Talking, tea and time- they’re good starting points: my family's experience with depression, suicide and eating disorders

Warning, some readers may find this post triggering.

 

Depression, suicide and eating disorders define some of the most challenging events myself and my family have experienced.  For me depression was crying regularly and not even knowing why, wishing I was anyone but myself, and enduring unfortunate family circumstances. Being listened to and unconditionally loved (as well as a boost from medication) helped me recover. I’m now in a great job, loving relationship and healthy state of mind. My personal life goal is simply to stay happy.

The internal battles behind eating disorders can be massive

For my sister, she endured torture from her enemy- the voice inside her head. Experiencing anorexia, bulimia and severe depression she spent a total of nine months on an adolescent mental health ward. I now know what it means when people say they go into auto-pilot, as myself and my parents did exactly that. I struggle to remember things from that period, apart from nearly losing hope that my sister would survive. Eating disorders are so easily misunderstood as stubbornness towards eating, but the internal battles behind it can be massive. I saw my sister cry over eating a mouthful of food and she welcomed the idea of suicide over continuing with this mind-set.

Can you pin-point the worst day of your life?

Can you pin-point the worst day of your life? I can give you mine. It was the day my ‘second mum’ (childhood nanny) took her life. Telling my sister, while she was already so ill, was destroying. I felt like I’d lost the two people closest to me. Yet I managed to hide all of this from most people I knew. I still smiled in lectures, got on with most of my life and appeared (fairly) normal.

Mental health difficulties aren't a case of "pulling your act together"

Through very small steps my sister has now recovered. You’d never guess that she had the outlook she did. She’s the bubbliest person I know. She’s experienced the impact suicide has on those who are left behind and is now training to be an amazing mental health nurse.

My main reason for writing this is to get across the point that mental health difficulties aren’t a case of ‘pulling your act together’. Often people who haven’t experienced mental health problems find it hard to understand. My most supportive friend was the one who somehow empathised. If you’re not a sufferer I hope you don’t have to understand, just please bear in mind that it’s not a quick fix or a choice. The things I found most effective were people who were just there. I look up to Time to Change for bringing this simple fact to light. Talking, tea and time- they’re good starting points.

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Comments

Depression & eating disorder

I've suffered from depression for a while now, it got even worse when my mother passed. I suffer from bulimia to since the age of 14, that also got worse when my mither passed. I've started to get myself better from it all, but their are still days that I suffer badly and think whats the point I get so angry at people and at myself and it comes from no where. This blog has made me realise more that I am not alone in this and I think more people who suffer from this horrible illness should know to that they are not alone.

Suggestion

Perhaps there should be events that cater tea and talk time to people suffering. A bit like 'alcoholics anonymous' but less structured. I know I need a good talk and tea most nights..

Thanks for talking about this

Good on you for talking about this, Emily. I've been studying psychotherapy, having therapy and working as a volunteer counsellor for the last few years. Whilst the knowledge of psychotherapy has helped me understand myself and others better, I naively thought that by the time I qualified, I'd have 'worked through' all my issues. I also thought that anyone who's offering counselling to others can't suffer from their own mental health problems. It was only when I read your blog post that I realised I've been telling myself everything's fine when it's not. I don't think anyone ever 'works through' everything. And I think that denial of being mentally unwell makes the whole thing worse. I've kind of been in denial of being in denial. I've also realised that breaking the silence on depression isn't something you just do once. I need to keep on doing it. So it's good to be able to say here that I am still struggling. I have real pangs of loneliness and anxiety, and times when I wonder whether there's any point to life. My brother disowned me last year and the rest of the family pretend nothing has happened - they still all meet up, but don't invite me. The good thing is that I have supportive friends and I see a therapist regularly. But it's hard, at the age of 40, to come to terms with the fact that my family have never been there for me and never will. Tabitha, you could try Co-dependants Anonymous. They're like AA, but for people who want to develop healthy ways of relating to others. I don't know if this applies to you, but it certainly does to me. Having grown up in an emotionally abusive family, I never learnt to relate healthily to other people. The Samaritans are also great - they're there 24 hours a day.

Depression and eating disorders

I am 20 years old and a university student who has been studying far away from home for more than 2 years now. For the first year, I didn't do well but I managed. Things got bad, starting 6 months ago. Things just adds up and 4 weeks ago I found myself feeling really bad. I just don't think the word "bad" explain the way I have been feeling. It is so hard just to cope with daily routine let alone the work loads and demanding from university. I would tell my family but I don't think they would understand. It is just really hard feeling alone and hopeless. It is hard just to feel hating someone else but it is just extremely hard just to feel hating yourself. I really don't think anyone would really understand if they have never suffered from what we depressed people have been suffering. It eats you up. Every single day. And things won't improve unless you do something. But coping with daily life routine is just already hard let alone trying to do something different to change your life. It is just hard. I have been in and out the mental health centre from the university ever since but things just doesn't change. Then I was hospitalised for trying to commit suicide. I was in the hospital for 3 days. And I went home. back to where I belong. to my family. Still I find myself so alone. So so Alone. My family has no history of depression. But here I am. I feel like I am a burden. A burden to anyone around me. I keep blaming myself for all the bad things happening around me. My relationship ends with a big big disappointment with no support from my so-called boyfriend. I don't blame him. Because all the blaming is on me. He deserves better than a girl with severe depression, eating and bipolar disorder like me. For all the people out there who are suffering from depression and bipolar disorder, I don't now who you are but I am here typing this message. Hopefully you will find peace in your soul, love in your heart and strength just to hold on to this world just for another day. Love, melbtran

Reading and writing is SO helpful

This is a fantastic collection! It helps me immensely to read about others' struggles and triumphs with issues similar to mine. I've also been blogging about my depression, anxiety, and binge eating disorder for about a month now and it has helped immensely.

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