How isolation affected me physically and mentally and how I decided to change the narrative of my life.

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Authored by Ella Shae

If you look at the world today, 2023, it is apparent that we are in a mental health crisis. We were not meant to live in isolation. We are a social species and we are meant to have interactions in life. During lockdown my eating disorder became the worst it’s ever been. Unfortunately our nervous system typically only has a few reactions to trauma ( isolation is indeed a traumatic experience), which is usually fight or flight. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t fight what was happening. I had to find some other way to control my pain. I couldn’t go to the gym, there were no gyms open. I couldn’t go to church. There were no churches open. I could go to the bar because those were open; however, alcohol was not really something that was ever my vice. I began to take control of some aspect of my life that had been taken away from me by not eating and using eating disorder tendencies. I had eating rituals, guidelines and rules. All of those things were helping me deal with the fact that isolation for me was a loss, and my biggest trigger has always been grief and loss. It’s not a wonder why most of society is in a mental health crisis or we have more people using alcohol as a vice today than ever because that’s what was available to them when nothing else was. So how do we fix all this…Being proactive, reactive and having a strong support system along the way 

I believe it’s about being proactive instead of just reactive. We need to make sure that everyone at every age has the right “tool box”. There needs to be more education around mental health, especially at a younger age. We need to teach our children how to handle emotions in a healthy way. We need to teach children that feeling emotions is a normal thing, suppressing them because of shame or any other stigma will only affect them down the line. We need to show them how to handle sadness, anger and jealousy. Instead of shaming children for crying or being angry, let’s teach them how to process those emotions and how to effectively regulate those emotions with simple everyday “tools”. Besides being proactive we will still need to be reactive. As a society, we need to acknowledge that maintaining mental health IS maintaining health. 

When someone is healing, the journey or their process to recovery is absolutely contingent upon who they surround themselves with during recovery. If you are putting in the work and really trying to change your perception, or opening up old wounds to find the source of the pain, and then you go home to someone who doesn’t believe in or understand mental illness, then they will influence your insecurities. On the opposite end, if you go home and the person you speak with wants to help you, wants to encourage you, wants to be a safe zone for you, then your journey through healing will run much smoother. The people surrounding you have the opportunity to extend support beyond the limits of the therapy and sometimes talking to someone who you love and trust and value, will make you open up a little more. With this and therapy you can achieve recovery. As a society if we begin to accept that mental health IS health then more people will use their voices, stigmas will be eliminated and you’re opening the doors for even more voices to be heard.

My book, From Broken to Beautifully Broken was actually created, when I was admitted into the hospital for an eating disorder. As I was receiving treatment, I realized there are so many others in society who are suffering in silence. I realized that if I put my journey out there for the world to read, then maybe someone can relate to a specific moment, and in turn, they would be able to find their voice that will allow them to get the help they need.