Experience

Changing My Sadness Into a Source of Growth

Brianna Badge, of Arizona, learns to embrace uncertainty and victoriously move forward.

Photo: Linda Badger.
Photo: Linda Badger.

by Brianna Badger
ARIZONA

Born with health issues, I needed to wear an awkward-looking insulin pump by the time I started my freshman year at a new high school. Already self-conscious, I was bullied and harassed. Insecurity about my body led to bulimia. I dreaded going to school and barely passed ninth grade.

Even though I’m a third-generation SGI Buddhist, I had little faith or motivation to practice. I isolated myself from the world and spent most days in bed. I was eventually diagnosed with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I started smoking and drinking alcohol, then moved on to prescription pills.

My bulimia turned into anorexia, and I went down to 87 pounds. My relationship with my parents was also horrible. I felt alone and was in tears, but this made me realize that all I wanted was to be happy. I was done being miserable and living with no hope. I realized that, as a Buddhist, I was born to fight all of my obstacles head-on.

I’ve learned to embrace uncertainty and, as Sensei says, keep moving forward.

Even though it seemed impossible, being over a year behind, I determined to go back to high school and get my diploma. I quit my toxic habits, and started attending SGI meetings and spending time with my mom to improve our relationship.

An SGI-USA women’s leader offered me guidance. If I was fed up with everything, she said, I should just try chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. So, one day, I sat down and faced my life in front of the Gohonzon. I chanted fiercely, every day, to transform my life and my environment. At first, I was crying tears of sorrow but pushed myself to keep going until I didn’t feel sad or empty. I also started eagerly participating in SGI activities.

I saw myself feeling better emotionally and physically. I began taking better care of my health, which improved drastically. Even when I didn’t want to see anyone, I forced myself to attend all my district meetings. I always left feeling encouraged.

I also read SGI President Ikeda’s guidance, because I wanted to deepen my Buddhist practice. Sensei says: “Only when we experience the crushing, painful depths of suffering can we begin to understand the true meaning of life. Precisely because we have experienced great suffering, it is imperative that we go on living. The important thing is to keep moving forward. If each of you uses your sadness as a source of growth, you will become a person of greater depth and breadth—and an even more wonderful you . . . Hold your head high. Because you have lived with all your might, you are victors. You must not sink into depression or take a path that leads to self-destruction” (The Victorious Teen, p. 79).

I am very excited about my future now. I am going to graduate on time with the class of 2017. I also discovered my passion and am pursuing a career in the medical field. While chanting, I took action by finding a way to move forward, signing up for several classes that will enable me to find a job in the career of my dreams.

I can use my health struggles to contribute to my growth instead of suffering, turning my karma into mission. And I am happy in all aspects of my life. I used to be frightened about what would happen next, but I’ve learned to embrace uncertainty and, as Sensei says, keep moving forward. If I ever find myself lost, I’ll simply take a deep breath and retrace my steps, and go back to the purest place in my heart, which is the SGI and my Buddhist practice.

 

(p. 9)