This is Kaitlin, and this is her story: "Ever since I can remember, I have always struggled with self-love. Years ago, I let severe anxiety and a complete hatred of my body overrun my life. I let the thoughts in my mind completely overtake me. "You aren't skinny like the other girls, your stomach isn't flat, you aren't pretty, you aren't worthy enough to be happy, looking the way you do." I especially hated myself after I ate, and I slowly began to fall into bulimia. It was instantly gratifying, and I finally felt like I had control. This went on for months. Though I lost weight and actually began liking my body, I was so far from being mentally and physically healthy. The most dangerous aspect of an eating disorder is that it will never leave you. You will always think to just run to the bathroom when you feel too full, or skip a day's worth of meals because you ate too much the day before. It is a life long battle that is not worth the short term "benefits." With help from family and intensive therapy, I was able to get out of that dark place. Since then, I've used exercise and better eating habits as ways to cope, but I've also had relapses. I've had to accept that I'm not perfect, and my body surely isn't, but that's okay. I've learned to love myself for the person I am and the things I have to offer to the world. I love eating healthy, but I also live and die for Blue Bell. I love sweating and feeling my muscles burn, but there are lots of times when I'm just not feelin' it. And that's all okay, because I found MY perfect balance where MY happiness lies, not where some fitness guru on social media tells me it should. We aren't here to fit a mold of the perfect body. We are here to celebrate our differences, and our flaws. Learning to love myself is the best and hardest thing I've ever done." #featurefriday

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