To Write Love On Her Arms

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TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
Sky Taylor

Self-Care Plans vs Safety Plan (and Why You Should Have Both)

Every now and then this joke circulates social media: “I don’t struggle with depression… like at this point, I have it down. I’m good at depression.” As someone who lives with chronic depression, that always makes me laugh. While I suppose if I was “good” at depression, I’d be out of it by now, there is still valuable truth in this comedic statement. Depression, like many other mental illnesses, is a sneaky beast. It likes to creep up unexpectedly, throw you off and hit you out of nowhere. I know that all too well. But I’ve also learned, while I can’t necessarily predict when my anxiety or depression or trauma will decide to overwhelm me, I can do my best to prepare for it. I know that can sound strange. Prepare for bad days, bad moments — why would I want to anticipate those? I want to live my life, I don’t want to constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I get that, but I would argue by doing some “prep work,” it can actually have the opposite effect. By having a plan in place for those tough mental health days, it can help ease that fear of expecting the worst, because you know if/when it happens, you’re prepared. I know, personally, this planning has helped me tremendously. When I’m at my worst mentally, I often don’t even have the energy to think about what I could possibly do to help myself. That’s why, when I was feeling a little better than usual, I made these plans — so in my darkest moments, I have things I can turn to that will keep me safe and help me through those storms. I have two main “mental health” plans: a self-care plan and a safety plan. My self-care plan is what I turn to when I’m just having a particularly bad day, can’t find energy or can feel myself starting to let things slip through the cracks. My safety plan is a little different. As someone who also lives with chronic suicidal ideation and has attempted suicide multiple times, this is the plan I turn to when I’m feeling like I might be getting to a point where I can’t keep myself safe. Because suicidal thoughts fall on such a spectrum, when you might need to access this plan is going to be different for everyone. I truly believe anyone who experiences suicidal thoughts to any degree should have a safety plan. Check out To Write Love on Her Arm’s Safety Plan template here. So, how do you make one of these plans? Each plan is going to be individual to you, but here are some general tips when thinking about creating self-care and safety plans. When you’re creating your self-care plan, keep these questions in mind: What relaxes me? What gives me energy? What can I do right now to help myself? (This may be taking a nap or it may be something like going to hang out with a friend.) Have I eaten or drank any water recently? Have I showered today? Have I moved my body today? Who can I reach out to for support? What are some things I need to hear right now? (I like to write out a few mantras I can read for when I’m just in my head too much.) What absolutely needs to be done today vs what can I set aside to do later so I can do what’s best for me right now? What would you like to tell the you who is hurting? (Leave a note for yourself!) My self-care plan is broken into what I can do for myself physically, socially, mentally and spiritually, but it’s totally up to you in how you want to design yours — get creative! My safety plan looks a little different because I know if I’m pulling that out, I really need some concrete things I can turn to in that moment. Some things may overlap from the self-care plan, but the essence of each is different. Consider the following questions when creating a safety plan for when you’re suicidal: What are warning signs I might be feeling suicidal or getting worse? What professionals/helplines can I contact and what are their numbers? (Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Textline, To Write Love on Her Arm’s resource page, etc.) What can I do to help myself cope right now? Who can I turn to to help distract me? What are some social settings or places I can go where I’ll feel better? Who are people I can ask for help? (Include their phone numbers!) How can I make my environment safe? Why do I want to keep living? What in my life is driving me to keep going? **If you’re feeling particularly up for the challenge, I actually enjoyed creating a safety kit. I have my safety plan in there, texts I’ve written down from friends that encourage me, Bible verses that help me, quotes I’ve printed out. I actually have letters I’ve written to myself, filled with reminders of truth because I know how loud the lies get when I’m feeling like this. Just another thing to have in place for when you’re feeling suicidal. When you’re finished, take a picture in case you don’t have access to the physical plan when you need it. Feel free to share it with family, friends, therapists, etc. so they can support you through this. It also might put them at ease a bit knowing that you do have a plan in place when you’re feeling suicidal. At the end of the day, whether it’s a self-care plan, safety plan or both, I would encourage you to make one, or at least think about what you would include in one. Regardless of diagnoses or other labels, you deserve self-care and you deserve to feel safe. You deserve to have these plans in place on the hard days. You deserve gentleness and grace in those moments. You deserve love and comfort. There is no qualifier or prerequisite for these things. Your existence is enough. Your presence is enough. You, yourself, right now, are deserving and enough.

