Creating Your Own Sunshine

by Erin Honor

I’m not really sure whether I have mentioned this on this blog yet or not, but I live in New York City. Well, I kind of live in New York City. I go to college here, and my student housing is here, but if you want to get technical, you could say that my actual home is Long Island and I just take residence part time here. Is any of this relevant? Probably not. Okay.

I live about two miles from my school, and while the subway is an easy and frequently used method of transportation, I prefer to walk when I can. As the weather finally begins to warm up (although, it snowed this morning… take “warm up” very lightly). I find myself walking much more frequently, and it’s lovely.

I could go on forever about how much of a spiritual place I find New York City to be. It’s strange, you wouldn’t think that the concrete jungle in all of it’s loud and fast-paced glory would be a peaceful place… But I find it to be. The amount of energy that you are surrounded by as you walk down third avenue is a beautiful thing and always fills me with a sense of inspiration and hope that is usually pretty foreign to me.

Today this inspiration came to me in the form of a sign in a store window.

I couldn’t tell you the name of the clothing store in which the sign stood, although I definitely wish I could… That place deserves some major props for delivering such an inspiring message!

In the store’s window was a yellow sign in the shape of the sun that read, “Create your own sunshine.”

I may or may not have had to stop and smile and take in the sign for a few moments  as I walked by… I’ll tell you this, NYC people do NOT appreciate you just stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. But I couldn’t help myself, the sign just made my heart feel so light and happy. It was exactly what I needed.

The other day, I came across the unbelievably inspiring Wellness Wonderland podcast by the beautiful (both inside and out) Katie Dalebout of The Wellness Wonderland , and as crazy as it sounds…. My perspective of the universe has shifted significantly in just the short couple of days since I first listened. I always thought it was stupid whenever I heard someone who had suffered with an eating disorder, depression, addiction, etc. talk about how they just read a certain book or heard a certain lecture that propelled them forward on the path to wellness. “It doesn’t work like that,” I’d think. “You never truly get better.” “If they really had an eating disorder they wouldn’t just get better one day… that’s not how it works.’ And to an extent, this is true. Recovery is a long and rigorous process, but reaching the point where you finally are open to recovery? That’s a whole different story. The key is to find someone that resonates with you. Something that makes your heart race and your cheeks flush because you are just so excited about everything that you are taking in. I think I have found my something.

That being said, this past week has been especially rough for me. I am used to beating myself up constantly. I am used to crying and going numb with despair due to an all encompassing self-loathing. Is the healthy? Hell no. But it’s at a point where this is pretty much all I know… But getting so upset over another person? That’s a different story.

Without going into to much detail (probably not in my best interest to air my dirty laundry here on this blog), I will just say that I have had some significant issues with my most cherished person in life. I am not used to getting so upset over the loss of another from my life (at least, I have not experienced it in quite sometime), and I am in no way sure of how to deal with it. I haven’t been sleeping, haven’t been getting anything done. I have just been a mess.

Why am I telling you this? Because the fact that I can be so sad (and also still encompassed by self-hate), yet still feel so much hope and wonder and excitement for the future is, in my opinion. an amazing testament to what even the smallest of shifts in the mindset can do for you and the way that you handle the world around you.

As I heal, I am learning that recovery is not about perfection. It is not about feeling good all the time. It is not about being happy in every single way. You can be sad and still be in recovery. You can dislike yourself and still be in recovery. You are allowed to feel your feelings. In fact, you need to feel your feelings. the only way to ever move past something is to acknowledge its existence.

So if you still feel bad, how can recovery be possible? I myself have just learned this… Recovery, or the process at leas, is all about your mindset going into it.  As crazy as it sounds, mental illness, regardless of how it manifests, is largely your subconscious’ way of protecting yourself. Is this twisted? Yes. But it’s true. Unfortunately, what is protecting you is the very ting that is tearing your apart. Still, this is largely the reason that is so hard to let go of mental illness. It becomes our identity, our safety net. Who will I be without my depression? Who will I be without my addiction? Who will I be without my eating disorder? Who will I be without my anxiety? …The list goes on.

With recovery, one of the hardest parts is simply making yourself fully open to the idea of recovery. Many people, myself included, will spend years and years dipping their toes into the ocean of peace, freak out, and run away. Without fully wanting to recover fully, it is near impossible to do so.

Am I fully open to recovery? Hell no. I don’t want to accept myself fully. I don’t want to be happy with the body I have or the way that I think or feel. What will happen when I accept myself? How will people see me? These are terrifying thoughts. You can’t just throw the door to recovery open with all of your might, if you do, it will just swing back and slam you in the face (although, there are rare occasion where people do jump fully into recovery and have success), it is gradual. You pry the door open inch by inch and try to handle the small shifts one at a time. These shifts can be as simple as being able to eat 4.5oz of a food when you normally only feel safe eating 4oz. Baby steps people.

This a journey, and the journey is only possible if you decide that regardless of how you are feeling a certain day, you are going to keep going and find beauty in the process. It is about creating your own sunshine even on the darkest of days. A warm cup of coffee. A smile from a stranger. Finding a new novel that you love. Running a new trail. These are all little beams of light that make all the difference.