatening. The more severe or long lasting the eating disorder, the more likely you are to experience serious complications, such as:

  • Significant medical problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Problems with growth and development
  • Social and relationship problems
  • Substance use disorders
  • Work and school issues
  • Death

So, whose affected by eating disorders?

A 2015 report commissioned by Beat estimates more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. Eating disorders tend to be more common in certain age groups, but they can affect people of any age.

Around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will experience anorexia nervosa at some point. The condition usually develops around the age of 16 or 17.

Bulimia is around two to three times more common than anorexia nervosa, and 90% of people with the condition are female. It usually develops around the age of 18 or 19.

Binge eating affects males and females equally and usually appears later in life, between the ages of 30 and 40. As it’s difficult to precisely define binge eating, it’s not clear how widespread it is, but it’s estimated to affect around 5% of the adult population.

Be disorder aware this week and reach out to those you feel may be suffering with an Eating Disorder

[credit: NHS UK]

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autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Silence to Suicide

Today I’m struggling. I know its partly down to the fact that I’ve only been on an SSRI medication for over a week. I know that the drug causes increased anxiety and a higher risk of suicide during the first few weeks as your body adjusts. I’m just very tired.

Medication isn’t a miracle drug and it definitely doesn’t cure mental illness but I really hoped by now I would be starting to feel even a little bit better and not worse. All I’ve done today is sleep and walk with my headphones blasting because I feel so low that I can’t even function.

I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in such a long time and even though I know I won’t act on them, its sad to think that if you told somebody they’d deem you crazy and unsafe and probably think you were going to take your life. Suicidal thoughts don’t necessary mean the person is going to go out and kill themselves…it just means they’re finding it hard to exist.

There is too much silence towards suicide. If someone brings up suicide, the entire room goes quiet. People turn away, pretend they didn’t hear the word. No wonder 2 out of 3 people with mental health problems struggle alone…

We shouldn’t have silence towards suicide. We should turn towards the word, listen, offer support. Appreciate every single person. Look for subtle signs of problems. Warning signs of low mood and suicidal thoughts are there, they just need to be picked up!

Here are some tips that can help you support someone whose feeling suicidal:

1. Ask questions.

If the person is comfortable, ask questions. Do so because you want to understand and provide empathy, not out of curiosity. This actually may be a nice change for the loved one. Because the topic of mental illness can make people feel uncomfortable, some might respond with silence, change the subject or offer a hurried statement. If you don’t understand something, ask. It’s better to fully understand than to make assumptions.

2. Don’t assume the person can tell you what he or she needs.

Don’t assume the person knows what they need. In times of stress, it’s common not to know. If they’re sharing with you, most likely they just need you to listen.

3. Offer practical help.

Offer/do practical things for the person. If they’re stressed, help take off their workload and do some things. Sit with them if they’re spending too much time alone.

4. Encourage self-care.

Remind the person to engage in self-care. Offer to go to the movies, meet for coffee or go on a walk with them. Friends and family of those with mental illness need to manage their own stress as well.

5. Check in.

Check in with the person. One reason that mental illness is so isolating is because people don’t talk about it. While it can be uncomfortable for both the person struggling and you, it’s uncomfortable for them not to talk about it, too. They’ll appreciate knowing that you care enough to check in.

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autism · grief · journey to recovery · mental health · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

“You asked me before if I was coping…”

So many emotions…so much pain.

Sigh.

I know how life can turn on you sometimes. How it can make you feel…lonely. Scared. Life can be so cruel sometimes….I can’t handle it. I don’t know what to do. You asked me before it I was coping. I’m not coping. Not at all.
I distanced myself from my friends. I distanced myself from everyone. It doesn’t go away. It happened weeks ago. It might as well be minutes ago. Because it doesn’t go away. I don’t break down in tears anymore. Not much…

You put me through hell..but I survived.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

