If You're Reading This, It's Okay Not To Be Okay

Alaina Stanisci


October 20, 2021

Imagine a freshly cooked dinner, consisting of marinated steak, steamed vegetables, and piping hot mashed potatoes with a mountain of butter cascading down the side. To top it all off, a homemade hot fudge brownie sundae with a cherry on top. To most, the thought of this meal is utterly mouthwatering but to anorexia survivors like me, this meal was once beyond petrifying.

When I was just ten years old, I developed severe anorexia and my whole world flipped upside down. Everything became a numbers game: how many calories I consumed, how many minutes I needed to exercise, the size of my jeans. During the height of my eating disorder,I craved one thing only: control. However, in reality, everything that I once had control over slowly was torn away but I was too sick to realize it. The natural-born athlete could no longer compete in soccer games. The star student had to take a gap year from school. Even the genuine relationships that I once cared about slowly vanished after being torn apart from my family for several months due to a ravaging mental illness that caused me to spend my eleventh birthday in a hospital room by myself across the country.

As a little kid, I had always heard people like my grandmother say the classic “Everything happens for a reason.” I had always questioned this statement, wondering what the reason for me to spend so many years sick possibly could be and why did I have to be a prisoner to my very own evil monster that told me I was stupid, ugly, and not good enough for so long.“Why me?”I repeatedly asked myself, my family, and even prayed to God. However, now that I am older and wiser after spending so much time trying to figure this demanding question out, I now realize that all of my struggles and adversities have shaped me into the person I am today: someone put on this Earth to help others, support my community, and most importantly grow into the best version of myself.

Thrown into a pool of a dozen strangers in a residential treatment facility, I was forced to come out of my comfort zone of a once shy, soft-spoken and held-back individual.I had to learn to trust my doctors and soon built a strong bond with those twelve other girls who went from being strangers to my family.

When my health deteriorated, my identity as a natural-born athlete was shattered and I had to turn to other outlets like art and creative writing. After meeting so many amazing people that helped me get back on my feet over the years, I felt that I was destined to pay it forward and help other people in my community as a volunteer firefighter.

Separated from the classroom environment when I was sent away for the first time, I had to learn how to teach myself and be self-sufficient. I became my algebra, writing, and language teacher all at the same time but was still able to maintain my academic status towards the top of my class.

Most of all, I’ve learned that almost nothing is as ideal as it seems. Every single person has their own story and they can make it seem however they want for people looking in on the other side. It’s easy to look and judge, but merely impossible to see who people really are and what they are struggling with. Everyone saw me as a very skinny, cute,“average” fifth-grader but what they did not know was my struggles with distorted body image and that I had severe anorexia that almost killed me. To outsiders, my life looked “happy” and “perfect.”. A simple smile or compliment can go a long way as you really never know what anyone is going through.

The views, opinions, and stories expressed in Promly Garden articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of Promlyapp.com. We aim to give Gen Z a voice and welcome articles and opinions from Gen Z contributors who want their voice to be heard. Please send any articles, poetry, or artwork you’d like to see published on the Promly Garden to heypromly@promly.org.

With immense gratitude, the Promly Team.

Alaina Stanisci

Laina (she/her/hers) is a senior in high school. In her spare time, you can find her on the soccer field, skiing and eating belgium waffles, or going on hikes with her dog Ella. As somebody with mental health experience, Laina wants to someday help others become the most authentic, happy, and genuine versions of themselves.