War with Myself

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Shani-Lee Wallis

As a child, I lived a life of sexual abuse and high school bullying. As an adult, I found myself engaged in a battle with the most challenging opponent, myself.

Feeling scared, helpless, and hopeless, I had lost all control of my life. As anxiety and depression overwhelmed me, I plummeted into an abyss of mental illness that manifested into an eating disorder (ED) to shield me from the inner turmoil I longed to escape.

After years of watching me decline, my husband’s heart wrenchingly stated that he could no longer watch me die. Especially when I was not fighting to live. He pleaded with me to acknowledge the tumultuous path I was on and begged me to choose to live a life worth living, full of joy, happiness, love, travel, and fulfillment. I broke down… and in that moment, I chose to fight.

Through trial and error, I learned that being physically, emotionally, and psychologically strong was the key to long term success. My daily routine included self-development and wellness activities, recovery tools and relapse prevention techniques.

Holidays were particularly challenging. Being aware of my triggers and having a plan for overcoming them was important. I’d start my day with an intentional routine as it positively impacts the rest of your day.

  • Mindful Movement
  • Meditation
  • Affirmations:
    • I love myself, exactly as I am.
    • I will use behaviors that are good for me
    • Food does not control me

I started to rewire my brain by creating new habits, traditions and memories that didn’t revolve around food; concerts, ballet, theatre, Christmas lights, markets, and dancing…

I avoided restricting prior to celebrations and gave myself permission to sample my favorite foods. It helped prevent obsessive thoughts that could lead to engaging in ED behaviors.

I’d interrupt negative self-talk by saying something I liked about myself or would repeat a personal mantra to help reframe my thoughts. When this failed, offering my help was a good distraction in times of distress. I’d end the evening with a ‘check in’ via a journal entry; making sure to include what I was grateful for that day.

We have a choice. We can either choose self-sabotaging behaviors or enjoy the positives that the holidays can bring, taking one day at a time.

Recovery was hard and caused emotional discomfort. But, through this came immense growth and a happy and fulfilled life. Recovery has given me the strength and desire to give back, by helping others through their journey and parents struggling to support loved ones, through mentorship, sponsorship, workshops, and peer coaching. It feeds my soul.

Writing was always just a therapeutic outlet, until I realized I had something valuable to share. Turning my own journey of self-help into a path to help others, is how War with Myself was born.

I share my story to inspire and give hope to others. I survived… I thrived…, and you can too!  

Shani-Lee grew up in Newcastle, England with childhood secrets that manifested into a battle with Bulimia. She emigrated to Arizona, where she started to unpeel the complex layers of emotions that her secrets had inflicted. As she incorporated life changing habits into her lifestyle, she was able to heal and overcome her turbulent and dangerous relationship with her eating disorder. Writing was always just a therapeutic outlet until she realized she had something valuable to share. Turning her own journey of self-help into a path to help others is how War with Myself was born.