So here I am, at the end of a whirlwind of an incredible but tough journey. It has taken me over a year to accept that I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and that I also have an eating disorder. Well actually I’m in recovery for an eating disorder. Thanks to a person-centred service, I now have the strategies and the ability to cope with life.
The minute I accepted and realised there is no reason to be ashamed of mental health, it was the turning point in my journey. This realisation wasn’t pleasant, and I felt weaker and lower, but the second it clicked, I realised I’m a bloody strong human with the ability to change my life for the better.
Growing up, my generation was made to believe that we had to stay strong, that we can’t accept weakness and that we must carry on because it will get better. This belief has messed our generation up. We were too scared to ask for help and the ones who did developed a stigmatism that was negative and allowed other people to judge them, making them feel worse about being brave.
During this journey I have realised that the only thing worse than my mental health is other people and their lack of understanding, their lack of knowledge and the simple fact they don’t believe it’s a real thing. This could be their own denial or just plain selfishness, but they don’t think it’s real. It’s hard to carry on with life when you’re told to stop thinking irrationally, to stop letting mental health define you and to stop using it as a reason.
I owe a lot to a work colleague, he made me realise that it’s ok to ask for help and that I can go to the doctors to do this.
At the time I remember thinking this is very dramatic and over the top, something the hypochondriac in me would do, something I’d spent my whole life believing I shouldn’t do: asking for help and saying, “I’m not ok”. I went but I didn’t think I needed to. Thanks to him, I’m here today, and I will always be grateful to the fact that this man helped to ‘save’ my life.
The doctors are a whole other ball game. It took a lot of courage to make the phone call, to attend the appointment alone and to talk about my symptoms. I mentioned my disordered eating behaviours, but this was brushed over and it appeared she didn’t give it another thought. I was ashamed to say it again and didn’t push for the help and the right referral. I then began my treatment for anxiety and just anxiety.
I had three sessions and they were the most awkward three sessions of my life. The second my therapist realised I had an eating disorder and not just Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I was removed from the service and lived in a downward spiral of shame from June to October.
Thankfully I used all the courage I had to go back to the doctors, fearful I’d have the same experience as before. I didn’t, and I have a fantastic set of doctors I know I can rely on and will always be there.
October 2018. The month it changed. I was getting help. Annoyingly I was told I wasn’t eating enough and that if I carried on losing weight at the rate I am, I’ll be in hospital. All these things were factually correct, but I didn’t want them to be. This outlook was quickly turned around and I can’t thank the professionals who made me realise I am ok the way I am.
I now have the confidence to talk openly about my mental health and accept it is not a problem or an issue. It is part of me.