Christa Marie

To Those With Abusive Parents Who Can't 'Just Go Home' for COVID-19

To the young adults who’ve left abusive homes and are now facing a global pandemic: I see you. Even when there isn’t a pandemic, it’s so easy to feel like you weren’t properly prepared to enter this world as an adult. Abusive parents often don’t prepare their children to enter the real world as adults because part of the abuse is an attempt to keep them trapped. When crises (such as a global pandemic) arise, it’s even easier to feel like you weren’t prepared for this, like all of it is too much, like you just don’t know how to handle it. Your feelings are valid. Whether you are one of the trauma survivors who feels unusually calm in the midst of chaos or you feel entirely overwhelmed and on the brink of spiraling, or anything in-between, your feelings are real and valid and understandable and perfectly OK. Your feelings are a response to the situation you are in, a situation that is far from anything that anyone would ever consider normal. They are not a sign of anything wrong with you. A lot of complicated feelings can come up when something like this happens. You see posts on social media or hear from friends who have gone back home with their (healthy, supportive, and not abusive) parents, and it’s easy to feel conflicted: to know that your parents aren’t like your friends’ parents, to know that you can’t just go back home, but to wish so desperately that things were different and you could just run home at the first sign of trouble. You might even miss them, as much as you know they hurt you: that isn’t uncommon. You’re allowed to feel however you’re feeling right now, so give yourself the space you need to feel. I want to remind you that any boundaries you have set are still valid. The pure fact that you survived the abuse tells me that you are so, incredibly strong. No matter how you feel, you are strong enough to survive this too. You do not have to go back there if it makes you feel unsafe. You do not have to contact them if it makes you feel unsafe. You do not have to do anything that makes you feel unsafe. The only thing you have to do is make sure that you have whatever it is that you need right now. If you need space, take it. If you need human contact, call a supportive friend. If you need coping skills, have at it. You owe it to yourself to take care of you right now, but you do not owe anything to them. Remember that unlike how it may have been when you were growing up, this is one crisis you are not facing alone. Every human being on the planet is feeling this in one way or another right now. You are the opposite of in this alone. If you need something, please reach out – regardless of what it is. I promise, there are people out there who want to help. We’re in this together. You’ve got this. Keep fighting the good fight. Concerned about coronavirus? Stay informed with these articles: Which Face Masks Prevent Against Coronavirus? How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer 8 Soaps You Can Use to Help Prevent the Spread of Illness How Can You Tell the Difference Between Anxiety and COVID-19 Symptoms? New Study Suggests Digestive Issues Can Be First Sign of COVID-19

Christa Marie

I Am More Than My Trauma, so Don't Define My Successes by It

So often, I get comments regarding how amazed people are at how far I have made it in life considering everything I have been through. They tell me it’s incredible how much I’ve overcome, that so many people would have never made the decision to pick up their broken pieces and move forward the way that I have. And here’s the thing: I appreciate the sentiment, I truly do. But I don’t want to be successful in spite of my trauma. I want to be successful aside from my trauma. When my success is defined by its relativity to what I have experienced, it makes my experience have more weight in my identity than my accomplishments. It creates a space where my trauma is defining who I am more than what I have chosen to do with it. I published my first article at 16 years old. I was completely independent at 18 years old. I got into every single college that I applied to. I was the published author of a best-selling poetry book at 19. My book was accepted into the Library of Congress when I was 20. I currently have a 3.4 GPA in my second year of college, taking classes full-time while also maintaining a full-time job and managing my health. And I don’t say those things to brag about how great I am, anyone who knows me well would certainly know that really isn’t my style at all. I say those things because they’re all things our society would consider impressive regardless of the support an individual has or has not received along the way, regardless of the trauma an individual has or has not experienced. Have I been through hell and back? Absolutely. Has that made this harder? Without a doubt, yes, it has. But I do not wish to have what I have done with my life continuously compared to what I have been through. I know I have done these things more independently than the average person my age. I know there have been barriers along my journey that most individuals do not have to face. But I also know that in so many ways, this is simply how I have chosen to heal, and I would never want someone else to feel ashamed because of what their journey of healing looks like. What happens when I graduate college? When I finish grad school? When I get my social work licensure? When I buy a house? When I start driving? How long will my accomplishments be compared to what I have experienced? I know people mean well when they say this, that they intend to indicate it is even more impressive I have made it to where I have because they recognize my journey has been more difficult than most. But how would you feel if every time you did something worth celebrating, someone turned around and reminded you of the hardest time(s) of your life? How would you feel if your strongest moments were continuously related to your most broken? When people look at me, I don’t want them to see my trauma. I want them to see me, myself, my whole person, the entire being that creates who I am. My trauma is not welcome in that. I refuse to invite my trauma to define my identity. I refuse to let that shape my being. I am not my trauma. I am Christa. I am a writer, an advocate, a friend, a student, an artist, a dancer, an educator. I am a whole human aside from what I have experienced. And I would be lying if I said my trauma has not shaped who I am in a lot of ways, because it has. Without it, I would likely be a very different person than I am today, but it still does not define me. What I have chosen to do with what I have experienced is part of who I am, but what I have experienced, in itself, is not. So please, allow my successes (and my failures) to be just that: mine. My trauma has taken over so many aspects of my life; allow the things I have done to be an area that is purely my own, separate from the hardest thing(s) I have experienced.

