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So Worth Loving

I’ve Struggled with Depression and Anxiety

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Learning to love myself despite all my struggles and flaws has helped me to love others through their struggles and flaws.

Having struggled with depression, and still struggling with anxiety, I have come into contact with so many people who I get to share my story with. I get to be a voice of hope to people who have none because I can say,  ”Hey, I’ve been there, but look where I am now.”

I get to tell people that if they keep pushing through, that they will find joy.

I get to tell people that they are worthy of life and of happiness. Because now I believe it for myself.

If you’ve overcome major struggles in your life, I just really want to challenge you to share your story. It’s a scary thing to do, but it will give you so many opportunities to love others.

Join the family by sharing how loving yourself has helped you to love others with the hashtag #loveyoulovepeople on Instagram.

Love, Mack

In order to truly embrace someone else, we have to be embraced too. Use the love for yourself to strengthen the love towards others. 

Love People.

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We have been promoting a lifestyle change called, "Love You. Love People." For the past few weeks, we have been sharing stories and pictures of ways to learn to love ourselves. 

It has been such an impacting and wonderful journey to partake in with our family!

Since we spent two weeks on loving ourselves, we are moving on to the equally as important second half of our motto.

It’s now time to learn to love people. 

We are in a society that is craving for the next ‘in’ thing. Right now, it’s in to accept the curves and wider hips that one has, and know that they are just as hot as anyone else. Even though that is absolutely true, we as a company felt that there has been a 180 degree turn around where now there’s a dislike for ones who are not structured that way. 

We can’t just love who we are and hate how everyone else looks. We were made uniquely for a reason… to not be so boring!

Looks are not the only thing that we are stressing here, though. Anyone that has affected you in a negative way somehow, or anyone that you have loved to hate for the sake of keeping the loathe load off of yourself, deserves to be loved

You are another person to someone else too. 

As we continue this lifestyle change, start really making a difference in the world by showing love to others. 

We’re a family here. Let’s love each other. 

#loveyoulovepeople

I Hope Someone Finds Hope In This

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I still remember the scene like it was yesterday. The confrontation, the argument, the shouting, and the way that every word pierced a little deeper till I snapped. The tears came quickly and my world was shattered. Everything that happened next played out like some movie, like I was watching myself act and react from outside my own body. I stumbled to the cabinets, found the pills, and took copious amounts of them. I thought surely the pain would stop, surely the voices of self doubt and fear would cease, and I would just go to “sleep” finally without worrying anymore.

 Those events that I just recounted in short took place June 4th, 2007. As you can tell from the fact that I’m writing this, I’m not dead but I probably should be. Today is the 7-year anniversary of that day. Its crazy to think on all the things that I would have missed out on that have taken place in these last 7 years. One thing that I have come to believe over these last 7 years is that experiences/wisdom do not mean anything unless we share them with others. I have suffered some very terrible situations in my life that have led to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and attempted suicide and yes, those things are hard, but I want to share a little bit about what I’ve learned and maybe some things that could help someone else from ending up where I almost did.

  •  Silence and holding it in never works.

I was taken advantage of sexually when I was 13. I didn’t tell anybody about it for 6 and a half years. Even though what that person did to me was terrible, I did something just as bad by holding that in for so long. I let it defeat me everyday and let it rot me away from the inside. So if you have been hurt, or feel something that you think is shameful, holding it in will only lead to more hurt and shame. Find someone you can trust, speak up, and you will begin the road to healing.

  •  Depression is real, it sucks, but its not the end.

I grew up in the church, and it seemed like no one was ever sad unless they were at a funeral. It was then hard for me to process the immense amount of pain and sadness that I had in me at such a young age. I suppressed it, boxed it up, and ignored it but eventually you will run out space in the attic of your heart. If you’re hurting, admit it. If you’re unhappy, that’s ok. It can be summed up like this, “Its ok to not be ok but its not ok to stay that way.”- Perry Noble.   

  •  Get counseling.

Counseling literally saved my life. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, I think everyone would benefit from it. At some point, when going through depression, everyone thinks that they are in fact a little crazy; that if people could hear their thoughts they would be shunned, and that there’s no way that they are sane. Counseling will actually help show that you are quite normal and that you just needed to be able to talk and communicate freely in order to find that out.

