I’m Elise and am 19 years of age living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. I am currently taking a gap year to do the things that nourish my soul. You will always find me with paint stuck in my hair or clay on my clothes. I’m an adventure seeker who loves to read, paint, create and make a mess during the process. I have discovered so much depth into what lays beneath the skin – the emotions, the mind, the heart and the home. I found that the body is a unique and adapting mechanism that allows us to create meaning in life and heal the pain much deeper than what may be portrayed on the surface.
I also learnt to appreciate my body – the way it is and how it works, and to appreciate everything and everyone around me as I almost lost it all. Now every breath I take, every person I talk to, every food I smell I am overwhelmed that I am still here to experience it. Hitting rock bottom and knowing my body was about to give up on me helped me open my eyes – to truly awaken. Waking up has allowed me to be so deeply connected to the world around me. Although I may be left with some scars, every open and tender wound that has healed has become stronger and more durable. I have not only found my passions again but I have whole heartedly absorbed myself into every crevasse and fold of it.
To my body, thank you for not giving up on me. You’re the only one I have to take me through the journey of life. The only vehicle to connect my soul to the world, to touch, taste and smell the flavours of life. I promise to care and nurture you. I know I am capable of being extremely productive, but it should not leave me feeling like I have wasted the day if things didn’t go to plan. I shouldn’t cry watching a movie because there are more productive things to do. I shouldn’t get agitated waiting in a line because those minutes could have been spent doing something else. I am capable of being extremely productive but it is not efficient. I’m now working on efficiency for long term balance. I allow myself to sleep in, to watch movies, to ‘do nothing’. When I’m tired I sleep and when something is too much, I see what options are available to relieve the stress. I take baths, read, nap, watch the clouds or the stars or cuddle my dog. By doing this I don’t burn myself out or throw myself out of whack.
Listening to diet culture I thought I knew the healthiest foods and meals. What didn’t make sense to me when my psychologist said eating too healthy is unhealthy. The optimum place to be is in the middle in balance. I was so obsessed with losing weight but I was turning pale and ruining my body’s health. That is the complete opposite outcome I was hoping for. It was hard talking this notion because whilst people were working so hard not to have that slice of chocolate cake, I was working so hard to allow myself to eat it. Similarly, people around me were working so hard to exercise more whilst I was refraining myself from doing so much. It was becoming compulsive and obsessive and I beat myself up for resting.
Throughout Year 12, I chose balance and balance is what stopped me from relapsing and actually doing much better than I expected despite not studying as intensely. In fact by doing so more was retained, I had better focus and enjoyed the learning so it was a win-win experience. After that, I took the year off to do everything I loved but hadn’t felt I had the time to do. I wrote a book, had my art exhibited, backpacked, did a spiritual camp in India and really focused on my recovery. Throughout the year, I had a voice in the back of my head saying you should be studying or working full time. Art isn’t worth pursuing for the year, it’s just a hobby. You should be doing things more important with your time but there is nothing more important than nourishing the soul and reconnecting with my creative soul. No degree, pay check or awards would make me feel as content and full as I feel now. I’ve learnt what is important in my life and healed through exploring myself and emotions through art.
Contributed by Elise