Self-loathing has been a struggle of mine since middle school, a side effect of the new condition I began experiencing called depression. Later on, at sixteen, I developed both anxiety and orthorexia. This cocktail of mental illnesses leaves a bitter aftertaste only I can sense. My name is carved roughly into that wine glass, a drink just for me, one that refills itself like dark magic, that steals the moisture from my throat. Some days the drink tastes worse, causing a gag reflex so intense I can’t help but hyperventilate for hours on end. There are days I pretend it doesn’t exist, but it remains in the back of my mind, inciting me to drink with its sickly sweet aroma. Other days, I give in to its beckoning, getting drunk off the feeling of helplessness.

Some people use drugs to cope with their personal pains. Others use sex and pornography. Even facades to mask the true identity of the person using them can distract from life’s hardships. Me? My mental illnesses are my comfort.

That seems like an oxymoron. How can something so embarrassing, so debilitating, so gut-wrenchingly painful, be in any way, shape, or form, comforting?

Internal struggle is all I know. Excuse me; that was inaccurate. Internal struggle is all I remember.

I was an extremely goofy, optimistic child. When depression, anxiety, and orthorexia barged their way into my life, that outlook changed forever. My mental illnesses have had the oh-so-very convenient capability to take away my memories – almost like superheroes, except they’re anything but heroes. My innocence, my joy, my radiance, wiped clean like it was never there in the first place.

With my “baseline self”, the me before mental illnesses made their way into my body, gone, all I knew was what came after. You can guess what that “after” meant for me.

Every time I begin to feel happy again, like my baseline self, I feel an overwhelming sense of wrongness, for lack of a better word. I don’t feel as though I belong in my own body. Happiness is not what I’m used to; it’s not what I’ve established about myself, about who I am. I know very little about myself and the world around me – quite frankly, we all do. The one thing I have known for a long time, however, is that I struggle with mental health issues. When that knowledge is threatened to be taken away from me, I lose not only the one piece of concrete information that I thought was certain – I also lose my identity.

I am Christina Troy. Former acrobat. Academically slightly above average. Grammar enthusiast. Blogger, apparently. Crossfitter. Musician. Revitalized Christian. Depressed. Anxious. Obsessive. Self-loathing.

My identity is majorly defined as feeling worthless. It’s not a pleasant feeling, as one could accurately assume, but it’s comfortable. It gives me a sense of belonging, feeling like I don’t belong.

Quite obviously, this is a less than optimal life to live. I know that. This knowledge still hasn’t stopped me from continuing to lead this self-destructive lifestyle. My life choices affect only me, so it shouldn’t matter if those choices happen to be harmful. Right?

You know where I’m going with this. Whether you admit it to yourself or not, there is someone who loves you to no end. Your pain, eased in a destructive way, does not dissipate into thin air; it is instead transferred from you to the person who loves you. Pain is neither created nor destroyed.

If you still believe that no one loves you, remember God. He created you in His image, and he loves you infinitely more than anyone on Earth has the capability of doing. In Matthew 10:30-31, it is written: “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” The all-knowing God has said that you are WORTHY. Believing you are anything less is, in a sense, trying to prove God wrong. You can try all you want to tell God that you’re worthless, that your sins are too much for Him to handle, but that doesn’t change God’s never-faltering opinion of you. You are BEAUTIFUL, made WORTHY by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Whether you believe your worth or not, it indefinitely remains fully intact.

An unjust negative perception of yourself is false – God said so. Your pain cannot so easily be whisked away through a temporary numbing method. Believing God’s true love for you in spite of your faults, that He has a better life planned for you than one of self-hatred – that is the key to escape the bondages of your false identity.