  • Time doesn’t heal all things, perspective does.

Years and years can pass from a certain incident in your life and it can seem just as raw as the day it happened. This probably means that you haven’t tried to really remove yourself from that situation. When you start to see yourself as a functioning human outside of whatever was done to you, then you will see that you are bigger than that problem and that your life will go on.

  •  Life is better in community.

Everything: the depression, the anxiety, the panic attacks, the countless days spent just staying in, they are all about isolation. It’s a vicious cycle. These things all happen to only you and then make you not want to be around people, which is really what you need. If your activities, your days, and your choices tend to isolate you, then reevaluate. Do whatever it takes to be in community.

  •  Hope is Real.

No explaining here. Once you get a hold of hope, it’s truly hard to lose it. I found real hope when I woke up in that hospital bed that fateful night and haven’t been able to shake it since.

  •  Do beautiful things

Seek beauty, create beauty, find beauty. Eat a pizza, watch your favorite movie, make someone a card, dance on top of your car. You can inject happiness into your life, and it will increase.

 

I hope that someone finds hope in this.

Written and loved on by someone who wants you to love yourself.

Dearest Maya

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Dearest Maya,

Your ways of viewing life and the people who inhabit it have been so impacting in all of our lives. You are an inspiration, and you will be ever-so-missed. Thank you for all that you have done, and all of the hearts that you have changed with your powerful words. If words can heal, you have definitely saved many lives during your time on this earth. It is said that we should leave this place better than when we found it, and you have definitely achieved that goal. 

Thank you, Maya Angelou.

We love and miss you.

Love, SWL team

From Excess to XS

Editor’s Note: 

Before reading this story, I would like to tell you that these words of a lovely soul are quite raw and more than real. This is heavier than any other post we have done, and so we don’t want to take it as lightly as others. Thank you for reading, and now onto Andrew: 

-SWL team

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I was killing myself, and I didn’t know it.  I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and a skeleton stared back at me, but all I saw was the fat boy.Then everything went black. I fell against the bathroom sink. My legs felt weak, my vision blurred, and the blackouts were becoming more prevalent. I knew that I needed to do something, but I didn’t know how to stop. I had just wanted to lose weight—to be happy. And I didn’t know how desperately, until two dark, detrimental years later,when my six foot frame carried a mere 119 pounds, and I found myself angled over a toilet to relieve myself of that day’s last meal.

My whole life, I struggled with my weight. I was the goofy fat kid, with quick sarcastic comments, who always tried to make people laugh. I was even the first to make fun of my “fat” self, so that others would laugh with me and not at me. Most people never knew that the very thing I hated most about myself was my weight. I never liked “fat Andrew” because fat was not beautiful or acceptable. I wanted to look like a “normal” person.  I didn’t want to be defined by my weight.  I wanted people to see beyond the fat—to see me, but we live in a world that is so absorbed with perfection and beauty that we no longer see people

  • We promote a false image of beauty that devalues the individual.

 

Ironically, my story begins on February 14th 2011, Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love. I had a very close friend on whom I had secretly had a crush for many years. This particular Valentine’s Day, she was not dating anyone, and I wanted to ask her out, but I didn’t. I knew she could never see past the “Fat Andrew” I constantly saw in the mirror, and that devastated me. I felt worthless. So after years of lying in bed, late at night, thinking, I’ll start dieting tomorrow or I’ll start exercising this weekend, I promised myself things were going to be different this time.

The next day I started my diet and began running. I signed up for a membership at the local gym and went every day after work, but commitment slowly turned to compulsion. Weekdays were never enough, so I added weekends. Then, I started working out longer and eating much less. Eventually, several hours a day at the gym became my norm. I would not stop my workout until I had burned at least 1000+ calories, while eating half that amount. I became obsessed with counting calories, and food became my enemy.

In four months, I had lost 80 pounds. I had started at 240 with a goal of 180.  Now 20 pounds under my goal weight, I could still not shake the reflection of “fat Andrew” every time I looked in the mirror. The gym became my obsession. I would constantly push myself harder and further than my body could handle, while eating next to nothing. I hated myself. I daily pondered why I continued this torture. Why wasn’t I happy?  I was slim.  Girls noticed me. I looked great, but it was never enough.  I was terrified that the moment I stopped going to the gym, I would inflate to my previous size.  So I kept running.

