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Tag Archives: mental health

She | Was | Red

She was Red.

It wasn’t just the long golden locks pinned up in a neat bun, the wine matte lipstick tinting her thin lips, or the pair of rectangle black-framed prescriptions she chose to put on. It wasn’t just the dark blue dress she was fond of wearing, the leather-strap analogue watch on her right wrist, or the uncomfortable white wedges she loved so dearly—constantly gluing the soles back in extension of its lifespan. Red was more than the body she dolled up in the mirror.

Red was quiet but not shy. She kept her thoughts to herself unless in the company of her closest friends. Red often wore the widest smile whenever she strolled into a bookstore as she enjoyed epic flights of fantasy—knights, dragons, and great adventures—and held no judgement toward questionable covers of captivating-titled books. Red was also an avid tea drinker. Sunday evenings with her best friend Amelia would be incomplete without a scone and a cup of freshly brewed chamomile.

Red was ordinary yet different. She was bold and daring, but never loud or boisterous. She was a calm in the storm—the anchor that kept their ship from drifting into the abyss. And if you didn’t know Red, you would think she was just like everyone else—a creative twenty-two-year-old with talents, dreams, and goals.

Was she Red?

No, she wasn’t. She didn’t like her hair pinned up. Even in the heat of summer, she would let her locks loose—curling past her shoulders. She also preferred a brighter lipstick and would rather spend a few minutes everyday putting on contact lenses than the convenience of Red’s glasses. Often, she would shy away from Red’s side of the wardrobe—donning one of her wavy, floral dresses, paired with her comfortable grey sneakers.

She wasn’t Red. She was always the life of the party. And when she shared her inner thoughts and feelings, she trusted her closest friends to keep her secrets. She enjoyed the company of her support system—making time to shop, eat, laugh, and play with Amelia, Sasha, and Joy. She was also a coffee lover. She would almost always order a cold-brewed americano every Saturday breakfast with the girls.

She was different yet ordinary. She wasn’t brave or fearless, but she was kind and jovial. She was wild at heart—at times reckless with her decisions. And if you didn’t know her, you would think she was just like everyone else—a carefree eighteen-year-old with talents, dreams, and goals.

Red she was.

For most, it would be hard to imagine waking up in a foreign body. But for Red, it was her life. In her world, she stood at five feet four with short black hair, bright blue eyes, and a narrow chin. But in this world, they saw her differently. Everyone saw the girl in the mirror—a face and body that didn’t reflect her inner being. And the best that she could do was try… to look a little more like herself.

Red knew that Gwen didn’t like it when she tied their hair in a bun or when she walked a whole day in wedges. She knew that Gwen would frown if she found herself in a bookstore or a library. Gwen would certainly sigh if she had to finish a cup of tea Red had ordered. But those were the only things that made her feel like herself—Red being true to Red—while she faced the outside world. And thankfully, Gwen understood.

Red was she.

For most, it would be hard to imagine a split life—how can one have two, and how can two be one? For most, it would be difficult to even tell Gwen apart unless they truly knew Gwen for who she was—if they could look past the blond, athletic-framed teenager with brown eyes, to see the person within. But despite the challenge, Gwen needed Red.

Gwen knew that Red struggled too. Their life had never been easy—a battle since birth. And without one or the other, they wouldn’t be alive. Without Red, Gwen wouldn’t know how to live. So as much of a separate being as they both may be—with different thoughts, interests, and feelings—they were still one. They were connected—joined in a way that made them uniquely them.

Gwen was Red. Red was Gwen. They were each other in a way different from us being us.

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She, was, and red were words given by Ethan Otto on Facebook. Ethan challenged me to make sense of these three words and I think I did a pretty decent job. As someone who has always been fascinated with the human mind, I hope this piece brings to light the world of mental health. Let’s all learn a little more about the people around us—understanding that some of us may be different but still worthy of our care, love, and kindness.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. I’m now challenging you to make sense of them!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

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Posted by on August 30, 2018 in Original Works

 

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My Not-So-Perfect Life

I contemplated about sharing this with you. I know some people don’t like it when you air your dirty laundry in public, while others are quick to advise you against it. Personally though, I don’t want to put up a perfect persona online. I don’t want to live a double life, just because I’ve not seen you in person. Who I am here, should be who I really am every day. So, I decided, I want to be human with you. I don’t want to be just that author you follow online, I want to be a person. After all, many of you have been reading my works for years. Some of you I’ve spoken to via emails and social media. It’s only fair that you know who I am and my imperfect life–the facets that often don’t translate through the screen between us.

But before I begin, let me just say I never knew I would admit to this one day. I didn’t think it would happen to me. And when it did, it was so subtle that by the time I realised it, I wondered why I didn’t see what was happening. Thankfully, I eventually saw it. And I’m currently working on beating this demon: orthorexia.

Orthorexia isn’t a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, as it often manifests in the form of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. For a while now, I’ve struggled with binge eating. But when I looked up the symptoms, I found that I didn’t exhibit much of them. After further research, I learned that I have orthorexia: the obsession with healthy eating.

You would think such an obsession is a good thing, right? Well, not until you hear the many stories from the many members of the fitness community. It’s not a widely known eating disorder but it exists. And the health repercussions, mentally and physically, is crippling in the long run. I’m just glad I noticed it before I experienced the full blown side effects. I’m glad I noticed it to begin with. But, what was/is it like with orthorexia?

As someone with orthorexia, I restricted my diet to a point where I didn’t consume sugar, carbs, gluten, and fruits. I didn’t eat certain types of vegetables, because they were considered high on the glycemic index scale. I found myself reading all nutritional labels and googling the nutrition content of natural foods, before I consumed them or omitted them from my diet. Whenever I failed to adhere to my ‘clean’ eating–after binging because the cravings got too hard to bear–I would rebound with more food restrictions and more exercise. It was an endless cycle–binge, restrict, binge, restrict. Yet oddly enough, when people say I was obsessive or too restrictive, I couldn’t see it. I was blinded until my binge episodes scared me into finding out what was wrong. And only then, I saw the problem.

It’s strange how some of us don’t take eating disorders or any mental illnesses seriously. Maybe because we’ve never experienced it and understood what it means to have one. We cannot comprehend what is so hard about eating that piece of vegetable or climbing out of the bed just to brush our teeth. It’s not that we are indifferent–we just don’t have the experience. And often, we think we won’t ever fall into this rabbit hole. We think we’re immune to this illness. I thought I was immune. But I guess… I’m just as human as everyone else.

I’m currently in a recovery phase, reintroducing the foods I previously banned into my diet. I also changed my eating schedule to be less restrictive. I’m giving myself the freedom to include more foods and enjoy the foods I like. I’ve told my friends about this, and I have my mother to hold me accountable–relinquishing control and listening to her advice. And though it hasn’t been easy–the fear, regret, and guilt still lingers–I know I can win this battle.

If you have a mental illness, know you’re not alone. If you think you might have one, quickly seek help and take action. If you don’t have a mental illness, be aware that it can happen to anyone–don’t ever be ashamed or critical if it happens to you or someone you know. We’re not gods. But when we beat our demons, we come out stronger and more powerful than before.

I hope this sharing–as daunting as it is to hit publish–doesn’t come off as an airing of dirty laundry but encourages you to live unashamed. After all, our imperfections make us who we are. We all struggle. We all fall. We all break. But we’re all warriors, overcomers, and fighters too. Whatever you’re going through, don’t give up and lose hope. Let’s conquer our demons together. Let’s stand victorious… and live to tell the tale.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Others

 

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