Self-Care Tips for People With Bipolar Disorder

Self-care has been all the rage for a while now . Sales for bath bombs and face masks have been through the roof, I’m sure. And there’s also been some clap back about the difference between pampering and self-care. I’m not here to argue about what counts as real self-care and what doesn’t. These are just the things I’ve noticed have helped me walk the line between my best self and my best self with bipolar disorder. The Easy Stuff I know, I know. I said I wasn’t here to define. But you have to start somewhere, right? This suggestion comes from knowing what makes my day a little better. In a manic state, I want to feel luxurious, to feel like royalty. And there is no easier way than to pop on a mask, toss a bath bomb into my tub and put on some empowering mood music. It encourages me. It energizes me. In depression, these things remind me that I deserve to take care of myself. That I may not feel empowered, but I am still fighting. These little pampering moments are my rewards for making it through the tough days. Physical Self-Care I’m still struggling with this one. Everyone suggests exercise to improve your mood. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate working out. I hate sweat. And that means I have to get crafty with my workouts. Swimming, tai chi, calisthenics and low intensity workouts mean I’m not lying in my bed waiting for sleep, and I also get to burn a little of that manic energy. But workouts aren’t the only physical self-care! Staying hydrated or taking your vitamins are quick ways you’re putting yourself first. Your body can’t function to the best of its ability if you’re not giving it the stuff it needs. And speaking of: if you manage your conditions with medicine, take them! There is no shame in having a prescription so your body can keep going. If your meds aren’t working as well as you want them to, make an appointment and see if you can change up some things! Mental Self-Care It’s OK to have bad days . Give yourself permission to be human. If I’m having a tough time pulling myself out of a depressed cycle, I usually take a day or two to just be there. I may not believe it will get better, but I don’t have to force it. I can sit at home and focus on resting, drinking water and healing myself. On the upswing, I have a lot of frantic energy when I’m manic, and that can get me into some interesting moments. Even though I won’t want to, learning to take breaks and give myself five or 10 minutes where I try to refocus (or do a meditation to ground myself) can make the difference between a bad decision and being in control. Lean into the emotions. Give yourself breaks. Be human. Spiritual Self-Care Being spiritual and being religious don’t have to mean the same thing here. If going to church or synagogue or mosque lifts you up, do it! If going outside and breathing in fresh air or planting succulents in cute DIY containers gives you peace of mind, do that! Find something that connects you to a higher feeling: prayer, meditation, community service or whatever gives you a sense of peace and purpose are things that you should regularly engage in. Social Self-Care This one is a big one for emotional types. Do you feel energized or depleted when you’re with a bunch of people? Is there someone you go to in order to recharge your batteries? Do you know when to keep your plans or cancel? Set boundaries for yourself. It will feel like you’re cutting social engagements out, but in the end you’ll have more energy ( more spoons too! ) for events you really want to attend. Sometimes this will be hard to swallow — I know I’ve missed a couple friend activities because I spread myself too thin and had to back out. Sometimes this will be the best decision in the world — like refusing to take on another shift at work so that you can rest. Whatever your boundaries look like, make them and keep them. They’re for the best. The Prep Self-care doesn’t have to break into “right here, right now” categories. Some of the best ideas for self-care (for me) are actually preventative ones. I make little survival packs in case I can’t handle the task later. Meal prepping is a great example of this. I usually get a couple days of weird moods before I go fully manic or entirely depressed. These few days (as much as I won’t want to) I spend making food for the next week or so. It helps future me stay on track and gives me a little breathing room. I’ve also got long-term preparations that I call survival packs. These are filled with comfy clothes, coloring books, essential oils, my favorite candy and inspirational sayings for when I’m too depressed to do much else. For mania, I include some cash (my spending budget for when I want to shop), a list of DIY videos to try myself and granola bars (a healthier snack than straight candy bars!). Having these prepared ahead of time means I get to worry less about those emotion-based decisions and more about living through the moods. This isn’t the most glamorous of self-care items, but it’s one that I use the most. The Point Self-care, however you define it, is meant to help you live your best life. If you are able to connect with your body’s needs and find ways to healthily cope with life, you’re on the right track. Picking one of these areas is a great place to start, but self-care is about the whole self, and finding balance. Mental illness can take up a lot of your time and energy. Self-care can bring that focus back to yourself. Have any great suggestions I didn’t think of? Pop them in the comments below!