While some people complimented me on my new look, many questioned my methods.  Talk of anorexia and bulimia invaded the conversation.  I ignored it until, one night, a close friend and co-worker, who I greatly respected, paid me a backhanded compliment. He said, “Dude you look great, I can’t believe the commitment you’ve had toward this whole process, but I have to ask… are you just throwing up?”  I had been dealing with this question on a daily basis for the past couple of months, and it infuriated me every time it came up.  I had worked hard to lose the weight, and people tossed all my dedication out the window when they asked this question. Why were my choices everyone else’s business, and why did they automatically assume the worst of me?  I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Did I portion control? Yes. Was I throwing up? NO.  I had never willingly discarded a meal.  I may have starved myself, at times, but vomiting was never in my playbook, until that night.

I laid in bed that evening frustrated. Why do people see me in this degrading way? Why can’t they see that I am striving for a goal, not just taking the easy way out?  After tossing and turning, and wrestling with my thoughts for what seemed like hours, it suddenly hit me.  The thought was not a new one.  It had always been there … waiting.  And now, from a dark place in the back of my mind, it crept forward.  A vile twisted idea that had lingered, patiently, in my subconscious, for months, until it knew I was ready.  Rising above wisdom and reason, it presented itself like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I can eat whatever—whenever—and as much as I want.  Then I can just rid myself of it. I tried not to think about it, because I knew it was wrong, but the pull was too strong.  I had unlocked the door and the creature had emerged. There was no going back.

The following day at lunch, the idea consumed me, and I finally gave in to it.  I ate more in that one sitting than I had eaten, per day, for the past couple of months. Everyone at the table looked at me as if I had finally gone off the deep end. After I had cleaned my plate, I excused myself from the table and headed toward the restroom. I entered the last stall, waited for those inside the room to leave, and for the first time in my life, I willingly forced up my meal.

That one act turned into a 13-month habit that took a toll on my health and well-being. It started with simply eating normal meals and then excusing myself to the restroom, but it turned into something much darker, the roots of which took hold and, literally, began to strangle the life from me. I started binge eating. I ate everything in sight, because I knew I could rid myself of it moments later.  Everyday was the same routine.  Eat. Vomit.  Repeat. I was ashamed, and I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop. Eventually a wave of self-loathing crashed over me, and I was engulfed in depression.  Day after day, I retreated to my apartment, and sat alone, wishing I had never started losing weight. I became a hollow version of myself.  Then I turned to drinking.

Every day, after work, I would pack up my things, keep my head down, and walk to my car.  No smiles. No waves. No good-byes. I would go home, open the fridge, and grab one beer after another, until I felt nothing.  I had hit rock bottom, and I lay there for months. I could not hide what was happening, and I didn’t want people to think badly about me or lose respect for me, so I hid myself away. I lost touch with friends and family. I declined every social outing. I completely shut everyone out of my life.  No longer did I care to be the center of attention or make people laugh.  Gone was the life-of-the-party guy, and in his place stood a 120-pound ghost of a human, barely clinging to life. I fixed my gaze on my image in the mirror and didn’t recognize the vacant-eyed person staring back at me.

My reckless and reclusive behavior only furthered my health issues.  I barely slept. I had trouble using the restroom. My heart rate slowed dangerously.  It was a waking nightmare.  Then came the final straw.  After months of declining health, and several thousand dollars in various doctors’ bills later, two of my dental fillings fell out.  Only then did I realize I was in way over my head.  I had started this weight-loss journey with a promise.  Now, I made another.  I promised I would never make myself throw up again.  Losing weight was supposed to make me happy, but I was miserable.  It was supposed to make me worth people’s attention (especially girls).  Instead, I was isolated and lonely. 

I was supposed to like skinny Andrew, but I hated the new me, and I could not bear to see this mangled version of myself any longer.  This was the first step in battling my eating disorder—admitting I had a problem. 

Once I admitted my problem, the bigger battle began—learning to eat again.  What most people do, with ease, on a daily basis, was TORTURE for me.  It took every ounce of my being to eat a meal and willingly let it settle.  My stomach was not used to being full. It begged me to purge.  For weeks I struggled to not run to the restroom after a meal.  Some days, I prevailed.  Some days, I didn’t.  Eight months later, however, I am back to a healthy weight, and I am finally keeping my food down.  But this battle is not over.  Everyday, I have to make a conscious effort to not retreat back into my old ways, and it is something I can only hope will fade with time. 

