I came out to my relatives when I was 21, after I came back from Erasmus. I am privileged to say no one turned its back on me, my family and friends accepted it and were supportive. I think my father had a hard time accepting it because of our Sicilian roots. Most of our communication is unspoken but I know he wants me to be happy.

I started growing a fear of letting people down. I got very self-rigorous and always did my best to outshine myself. Being gay felt like a flaw, it was a step outside of the path everyone was walking. I think I was trying to prove a point to others and eventually to myself that I was a good person.

Throughout the years, I developed digestive disorders and anxiety. I became the person I thought others wanted me to be and never really focused on who I was. I graduated, got a job in advertising and moved to Brussels. I couldn’t find a balance between my personal and professional life, work was hectic and gradually got out of control.

Six months ago, my body decided to put an end to this mad race. I went to the doctor’s for another belly ache and the verdict came in, I was burnt out. It felt like a failure. I spent the first months in isolation mode crying and sleeping. My psychologist introduced me to a coach and they both helped me understand what I was going through and why it happened.

The recovery journey is a crossing of the desert. I went from an over busy lifestyle to nothing in a glimpse. Being alone and bored left me no other options but to face my relentless thoughts. I felt guilt for not doing what I always thought I wanted to do like traveling, visiting museums and seeing people. But I was too drained to do any of it. I reconnected with what was important to me in order to heal: self-care, cooking, crafting, drawing, reading and exercising.

Today I explore my story, listen to my body, work on my self-perception and how I engage with those around me. I learn to live for the here and now. It’s an overwhelming process, I mean, you question, deconstruct and rebuild concepts deeply rooted in your core. That takes time and energy. But when I step back and look at the bigger picture, I finally get a refreshing sense of self-acknowledgment.

I’m thankful for this experience. It’s an opportunity to know myself better and to grow. It also gives me hope I’ll fully recover one day and will start a new chapter of my life. I don’t know what tomorrow will be but now I take the gamble to trust myself and know I’ll do good.