On social media we're always sharing the best of us. This Sunday in Church we were discussing the impact social media can have on our lives, often negative, not because we're too active, but because we're not authentic. Have you heard of "The Iceberg Effect"? This analogy is used to describe the way we interact with people in our lives, often we live above the waterline, sharing only the tip of the iceberg of our lives with people, never dipping below the waterline. Now this isn't a new concept, we've been dealing with this for decades. We all know the saying "Keeping Up With The Joneses", this wouldn't even be a saying if we didn't have a flawed interpretation of how the "Joneses" were living in the first place! We all think everyone's lives are better than ours, that everyone is keeping it together better than us, that they've got the world sorted out, that they've figured it all out. The Joneses have a good life, with a good family, no mental health issues, no stress, no struggle, no financial issues.
Let me tell you right now. That's CRAP.
I can't walk you through everyone's life. But I CAN welcome you into mine. If there's something I'm passionate about it's that everyone's got problems and you're not alone. So here we go pals, let's go for a dip below the waterline...
Imagine you're 10 and your teacher wants you to learn about BMI, so he makes everyone in your class learn about weight and health by having everyone stand on a scale and compare their weight. Children are ignorant. Children are plain stupid. Cruel. Mean. At 10 years old I was 5'6/5'7 and weighed 130 pounds, most of my class was filled with very short kids who weighed 95-101 pounds. From then on, until grade 8 graduation I was nicknamed "Shamu The Whale". Kids used to fall on the floor when I walked by pretending an earthquake happened. I was called "Big Mac". The list goes on honestly....
At 11 years old I began self harming. I stopped eating my lunch at school. I made excuses not to eat at home. I stopped going swimming, I stopped being happy, I was moody, I was mean. I got nasty notes in my locker telling me to kill myself. I thought maybe I should. It's amazing what your brain is capable of.
What you tell yourself. What other people tell you. It becomes your truth. If you are constantly told your worthless, if you are telling yourself that you are worthless, it becomes your reality.
By the time I got to high school things had progressed to the point where I was doing these things daily. I wasn't eating for days at a time, I was harming myself daily. I was obsessing over school and extra curricular's as a way to find self worth and please others because I was desperate for validation. Over the past couple years of school, therapy, and seeing doctors I've gotten help. I've done a lot of work on myself, I've also found out a lot of things about who I am and what's going on in this noggin.
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
This is something that I was always predisposed to, it runs in my family's history, and through my most recent months of therapy I've found out that people with OCD are more likely to fall into Eating Disorders and Self Harming behaviors as a way to cope for trauma and abuse if they are unable to find healthy strategies at a young age. You see OCD and Eating Disorders are very similar and have very similar behaviors, its all about control at the root of it all. Trying to control other peoples perceptions of yourself (for me that's where it began), trying to control your body when you can't control your life (at the time my parents were going through a divorce, my sister was dealing with addiction, and I felt like a failure to everyone). My particular OCD comes in the form of harm. I am scared of hurting others or hurting myself, being a failure. I over analyze, I am filled with worry, anxiety, fear. I constantly feel out of control. In high school it felt like this was all because of my family, but when I left home I realized a lot of what I was battling was internal, and I needed to seek help. Finding help is hard. Our mental health system isn't strong. It often fails people. But we have to keep going. Luckily I pushed through, I went to my schools councilor again, even though it felt like they had failed me so many times before. They listened and they helped, they HEARD ME. It's been over a year since I last hurt myself. That's hard to say. I still struggle with my body image but I have been feeding and caring for my body in a healthy way for longer than I can remember which is amazing. Since being diagnosed with OCD and getting help I am now driving a car full time (something I wasn't able to do before my diagnosis).
For a long time I felt like I didn't even know God in all of this. I have 15 years worth of scars all over my body. I have 15 years worth of scars built up internally. I remember for years thinking I was never going to return to Church, to speak to God again. But over the past couple weeks through the Church series we've been discussing at Southridge, we've been talking about Mental Illness and Michael Kraus reminded me of my favorite thing that brought me back into the fold. When the Apostle Paul asked God to heal him of his affliction, the thorn in his flesh... He never did. Paul begged him to be healed. But Paul never was. For 15 years I wanted to be healed. I fought to be healed, I even rejected Him because I wasn't healed. But ultimately, like Paul I realized for myself that God is good. That I live in a world that is broken, that the actions of others weren't a reflection of God's pure love, but of the hurt that they experienced, in contrast rather, the actions of people like my friends who helped me out of my hurt, who helped me see myself as a beautiful and whole, beautiful individual who was worthy of love and goodness- those people, were reflections of God's Grace and Goodness.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
My past isn't dissimilar to someone else's out there. Someone else shares these scars. I'm writing this because I want to dip below the waterline with you and let you see that you're not alone, let you see that everyone is fighting a battle in this life. Before I sign off today I want to share that if you are struggling with any of the things I have mentioned in todays post you are welcome to message me, but also don't hesitate to seek help from a professional. Know that you are worthy of help. You are not a burden. You are wanted. The space you take up on this earth is valid and beautiful. Support Information Click Here