5 Self-Harm Truths

  1. Self harm is a very common problem, much more common than a lot of people think. Although it is common, a lot of people struggle to deal with it. Recent research shows that at least 1 in 15 young people in Britain have harmed themselves. This amounts to at least 2 young people in every school classroom self harming at the same time. The most common age for self harm is between the ages of 11 and 25. Most people start self harming at around 12 years old but it is increasing among those younger.
  2. Self harming is usually not for attention. Self harm is a way to release emotions, deal with stress and pressures and to replace mental pain with physical pain. Most people harm themselves because they don’t feel like they have any other options. Self harm provides a temporary relief and a sense of control. Most people self harm due to being bullied at school, stress and worry about work, feeling isolated, divorce, bereavement or pregnancy, experience of abuse, problems with their sexuality, low self-esteem, underlying mental health issues.
  3. Self harm is not closely linked to suicide. The majority of people who self harm are not trying to kill themselves, but rather trying to cope with difficult situations and feelings. Although many people who do go on to commit suicide have self-harmed in the past, self harming itself does not indicate that a person is attempting to take their own life.
  4. Self harm can become addicting. Chemicals are released in the body when it is injured. These chemicals make you less sensitive to pain. Self harm mostly becomes addicting as it grows to be a habit that the person begins to rely on in order to function.
  5. Self harm is not just a phase. In young people, self harm is often blamed as a ‘teenage phase’ that the person will grow out of. However, self harm does not just affect young people. It affects people from all ages and all walks of life. If someone is self harming, then someone is severely bothering them and if left untreated, it can become more aggressive and frequent over time.

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autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

To the Person Who May Have an Eating Disorder

Hello. You might know me, or you might not. Either way, I want to talk to you about eating disorders. You may have one, you may not have one, you may know somebody who does…

I want to let you know about a time in my life where my eating disorder was at it’s worse. It was May 2014. I had just turned 17 years old. I was fainting all the time, had many bruises and injuries, and was irritable with almost everyone. My fingernails and nose were blue from lack of oxygen. My potassium, sugar levels and electrolytes were extremely low. My hair was brittle and fell out. My skin was pale and weak. My stomach was distended from lack of food and I was dehydrated. My mental health was lower than low. I sat alone at college because I was too caught up in my own little world to socialise with anyone. I spent all day nearly fainting or sleeping because I simply had no energy. I refused to eat anything for weeks at a time because the fear of food was too intense. I lost 7lb that week in  may 2014, and weighed 4 stone lighter than I do now…

It was then that I started to notice that my relationship with food was not normal. I realised that I wasn’t just hungry for food. I was starving before I ever refused a meal. I was starving for perfection. I was starving for a perfect body, for a flat stomach, for a thigh gap, to look beautiful, and to feel happier. I was starving for something that didn’t really exist. I didn’t really believe that I could ever get Anorexia Nervosa, but I did…

It took me a long time to truly understand recovery. Recovery started with many nights of tears, frustration and the pure refusal to eat a thing in the fear of gaining weight. Recovery started with many hours of re-feeding and the horrible symptoms that came with it. Recovery started with fear and anger at all those who forced me to get better. As the months went on and my body shape began to change, the self-hatred grew and the self-confidence decreased. With recovery came hatred. With recovery came depression. With recovery came anxiety. Recovery gave me freedom to eat food that I wanted. Recovery gave me the ability to eat without truly thinking about it. Recovery silenced Ana’s voices – for a while. But recovery brought weight gain…and it brought confusion.

Recovery is often beautiful, however, so don’t let this put you off. Relapse is torture, but one thing I know for certain is that battling with both is hell. Darkness, like light, often leaks in through cracks. Recovery has never been one easy happy path. Recovery has had many more bad days than good. Recovery often leads to relapse, and thats perfectly okay. Relapse is inevitable.

I know that an eating disorder is not easy. It’s not easy when everyone tells you that you are what you eat or what you weigh or that you’re only as good as your calorie count or the number on your social media. It’s not easy when people talk about how they’re having a ‘bad’ food day or that they need to run off the chocolate cake they had. It’s not easy when people go on diets, or cut out food groups like carbs or suddenly develop dietary requirements. It’s not easy when people comment on the weight they’ve lost or tell you they’re on a diet. It’s not easy when the calorie information to food is right there in front of you, or the temptation of throwing everything back up is nagging at your head.  The world revolves around numbers. The truths below are listen in numbers, but they are numbers to be followed. Please listen.

