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Being a role model for a healthy lifestyle is one of the best parts of being a personal trainer. But it was always effortless for me to maintain a thin physique because I have a chronic illness with symptoms that stop me from overeating; essentially, food triggers stomach pain, ulceration and bleeding, so I've never been one to go back to the kitchen for seconds. In fact, all my adult life I complained of an inability to gain weight and get stronger at the gym. I prided myself on being a role model to my clients -- I was someone who did not allow drive for thinness to rule my life or exercise regimen. But last year, I decided to gain weight. I hired a dietitian to help me eat more. But in the midst of my weight gain process, I was suddenly forced to have surgery that left me feeling stranded in a body that was ten pounds heavier than I've ever been before. To my surprise, I hated my body. So now I'm left wondering, am I the role model that I thought I was?
Body dissatisfaction is a part of Behcet's disease for me, and it's easier to talk about Behcet's disease than my body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. 
As a child, I experienced three years of sexual abuse at the hands of a family member. As a teenager, I fell asleep drunk on a train and woke to a stranger's hand in my underwear. In the past, I've discussed the impact this abuse has had on my early experiences with sex and on my relationships with my family. Today, I'm going to talk specifically about how this abuse has impacted two of my most serious relationships.
I was a victim of intrafamily sexual childhood abuse. I was three years old when my teenage cousin began sexually abusing me. It would start with a game of truth or dare, during which he would make me expose myself, touch him, and allow him to touch me. It continued for two years. Finally, our parents discovered one of these "games," and put an end to it. But we continued to attend the same holiday parties and family gatherings. I dreaded our meetings my whole childhood. These are the ways it impacted my relationship with my family and the things I wish my family had done differently.
Sex after sexual abuse: what's it like? Sexual abuse has a huge impact on my sex life. After two instances of sexual abuse, I felt that my sexuality no longer belonged to me. Twice my body was treated as an object to be used by my abusers as they saw fit, first during my childhood at the hands of a family member, then later by a stranger on a train. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I accepted that my sexuality belonged to the men I slept with and not to me. It took me a long time to confront this truth about the impact of sexual abuse on my sex life, and I still haven't deconstructed the many ways that these instances of abuse eventually brought me to my experiences with sex now. I decided to use this blog as a place to explore this.
Although many people struggle to set boundaries in relationships, doing so can drastically improve your mental health in the long run. For years, I would passively agree to anything that anyone asked of me. If I wanted to say no, my anxiety and depression would infiltrate into my thoughts, telling me that I had to go above and beyond to make people approve of me. I was seeking approval and admiration in the least healthy ways, and this began to take a toll on my mental health. Eventually, I felt empty. Setting boundaries in relationships has a lot to do with self-care, in my opinion. If you are feeling burnt out from a lack of pre-set limits, you are swiftly losing your emotional energy and potentially your sense of self.
My name is Miranda Card and I’m excited to join the HealthyPlace team as a writer for "Relationships and Mental Illness." Many of my experiences with mental illness stem from a lifelong struggle with chronic illness, a disease known as Behcet’s. Only now, at 24, am I beginning to understand the trauma of my diagnosis. I am only now beginning to acknowledge that my illness has symptoms beyond the physical; it has ravaged my relationship with food and birthed disordered eating; it inspires anxiety that affects my decisions in life; the depression that comes with my medication often wreaks havoc on my relationships. Discussing these things in writing never occurred to me before because these “mental symptoms” have always been a source of shame and denial. But someone told me recently to write about what scares you, so here I am.
The symptoms of my sexual assault affect my relationships by cropping up in unexpected ways, years after the traumatic event. As I slowly came to terms with what happened to me, these symptoms began to interfere with my romantic relationships in a variety of ways, both subtle and overt. I tried to navigate these symptoms of sexual assault and the further I strived to avoid them, the further they popped up unexpectedly and uninvited. Over the years, I have discovered that there are several things that my partner and I can do to help ease my mind and work towards understanding the aftermath of my assault.
A healthy relationship with yourself affects your happiness. Only a few short years ago, I was by most definitions incredibly successful. I was making a good living and had achieved my goal of running my own non-profit organization. But I wasn't happy. Since then, I learned that only the relationship with yourself truly matters.
My name is Jonathan Berg, and I am excited to be able to share my story with you and to join the Relationships and Mental Illness team here at HealthyPlace. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II when I was 14. From the start, I hid it from everyone, including my closest friends and my parents. I was afraid that people would think I was crazy. I am sad to say that this fear lasted for more than 20 years.