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Kelli’s Recovery Story: Vulnerability and Authenticity

My hope and goal of this is to touch as many hearts and souls as I can to teach them that they are not alone.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think “wow I’m proud of my growth and my journey”? Someday I hope you do!. It is a good feeling to have when we reflect on our lives and think of the progress we have made.

Let me tell you about my life.

I have not always been this outspoken, outgoing, energetic, powerful, or “fun” my whole life, but I am happy where I am now! I used to be this girl who was shy, didn’t talk (as much as I do now), insecure, and never felt good enough for anyone or anything.

In my past, throughout middle school, high school, and college, I used to be a 3 sport athlete with no off season. I always tried to be the best, but I was not, which led me to have very low self-confidence, low, self-worth, poor body image, and just someone who didn’t know who I wanted to be. I went through life, thinking “I am not worth it, I will never be enough, Who am I?” During that time, I realized how my coping mechanisms were affecting my body, sometimes as punishment I would exercise more, or not replenish with food, or try to deplete all my energy, and make myself feel terrible for how I mentally felt. During that time, I struggled so hard with my physical and mental health, which even lead to some suicidal ideations. It was a very hard time to process, and I felt so alone during all of it. Fast forward to my college years, where my life took even more of a turn into a wild direction.

I experienced a debilitating back injury which led to a surgery and complete change of my lifestyle. Prior to surgery, I couldn’t feel my legs, decreased sensations, terrible leg pain and back pain, weakness of my feet leading me to fall a lot, and even the inability to control my bowel and bladder (which is embarrassing when you can’t hold it until you make it to the bathroom!). During the recovery after surgery, it took a physical toll on my body like relearning how to get out of bed, walk, move, and return to my life. What was worse is the mental challenge. I fell back into my old habits of not taking good care of my body and soul, again.

During this recovery, while I felt so alone and trapped in the darkness of my mind, I really turned to my faith. Even when it was easy to think and ask God, “why is this happening to me?”. I always heard this little voice saying back to me, “you are meant for so much more, don’t let your light go out because it is difficult to see the impact you have. You can and will touch so many lives, whether you see it or not. You are always enough! Don’t let others create your self worth.”

After hearing this time and time again, there was actually a random stranger ( who had no idea who I was or what I was experiencing) told me these same things and I knew it was time to start believing in myself again. Someone showed me the song and “Just Be Held by Casting Crowns”. It talks about being strong for those around us, but it also gives us a cue to just be held, let go and let God, and to know that everything‘s gonna be alright. We are all put in this place for such a good reason so don’t let your story or your light go out, be the shining light and ray of sunshine that you were meant to be! This helped me to dive more into my faith, which led me to finding proper resources, finding help from a therapist, obtaining information about proper nutrition and improved eating habits, and so much more.

Even though I couldn’t return to some of the activities that I thought made me who I am, such as sports, I am creating a new me each day to be a better version of myself and I hope you start to do the same. Sometimes it is hard to talk about your story, it’s hard to open up, it’s hard to be vulnerable and show off authenticity. But when we do, we start the process of healing, self improvement, and positivity. Let this be the story to help remind you that you are not alone through this journey of life.


By: Kelli Gursky, DPT

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