Community Voices

Your Love Matters

<p>Your Love Matters</p>
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Mel Lee-Smith

What to Know If You’re a Mental Health Writer or Artist

This is to the scribblers who bury their darkness deep in notebook pages to get it out of their heads, where it can no longer hurt them. This is to the authors who wrestle their monsters to trap them between the covers of a book, something they can hold in their hands and be proud of. This is to the bloggers who craft their posts with equal parts emotional prose and SEO syntax to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is to the bullet journalers who spend hours sketching beautiful mood trackers so they can review their emotional health and take action. This is to the writers, the artists, the creators of all kinds: Thank you for finding the courage to create something so beautiful and meaningful out of something so messy and dark. You may not know this, but your art has saved a life. Mine included. Yours included. On behalf of everyone who finds comfort and relief from their mental illness through art — thank you. Two things inspired this post, the first being the To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) 2018 calendar hanging above my desk: This calendar features quotes from blog posts on TWLOHA. December’s message reads, “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” I’ve looked at that quote every day in December. I’ve sat under that calendar after nights of fitful sleep and bad dreams, feeling so low I couldn’t even cry — but I looked at that calendar, and I chose to stay. The past few months have been rough for me. I’ve battled immense grief after losing someone special to me, as well as one of the worst depressive periods I’ve experienced since I was hospitalized and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I’m choosing to stay — and writer, I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the reminder. The other thing that inspired this post was a comment on another post I wrote for The Mighty. It simply said, “Thank you for writing this.” Reader, I just want you to know I’ve thought about that comment every day since you sent it. Being open about my mental health on public platforms like my blog and The Mighty hasn’t been easy. Sometimes, I wonder if I should share these parts of me with the whole world. But one of the reasons I have that TWLOHA calendar in the first place is because my own words are featured in it, in the month of March, from my blog post Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Start Over: “It doesn’t matter how many times you start over, as long as you start over.” Those are my words! In a calendar! And the only reason my blog post was chosen was because I dug up the courage to write and publish it, even though it was a very candid account of my struggle with self-harm. But I battled that monster. I got it down onto the (web)page, and someone at TWLOHA saw it and thought, “That’s one of the top 12 most inspiring quotes on our blog and we should feature it in this calendar that thousands of people will see.” Now, I have something I can be proud of, something I can hold in my hands, all because I chose to do battle. And maybe someone else, somewhere in the world, looked up at their calendar in March and thought, “Wow. I really needed to see that today.” Just like I looked up at my calendar every day in December and thought the same thing. And to the person who wrote December’s message: it saddens me to know you’ve sat exactly where I have, begging for just one sign. I know writing that wasn’t easy. Whatever battle you fought that inspired those words was hard-won indeed. But thank you for staying strong and giving me, and thousands of others, the sign we so desperately needed. Your art saved my life, and it gave me the courage to create again. Our art wouldn’t be possible without you, though, dear reader, so I hope you heed December’s message, too. “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” Six years ago, when I was lying in that hospital bed wondering “what’s wrong with me,” I never thought I’d eventually move halfway across the world, earn my master’s degree in the subject I’ve loved all my life, and build my dream career from the ground up. It will, and does, get better, I promise. So please choose to stay. And writers, artists, secret scribblers — keep at it. Don’t ever stop creating. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only soul who ever reads or sees your work. Get that monster out of your head and turn it into something you can be proud of. Even if the only life it ever saves is yours, your art still saves lives.

