Topic Tuesday: Childhood

“Childhood Reflection” (By: Emily Heard)

One of my main focuses the past year in recovery has been my childhood. I have reviewed it in therapy, reshaped it in memory, and left it behind to some extent to make room for my future. Early on in my recovery, I realized that my childhood was going to be a factor that needed to be talked about. I’ve met people throughout treatment who had trauma as a child, but mostly I’ve met people whose childhoods in their own words were great. I think that regardless of whether or not you consider your childhood to be a factor in mental illness, it was a time of cognitive, social, and emotional development that needs to be discussed.

My school senior art portfolio theme is childhood. I have been working to make pieces that reflect my childhood and the possible childhoods of others. Some of the work is dark – meant to invoke remembrance of childhood struggles, while others are meant to draw nostalgia and joy from the audience. By recognizing all emotions of childhood, I am able to see the power in my adolescence, while pushing towards the future.

I look a lot at how my childhood fears shaped my eating disorder and OCD, making it nearly impossible to function. I had a lot of adult responsibilities at a young age, making me later thirst for a child like reality. I wanted to keep my body from progressing through puberty, because I thought that would mean childhood was gone. As I progressed through recovery I had to find a way to be a kid to some extent. So by wearing clothes seen as eccentric, and bringing stuffed animals to therapy I was able to connect with my childhood again while letting my body progress.

In reviewing childhood, I have had a large focus on child development, which I also hope to pursue in college. A lot of people are not willing to put up with children, so to hear that I babysit comes as a “good for you” moment. The truth is , I think kids are good for all of us, they help us see the world in a different light. Sometimes their view is more creative, logical, or unique than yourself. One of my favorite mottos is, “ be the person you needed when you were younger” and that’s why when I babysit a child who acts out, I don’t give up on them – I look deep into who they are and what they are going through. I have learned that I can teach manners and morals, while also recognizing that each kid’s reality is different. I look at what I needed when I was younger and help become a voice for others. I have found that childhood is a complex time for every child, and by reflecting on my own childhood I am able to greater serve my future as an adult. I hope everyone in recovery takes some time to look at their childhood as well.

About the Author

Emily Heard is a Nashville native who continues to explore how nature and movement can aid in the long term recovery process. She is thankful for support from her loved ones, outpatient and inpatient teams and everyone she meets who adds vibrancy to her life.