#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story, and every story deserves to be heard.

Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to Story@DoTheHotpants.com

And now, here is Karissa’s Body Story:

The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory are the writer’s own.

Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder / Self Harm

Five years ago may have been my downfall- but it was also my breakthrough.

Five years ago I was really hurting. I dealt with bulimia, severe depression and on top of that I was diagnosed with PTSD. Unfortunately I kept it a secret for too long.

I remember the day I told my mother I needed help. Looking down at my cuts on my left arm and thighs with tears pouring down my face; I admitted I was not okay. Being vulnerable is very frightening, it’s hard to be that open with anyone (even your parents).

I know I broke her heart, but she understood why it had come to this. I had a very tough childhood and I had to grow up fast with the challenges I faced. My mother and father divorced when I was two. I had two different houses. Two different families. Two different lives. My mother took on the role of two parents. She was my father for most of my life as well. My father struggled with alcohol abuse for about 15 years of my life. As you can imagine, that had a huge impact on my life which in turn caused my trauma. There was a lot of emotional abuse throughout the years with my father, but thankfully my dad got the help he needed. We are now both supporting each other through our recoveries and have since then rebuilt our relationship.

To this day I don’t know how the hell my momma did it all considering she had her own demons to fight. She dealt with bipolar disorder behind the curtains, and looking back at my childhood, I realize why I am here now. What my existence is all about and what makes me who I am.

Five years ago was my awakening. My diagnosis was my wake up call, but it was not my definition.  

I am not defined by my illness. That is not who I am, it’s simply just a part of me that I carry with courage. I went through two years of counseling once a week. In high school I was even put on a list of students considered “in crisis.” Getting help was intimidating at first, but in the long run it completely changed my life and I honestly would not be alive without it.

I like to think of myself as a masterpiece that is never finished.

I am always going to be a work in progress, but I have accepted myself and I have accepted my past. I have become a very strong advocate within the body positivity community, and I also advocate for mental illness awareness. I think it’s important to get as many people involved in these movements to break the stigmas that surround us. Let’s be real; being a woman is fucking hard! And terrifying. We are faced with so many rules and standards and boundaries. Society tells us “be yourself” and then tells us “no, not like that.”

I have always been a rebel. I have always been strange.  

I have always been the black sheep. I like to stand out. I think it gives others the courage to do so too. I remind myself constantly: ITS OKAY TO TAKE UP SPACE. I hate acting small because, fuck, I have the whole universe within me. November 21st marked five years of recovery. Five years without cutting. Five years without burning. Five years without forceful vomiting. Five years of resiliency. I have finally forgiven myself. I have finally moved on. And I have a sea of women and men who stand behind me and understand exactly what I’ve been though. How beautiful is it to know you’re not alone?

I am a full time caregiver and have now devoted all my time to being completely selfless. I live in Santa Cruz, California with my wonderful fiancé who I have been with for 7 years, and our two chihuahuas: Bubs and Chief. I love to read and research various topics in my spare time. I am a big fan of homeopathy and have made it a huge part of my daily life. If it wasn’t for natural remedies, I would probably be addicted to pills.

I am very active on social media and have made Instagram my platform. I speak up about many injustices. I focus on many issues such as intersectional feminism, body positivity, Latinx & Black Lives Matter (including many current events), animals rights and mental illness awareness. I have had many people open up to me since I put myself out there with my own experiences. I have made hundreds of friends around the world!!! It is amazing to see others being so accepting and inclusive. We need more of that in this world.

And in closing, here are a couple of poems I wrote to finish this off. Enjoy!

“I see the numbers
They stare back at me and laugh
I beat myself up
Where I’ve come from and where I’m going are two very different points.
But I’m still stuck in the middle
It’s a constant battle. 
Not everyone knows how to climb my mountains.
To honor my curves.
Not even myself.”
“When you finally love and accept yourself
 share that love. 
Plant your seeds.
Water your flowers.
Help others grow 
The garden always needs tending to.”
“They laugh because you don’t think like they do.
Your mind is a puzzle that only a few will have the pleasure of solving.”
“Don’t be afraid of vulnerability. Be afraid of not feeling anything at all.”
– Karissa.Rianda Rheuby

With love,


Follow Karissa on Instagram