Things I Wish That I Was Told...
Written by Maddie Perry
Illustration by Maartje Aletta Reggin
Hi, my name is Maddie. I’m a 20 year old disabled college student who also struggles with mental illnesses. I’m currently recovering from my second major surgery in 5 months, as well as dealing with my daily chronic illness problems. I’m being treated for major depressive disorder, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and am in eating disorder recovery as well.
I wish that I was told that not everyone looks like people in magazines, and that it’s okay if you don’t have a thigh gap. I wish I was told that my body is the least important part about me, and that I can be beautiful without being a size 00. I wish I was told that my body was not my enemy.
I wish I was told that it is okay to love my body. I wish I was told that I could do things just for myself, not anyone else. I wish I was told that self care is incredibly important, and that I should be able to do things that make me feel good. I wish that I was told my body is not something to be ashamed of, no matter how it looked.
My mental illnesses impacted my self worth and confidence. I began to hate myself, I didn’t want to be here and I was so angry at myself for being the way that I was. I thought my mental health was my own fault and I was terrified that people would see me the way that I saw myself.
Every romantic relationship I’ve had, I felt like I was the “weak link.” I allowed past boyfriends to walk all over me, and did anything I could to please them and “make up” for my “deficits” that were my mental illnesses. My first two relationships included some sort of abuse. My third was ridiculously toxic and unhealthy.
My first many sexual experiences were not pleasant. I have endured sexual assault and r*pe, as well as being pressured into sexual acts. Aside for a few months during my third relationship, I never really enjoyed being intimate.
Now, I’m learning more and more about myself. I’m learning to accept my body and appreciate all that it does for me. I’m learning from many badass beautiful women that loving myself and intimacy should be enjoyable and on your own terms. I saw so many women taking their intimacy and experiences in their own hands, and owning it. They tackled the taboo and stigma that surrounded female pleasure and inspired me to overcome my own biases.
Maddie (@maddies_recovery) (she/her) is a 20 year old full time college student and full time patient. She is an advocate for disabilities and mental health, as well as a promoter of self love and body confidence!
Maartje Reggin (@littlemaart) is a disabled designer and activist from The Netherlands who loves doing research and making everyone feel included. She is a friend to all animals (especially her two house bunnies and her cat) and can’t live without tea.
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