I emerge a force
I’m talking to you today as a young woman who is the Secretary, board member and one of the founding members of a charity, a young woman and student leader at school, a young woman who is an ambassador and advocator for UN youth, 1 in 3, Girlboss and Thankyou. As the young women who is representative on the student council as a published playwright.
As the young women who didn't wait for approval. The young women who saw an issue and sought to fix it. The young women who inspires change and influences leaders. Strong, talented, ambitious and driven.
I also speak to you today as the young girl who sat awake at night crying, the young girl who lay in bed and felt her heart slow to an unnerving pace and felt nothing but comfort in the idea of slowly drifting away. The young girl who broke her own skin and emptied her own stomach, as the young girl whose body was so weak she could not stand without her world falling down. The young woman who missed 2 years of her education, the young woman who lay in a hospital bed, malnourished, indisposed, depressed, anxious, lost.
I speak to you today as both of these women, and I am proud to do so.
While my past is not painted with the same pulchritudinous brush as my present it cannot be ignored, in 2012 I was hospitalised with anorexia nervosa, diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I was absent from school, I was placed on a heart monitor, multiple medications, strict routines and meal plans to get my physical and mental health back to a reasonable state.
I spent a total of 18 months out of mainstream schooling, 6 months in inpatient treatment and a total of 4 years in outpatient treatment. And I’ve spent the 17th year of my waking life battling with the monsters inside my head, the demons, and the manifestations.
And sometimes I questioned why? Why am I using every ounce of strength in my body to fight my mind and eat the sandwich when with the sandwich I am still nothing? Why am I pushing so hard to live when I don't want a life? Why am I not just smiling and pretending like its fine? Why am I allowing myself to rely on these people?
And now I know, because I am somebody, I have something. I have a purpose, I have a name, I have a message, and I have a story.
This is my story, I came through darkness, against all odds, I fought my demons, I fought society conceptions, I fought bullies, I fought institutionalised thinking, I fought every person who tried to hold me back, even myself.
There is strength in vulnerability. Admitting to being weak, realising that I need support and seeking help allowed me to build back the person I was, and the person I am today.
By breaking and being honest about what I was feeling and thinking I was able to create stronger relationships to nurture me, I was able to get to know myself better and know in depth what I value, who I am and where I want to go, I was able to take a step back from the facade of strength and regroup.
Realising my passions, building my strengths and creating a support network allowed me to transition back to school, change my community and even represent the youth of New Zealand to the world.
So speaking to you today, telling my story for the first time I am vulnerable. But every word I type, every phrase I say and every experience I remember my strength grows, my character blooms and I emerge, a force.