I always felt different from everyone else: my hair, my skin, my height. Being mixed race, and and only child for ten years, I couldn’t even see myself in my family members.
I did not see my differences as normal varieties of human life – I saw them as problems to fix. If this was not the way everyone else looked it must have been the wrong way. Instead of exploring and accepting these aspects of my being I tried to change them.
However, the only thing I could change was my weight. I believed that people wouldn’t focus on my differences if I was super slim. I could use an eating disorder as armour.
I started controlling my food intake and purging after meals and this gave me a sense of security. I felt like I was doing something right. From that initial moment I turned to food restriction to give me a sense of control and release in times when I felt distress over things out of my control. Things like family issues, schoolwork and friendships. Later I used an eating disorder as a method of self-harm.
When I moved to high school my mental health became worse. I had become so hateful of myself that I believed I was not worthy of anything. When I became suicidal I realised I had to begin counselling where I learned that sometimes you cannot change things and that’s ok. I could not fix everything and sometimes you just have to accept that and move on.
Leaving school and moving to university I was exposed to more diversity and finally met people who were more like me, inside and out. I began the journey of exploring my identity instead of trying to blend it out. I surrounded myself with people who I felt comfortable with and who uplifted me.
Seeing my peers enjoy life care-free helped me to understand that being different is not always bad and I have learned not to be so hateful to myself because I am the only one that is in control of my own happiness.