Nora Maybury

When You Feel Like You Shouldn't Have Depression

So here’s the thing: I’ve been told that I have great potential and I can’t completely disagree. I am a physically healthy young woman. I work two jobs in the summer and go to school in the fall. I have great friends and am in a loving relationship. My family is supportive beyond words. I live a privileged life. So that begs the question: what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get out of bed in the mornings and brush my teeth? Why does it take me 20 minutes to respond to an email at work when it should only take me five? Why do I have to give myself a pep-talk before every social interaction I have? I should be able to do all those things, right? I think that’s my problem. I use the word “should” too much. It’s a dangerous one, I’ll tell you. It’s dangerous. It sneaks into your head and tells you what your life ought to look like. And it stays there, growing, feeding off of society’s cues until one day, when you seemingly “fail” this expectation, it comes out. “Should” reinforces the standards we’ve made up for ourselves that are often unrealistic. As somebody who struggles with chronic depression, yet lives a life that I’m very grateful for, it’s hard not to tell myself, “I should be happy.” But I think as we’re all beginning to realize, there is no cookie-cutter lifestyle that allows for acceptable depression. You can have bad days and good days no matter what life you’re leading. This applies to people without a mental illness diagnosis as well. So how do we challenge these beliefs that we should be acting or feeling in particular ways? Here are some ideas: 1. Recognize there is no correct way to go through life. People take their own paths for a variety of reasons. You don’t need to follow someone else’s footsteps just because you think it’s the “right way.” 2. Forgive your mistakes. Looking back at past actions you regret and telling yourself what you should have done differently does not change your present situation. Accept what is done and embrace it. 3. Validate your successes. We have all succeeded at something in our lives, but we may fail to recognize those accomplishments. Try to see your successes for what they are and give yourself credit for what you have done. 4. Try to verbalize your stressors. Talk to someone in your support system about what is bothering you, write about it in a journal or just say it aloud. Sometimes, just vocalizing your expectations can remind you of how unrealistic they may be. 5. Finally, be proactive! Many times, our “should do’s” are impractical, but there are times when we can take action. If you feel like you should working out, take a brisk walk! You don’t have to be running marathons to be active, just take small steps towards your goal. At the end of the day, there is only one real “should” phrase I think we all need to take to heart: We should be kind to ourselves. Because we deserve it.

