#leapfear Day 9 – Meghan

Meghan and her twin sister (who will be Day 10, shown together in the last photo in this blog), came together for their photoshoot.  Their mom had nominated them both and, after spending a few hours with them, I could see why.

There is a quiet grace in Meghan.  At times it might read as a little sadness but when you spend time with her, I think it is really more of a mature, reflective nature.  She is a gentle and old soul.  For one so young, she has already had to deal with much.  But I sense a resilience in her and I share her mother’s optimism for Meghan’s future.  She has confronted her demons at such a young age, with dignity, confidence and hope. As hard as it has been for her and her family, I think things are well on their way to a brighter future.

Because she was so young, I wanted these photos to capture her youth and vitality. There were moments where you can see the quiet and reflective Meghan, but we also wanted to show her vibrant and optimistic side.  I love the ones of her in the white jacket for that reason.  Of course, what young woman doesn’t want a chance to get a little glammed up too;) I ended the session with some portraits of the two sisters together and their love and respect for each other was so strong.  I spoke with them after the shoot to make sure they understood that I recognized what an act of courage it was to be willing to share their stories at such a young age. Most young people will do everything they can to fit in and to hide their stories. These young women were determined to turn their stories into a source of inspiration for other young people who may be unsure of how to ask for help, or for their families who may not know how to help.  Starting the conversation is the first step.  Continuing the conversation is essential for real lasting healing.  These young women are in the hands of loving and caring parents and with the help of them and each other, as well as the professional help they have sought out, I am looking forward to hearing about all of their successes in the future.

Special thanks go to my amazing makeup artist Lindsey from BeYOUtiful Esthetics.  

What changed that made you realize you were living a life of fear?
Ever since I was young, I struggled with perfectionism and the idea that I had to be the perfect person. I developed anxiety, depression and an eating disorder because I put so much time and work into having to be perfect. I became obsessed with needing to be perfect and pleasing everyone, but perfection is unachieveable so I began to control the only thing I could, my eating habits. The sense of control helped me cope when I felt like I was failing myself. Even though I felt physically sick all the time, mentally, my mind felt better about myself and how I looked when I stuck to these behaviours. Although, that did not always last long. I started to have a difficult time concentrating in school and I became irritable and obsessed with thoughts of food and body image. My anxiety skyrocketed, but I still kept restricting. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and was admitted into the hospital for 4 months because my health was at it’s all time low.

2016-02-09_0003.jpg

Once you realized that you were living a life in fear, what stopped you from moving forward? What held you back for so long?2016-02-09_0005.jpg
The fear of not being in control and the constant war in my mind about whether recovery was worth it or not. It was very difficult to accept that I had this illness and that I needed to get better. Even though it’s a daily struggle, being healthy and feeling better is helping me to accept myself. With now having a better education with eating disorders, medication, and weekly therapy, I am on a better path to becoming mentally and physically happy and healthy.

Once you did take the leap, what did you have to let go of?

I am working every day to let go of the idea of perfection. Also, I am beginning to let go of obsessive behaviours and the need for control in myself. Perfection is an unattainable goal, you have to learn to believe that who you are is perfect enough. If you believe it, you’ll feel it.

 

Once you let go, what did you find on the other side that was worth taking the leap?

In the process of recovery, I am beginning to see how much of my life I was missing out on. I want to achieve so many things in life that I could not achieve if I kept living with an eating disorder on my shoulders. I realized that I was not in control of my eating disorder but, my eating disorder was in control of me. I want to go to university, travel and try new foods without worrying, and have a family of my own. This is what motivates me to keep going in recovery and to not give in to the eating disorder thoughts. I am learning to accept who I am as a person and how I look.

2016-02-09_0004.jpg

What would you tell someone whose fears are still holding them back?

It’s not an easy journey. You are battling your mind everyday and, sometimes you might lose, but in the end what matters is that you keep fighting and not let yourself be controlled by the eating disorder. An eating disorder is not a choice, but recovery is. Just keep going.
If you are struggling with a mental illness, never hesitate to ask for help and don’t be afraid to share your story. We need to keep working to end stigma.

2016-02-09_0006.jpg

Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?

I am so thankful for Anita and all her beautiful photos and inspiring message to empower women. I am also in awe about how amazing all the women who are able to speak out and share their stories and give inspiration to others. I believe that it is so important for people to raise awareness for all these moving stories. The strength is unbelieveable among all of you and I am so glad to be a part of it.
2016-02-09_0002.jpg