Sometime in the future you will prefer to be called Jen, or Jennifer, but your family will still know you as Jenny. I want to tell you to be prepared for the struggles to come. You have recently started dieting. This dieting will turn into an eating disorder. Anorexia will take over your life, and nearly kill you. You will hate yourself, and you will cut yourself with razor blades and knives. The pain you feel will overwhelm you so much that you will be engulfed by it.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to be a size zero to be acceptable and you don’t have to be perfect to deserve love. Unfortunately, you think you do, and you are headed into a very dark place because of these erroneous beliefs. In a few years, at the age of seventeen, you will weigh only 80 pounds and will be in a hospital for weeks. All of this is avoidable, but only if you are in the position to see the truth.
The truth is that you are a beautiful human being, with a heart full of love, a soul full of compassion, and a whip-smart brain. You also have a fantastic sense of humor. You will realize these assets about yourself eventually. I want to hold your hand and tell you that you are on the precipice of disaster that can be avoided. At the very least, if it cannot be avoided, I am here to tell you that you can and will survive it.
Not only will you survive, you will thrive. You will overcome anorexia. You will gain weight, and it will not kill you. You will even survive being overweight.
There is more that you will face. Your mental health will falter and you will develop a serious disease called Schizoaffective Disorder. But you will make the best out of it. You will write a blog about it, publish a book called Episodes of Schizophrenia about it, and become a public speaker to educate the public and law enforcement officers about mental illness. You will be brave and strong and you will not let anything stop you from enhancing your life and fighting for equality and justice. You will march on Washington for peace and women’s rights. You will write letters to legislators about human rights issues. You will be on the board of directors for Florida’s branch of the National Organization for Women, and also on the board of Pinellas County’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You will work hard, and you will beat all the odds.
Have hope, Jenny. As long as you hold onto hope, you can get through anything. You are so much stronger than you think you are. And you will learn many valuable lessons in your life. You are one powerhouse of a little girl, and you will become a woman who is capable and happy.
My name is Jennifer Robinson. I am a freelance writer, recently having authored a graphic novel called Episodes of Schizophrenia. I am a mental health advocate, and have been writing a blog called Suicidal No More: Choosing to Live with Schizoaffective Disorder since 2005. I am on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Pinellas County Florida. I am also a student at the University of South Florida and an employee of St. Petersburg College.
I have survived homelessness, psychosis and many suicide attempts. Today I am very happy to be alive.