This piece is about my own struggles with depression and eating disorders over the years. I wanted to write this because looking back over the years all I ever wanted at times was for someone to grab me and shake me and tell me that I'm going to be OK. I'm hoping this catches someone at the point I have been at many times before and can help to pull them out of that.
It's OK to feel the way that you do; stop giving yourself such a hard time. You are worth more than this and you are not a bad person.
This is my first attempt trying to articulate what has happened to me over the past 10 years. I'm writing this in the hope that it will get through to someone and will provide a level of help, comfort or even just to push them to realise that they are not alone; alongside this I hope I can get my point across that things can always get better.
Sadness manifests itself in unusual ways; you feel the rot and more often than not it is easier to apply this sadness to a specific aspect of your being- it provides a level of validation to our dirty human feelings. humans aren't supposed to be sad; we have it pushed in our faces all day every day- if you're sad that girl won't fuck you. If you're sad you wont get the job. If you're sad you wont get to join in with the other humans and play their games. Buy this. Do that. Don't let the sadness show or you'll never make it as a real human.
That's what we're taught. Push it down and ignore it.
Humans are amazing. To think that an animal (because that's all we are) has the capacity for such a massive emotional range is mind-blowing. How the fuck did we get to this point? Evolution is a fantastic thing.
To be conditioned to push down such a large portion of your being is detrimental to anyone; this is where my own experiences come into it. This is an open diary; I am writing this with the thought of my younger self in my mind. If I can reach even just one person and have some sort of positive impact it will all be worth it.
I have always been unhappy; you have that feeling that sits in your chest that you can't get rid of. You can physically feel the weight of it. From a young age I attached this sadness to an unhealthy obsession with food and self image. Not feeling good enough is the worst; at an age where acceptance is (unfortunately) everything the isolation that comes with it pushes you to do things for the wrong reasons; for other people rather than yourself. I felt as though I didn't have my own personality up until the age of around 19- by this point I had fully embraced an array of very questionable habits. This is a fine thing... but only if you're doing it for yourself.
Feeling worthless led to me allowing myself to slip into dangerous situations; there have consistently been people that picked up on my self destruction throughout my life and used this to their own benefit. I turned myself into an object- I allowed shitty people to do shitty things to me as punishment to myself. I fell into a cycle of self hate that was only backed up by the abusive people around me.
That is where the eating disorder came into it. I had allowed my life to spiral and had completely lost all control of myself. I couldn't control the things that were happening to me and I couldn't control the people that were doing these things.
There was one thing I could control; that thing was food.
I make lists. I like having things set out in front of me. I am a messy person and do not operate with a linear mindset; lists help me to feel like I have things in order. I started making lists of food; there were good and bad foods; the good I would give myself allowances of every day- if I ever ate anything from the bad list I would starve for 2 days as punishment. After abusing this cycle for a number of years the starving turned into purging.
I developed Bulimia and Body Dysmorphia. I still suffer with the health problems attached to this- I have no enamel left on my teeth and must take medication every day to counteract the damage done to my digestive system over the years. My hair falls out consistently and my nails are brittle and snap. I have scars on my knuckles from putting my fingers down my throat and still get fainting spells. I am one year on since I decided to seek out help and although I am far away from being OK, I know I will get there.
The first time I acknowledged that I had a problem I was on the floor of my bathroom. I had caught the back of my throat with my finger nails and had been vomiting fresh blood for an hour. I was scared and I was alone and I knew I had hurt myself. I felt a seismic shift in my idea of who I was; I am an existentialist anyway but this felt like I'd had a massive part of me ripped out. This thing that I had control over- MY thing that nobody could take away from me had turned on me. It was my friend and it was fucking me over.
Have you ever been fucked over by a friend? It's not very nice. My only friend wasn't looking out for me like they always had. This thing that facilitated my detachment from other humans had finally taken over. I have never felt so terrified in my life.
There have been a small number of times in my life when I have, sadly, considered suicide as a viable option. This was one of those moments. You go into overdrive and the feeling you get is a fucking horrible one. It is a dizzyness- a sickly euphoria. You are literally overriding every single one of your basic human instincts. To this day I am still massively thankful that I didn't go through with it. I pushed through all the screaming and the crying and hair pulling and destruction. Through the anger and the frustration. As I write this now the thought of it all rushes back and makes me squirm.
It is not just black and white- it took me a year from this point to actively seek help. Acknowledging this made me face up to my own weaknesses; all of the bad things about myself that I had hidden under so much hedonism had been pushed to the front of my mind. Seeking help isn't easy- you have to relive a lot of traumas but in the long run it really is the only way to get through it. Like ripping off a huge fucking plaster that leaves a massive hole. It's the only way you can truly heal from it all. Thankfully once I had opened up about this to my peers I realised how much of an amazing support network I actually had. Never ever forget that you are not alone; there is help available and you should seek it out.
The first step I took was to call my doctor. It is hard but they are there to help. The support and guidance I got from my doctor is what got me to the point I am at today. I have been through different services and have spoken with different professionals and have been given a combination of treatments. It is difficult to open up to these people but once you get over the initial apprehension you realise that these guys really do know their shit. Now what works for one person may not work for someone else but that is why there are so many options out there. Don't be put off if the first thing doesn't help- just don't give up on it.
There is too much stigma attached to mental health. The taboo surrounding depression makes you feel dirty. It makes you feel like you have let everyone down because it is not a thing that is ever spoken about.
This is why I like the broken leg analogy.
If you had a broken leg you wouldn't hide it. You wouldn't go about your day as usual pretending that everything is fine. You wouldn't lie to your friends about how you are busy so you can't make it out when really you are trapped in your own bed with a broken leg.
You would ask them to sign your fucking cast.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Never let anyone lead you to think otherwise. Imagine if someone told you to shake off that broken leg and climb up those stairs. It's just not plausible. The same standard should be applied to mental health.
It is difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the depths of it all- but please believe me that it can get better.
Below I have included a number of links that truly helped me through some very dark times- the internet is a wonderful thing.
This is the website for Newcastle Talking Therapies. These guys are great. You can refer yourself from this site and they call you up and run through an assessment with you before deciding on the best type of therapy/care for you
I have read over this page a number of times to remind myself that what I am doing to myself is a genuine problem. You slip into the habit of telling yourself that it is not happening to you and that you are fine- It is easy to relapse so you have to be strong. I found this helpful as it reminded me that what I was doing wasn't normal.
-This is a Newcastle based service charity that provide support and after-care for people that are affected by eating disorders.