*Trigger warning for sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, eating disorders*

It’s really hard for a self-recovered person to open up about the struggles they’ve faced in the past, but I feel this is the best time to share my story with someone.

It all started in grade 10. The hatred I harboured towards myself during the first two years of high school was uncontrollable. Honestly, it wasn’t anything my peers were saying. It was all in my head. Constant flashbacks of my childhood never left my dreams: being molested by my older brother, constantly being bullied by classmates and having no self-esteem.

Instead of taking the responsible step and getting help, I resorted to drowning all my sorrows in anything I could get my hands on. Drinking at any chance I could, smoking anything my lungs could inhale, hanging out with anyone I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of.

It all hit me that summer. I changed schools and kept the same horrible attitude I’d developed through the consumption of all these toxic solutions. Once grade 11 hit, I’d discovered self harm. I spent every night slashing every visible part of my body to try and end everything. At the time, it was a cry for help.

Unfortunately, the school I was attending made my condition much worse. I remember walking into my gym class and having the girls laugh and mock me for the scars and cuts I had all over my body, and at the time, there was no one there to help with my mental instability. After a couple of months of attending this school, I resorted to harder drugs in an attempt to cope with the stress my peers brought. And like in the movies, all went downhill from there.

I dropped out, moved in with a bunch of friends, and stopped caring about everything. The next two years are still a blur: moving from house to house, trying out different substitutes for the drugs I was consuming and continuously hating the person I was becoming.

Fast forward to the beginning of my eating disorder. Something I look back on every day and regret. Although the suffering and lessons I learned through it all have made me stronger, I still wish I could have avoided the entire journey.

I spent five years of my life over consuming food and throwing it back up. An issue no one ever wants to open up about. But knowing that I’ve recovered and can help others going through this helps keep my heart strong each day.

None of my friends were aware, my family was scared for my health and I just wanted my life to be over. Living each day hating every ounce of my body was an issue I never dealt with. The amount of money, pain and suffering I spent on being bulimic was disgusting.

At 18, I finally started dating, and even then I hid it all. It was always in the background. My friend, my enemy, my eating disorder.

It wasn’t until I spent about eight months out in the mountains exploring that I realized it was time to fix this horrible friend I had on the side. I decided to mature and move home to turn my life around, and didn’t care what anyone had to say about it. I was 20, turning 21 in a month, when I decided it was time to self-heal. My solution: going raw vegan.

Fortunately, my parents were there to help and support me through my first few months. The amount I want to thank them everyday for it is unbelievable. At first, I had little faith that I could fix myself at all, but the constant support and motivation they provided helped so much.

Almost five months later, I can say that my life changed 100 percent for the better. I haven’t self harmed in any shape or form since and I look forward to each day as it arrives. The positive feedback I constantly get from loved ones inspires me to do better and love myself more and more for what I’ve done to change my life. To know that I can physically do something like this on my own is so encouraging.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see the day when I was excited to wake up and go to work, to go explore, to go be who I am. To look back now and think of how little hope I had in my life doesn’t affect me the way it used to.

The personal growth I’ve experienced over these past few years has caused me to blossom into the beautiful human being I am today. Looking back, no matter how much help and advice I received, it didn’t really hit me until it was almost too late.

My only goal is to be an inspiration to other girls who suffer from extreme depression and eating disorders, and to let them know that it WILL GET BETTER. The light DOES shine at the end, no matter how much your brain tells you it doesn’t.

This is my first time being able to express my story like this, and I hope it helps others who are struggling in the community. Your family, friends, peers… they will understand if you ask for help. Everyone struggles in life, but it all just depends on how you handle it. Whether you do it on your own, or through seeking higher aid, it is all helps in the long run.

Writing this is my way of letting people know that, no matter what, you can change your life from negative to positive. Every morning now, I wake up excited for the journeys I will experience that day, for the new people I’ll encounter. If there’s anything I hope you get from my story, it’s that life is worth the effort, worth living, and that each step of recovery makes you so much stronger as a human.

My name is Mary Elizabeth, and I am living proof that self-recovery and learning self-love pays off. I am so excited for my future, the experiences I will have and the people I’ll get to share my story with.

Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope it helps you fix something in your own life.