As my first full year of grad school comes to a close, I am filled with relief, joy, and a grateful heart.
I literally am on cloud nine. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders because I survived the toughest semester I have yet to face in grad school. Now I can enjoy a glorious three whole weeks off before I start fall semester!

Today I want to talk a little bit about possibilities, and what that means for me and for others who struggle with mental and chronic illness.

Mental illness
There was a time where I was in a very dark place. I saw no possibilities, no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing felt okay, and I really thought and believed that my life was going no where. How far I have come since then! Now, not only do I see possibilities right at the tips of my fingers, but I believe in possibilities. Instead of thinking that nothing is possible, I now believe that anything is possible. I know this may sound cliché, but it is the truth. Even when you feel as though you are drowning in depression and over-ruled by anxiety and can see no way out, there IS hope, and there IS light at the end of the tunnel. You may not be able to see it, because your mental illness clouds your vision, preventing you from seeing the truth. But there is always the option to reclaim your life and to take the path that leads to happiness. You may not be able to do it alone. In fact, you most likely will need all of the support you can get. But I want you to know that possibilities are very real for people who struggle with mental illness. It is possible to get better. It is possible to recover. It is possible to regain your sense of self. It takes a lot of hard work. It may take years. But don't let that discourage you or keep you from trying. It took me 6 years to reach remission and maintain recovery from my eating disorder. If you asked me three years ago, I would have told you recovery was nearly impossible. But here I am today, alive and well (enough) to tell my story. Currently, I am working on treating my anxiety, OCD, and body dysmorphia. It is hard. But now that I am not in such a dark, dismal, depressing place, I can see hope. I can see myself improving and getting better in these areas. If I can overcome 7 long years of suffering from an eating disorder, I can do this too. So if you suffer from anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or any other mental health condition, know first that you are not alone. Second, know in your heart that there are possibilities for you. And if you can't tell yourself that, I can say it for you. Each and every one of us was made in the image and likeness of God. We each have a purpose. It's about holding on to hope, keeping an open mind of all possibilities, and to never, ever stop fighting.

Chronic Illness
Just because your life changed due to illness, does not mean that you no longer have any possibilities that are ahead for you. Two years ago I was spending most of my days sleeping with heat packs resting on my muscles. Slowly I eased myself back into school. I started with online classes, and then classes that I had to attend in person. Then I started my graduate program part time so I could also take care of my health. Now, I have finished my first full year of grad school, and have just two more years in my program to go! This fall I start field placement, and I am so excited for what the future holds! Chronic illness is not an easy thing to deal with. It is painful and it can turn a person's life upside down. That being said, it does not have to steal your life from you. Yes it presents with challenges, and life seems like an obstacle course sometimes with managing medicine, doctor's appointments, and trying to balance rest with activity. But just because you have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses, it does not mean that you will not have good days. It does not mean that your conditions cannot improve. It does not mean that there are not possibilities for you. Despite living with multiple chronic illnesses, I am excited for what the future holds. I know that some days will be harder than others. Some days I cry in bed from being so fatigued, but that does not discount all of the good times and good days that I have. People with chronic illnesses need to learn how to balance their lives and get into a routine. They need to figure out what they can and can't do, what exacerbates their symptoms and what doesn't, which is no easy task! But once this balance gets sorted out, it makes going through life a heck of a lot easier. One thing I want to stress: it is possible to go through periods where you feel better, it is possible to engage in fun activities, it is possible to find love, it is possible to lead a happy and fulfilling life. We all have struggles, and if you are a chronic illness sufferer you know pain. But you are also a warrior and this challenge you are facing? You are facing it because you can carry it. God never gives us more than we can handle. Sometimes it may feel like everything is too much. But remember, you have survived every single one of your hardest days. Life is full of possibilities - even for those of us with chronic/invisible illnesses. Embrace these possibilities and make the most with what you are given.


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