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Reflecting on the Last Two Years

A little sneak peak into my journey healing from my eating disorder, and learning dealing with mental health during the pandemic.


March 2022, bring around 2 years of being in the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to reflect on all that I have been through and share what I have learned along the way, as well as share a bit more about myself as an introduction for more content!

-AJ


One thing I learned during my healing journey is how important it is to practice self-love and self-care. Through this process I reconnected with my love for art and interest in content creation. I created our community mental health page to educate on mental health, and share self-care ideas, designs, raise awareness, and to fight stigma. I am thrilled to be able to use my education and training in mental health to aid in the education of others!


Welcome to my blog, and check-out Instagram (@themindseye,mentalhealth) to see where it all began!



Okay, so... why am I here?


I have struggled with my mental health and body image since my early teenage years, and it took me a long time to find a way to manage and heal from these things. I was forced to focus on my mental health because my physical health got so bad, so I am here to share what I have learned and things you should know about your mental health and wellbeing before it gets to a point where it seriously impacts your life.


Everyone's experience in life is different, but we all have to learn how to take care of ourselves, show ourselves love, and be resilient. I want to share what I have learned through education and from my experience so you have information and resources to work with.



Since we are reflecting, let's start from the beginning...


Just over two years ago, instead of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day like we planned, my friends were packing up their dorm rooms and getting ready to go home because our campus was closing and everyone was preparing to quarantine. I stayed in my apartment by myself, away from my friends and family, and at this point my mental and physical health reached a point where I had no choice but to address my eating disorder and mental health.


I had no idea how to start "addressing it." At that point, I only remembered struggling with food and body image and I hadn't found anything that helped. The most experience I had had with mental health care was a therapist in high school and that ended on a not great note. That experience gave me a bad impression of mental health treatment and the pandemic had made getting any kind of non-emergency medical treatment very challenging, so needless to say, I was quiet apprehensive to start looking for help.


I looked into outpatient treatment programs all over the city and I couldn't find anything that had any openings. Everywhere seemed to be full or they were only doing inpatient treatment and I really didn't want to put everything else on hold if I didn't have to. Things started looking up when I was able to find a therapist and a nutritionist. When finally had a treatment team, I saw a little bit of a light at the end of the long tunnel, and I was motivated to make changes and recover at home. Being told that I would probably fail at home and need a high lever of care is what drove me to do everything in my power to defeat my eating disorder and manage my mental health on my terms. During the extra time I had at home and while learning new coping skills, I reconnected with my love for creativity, art, and content creation. I wanted to have a space to process and share my journey as well as create a safe space for others to feel encouraged to pursue the best version of themselves.


It has been a long two years, but I am grateful that I have increased my resilience and built a life I am happy in and looking forward to. 2020 was a very challenging year and the second year of the pandemic wasn't much easier, but all of the hard work started to pay off and I started flourishing. The pandemic gave me a chance to work on myself and time to heal as I figured out next steps, and for that piece of it I am grateful.



What I've learned...


Reflecting on how I have changed in the last two years, I have learned that I am strong and resilient; something I will remind myself of when the imposter syndrome creeps in. I have defeated my eating order, started creating content, graduated with my bachelors, moved in with my partner, got a job that started my career, got accepted into a master's program, got engaged, and I am managing my mental health. I had to learn that it is possible with balance, committed, and being willing to step outside of my comfort zone. There were times that felt like I would never reach the end and that putting in the work wasn't worth it, but now I know that those feelings were only temporary and it was worth asking for help and pushing through.


As an introvert, I tried to take advantage of this unsure and lonely time to reconnect with who I am and explore who I wanted to be. This taught me several things: I overwork myself and struggled to feel accomplished if I take time to rest, and that I need alone time to recharge, so I have to be intentional with self-love and self-care. I have to allow myself to rest without feeling undeserving. Everyday I practice getting in a routine that includes getting all of my work done while balancing both mental and physical wellbeing.


On top of learning lots about myself, I learned how valuable time with people is. When we suddenly had to social distance from everyone outside of our household, I longed for time with people to catch up, and missed my best friends who I was used to seeing everyday. I even missed the causal interactions passing people on the street such as a smile or head nod. This taught me how special time together is and how important it is for me to be strategic in how I spend my energy. I realized that I need alone time to recharge and get some stuff done, and taking this time helps me be able to give energy and my full attention to people when we are spending time together.



Stay compassionate. Be resilient.


A few things that help me during difficult times include journaling, specifically gratitude journaling, and self-care. Both of these work for me to get some frustrations out and process some of what's going on, as well as remind myself what I am grateful for and that I am worth being cared for.


One important note: I could not have gotten this far if I hadn’t asked for help. I know how hard it feels to ask for help, but it is worth it.


I also encourage you to practice compassion. When you practice compassion for yourself, it makes it easier to show compassion for others. We have to remember that we are all human and we make mistakes. Encourage improvement without expecting perfection and learn how to respond to failure. When we fail, we don't loose everything we learned from our progress, we just have to figure out how to get back to it.


I believe in you. If you set your mind to it, you can do it!


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