What it's like to live with depression and anorexia
Over the past few weeks, I have received somewhat a new lease of life and encouragement about the world around me and life in general. I hope that by writing this blog I can serve as a form of inspiration for you all who are thinking about recovery from a mental health problem, who are currently in recovery, or who are stuck in the depths of a mental illness and am not too sure how to get out.
In November 2010, I had recently turned 18 and my life had spiralled into extreme depression and anorexia nervosa. I had experienced mild depression throughout my life and developed anorexia and self-harming tendencies from the age of 12 due to insecurities about myself through consistent bullying throughout school. In 2010 in particular, my depression took a turn for the worst, being unable to cope with the burden of A-levels and a stressful job in which I was placed under excruciating pressure to succeed.
Looking back, I can remember the thoughts and feelings like they were yesterday. I hated myself, I wasn’t eating and hid my life away from the people who should have cared the most. I wanted to be the best I could be and I didn’t want to let anyone down. However, it resulted in a hospital stay after an overdose which turned my world upside down.
Over the past two years I have been embarking on a crucial recovery process. I made the conscious decision to take six months out of education to concentrate on recovery, as well as finally leaving the job that was causing me so much hell. Over the six months, I made time for myself for the first time in so many years, and remained persistent throughout therapy. When I eventually returned to sixth form, back in June 2011, both my therapists had left me and they had also made the decision to remove me from medication, due to which I had small relapses around that time.
I had another relapse around the time of November 2011, which once more resulted in a two-week break from sixth form. Even though I was fitting into my new year group perfectly well and had made some fantastic friends, I couldn’t ignore depression at the time and it took over. I made the decision to embark in private therapy after this, which wasn’t entirely successful, and I ended up making the decision to leave in April 2012.
Since then, things have been nothing but onwards and upwards. I want those who are considering recovery to know that of course, it is not an easy process. The mind is a powerful tool and unfortunately creeps in every now and again wanting to take over and consume you with negativity once more.
I think since I left my recent bout of therapy, the motivation to recover has come from within me and that is more powerful than any form of therapy you can ever undertake. Therapy is often successful, but often needs the client's participation and willingness to recover, and that is something that has to come from within you.
You may think, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen to me!’ – but sometimes it does just take one small thing to change perspectives on life and recovery completely.
Two weeks ago, I finished my A-levels, something I never thought I would be able to do after all of the knockbacks and criticism I have received.
Last week, I managed to get myself a new job, but one where I know I am going to be comfortable in my surroundings and not put under too much pressure. I have finally realised getting A grades in everything is not the end of the world, and at the end of the day, I can only be the best that I can be and nothing more: I am just a human, after all!
After struggling with negative thoughts and damaging behaviours since childhood, at 19 now I have reached a stage of contentment and happiness and it’s an amazing feeling. And it doesn’t come overnight.
But everything happens for a reason, and I live by that rule. Without my depression and anorexia, I wouldn’t be a part of YoungMinds and I wouldn’t have met the fantastic people I know today. Without my illnesses I probably wouldn’t have taken time of education and would never have had the time to reflect on life and the beauty of it. I probably wouldn’t have applied to the same universities that I have done now, and wouldn’t even be doing the same course!
For those who are currently struggling with mental illnesses, it does get better. Do what is best for you and whatever you need to embark on recovery. Education and work can wait: your health comes first 100% and I can’t stress that enough. We are all beautiful people and deserve to live beautiful lives. I’m a year behind education right now but so what? I couldn’t have succeeded in education now if I was still struggling to the extent I was, and my new peers now don’t treat me any differently for being older (although I do get a few grandmother comments!)
I made a video about a month ago about inspirational people in my life and how they have inspired me to live the best life I can – and here is the link:
I’m here for you all to pick you up from the hurdles that recovery holds and for encouragement and motivation. It gets better, I promise.