Alex Katwiga

Things to Know About Growing Up With a Mental Illness

I have taken prescription medication for my mental illnesses every day for the last 15 years, since I was 9 years old. I have been mentally ill for as long as I can remember. Along with a genetic predisposition for anxiety and depression, I experienced so much trauma in my early childhood and adolescence that my mind simply could not hold together under the pressure. I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression, and began taking SSRI medications when I was 9, exactly 15 years ago. I was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and attention-deficit disorder (ADD). While I have changed the kinds, frequencies and dosages of medications more times than I can count, I have not been off medication since that day 15 years ago. These are the things I want people to know about my life as someone who has never experienced a life free from mental illness or the need for medication. 1. I would rather not be mentally ill or take medication. I hear the comments, the accusations, the judgments. I hear them in the comments sections and in conversation and in interactions. I know people assume these medications should be temporary, that they are unnecessary and they are poison. Believe me, I wish I could live life free from these burdens. I wish I could spend the night with friends without having to carry my medications with me. I wish I could go an entire month without a panic attack. That is not my reality, though, and sometimes the accusations sting, no matter how much I know I need these medications. 2. I was not a “problem” child. There is this belief in our society that children are put on medication because they are problematic for society and the people in their lives. This could not be further from the truth. I am an overachiever, a perfectionist, a writer, a compassionate person with a big heart, valedictorian, an honor-roll student, a scholarship recipient, a professional. My illnesses have complicated my life, but they have not held me back. I was not put on medication because I was causing problems; I was put on medication because I was miserable. I was scrubbing my hands until they bled. I could barely go to school and could not cope with being out in public for long. None of this made me a problem, but it certainly made life difficult. 3. Managing mental illness as you grow up is difficult. If puberty is difficult for everyone, imagine those brain and hormone changes when you are already mentally ill. Suddenly dosages that once worked are ineffective. The level of functioning I had experienced prior to the worst of puberty vanished. I became suicidal and self-injured so severely that I nearly ended up hospitalized. In addition to the normal stressors of adolescence, I carried my mental illnesses as a secret, avoiding sleepovers so that no one would see me taking my medications. I was bullied for being different, which made my illnesses worse. I changed medications frequently, with trial and error, until I finally found a life-saving combination and dosage at 22 years old. 4. I am a fighter. I have been fighting for as long as I can remember. I have fought to function. I have fought to survive. I have fought against the voices telling me everyone would be better off without me. I have fought to overcome self-harm behavior. I have fought to accomplish what comes naturally to others. While this has, without doubt, been a difficult battle, I am proud to be a fighter and a survivor. I am proud of where I have come in the last 15 years, and I am not stopping here. 5. I am more than my illnesses. I love photography, my dog, drinking too much coffee, running through the rain, going on long hikes and sitting in the sunshine. I like to create and to share hope with others. I am a friend to many. I have a huge smile. I enjoy trying new kinds of food. I am a tenacious world-traveler who has no problem getting lost in a country where I do not speak the language. My illnesses are a part of my life, and sometimes they are debilitating, but I am not my illnesses. In fact, my illnesses are nowhere near being the most interesting part of me. Instead of judging or pitying me for my illnesses, please focus on how I survive and thrive in the middle of them. That is a far larger part of my life and identity. I have been diagnosed and on medication for 15 years, since I was 9 years old. I have fought and grown and crashed and thrived. I look forward to the next 15 years.

Christa Marie

A Letter to My Body, From a Girl Struggling With Self-Harm

Dear body, You’ve done a lot to me, and I’ve done a lot to you. You’ve put me in the hospital over and over, with one chronic illness after the next. You’ve given me encephalitis and immune deficiency and anemia and migraines and paralysis (and more). I’ve given you scars and starvation and cuts and losses. We’ve both tried to kill each other. I’ve hated you for years: how you look, what you do to me, how much pain you bring and how you’ve made me feel. I’ve spent weeks barely eating enough to survive, making you lose a lot of weight in a week and a half. You have more self-harm scars than I could count, and not all of them have scarred. I’ve felt more insecure about how you look than hungry when I haven’t eaten more than a couple very light snacks for days. Dear body, It’s so hard to love you when you’ve tried to destroy me in more ways than one. It’s so hard to love myself when I look down and see the reminders of what I’ve done to you. You’ve been scarred, bruised, broken, picked at and starved. I’ve hurt you, and you’ve hurt me. Dear body, Look, I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I know that’s hardly believable when you look at the hundreds of scars that serve as reminders of all of the times I have hurt you. I’m not going to lie and say I’ll never do it again, but I will say I have regretted it every time. While you have hurt me in ways I could never fully express, you are also the reason I’m alive today, and I’m sorry I have taken that for granted. Dear body, I’m sorry for all of the times I have stared at you in the mirror with disgust in my eyes and pain in my heart. I’m sorry for ignoring all of the times you’ve begged me for food, as I’ve only continued to starve you and hurt you further. But we need to change this. We need to start working together. We need to love each other. I need to treat you like the temple God has blessed me with, and hope that will help lead you to treating me like a healthy human being, not like the patient who spends a countless amount of time in hospitals. Dear body, I’m learning how to love you, and I can only hope you’ll do the same. Thank you for protecting me for all of these years, even as I have abused you in ways words could never express. Dear body, It’s going to be OK. We can do this. We can learn how to work as a team and not as mortal enemies. I believe in you, and I hope you can believe in me. Dear body, I love you. We can do this together. I promise. We will make it through this, no matter what. With love, Christa.