I’d like to share my story of my mental health struggles over the past seven years, in the hope that I could help someone in need. I was first diagnosed with bulimia at the age of 16 but had been struggling since the age of 14. But it was only when my potassium plummeted to a dangerously low level and I was admitted to hospital when my ‘secret life’ was found out.
I had to have a gruelling conversation with my family and tell them of my struggles over the previous two years. I was always known as a chubby girl a fine ‘strong girl’ as my grandfather used to say which made me cringe because all I could see was fat. These concerns of my body image got significantly worst as I came into puberty and I hadn’t a clue what was going on in my body or who I was anymore. It started out as trying to be healthier by eating well and exercising. But this soon became an obsession for me, and when I saw the weight disappearing I almost got a kick of adrenaline that I had never felt before.
After a while my parents started to notice my once big strong body had disintegrated into a little shell of a human. I ended up suffering terribly from my stomach and as a result got gallstones. After the surgery my parents thought they had found the problem and that my weight would build up again. I would go to school every morning pretending I had already eaten and would only drink water. I constantly felt tired and had pains in my head. Later that year I ended up in hospital with low potassium levels. I was told by a doctor that she didn’t know how I was still alive.
When they got my potassium up above the level they were happy with, they let me go home. I went home a different person than I went in. I was frightened of my family and everyone because of my diagnosis. I thought that everyone would think I was weird and a freak, when in reality it was just me that thought that. When I got home my parents made me eat. I don’t blame them for not knowing that every bite I took it felt myself getting fatter and fatter.
During this time I was really starting to break down mentally. I eventually left school because I couldn’t cope with this pain inside of me anymore. All of my hopes and ambitions down the drain in a split second because of this monster inside of me. I really struggled during this time and my mental health was at an all-time low. I eventually decided to return to school, with the fantastic support of my family and vice principal. I was given a diagnosis that should have been done months before. I was diagnosed then with severe depression, anxiety, bulimia and borderline anorexia.
I felt so alone, I was annoyed with everything and everyone. I felt that I was better off to be dead and to end my suffering and everyone else’s around me. I thought of my family and how much I loved them and they me. I couldn’t go through with it. I cried every night for years because of the pain I was in in my mind and body. To see my family so upset and worried all of the time was heart wrenching. I was clueless of the damage I was doing to my body.
Eventually I agreed to see a holistic therapist. The first day with her I will never forget. I was like a rabbit in head lights. I was so scared, I couldn’t even speak. I got panic attacks constantly a couple of times a day and this was by far the worst I had experienced. But after talking we decided we would work together. Months went by and I started feeling better. Now I can’t say it was all rosy because it wasn’t it was the hardest experience of my life. But because of the help I got it started to become me again, and actually began to live life again and gain new friends.
I can proudly say that I am me again because of the help that I needed from my wonderful family and counsellor. They were my life savers and my heroes. They got me out of the pits of despair and darkness and helped me to live again. I live with mental health struggles some days now but nothing like it was. I still receive counselling but I feel I’m in a good place now mentally, and I am at a healthy weight and most importantly I feel good about myself.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to say I struggle with a mental illness anymore. Because lots of people do struggle with a mental illness and there should not be any stigma attached to it anymore. I have said it often and it will say it again, just because you can’t see a mental illness doesn’t mean it’s not real, it is the same as having a broken leg, there is part of you broken but people just can’t see it. So finally I just want to say if you are struggling like I was, please don’t leave it as long as I did to ask for help. Get it as soon as possible and talk to someone, anyone that will listen and hopefully you will soon find the help you need.