  1. You have a voice – I know your eating disorder seems to be in control and it takes up every single minute of the day. The truth is however is that your eating disorder does not control you at all. You are a person and you have a wonderful voice hiding in that body of yours.
  2. You’re not defined by your eating disorder – I know that eating disorders can become some sort of protection, but your identity and who you are is totally detached from your eating disorder. Your eating disorder is an illness you have, not what has you.
  3. You’re really not crazy, I promise – I know all the voices – especially Ana’s voice – in your head make you feel like you’re crazy and you wish sometimes that they would just stop, but you’re not crazy. I know you’re not. You’re hungry…your body is looking for food, but your mind is hungry for life and purpose.

You may know me, or you might not. Either way, please listen and know you’re never alone.

I love you and I wish you the best.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

What Anorexia Taught Me

When I was 12 years old, I remember thinking to myself, “you’ll never get an eating disorder; you’re too overweight”, after hearing about eating disorders on the news. I remember telling myself that was one less mental illness to worry about because I certainly wouldn’t get that. I already had Anxiety and Depression; I’d never get an eating disorder too.

Funny enough, 3 years later…you can kind of guess what happened. I – the person who told myself I’d never get one – developed Anorexia Nervosa. I didn’t actually realise I had an eating disorder until a long while in. I thought I was on a diet – simply cutting out ‘bad’ foods in order to lose weight. I thought exercising was making me stronger, fitter, thinner. The exercise boosted my self-esteem. Saying ‘no’ to a piece of food made me proud. A few months in, I finally realised I may have had a problem. I’d cut out all types of food. Any food that led to possible weight gain. Pizza, chips, ice cream, bread, carbohydrates, takeaway, crisps, pasta, rice. The list mounted and soon the only food I felt truly comfortable eating was fruit, vegetables and water. I realised I was developing something abnormal, but I refused to admit it or tell anybody. I began purging. Throwing up the small amounts of food I’d consumed because those calories just weren’t worth it. Using pills to lose weight.

Oh I knew by now that this was Anorexia Nervosa. I knew what she was doing to my body; abnormal blood counts, fatigue, lack of oxygen in the skin, intolerance to cold, abnormal heart rhythms, dizziness and fainting, low blood pressure, dehydration, osteoporosis, irritability, depression and increased anxiety, hatred and fear of food, thoughts and attempts of suicide, social withdrawal, self harm, constipation, constant hunger, brittle nails and thin hair, low potassium and chloride… the list is endless, but I was lacking one important symptom; an extremely low body weight (which I eventually gained after a doctor told me I was ‘too fat’ after losing 31% of my body weight).

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You see, I never thought I would get a disease known as Anorexia Nervosa. I never expected to have a life-long condition that can be managed but won’t truly go away. But the thing is, as an 8 year old I wrote a poem about a girl named ‘Ana’ who told me I was fat and not to eat. It happens that 7 years after that poem, it came true. Maybe I was predisposed to Anorexia  from a early age and there was nothing anybody could do to stop it.

Anorexia Nervosa is completely destructive and the most lethal psychiatric disorder to date, but its taught me things I never thought it would.

Because of Anorexia; I learned to look deeper into the way people act, behave and think. I have learned to be compassionate, to not judge but to be accepting. I have learned who my real friends are (to those of you who stuck around; I love ya) and who is there for me in the darkest of times. I have learned about a range of illnesses I knew nothing about before. I have learned to advocate for change and grow a passion for changing the world and the people in it. I have learned to stand up for those who have mental illness and befriend those who struggle. I have learned so, so much…

but most of all,  I have learned about me.

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autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

A New Diagnosis

So today we may have reached a good point in terms of ‘recovery’. I had a meeting with my DA to discuss referral processes for a new diagnosis. I did a referral test which gave a result of 10 out of 10 and have now been processed onto a referral to wait for assessment.

I’m not going into this ‘diagnosis’ until I have 100% confirmation that it is the diagnosis we have been searching for.

Either way, new and positive things may be coming up in the future that will help explain my entire life, my behaviours, my problems, my anxiety, and so forth.

It’s been a rough 24 hours and I have took about 10 steps back in terms of being ‘stable’. My depression has thrived in my defeated mind this last week and my anxiety has not been in my control. Either way, 12 hours later after 10 panic attacks, I’m feeling ready to fight again.

I think people underestimate the struggle of trying to remain ‘okay’ when you battle with so many internal illnesses.

