This story comes from a member of our community who wishes to remain anonymous.
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TW: eating disorder, body image issues, suicide ideation, alcohol use, bullying
"The realization that something more than dramatics came over me when I was studying away from home. I was living in the city and at this point it was a daily assault in my mind of “you should just end it”. The voice that came from someone else spoke so kindly “maybe you should actually talk to someone about your mental health”. What was this earth angel talking about?!
It had been a grueling long slog from being so young and at school starting with all the “you’re fat” comments. The “you’re dumb” comments. I was going to show them all wrong. I didn’t have to eat. I could be in control. I could do the school work.
I finished yr 12 a year early, would that prove how smart I am? I lost so much weight to the point people would make comments, was I skinny enough?
I would look in the mirror and not see what they saw. I would come to find that looking back on photos I literally had seen myself 2-3 sizes bigger than I was.
So standing there in that moment hearing the words that maybe my mental health is impacting me… SHOULD have been the aha! Moment I needed.
Well I thought it was. “I’d like to start you on antidepressants”. Okay! Problem solved! So this is the new “normal”. I still feel suicidal, but it’s okay, it’s only every couple of weeks. I still have an eating disorder, but that’s also okay, because I no longer make myself purge! That’s the dream isn’t it? That’s as good as it gets!
Sure I was actively destroying relationships around me and pushing people away. But this is the life!
Until… I don’t like this. I don’t like the people that had now surrounded me. I don’t like that someone else is skinnier than me, I’ve been trying so hard for so long. For years! I don’t like that they talk about how thin she is instead of me.
“You’ve been on these meds for a long time, how are you feeling?”
Great! Really great! I mean of course I still cry myself to sleep and hope I never wake up, but that’s normal yeah? That’s the way everyone feels!
Oh you think I need to stop abusing my body and stop drinking excessively and start exercising?
So I became obsessed with exercise. Two hours a day, sometimes more.
And then this is where it actually hit. I decided because I was exercising I was allowed to eat. Gone are the days I would starve myself for days on end, I would treat myself to a meal every day. I cried when I put on weight. I cried nearly every day. It was awful. But looking back I can see how fit and healthy I was becoming. How much energy I had. How I was slowly becoming happier.
It still takes time to acknowledge that I have struggles with mental health and to be kind to myself.
I wish someone back then actually did tell me that they were worried about me. That your body isn’t meant to be starved and hurt. I only remember once in the many years someone bringing it up with me. Others have said they knew there was a problem. I have had to forgive myself and others in my life at that time and let them go. The hurt of looking back at my body and sometimes even longing for it again comes in waves, but the joy of being who I am now outweighs that.
What would I call this chapter of my life? Control."