I Wrote A Song

Editor's note: Thank you to Sally for sharing your journey of managing your mental health through this beautiful song.

My name is Sally Liu, I'm 18 years old and this is my story.

My battle against my eating disorder began in 2013.

After having been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 2014, I was hospitalized due to my life-threateningly low BMI. At that time, I did not know that this would eventually turn into a five-month stay. Nor was I aware that this day was to mark the beginning of a bitter cycle of restriction, depression, deceit and, above all else, self-hate.

I have often thought about my stay in hospital as the darkest chapter of my life. But in hindsight, it has also been the sunrise preceding a brighter day, the first step towards regaining not only my weight, but moreover, my life. However, after I was discharged in 2015, I did all I could to erase my past.

Instead of focusing on the future ahead and on fully recovering from my mental illness, I turned my attention to the past and all the shame and guilt associated with it. Instead of embracing my former victories, I saw only failure; failure that needed to be eradicated.

I longed to be normal, to fit in, to be accepted. and I was convinced that the latter required me to hide away my struggles that were still continuing at that time. And so this was exactly what I did.

Over time, my classmates, my teachers and even my closest friends slowly became oblivious to the fact that I had been missing for a whole semester. It was almost like I had never been away, never been different, never been ill. That, I thought, was the way it is supposed to be.

How wrong I was.

Two years ago, another girl in my grade became anorexic.

I was shocked to find that even her closest friends preferred talking about her emaciated body in a contemptuous or indifferent way to talking to her and offering support. And despite an inner voice urging me to walk up to her and tell her that it was okay to seek help, I didn’t have the courage to do it. Something inside me was still afraid that this simple action would reverse all the hard work I had put into shedding the image of being the “sick girl”.

One year later, I saw her again, walking the school halls in a healthy-looking, weight-restored body. I felt a surge of happiness for her, and at the same time, shame. This time though, it was not because she reminded me of my past. It was because she reminded me of having let down a chance to help someone who was going through the same thing as I had once been. It was because she reminded me of how forgetting my past was not the solution. Embracing my future is.

That day, I vowed to never let anyone down like this again. I vowed to never again be ashamed of talking about my mental illness. I vowed to end the stigma around mental health. And I am starting with myself.

The song that I’ve written captures my emotions perfectly. It tells my story, my journey from a lonely girl in self-denial to a survivor who now wants to encourage people to open up. I have named it Survivor’s Song because they are the people to whom I would like to dedicate it: this one’s for all the brave souls who keep fighting every single day. This one’s for all the warriors who never give up, even when things get tough. This one’s for all the fighters whose hearts can still dream.

This one’s for you.

- Sally Liu

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