Every single hour of every single day is a big deal for somebody struggling.

This morning was a success – leaving the house, getting a bus and attending two appointments before getting the hour journey bus back.

Little steps are everything.

Please keep trying to make those little steps and push and push and push until you get the help you feel you need.

Love you all, hope you’re doing well! ❤

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

I can’t be fixed…

“I don’t care. Everywhere I go, I seem to break things. And the more I try to fix them, the more I make it worse.”

“Because you cant fix other people until you’ve fixed yourself.”

“But I can’t be fixed because i’m crazy.”

“You’re not crazy. Now I want you to tell me what you don’t like about yourself but be honest with me.”

“I’m fat. I’m ugly. And I ruin things.”

“I want you to imagine the ten year old version of yourself sitting right there on this couch. Now this is the little girl who first believed that she was fat and ugly and an embarrassment. I want you to imagine her sitting there right now. What do you want to say to that little girl? If she said to you thats how she felt about herself, what would you tell her?”

“That she’s fine. That she’s perfect.”

“That’s what you need to tell yourself. You need to tell yourself that everything is going to be okay.”

I came across this reading just now and it absolutely broke me to tears. I’m not feeling great and there are so many things swirling around my mind. These words are just perfect. I’m sorry for not trying.


Somehow the bruises changed my plan. And there’s a silent storm inside me, looking for a home. I hope that someone is going to find me and say that I belong. I’ll wait forever and a lifetime, to find  I’m not alone. There’s a silent storm inside me, and someday i’ll be calm.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Explaining my Stimming…

Stimming. Where do I start with stimming? Maybe I should give you guys an overview on stimming before I go into talking about it and my experience. It’s not really something everyone knows much about.

Stimming is basically short for self-stimulatory behaviours. This means, technically, that somebody is doing something to give themselves sensory input – but what does that mean? Think of it this way: when most people say something, it’s usually to communicate; when they do something, it’s usually to have an effect on the world or themselves; when they look at something, it’s usually because they’re getting information from it. You do something because you want to achieve a consequence. When someone is stimming, they’re speaking, moving or gazing purely to enjoy the sensation it creates, and the state of mind that sensation produces.

Common areas of stimming include:

Visual. Staring at lights; doing things to make the vision flicker such as repetitive blinking or shaking fingers in front of the eyes; staring at spinning objects.
Auditory. Listening to the same song or noise, for instance rewinding to hear the same few notes over and over. Making vocal sounds, tapping ears, snapping fingers etc.
Tactile. Rubbing the skin with hands or with another object, scratching, unusual hand movements and flapping, hands near or in mouth, hand clapping.
Taste/smell. Sniffing objects or people; licking or chewing on things, often things that aren’t edible. Pica can overlap with stimming.
Verbal. Echolalia, basically: repeating sounds, words or phrases without any obvious regard for their meaning.
Proprioception. Rocking side to side or back and forth, swinging, jumping, pacing, running, tiptoeing or spinning , walking in circles.

There’s no one reason why someone stims. It can be a way of shaking up ‘hypo sensitive’ senses – that is, senses that need stronger input to feel things. We all need a certain amount of sensory stimulation to feel comfortable, and if it doesn’t happen in the ordinary run of things, stimming can be a way to get it. It’s also, according to the people who do it, just a nice experience, something that you do because it feels good, calming you down and helping you relax. During stress and anxiety or emotional trauma, a person also reverts to stimming in order to shut things out or self-soothe. Tiredness can also trigger stimming behaviours. Stimming behaviours are likely to occur in those with autism, sensory processing disorders, mental health problems, and someone experiencing current trauma or distress.

[Information provided by ambitious about autism]

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In terms of stimming in relation to me; I didn’t really notice it until about a year and a half ago. I remember rocking in one of my college classes because I felt extremely uncomfortable and distressed in the environment. I’m not sure how long I’d been doing it before then, but it only became prevalent and part of everyday life about a year ago. I am usually oblivious and unaware of my stimming behaviour unless somebody points it out. Sometimes, I am able to notice the stimming and stop it or at least slow it down.

