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I never asked the question. I never searched for the answer. I made an assumption. I hope you don’t make the same mistake.

For a long time, I believed that I was worthless. I believed that I didn’t matter. I think depression does that to you. Actually, I’m certain.

When you wake up and fall asleep believing that you are not important…that you don’t matter…that you are worthless…that you’re a horrible person…you wonder what the point is. The point of being alive.

If I was ever going to make it out of my eating disorder (and depression) alive, I had to realize that I had worth (hindsight is 20/20 – I didn’t know this at the time).

And thankfully, I did.

Where I Found My Self Worth

I didn’t find my worth in positive thinking…in living each moment to the fullest…in finding my happy place. I found it in the most unlikely of places: in the suffering of others.

The struggles of the homeless, the hurting, the sick, the oppressed. The more I read, the more I saw it all around me. And the more I saw, the more I wondered if I could help. The more I wondered, the more I knew at least I could try. At the very least, I had to try.

I knew what it was like to hurt and suffer. I knew what it was like to feel pain and hopelessness. I didn’t know what it felt like to be someone else, someone I had never met and most likely never would, but I knew what it felt like to be trapped. I knew what felt like to hate myself and feel worthless.

I didn’t – I still don’t – want anyone in this world to feel like that.

Through studying sociology, I learned that some cards were stacked against me from birth. But I won the life-lottery in so many ways. That luck could be a force of good in this world. That was my worth.

I could help people. But I had to be healthy to do it.

That thought got me through the bad days. And while I was recovering, I had bad days. Days where I so desperately wanted to be sick again. Days where I wondered what the point was. Days where the words “you’ll always live with your eating disorder” echoed so loudly in my head that I wanted to give up. Most of me wanted to get better by this point but it was still so hard. So painful. And some days, I wanted to surrender to ED.

On those days, I thought of others. I thought about how one day I could help them.

When a dark day creeps up on me – like it did yesterday – I seek out a way to ease someone’s pain. There is ALWAYS a way.

About Cynthia Alana

Cynthia has battled bulimia (and won), faced depression, and lived with anxiety throughout it all. After realizing she wanted to be a force of good in the world, she tried recovery for 6 months. It’s been years. Travel is her passion, and so is her job: writing for charities. You can follow Cynthia’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, and additionally, you can connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn.

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