My name is Meg, and I’m here to tell a love story. This story is a winding one, and like all good love stories, it doesn’t end. This story is my second best love story – the story of learning to love myself.
This story is an interesting one to approach, because for many years, I hated myself. It’s only been very recently that I’ve been making efforts to fix that. I was okay with my mind until age 11, but I have vivid memories of despising my appearance even before then. It was rare that I even tried to love myself, even back then. I would never like to look at pictures of myself, stating that I looked “ugly”.
Then came February of 2008.
You know that scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Harry’s uncle tries to prevent any letters from reaching Harry by nailing any place a letter could enter shut, only to find that a flood of letters entered anyway?
My mind became like that, and hit crisis point that Valentine’s Day. The aftermath would lead to my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which is essentially the corner wherein bipolar and schizophrenia meet, and would ensure that I would never be free of psychiatrist appointments and therapy sessions again.
My mind was chaotic, and I grew to hate it. I resented the manic highs and made friends with the depressive lows, which was a grave error. The lows made me feel more in control, sure. They were also the emotional equivalent of that friend who claims to be close to you, only to spill all of the embarrassing things you tell them to their other “friends”. They were not kind, and I would have these mental spirals that were very difficult to escape from. Iresentedmyself for having a mental illness, and beat the daylights out of myself mentally for it, especially as my symptoms turned more bipolar than anything else.
There were times when my mind and I got along. I could throw an album of original songs together in 8 days by the time I turned 19 when the inspiration struck, and I didn’t mind that. In hindsight, I think that was me befriending the manic side of the bipolar egged on by Mountain Dew. In any case, it worked, and I’d make an album every once in awhile.
My first real attempt to know myself actually came through album-writing.Primrose Path,my fifth album, flung barbed words at God, culture, and the school I was attending, but also caused me to question my Mormon faith. That debate had been raging for some time, but I finally expressed formally in writing here. This opened the floodgates, and a few months later these thoughts laid the foundation for my seventh album,Mago. Magowas the beginning of a journey. It was raw and haunting, with many of the songs building onPrimrose’s themes of recovery and self discovery. It is easily my most real and honest album. It took lyrically gutting myself and getting these thoughts on paper to understand where I needed to go. I needed to know whatIlooked and felt like, I needed to accept and love myself I was to go anywhere other than the state of confusion I was in.
For the next few months, I focused on appearance. I wore clothes that I thought made me look like myself, but something was missing. It turned out that the something missing was inside me. It was me not accepting myself for who I am and owning my story. I was reunited with my high school crush shortly afterwards, who would later become my husband. He accepted – and still accepts – me for who I am. He pushed me to better myself from the start. He won’t let me hold any kind of emotion back, and is always here no matter what I’m feeling.
The next big breakthrough came when I wrote a blog post called “Best Dress, or I Can’t Remember What I’ve Forgotten”, in which I opened up about my mental illnesses. I haven’t looked back.
I know that my journey is just beginning. Writing helps me figure out what I need to do and to process my world. I have the support of kind people in my life. Learning to love myself has been a quest to give myself permission to mess up and be vulnerable, but also to relax and reevaluate when things get hard. It’s difficult because I don’t give myself these gifts a lot of time. I’m the worst at taking advice, and this often includes advice I give myself. It’s a journey. The thing I try to remember is that it’s okay to be flawed, it’s okay to be human, and learning these thingsisa journey. Being myself is my goal today – and always.
Meg Jam is the oddball behind Byzantines and Button Downs, a blog simply about coming home. Meg is 21 and loves her husband and her Mountain Dew. They live in Alaska.
Meg, I hope you continue to write because I believe that you can help others! Your husband sounds like an amazing guy for you. I hope that he continues to push you, to be you. You are your journey and great things are going to happen! Be you and enjoy life as much as you can.