MichelleOctober 23, 2017

“Even when my family didn't understand the ins-and-outs of eating disorders, they still stood by me. They listened to me.” – Michelle

The Time to Change #inyourcorner campaign got me thinking about mental health and how important it is to know that you have someone 'in your corner', someone looking out for you and stood beside you no matter what.

I have been really lucky throughout my mental health struggles and recovery because I have a truly amazing family. The word supportive doesn't even come close.

But it's important to remember that being supportive and supporting someone doesn't mean that you have to 'get it'.

From the day that I first admitted to thinking that I had an eating disorder my family have supported me. There have been times where they haven't understood what is going on in my head, been frustrated with me and felt completely lost. But, they have been there for me.

Eating disorders are difficult to understand, for a long while I didn't understand it myself, so how could I expect my family and those around me to? I know that in the very beginning my family thought that I was destroying myself and why didn't I snap out of it and 'JUST EAT'. It took a while to understand the complexity of eating disorders, and even then, it's hard to completely understand.

My family had to watch me starve myself, walk on egg shells because they didn't know what mood I would be in from one moment to the next, endure endless tears and watch me exercise to the point of exhaustion. My family had to watch me quite simply destroying myself.

Even when they didn't understand what was going on or the ins-and-outs of eating disorders, they still stood by me. They listened to me, said the right things (and a lot of the time the wrong things) but at the end of the day they were there for me.

I know that mum and dad’s door is always open, sitting on their sofa and chatting has a calming effect on me and makes everything feel a little better. Throughout my recovery their house was my safe place and I knew that they were there and always would be. They made me feel like it was OK to not be 'OK' and gave me hope that things would get better, I would get better. One day everything would be OK.

When I first saw the hashtag #inyourcorner I automatically thought of my sister. I couldn't ask for someone who was any further in my corner than her. She is always there, she knows me better than I know myself and can always tell if there is something bothering me without me saying a word. As I sometimes struggle to talk about how I am feeling if I am starting to feel out of control again I know that I can sit on her sofa not saying anything and it's ok. It's comfortable.

When things sometimes slip she is honest with me and makes me see what is happening when I’m sometimes too internally focused to see myself. She's been there throughout, from daily texts to check I’m OK, distracting me from my thoughts through the bad times, giving me hope about the future and making me feel like I’m not alone and that she 'gets it'. And she makes pretty good coffee!

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Comments

Interview

Hi, our names are Audrey and Layla and take a psychology class at school and we were inspired by your story. We have to do a projet in class where we interview someone who has lived through a mental disorder and learned how to accept it. We were wondering if maybe it would be possible to skype or exange emails, asking you questions about the journey you have gone through. Please get back to us as we would be so happy to share your story with our class. Thank you for your time

Life support

Hello Michelle, Your story highlights an aspect of living with mental health problems that 'professionals' are often too quick to overlook. A supportive family, best friend or partner is probably more important than any number of drugs, talking therapies, counsellors or the myriad of other treatments out there. They are quite literally life support. Being on my own now has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that having this support is vital. Depending on the condition of our mental state we may not even realise or recognise that we really need that one person you can talk to, to be there for you and help pull you off the downward spiral before it is too late. Michelle, I know your road to recovery is and will be long and winding, but knowing you have people who love you and who are there for you every step of the way is a very special thing indeed. Best wishes and good luck for your future, Tim.

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