When I first started stimming, I would only tactile stim. I would often rub my hands together or wring my hands. I would sometimes scratch at my skin absentmindedly. I would also do what is known as ‘teepee hands’ which basically means interlocking the fingers into a stiff position. These stims were noticeable to me years before I even realised what stimming was. If someone noticed these behaviours, I was able to stop them. Hand scratching was the most prevalent – occurring when I had panic attacks.

Over time, I’ve developed more stims, targeting more sensory areas in order to fulfil my sensory processing needs. These stims were not noticeable to me until people began pointing them out. One of the biggest stims that people usually notice about me is rocking. I’m not sure when or why I started ‘rocking’ but when people told me I was doing it, I would stop. Eventually rocking became a ‘natural’ stim. I rock about 60-80% of the day where as I used to rock about 10% of the week. From what people have told me; I rock most of the time, more so when sitting. When standing I either bounce from one foot to the other, walk in circles or resort to other stims.

I have noticed recently that I involuntary clap my hands when severely anxious or tired. I clap twice and then stop. It’s almost like an involuntary muscle reaction that my body does when stressed. I also tap my fingers together rapidly, shake my hands, put my hands near my chin or in my mouth, or less frequently; flap.

I fiddle almost all the time, mostly with my tangle but other objects include pens, sleeves of a hoodie, and small stationary equipment.

I find it extremely difficult to open up about this behaviour on my blog because I struggle to tell people about it. I already have enough reasons why people would not consider me ‘normal’ and to stim at this age just looks ‘weird’ and frankly ‘crazy’. After deep thought I realised that I NEEDED to write this blog post because people don’t understand stimming or even realise the reasons why a person does it. Stimming is a self-soothing mechanism that a person does when clearly distressed, tired, emotional, going through trauma or struggling. It’s the body’s natural instinct; after all your mother rocked you as a baby so you could fall asleep.

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From a young age, I have been hypersensitive and ‘fussy’ with the senses. People with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Those with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and sensory issues often struggle with people touching them, hate mess and having stuff on their hands, fidget often, are bothered by changes (especially those involved with senses), are over sensitive to certain noises, are fussy with food textures and are easily anxious. They also take part in stimming and repetitive behaviours.


If you’ve read until here; thank you. Thank you for trying to understand stimming.

To the person in class who saw me rocking last Monday and then went on to mimic my behaviour to your friends to laugh at me; please understand the reasons why a person stims in the first place. It’s not for fun. It’s not because you’re bored. It’s the body’s natural reaction to trauma, stress, severe anxieties, mental illnesses, processing disorders and various other conditions.

Be mindful.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dear Younger Me…

Dear younger me, where do I start? If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
then you could be one step ahead of all the painful memories that are still running through my head. I wonder how much different things would be now if you knew. I wouldn’t want to give you a speech about how to get the most out of this life. I’d want to talk to you about the choices you’ll make; the choices that made me – well me. Most of the time, this life is awesome, but I wish it were easier. Would a different choice have helped this situation? Dear younger me, if I knew then what I know now; everything would be different. The unknown would have no power over you. You’d be able to sleep without worry. The pain would eventually cease. If I knew then what I know now, it would’ve not been hard to figure out what I would’ve changed if I had known.

Dear younger me; remember it’s not your fault. You were never meant to carry this. Please stop living in the past – your past actions and other peoples past actions are not your fault. Stop thinking about them. Please stop looking into the future. What will be will be. You’ll be alive, you’ll be breathing, you’ll be stronger. You always have been. Live in the present. Appreciate the feel of wind on your face, or the blanket keeping you cosy and warm at night. Appreciate your senses – the smell of a hot chocolate. The sights of the outdoors. Be patient. Be loving. Be kind. Love others. Care for others.

When life throws pain at you, you’ll be angry. You’ll be scared. You’ll be lonely. But eventually you’ll see that every moment brings you closer to who you were meant to be. Please don’t look too close into appearances and weight. Please don’t use the internet as a source of information and trust…or let society change your views on yourself and the world. Please don’t exercise so much – relax and sleep all you need. Please eat – your body loves you for it. When depression and anxiety strikes, don’t curl up in a ball in a dark room. Reach out. Surround yourself with people; you’ll thank me for it later.

But most of all, younger me; believe in yourself. You are strong. You are powerful. You are beautiful. You are living. You are you and you’ll do a great job making me me…

[inspired by Mercy Me.]

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