Embracing Who I Am

Worth Living Ambassador Katherine Anne McCain

My name is Katherine Anne McCain, and I was born with one arm. I am a freelance model and a
student getting my degree in Psychology. When I was 16, I started my ongoing battle with
Anorexia and my constant battle with poor self-destructive tendencies. When I was about 19
(I’m 21 now), I made the decision to go into therapy and to begin my journey of finding health
and to loving myself again. Throughout my recovery I’ve learned a lot more about myself and
my passions, and have found a deep love for helping others and spending time with my friends,
family, and sorority sisters.

Embracing Who I Am

This being my first real blog post I’ve struggled for the past week with what I wanted to say. All
week I have been jotting down notes in my phone of what I could write about and I’ve been
stuck because I think there are so many different topics I could start with in regards to my
ongoing struggle with my mental (and physical) health. The notes app in my phone is also where
I keep any and all things I need to share with my therapist- again making my notes lengthy and
making me unsure of what to write for my first post.

I think I’ll start with what led up to me being the mental health advocate and empowering
woman I am today, so with that I’ll give you a general background of who I am. I struggle the
most with my self- esteem. Growing up I’ve wanted nothing more than to not be seen as the “girl
with one arm,” and that has led me to being overly agreeable and to seek perfection and
acceptance from all my peers. I don’t really know how to do anything in moderation because of
this. I want everyone to like me and think I’m cool so I always say yes to that sixth drink, shot,
drugs, (occasional) casual sex, you name it. I either eat or I don’t, work out too much or not at
all, cry when I’m alone or seek attention. Looking at me online or even talking to me in person
you wouldn’t know that. I’m very extroverted, kind, and studious. I’m a role model, which is
probably weird to read after I just said I struggle with poor coping mechanisms but I’ve grown
out of many and know that my past decisions do not define me as a person today. Most people
look at me and think that I’m the girl that’s well off and confident because I post a lot on
Instagram and I try my best to look cool on my social media, but in reality I’m not someone
that’s very confident. There’s a huge disconnect between who I am in real life and who I am
online. I say this because it’s something that many don’t realize is unhealthy but it’s a very
important thing to love who you are as a person and not just who you are as a social media
persona. Seeking validation from Instagram likes should not be what happiness and self- worth is
based off of.

This past week my therapist had me dive in to realize just how different I am and I
tried to mention similarities between my “two selves.” I told her that I am both genuine in real
life and online because on my social media I usually write heartfelt posts and share a lot about
philanthropy that I hold close to my heart and that I spend time on in real life. She says I’m not
being genuine, however, because of the fact that I look confident online when that’s not the case
in real life. Sure, sometimes I feel great when I’m out but it’s mostly when I’ve had several
drinks. My therapist seems to think that I need to trust more of my friends with my problems in
person, something that I don’t think I can do just yet.

For one, a lot of people don’t understand things they have not experienced themselves. My
friends, I often feel, have shut me down if I speak poorly of myself or my appearance. I feel as
though they invalidate my feelings of inferiority because anytime I say something negative they
just shoot me down and say I look good or just to shut up. They don’t understand me for two
clear reasons: I am anorexic and an amputee, two things they know very little to nothing about.
This is why talking about mental health needs to be the norm in society and not taboo.

With anorexia, they don’t understand that I legitimately hold the belief that I will and am gaining
weight. They don’t understand that I think that other people think I’m fat just like I do about
myself. This I’m sure is partly because I don’t sit them down to have the conversation that would
legitimize my feelings in their eyes potentially, but still, too often do people just brush others
issues off. I really wish I’d had learned sooner that vulnerability and having conversations are
okay and important at a younger age. My friends don’t really know how anxious I get when I go
out. They don’t know because, well, I carry myself very well (which apparently is considered
‘ingenuine’) and because they don’t see me as “the girl with one arm/a disability. While I’m glad
my friends and family don’t consider me disabled, retarded, ugly, gross, or having a “condition”
(all names I’ve been called within the last couple of years) they don’t seem to understand that
I’m constantly worried that people at restaurants, school, parties, events, the mall, airport, and other places do.

There are people out there that do think that I’m a freak and so where do I finally learn to not
care what people think, to love myself unconditionally, and to have the conversation with a
friend I can trust, in person, to talk about my insecurities?

Therapy has helped me a lot. I’ve been in it for two years now. It’s helped me gain ten-ish pounds
(not enough but still any progress is progress) and it’s taught me that it’s okay to not always be
okay. It’s taught me that there is hope for me and for anyone in any situation. I have learned that
everyone has something they beat themselves up about. For me, it’s my arm and it’s something I
can’t really hide from. I’m sharing now because therapy has taught me that I no longer want to
hide. I’m very tired of hating myself and of feeding that self- hatred. I’m afraid of being alone
because of my limb difference, and therapy- as well as seeing badasses on social media-has
helped me realize how silly that is.

While I’ve realized that I have no reason to hate myself or feel fat or ugly or whatever’s going on
in my mind, I tell myself it’s okay to not be okay because initially I was hard on myself. If I
decided at 19 to recover from my eating disorder and minor social anxiety, why am I not already
healthy and happy at 21? Recovery, from anything as I have learned and as Keith also shared, is
a long road. It is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. For me in my recovery, I’m proud of
any accomplishment- big or small. I’m proud of myself for the big things like being able to be
vulnerable on this blog, but I’m also proud of myself every time I eat, go to class, study, or make
time for my friends. People don’t understand that we need to celebrate the little things we do
for ourselves and that we don’t need to get angry at ourselves for having a bad day or making a

When you love life, life truly loves you back. It’s easy to be hard on myself for not being the best
version of myself 24/7, but making time each day to have daily affirmations (prayers for me
because I’m religious) and goals really helps. It’s always the little things that can bring you up. I
know now that my life’s purpose or calling is to not only embrace who I am as “the girl with one
arm” but also to be an inspiration to others. One of my favorite things that I like to think about is
the fact that because of the bullying and hardships I’ve had I can talk about them and through
that I can help others get through their hard times. What I love about myself is my ability to
connect to so many people. One of my dear friends is about 20 years my senior and has cerebral
palsy. How did we become friends and how can an anorexic self-destructive 21 year old relate to
her? We both have different “differences” about us but we share the same feelings of inferiority
and the same self- conscious manner. What I love about this community is there’s always someone you can relate to. I’m not comfortable opening up to anyone .

I have serious trust issues from bullying and verbal abuse in past relationships but I find so much comfort in finding people in the online community. Sure, I’ll work on my trust issues and opening up to someone not online, but writing here is definitely a start and a very helpful thing on my road to recovery overall.

I plan on sharing more personal stories in the near future but for now here’s this, and if
you want to know anything else about me or reach out for any reason, here’s my social media:
Instagram: @katherineeanne
Facebook: Katherine McCain
Twitter: @katherineeanne_

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2 replies on “Embracing Who I Am

  • Mariann Coyle

    Katherine, When I look at you I see ayoung women with beauty, intelligence and kindness. After reading your blog I realize that your journey to be amazing is just beginning. This pass weekend I went to see 10 women inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, one of them my old boss. They were amazing women, all had to overcome obstacles in their lives. The one thing that they all had in common was a inner strength. I see that in you. Stay strong and be you!!

  • Jamee Heelan

    Nice job Katherine! On to brighter days and greater healing. You are getting close to that pot of Gold found at the end of every rainbow. However, no one seriously reaches the pot, it’s the colorful moments in Life that make your Rainbow adventures something to smile about. Keep writing and keep being you as you will make a huge difference in so many people’s lives. You have in mine! Xx, jamee


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