~Spend Your One Life Wisely~
*Guest Blog By Sarena Celseti*
Wake up. School. Sleep. Repeat. That is what my entire life consisted of. I didn't even do homework. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t see friends, attend club meetings, or walk my dog. I didn’t watch tv, read books, or even leave the house unless I was going to school. I quit dancing so I would have more time to lay in bed and count. The most important thing I didn’t do was I didn’t eat. I limited my daily caloric intake to under 300 calories (100 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). When I was not eating the minuscule portions I allowed myself I was meticulously counting each and every single calorie that went into my mouth that day. Once I was finished counting the calories I consumed, I began allocating and planning the calories I would consume the next day and then the next day and so on.
This was the life of fifteen-year-old me. Depressed because I didn’t fit in or look “attractive.” I wasn’t “thin enough.” I was anxious because my obsession with calories forced my grades into the gutter. And I was so damn tired that all I could ever do was lay in bed, close my eyes, and try my best to get warm under the pile of blankets I kept over myself.
All of my friends had given up trying to contact me. My family grew more and more frustrated as the days went on and they slowly started to realize that this phase was taking longer to pass than they had originally thought. The start of this particular phase goes back to when I was 12. It was August and I had my yearly doctor’s appointment. My mom was busy that day, so my dad had to take me in. I remember stepping on the scale and seeing 120 pounds. This was an increase of 18 pounds in only a year! Granted, puberty was hitting. I was eating more and my chest was beginning to fill out. However, it was still a bit too much weight. Especially for a twelve-year-old to gain in a year.
My dad was even more disgusted than I was. I remember that same night, we stopped by my Italian grandmother’s house for dinner and she started to get me a second bowl of pasta, my favorite meal. My dad started screaming, “Why are you giving her more pasta? You know how much weight she gained this year?!” My dad may have only been trying to look after me. Maybe he was trying to help me. But he never tried to help me by cooking me healthy meals or helping me understand what it means to eat a healthy diet. No one in my family was particularly healthy in any way.
That week something snapped. I went a few days without eating anything. I was too disgusted by myself to even look in the mirror, nevermind eat. Once I started eating again, I limited my calories to 800 and then 600 and so on until I ended up at 300. I carried on living this way until I was sixteen. My eating disorder had started to show up in other parts of my body. I developed a patulous eustachian tube (basically I could hear myself talking all the time) and I was sick often. Once I finally persuaded my mom to take me to the doctor and figure out what the hell was going on with my ears, the doctor told her she needed to take me to the hospital right away because my heart rate was so low that I could drop dead at any moment. That was the wake-up call my mom needed. She finally understood that I wasn’t in a phase or just doing this to piss everyone in my family off.
I was a kid who needed help.
This is when my outpatient treatment and therapy sessions started. I finally had to start eating and putting on weight to avoid the feeding tube that was constantly used as a threat by my doctors and nurses. However, instead of helping, my therapist ruined my trust by telling my mom mostly everything I had confided in her (nothing life-threatening, mostly just stupid arguments sixteen-year-olds have with their parents).
My mom also made every appointment she had to drag me to seem like a chore. She would complain about the time, money, and one time she even banged her car in a parking lot and it was all my fault because we were at an appointment for me.
So I decided to just put on the weight and a happy face so everyone would stop complaining about me, my weight, my appointments, and all the time and energy I wasted. I pretended I was fine. But I was still hurting inside. I went through a bad breakup around this time and started to use food as a way to cope. Partly because I was still starving from all those years I denied myself and partly because I still had no idea how to have a functioning relationship with food or even what “eating normally” looked like. I gained more and more weight throughout the rest of high school. My uniform became tight on me and it cut into my stomach throughout the day. It was a painful reminder both mentally and physically of the weight I gained and of how much I hated myself and my body.
Finally. I made it to college. I began abusing the newfound freedom of college as many incoming freshmen do. However, I did not abuse my freedom in the same way as others. Instead of drinking, partying, and skipping class, I started skipping meals again. I began to fall back into my old ways of restrictive eating. But this time, I had a car. I would drive myself to the gym two or three times a day and spend a few hours exercising. Over time, my poor relationship with exercise led me to a form of bulimia. I would eat and graze throughout the day only to purge the food through exercising for hours.
By some miracle, I finally found veganism. I began to learn what healthy eating meant to me. I didn’t care what my family thought of my new eating patterns or about what others thought about the way I ate. I knew I was doing something positive for the animals, the environment, and my health. It gave me a sense of purpose. I finally felt like I had something to care about like I had something to live for. Veganism saved me because I no longer ate any of the unhealthy junk food my family chose to keep stocked in the house. I chose, bought, cooked, and ate all of my own food. I learned healthy recipes from other people in the vegan community and I started to eat in more normal-sized portions for my size and age. I was still over-exercising and too preoccupied with food to think of many other activities.
That is until I began working at the yoga studio. I was so lucky to be able to find a job working for my favorite studio in my state. I only worked at the front desk checking in classes, cleaning, and answering the phone, however, I made true friends there, ones I still have today and hope to have for the rest of my life. I go out with these people, take yoga with them, we even go out to dinner and dessert together!
I finally found people that came from similar situations: broken families, failed relationships, people who have struggled with self-harm, and others who just wanted to escape reality for a little while. I could relate to these people on a deeper level than anyone else in my entire life.
The stars literally aligned us in the most perfect match ever made. If they ever read this they will know exactly what I mean.
I began to take more and more yoga classes. I learned that this form of exercise not only felt good and helped me heal my physical ailments, but it helped me heal my mental ailments as well. Each time I met my mat, I set an intention. From this practice, I want to gain more respect for myself and for all other living beings. I want to live a life full of love, positivity, and light. Through yoga, I found breathwork, which I used as another powerful tool throughout my healing process.
For once in my life, I began focusing on things that felt and actually were good for me and my body. I learned to care for myself. The compassion and empathy I found for animals through veganism eventually I started to apply that to myself. Yoga helped me make this connection because one of the major principles is that we are all one. Yoga taught me the basic principles of how to care for myself. Each practice led me closer and closer home to myself and for that, I am eternally grateful.
I wanted to help spread all of these amazing, positive things yoga was doing for me in my life so I decided to participate in a registered yoga teacher training that my studio was hosting. Over the training, I learned more about myself in those 6 months than I had learned in my entire life up until that point. I became more confident in my abilities to speak in front of people, to demonstrate poses, and to be vulnerable with and for others.
I became more of the person I wanted to be - strong, independent, and able to be comfortable enough with myself to not need validation from anyone else. I feel like I have found that. I will never be done working on myself but I have come pretty dang far. Literally. I moved from Rhode Island to Hawaii because life is too short to not chase after your dreams. I would rather live a life full of mistakes than regrets.
Because life, after all, is not that serious. So learn to be playful again. Learn to dance in the rain. Learn to smile at strangers. Learn to laugh again. Learn to tell people how you feel. Learn to feel the fear and do it anyway. Learn to live again. Because making mistakes is always better than regretting the fact that you didn't try.
Because you were only given this one life.
Spend it wisely.
<3 Find this beautiful, strong and inspiring soul on Instagram @sarena3151& @malie_way <3