April 30, 2014

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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