Regaining the Hunger for Life
By Amanda Roberts
Not very long ago I was submersed in the throes of an eating disorder so rampant it nearly took my life. The question "will I ever by okay?" was forever in my mind. Although I didn't believe it at the time, the answer was yes.
Today, my life is tremendously different. I have been able to move beyond my illness and am striving for possibilities that once seemed inaccessible. I've been given the chance to exceed my expectations and move toward my dream of becoming a mental health advocate. I have this overwhelming sense of self worth, knowing that what I do from this day forward can and will have an impact on others whose lives may be settling into the darkness I once knew.
I am now in a place of peacefulness with my body. I was given a beautiful gift to house a daughter and allow her presence to change the way I view my future. Her body filled my womb and heart with the desire to step outside my illness. Her life pushed me from a place of emptiness. I appreciate every day that I have the freedom to put my energy into my schooling and my family.
Being able to study psychology and obtain a degree is powerfully rewarding. I never would have imagined the amount of attention I’d put into anything other than my illness. I'm driven by the need for more mental health advocates. Having the resources to study psychology allows me to ensure I'm one of the people that can truly make a difference in the way mental health is perceived. By actively expanding my knowledge of mental health, I hope to guide individuals to life beyond illness. It is possible to separate yourself from your illness and accept that you can achieve the dreams that are so often suppressed by insecurities.
For me, life after illness will be about changing the way our society views people with mental health issues. The fact I can admit to experiencing a huge mental health crisis and also be an academic scholar is incredibly important for ending the stigma surrounding mental health. When others who face mental health issues read this, I hope they too can believe in the possibility of liberating themselves from the constraints of their disorder.
The stigma around eating disorders cannot continue. Lives are being lost, partly because not enough people are coming forward with their stories. I'm able to study and maintain my passion for life because I feel the freedom to talk about my past struggles, to show people who also struggle that it’s okay to speak up. I hope through my schooling and accomplishments I'll be better able to create more bridges between society and those affected by mental health. I hope to draw out many new voices of recovery.
The Looking Glass Foundation scholarship has allowed me to continue pursuing my passion. Each day that I sit down to study in a very noisy, toy-filled room, I reflect on how grateful I am for the various crayon markings on my walls, for the chance to accomplish my goals alongside my daughter. My life has evolved into a chaotic, ambitious miracle. I know that life will never be an effortless journey, but that the challenges we face are what shape our identity in ways we deserve.
I have this incredible gift of life that so many of us take for granted. I no longer see my body as an empty vessel, but as one filled with literature, and strength. I see my future as a place of nourishment and contentment. I am a mother, a student, and someone who has regained the hunger for life.
Amanda is an eating disorder survivor and the recipient of the Looking Glass Foundation's 2015 "Pursue Your Passion" scholarship. In addition to caring for her beautiful daughter Lua, Amanda will be studying Psychology at Langara College in Vancouver