An Imperfect, Healthier and Happier Adventure

Natalie capasse

Freshman year of college started with a bang. Not an illuminating and beautiful firework bang, but more like a gunshot. Within one month of college, I had broken up with my boyfriend, been used for sex by another guy and was struggling to pass my classes; I missed my parents, felt extremely isolated, and had gained weight. I was failing, I was fat and I was weak. I felt trapped inside a bubble, where everyone was living their lives perfectly, and no one seemed to notice that I was crumbling before their eyes. I drank excessively on weekends, and dealt with my pain by overeating during the week. By the end of first semester, all I knew was that I was depressed and fat; I did not want to go back to college. In an attempt to take back control over my life, I decided I would lose weight.

I ate extremely little, and spent hours a day at the gym. My life began to revolve around food, what I had eaten, what I was currently eating, and what I would eat next. I became obsessed with controlling every crumb that entered my mouth, and every step I took on the treadmill. I lost weight, friendships, hair and sleep. The only things I in my head about were self hate, food and exercise. I was not good enough; not pretty enough, not fit enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not friendly enough, not enough to deserve any worth. I was severely depressed, I could cry at the blink of an eye because both everything and nothing was always wrong.

Finally, I broke. I couldn’t stand being in my own body and mind for one more second. That couldn’t and wouldn’t be my life. My story would be so much more. My family guided me to get help. When I heard the words “depression” and “anorexia nervosa”, I thought it was a joke. There was no way. Not me. I would just start eating again and everything would get better. It took me months to realize that this is not how a disease functions. There is no magic remedy.

I began outpatient treatment that summer. I was at appointments everyday, and gradually lifted the veil that had been hiding life from me. It took me about a year to reach a healthy weight, and a healthy mindset. I worked on self-confidence and understanding that perfection is not possible. I learned to speak up and assert myself, and also how to listen. I learned a new form of control—how to understand my mind and body, and maintain the control I needed to keep both healthy. I learned how to observe, not judge. That almost anything will be OK. I gave up so many times—only to find myself in the car on my way to therapy again.

Before going back to a new school and starting a new life, I travelled for four months, and learned more about myself than I had in my entire lifetime. The places, the people, the cultures, the risks and the pure solidarity of my travels taught me to be alone in my own mind. Never in my life had I spent so much time with just myself and my own thoughts to keep my company. This is when I truly learned that no matter what, no matter how hard it is, and how many bumps I hit along the way, I will always be alright, I will always be enough.

Years later, I’m living a brand new life in a brand new city. Things still get hard, I struggle every day; but I have my life back, and I am never letting go again. I have friends, love and happiness, goals and aspirations, hobbies, interests and motivation. I am and will always be learning and growing; there is no beginning and no end to anyone’s story. Just one long, crazy, scary, beautiful, strong, brave journey.