It has been something that I have been thinking about throughout my journey so far to start a page, where I can express my views, experiences and feelings along the way of the Yellow Brick Road. First of all, let me begin by letting you know a little about myself.
My name is Sarah Leanne, I am twenty years old, and dreaming of a life capturing unseen worlds through the wonder of the lens. Photography is the passion that has driven me forward in so many ways, that nothing else could. When things have been at their worst, my photography grew stronger. It led me to completing a two year extended diploma in photography and then the miracle that was winning a place in the National Open Art Competition in 2013 amongst 92 extraordinary talented artists. A dream come true.
This my appear to be a lovely life, however that is only the surface.
For over four years, I have been suffering with Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder with terrible consequences both physically and most of all emotionally. Nothing can prepare you for the trauma you go through. Carrying such a terrifying illness every single moment of your days is exhausting, stressful, torture and distressing. All this time, I have existed in a shell, a protection if you will, to ward of fear and pain from an ever hurting world. Though I may not have suffered the loss of a loved one, it can almost fell as though I died. The Sarah I thought I knew is no more. There is nothing much that can place me back into her shoes anymore. Ana has made me numb to that previous me. My whole life was gone, instantly I lost friends, support, education, freedom and my own mind. My body has been put through a test of total endurance to the utter extremes. Looking back, it is a wonder I am alive today. I became obsessed with my body and how it is not perfect. Every part of me has a flaw that was too sickening to bare. So I took drastic action and restricted my intake dramatically. No weight was ever low enough. In fact there was never a target weight I had in mind, I just had to keep going and going. I wanted to become invisible, so no harm would come my way. The inner pain was the only thing to keep me warm with rage at the illness. Lifeless were my eyes, frozen was my skin, brittle and thin was my hair, my bones were weakened, periods stopped. My heart barely beating. I was on self-destruct.
If that wasn’t enough to put my body through, since becoming ill, I have developed clinical depression, gone through a dark spell of self-harm and suicidal periods. All of this I would never have thought about doing before. Life is precious, how could I think of ending it all? The truth is I didn’t believe I wanted to leave, but it was the only option for the suffering to end for all my family. The things I have dragged them through are unthinkable. I am meant to love them, not cause them tears, anger, despair and worry. What causes someone like myself to end up this way? What makes me different to anyone else how goes through extreme anxiety-provoking situations? How come I didn’t realise? I cannot answer those questions with just a simple word or two. But what I can answer is this, ‘How do you get better?’ The answer is simple, believe in yourself.
After two hospital admissions, multiple setbacks, pathetic services, several setbacks, a river of tears, and nightmares I would rather forget, I have begun to follow the road to recovery entitled my ‘Yellow Brick Road’.
The reason I call it this is because of the references to ‘The Wizard of Oz‘. Dorothy is whisked away to the land of Oz, and is desperate to get back to her home in Kansas. The munchkins tell her she needs to follow the yellow brick road, in order to meet the Wizard of Oz to ask for his help to get back to her Aunt. Along the way she discovers several other lost souls who need help from the wizard himself, and they walk along together in the hope to have the wishes granted. Turns out that it takes the person you are inside to appreciate life as it is. Nothing is ever perfect and if you dwell on what you don’t have, then you miss the things you have about yourself that are just as special. Dorothy learns that she has to stop dreaming of a better place and remember that “There is no place like home“. Just as I am learning (all be it a lot slower) that there is no better Sarah than who I really am.
We are all unique, one of a kind and no one else will compare. Our world today, is constantly analysing every inch of our lives, pushing and pressuring us to be the best idyllic person there can possibly be. If it’s not our bodies then it’s our job. If it’s not our job, it’s our home. If it’s not our home, it’s the way we socialise. The list for perfection goes on and on! Even now I am constantly searching for the best ways to eat, live, love, travel and keep fit. But the question I always come back to is ‘Will that really solve all my problems and make me happier?’ the majority of the time the answer is no. They may contribute to my overall happiness in the short term, but what will really keep me happy in life, is if I take care of my soul and it’s true desires. Worrying over the way we look to the rest of the world is a life wasted, as we can never please everyone. We need to gain better perspective of the value of what we already have instead of searching for more of what we probably won’t ever reach because it is too much to expect of anyone to ever maintain.
Though I am not there yet, I am taking each step at a time pacing myself at my speed, trying not to expect too much too soon. Appreciate how much I love the people around me and what I have to live for. Here on this page, I aim to open the door into my unseen world and hope that you can begin to maybe understand a little more about mental health, or even relate to my story. For all of you out there, no matter where you are in your journey through life- there is always hope. I never thought this would ever be so for me. I was convinced I was condemned to an existence with Ana or I would just cease to exist anymore because of her. Hold on the light inside of you that got you here today. The yellow bricks grow brighter and brighter the further along I go, so there is hope in recovery to once again be free. That is where I dream to be, free as a butterfly.