Megan Devaney has been a Shona Ambassador for almost 2 years. When we first met her she was in recovery from an eating disorder and  shared her experiences with us in a number of honest and open posts (Read here, here and here). When we last heard from her, she was about to leave home and spend a year in Vietnam. Now she’s back, and doing better than ever…..

I recently returned home from a 5-month trip teaching English in Vietnam. I would not have imagined as a child or young teen that I’d have done something like that at aged 19. But the crazy thing about life is that it is just so unpredictable. When I was sick with anorexia at age 14, my major motivator to get better was travel. There was no way I could let my life pass by without exploring the amazing world I was born into. So when the opportunity arose for me to do my cooperative education (work placement) in Vietnam, saying no wasn’t an option!

Of course, I had my doubts and worries leading up to departure. My anxiety kicked in and I feared the worst; believing my mental health may get worse, failing at being a teacher, being homesick…. But despite all these thoughts I knew this experience would be nothing but beneficial for me.

The 5 months away flew by faster than I could have imagined. The Vietnamese people are so kind-hearted and welcoming, and they opened my eyes to a complete unique way of living. I learned a lot about myself, my values, friendship, family and what’s important in life. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces from something as small as a sticker, made me realise that little things can have a big impact. As I am studying psychology, I had no previous experience in the teaching field. This worried me before starting the job. I soon realised that being a fluent English speaker and being able to engage and entertain the children was all I needed to succeed.

I will never, ever regret spending the past couple of months in Vietnam. I really believe it has made me more mature, open-minded and culturally aware. Even better, it has pushed me harder to try and ignore any negative eating disorder thoughts that I still encounter. I want to go on more rewarding and life-changing adventures such as this one, and I will not let any mental illness get in the way of that dream.

I hope anyone struggling with any sort of issues right now can believe me when I say that it doesn’t have to be this way forever. It may take a while, but with a strong mind and help from others, you too can push past this tough time and go on to live the life you were born to live. Promise.

Megan x

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