It’s currently Friday, November 30th, 11:49 PM. As we close out November, the month that for me, is all about gratitude, I’m running down the list of things I’m grateful for. I surprised myself a little with this, but I’m grateful for my past with addiction to substances and alcohol. I’m grateful for all of my mental health challenges like the OCD and the personality rooted in anxiety I was born with. I’m grateful for my past with anorexia, self harm and depression. I’m grateful to have been bullied, to have lost friends and to have almost not made it to my high school graduation.

Why?

You’re probably expecting me to say something cliché like, “I’m grateful for my past because it has made me who I am” and to some degree… yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying, but there’s more to it. You see, without the negative experiences and the pain, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now (which by the way is full time Veggiekins-ing).

The way I see it, every obstacle or negative experience in our lives is an opportunity to grow. You can choose to use that pain to fuel your growth, or let it bury you.

As you may know, Veggiekins is a byproduct of my past eating disorder. In college, I worked with a doctor to heal my eating disorder, and one of the ways I was held accountable for eating all of my prescribed meals and snacks was Instagram. Veggiekins had 1 follower, my doctor, who would make sure I was following my meal plan as I shared photos of each day’s meals.

I found that there was an entire community of people in the same boat online. I began to share more of my feelings, my thoughts and my challenges in captions, and support others I had connected with. When my peers IRL discovered my account, I was embarrassed and devastated but at that point, had fallen so in love with the community, and truthfully, the “art” of sharing meals through images on Instagram. I was in too deep to delete my account, so instead I started to put a little more effort into the presentation of my meals. My peers actually thought it was kind of cool, and veganism was new to most people I knew, but the best part was feeling like I was able to support others.

And that was it. That was the beginning of what is now a real blog, brand, my career. Not sexy, not glamourous, but truly a product of my pain turned into passion.

The second catalyst in my career was addiction, and I thank my lowest low moment because it is what led to my self employment and financial stability.

I’ve been sober for almost 4 years, but in January of this year, I hit a low point. I was close to breaking sobriety, feeling drawn back to using and abusing and I knew that I needed to address it. At the time, I was working a corporate job but made the decision to quit and instead, commit to healing. I knew that if I wasn’t 100%, it didn’t matter whether or not I had a job because I would fall apart.

(my post after the moment I quit my job)

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Salary is the most powerful addiction. In the last month I've said goodbye to several things that weighed me down, but I still feel a combination of light and complete internal freak out. The scariest move was leaving my job. ⋆ I wish we lived in a society where it wasn't considered odd to value things other than a corporate title, a salary, a structured day/life/future. ⋆ When I think about what I would be doing and how I would be feeling in this moment had I not left, I know this is what I needed. I have no idea what life will look like once I'm home again, but I truly believe that the energy you put out attracts things/events/moments/people that create your reality and I feel frightened but at the same time TRUE. ⋆ I feel uncertain and free and scared and untethered and light and hopeful and excited for the passions I'll be pursuing and regaining health. // tagging some amazing human beans that have guided and helped me realize my courage ✨

A post shared by Remy Morimoto Park | NYC Vegan (@veggiekins) on

I had no plans nor financial security, but knew that the foundation AKA my mental health was a priority. I had more time on my hands without a job of course, so I left the country to head home to Asia to heal, meanwhile keeping up with Veggiekins for fun. I wasn’t producing recipes, nor was I publishing blogposts or really many YouTube videos. If anything, I was documenting my emotions, transitions and travels. Once again I found myself using social media as a journal or diary of a sort. Once again I connected with beautiful humans who shared similar struggles with mental illnesses.

I never opened up about what exactly I was going through when I quit, at least not publicly on social media, until starting this series. I can tell you that although I still feel nervous to the point of nausea before sharing a piece in this series, the number of people I connect with, who take the time to read it is humbling. Whatever you may be going through, I can almost guarantee you are not alone in it.

So this is the fuel that drives me to do what I do. I continued to blog not to reach a certain number of followers, or for the money, but because I genuinely loved and believed in it. Eventually, with time and hard work, Veggiekins did become a profitable source of income for me.

I had very low expectations for myself coming from a comfortable and secure corporate salary so I set my goals low. Once I met those goals, I raised the bar a little bit more. Could I meet my corporate salary? Yes. Could I surpass it? Yes. So I set a ridiculous next goal for myself, really quite jokingly, and yet it became achievable.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that all you need to be successful is passion, but I do think passion IS an essential ingredient for success. The why, your fire–that is what translates to working weekends, holidays, 11+ hour days, going the extra mile because maybe you don’t even realize you’re “working”. Or maybe you don’t mind it because it is your passion.

I can tell you with confidence that you would never catch me in my corporate days working on something on a Friday night for fun, but in contrast, here I am word vomiting on the internet on a Friday night. Side note: Friday nights in are totally my jam.

Let me end by saying that every hardship you encounter leaves you with a gift. The gift of being able to understand another human who will face a similar hardship. It puts you in a unique position to relate to and support others in the same boat. For me, that means understanding the journey that is eating disorder recovery or addiction recovery, navigating everyday life living with OCD or feeling trapped by depression, bullying and self harm.

In middle school, while I was trying to break my habit of self harm, I had a secret Tumblr page (remember Tumblr guys??) that I used to promote self love instead of self-harm. If anyone remembers To Write Love on Her Arms, I would basically repost a bunch of their recovery positive content, and create similar self-love graphics. Fun fact, I was actually a Warped Tour kid and used to have pink/blonde highlights in my hair… all of that.

In high school, after I experienced bullying that almost led to my dropping out of school, I reached out to an anti-bullying organization in the US to bring it to communities overseas. This is how I coped. How I grew.

If you were to meet me now, it would probably be hard to guess that I was dealt an unfortunate hand, because I’m always laughing, always smiling as much as possible and I am really happy. I think that what helps me bounce back when I experience something negative is turning it into fuel and bringing light to others as much as I can. For that very reason, I will always continue to talk about mental health on my platforms.

I encourage you too, to let your past make you better, not bitter.

With all the love & light,

To learn more about the relationship between my blog & mental health, check out my interview on The LivePlanted Podcast. Read more Sobriety Series here.

Cover image by Some Shelly Photography.

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Filed under: Live, The Sobriety Series

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BY Remy • December 2, 2018

Turning Pain Into Passion | The Sobriety Series

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  1. Sofia says:
    Hi Remy! I discovered your page only today but I just wanted to let you know how inspired I am by you. I’ve been struggling so much with my health this year and, with doctors not knowing what exactly is going on with me, it’s definitely impacted my mental health. Depression, anxiety, self-harm are all things I dealt with too but I had never experienced it brought on from a physical health direction. I became a vegetarian back in July but have committed to a full vegan lifestyle for the past month as my body no longer tolerates animal products. Part of my healing has actually been testing out new recipes and something about your page, amongst all the vegan accounts out there, connected with me. To me there is nothing more respectable than vulnerability. Thank you for your honesty and approachable content. Really excited to see your growth and new recipes!! ❤️
    • Remy says:
      Hi Sofia, thank you SO much for reading/your comment. I so appreciate it, and I actually had the SAME experience. Re-connecting with food and learning to enjoy the process of eating actually helped me heal so much. A big part of that was knowing that my food choices were compassionate, and doing good for the earth + animals :) Much love to you xo

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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.

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