I share this painful story because I would not wish my destruction on anyone.  It was a living hell. For those who may consider this path, I say, “It is not worth it!!”  It WILL destroy your life, if it does not end it first.  It will consume any happiness you have left.  I am not saying that you should not eat healthier, or you should never exercise. I am simply saying LOVE YOURSELF. My eating disorder did not begin with throwing up.  It began when I believed the lie that my self-worth came from my looks.  It increased when I exercised to excess, while starving myself, and it finally led to purging. Don’t listen to the inner voices of anorexia and bulimia. They will whisper that you cannot be happy until you are thin.  It is a lie from the pit of hell, and it took me going through this long, drawn-out, painful, mess to realize that truth.   

Love yourself for who you are. You are much, MUCH more valuable than you think.  Your gifts and talents have worth.  No one in this world can be you.  No one can do what you do.  No one will leave the footprint you will leave.  YOU matter.  Love yourself now, and avoid the greater pain that not loving you will inflict.  

I was lucky.  My heart didn’t stop, and my kidneys didn’t fail.  They could have.  They probably should have, but they didn’t.  Maybe that’s because I was supposed to be here to tell you my story—to tell you that you are so worth loving.

—Selah.

Written and loved on by Andrew Winchell 

We don’t want you to feel alone in this, because you aren’t alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out, and if you haven’t anyone to talk to, Andrew is willing to listen. Email him here: AndrewWinchell@me.com

P.S. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please, please, contact the National Eating Disorder help line: http://nedawareness.org/helpline or call: 1-800-931-2237

We love you. 

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Breaking Free From The Lies

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I look out the window to see the beautiful sunshine. While there is new evidence that spring is emerging around my little home in the woods, I can’t seem to get past the reflection that is looking back at me. I see a young woman who is tired and worn by lies that penetrated her soul for years. I can see the bags under my eyes from another restless night’s sleep, consumed with memories I would like to forget. In the midst of this inner battle, there is a glimmer in my eyes that is becoming brighter as each day comes. I am starting to shed off the lies one by one and unveiling a new and stronger version of myself.

Words have the power to mold and shape those around us. Sometimes people shoot their words out like verbal daggers, never worrying about the slow, bleeding wounds they leave upon their victim.
When you have a constant flow of hurtful words thrown at you daily, it becomes harder and harder to not let them define you.

  • When it is all you hear, you begin to believe the lies, the ones that tell you that you’re ugly, or will never amount to much because you don’t deserve it. You give up, you shut up, and you sit nicely and become your enemies’ marionette. 

We have to learn to cut the strings, to break free and let go of not only the hurtful words, but the people who have opened their mouths and continually and intentionally brought us down.

The hardest thing I have ever done is realizing that sometimes you have to hit that block button. You have to stop answering the phone calls, and stop returning to that place of hurt. Other people may tell you that burning bridges is not forgiveness, or that you are being dramatic, but stand strong. You can choose to forgive those who have verbally abused you, but that does not mean you have to continue to be their friend, their partner, or even involved family member. This isn’t your incapability to take a joke, or a sign of you being weak. If words have brought you down to rock bottom and have caused you to believe you are worthless, they are nothing more than lies.

They may hurt your core, but they are not your truth. Carrying those wounds for years will only suck you dry of any life you have inside of you. It is time to let go.

For me, learning to let go has been a long process spanning of years of tears and self-searching. Finding that strength like a warrior is not something that happens over night. It is a process of acceptance, of action, and of letting go. It takes time, but eventually the rubble will be moved and I, as well as you, will see the sun again.

You are worth it all. You are worth loving, worth seeing your dreams turned into reality, and worth seeing the beauty that radiates from your core. That is the truth that is trying to shout over the ones that tell you the opposite. Search for it until it becomes so loud that it drowns out the doubts. You are worth the time it will take to finally break free.

Written and loved on by Ali Hightower

If this story was for you or a friend, don’t hesitate to share this anywhere on the World Wide Web. If you are feeling led to share your own story to relate to a reader that isn’t feeling worthy, submit your word-love to submissions@soworthloving.com. 

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