The Tortoise or The Hare

My experience with mental health disorders started about the age of 19. While in school, I was not popular enough to be in the ‘in crowd, so peer pressure caused a distortion of my self image. Consequently, by my late teens, I felt that I needed to settle for mediocre, and I believed that lie for far too many years. Unfortunately for many teens with self image issues, this can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and weight issues – which can intensify the already distorted self view, and cause sever depression to develop.

My battle with depression is currently at a place that is so far removed from the worst of times, and I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I struggle with weight and image issues today, thought my image is no longer a prime subject for debate in my mind – with age comes more confidence towards self identity. While my physical appearance maters, I no longer feel pressured to conform to today’s beauty standard by drastic measures; I know that the road to lasting physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is a journey.

There are some people in my life, like it or not, that have labeled me with the same stamp of disapproval since a young teen – no matter the changes that I have been through. Some like to point to my weight and health issues to amplify their feeling of success, and pretend that everyone should fit into their mold of change. Unfortunately, the mold is more individualized than some might think. And, while society’s standards ask for model perfect, I have come to a point in my journey that I am embracing my genetic qualities that are not-so-perfect.

They say that variety is the spice of life, and, as my father taught me at a young age, if everyone looked the same, life would be boring. This is true, and each personal preference toward beauty is what makes variety so special. At my lowest point of health, I was pushing 400 pounds. My mother was desperate to convince me to change my lifestyle and embrace health. I did overcome the despairing situation that I was in, and have realized a passion for health and physical fitness. My journey now has reached a great milestone towards lasting improvements. They say just move your body, and it counts. The trick is to find realistic goals achievable through doable changes. Sometimes, depression leads to desperation, which can cause drastic measures that are not realistic enough for long term improvements – too much change at once can lead to termination of determination.

Not everyone is able to change so quickly, and small steps will eventually win the battle over mental and physical health. I remember the beginning of my journey starting with a neighbor saying to just start by sweeping the floor. If you have swept and still want to mope, sweep again – it will not hurt. That led me to the point of realizing that I will not get yesterday back to actually live it. My situation was so bleak, but, after a few months, I began to really notice a positive change. I loved playing with children in the park, and I loved being able to notice my feel good hormones kicking in. Life is worth living, and I now know the difference between getting through the day, and enjoying the day. I do still experience many days a month of not being able to enjoy life, but the quality of my good days gives me the huge payoff. The road that my journey has taken me down has had many mini goals, and it has changed to working towards more days of high quality living. It may have taken time, but for the best living of my life, the journey is worth the time and effort.

A young man stands ith arms wide open against the exit of a dark tunnel.

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