Tw: depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorder
Every year that passes, history and memories become misty, fogged up and broken down into part stories.
A person, you, your friends and surroundings can change in an instant, your life in a completely different state to what it was weeks ago.
But what if nothing changed for say, 3 years? Life stood stuck, absorbing and uncontrolled into sadness and self hate? You are told you are one thing but feel completely the opposite, you feel alone and unwelcome in your own body and powerless. Life has told us we must press on and succeed but what if you do not have the will, and you want it to end?
There are stereotypes of depression, mental health, eating disorders in society. The young teenage girl hating herself in the mirror. That was me, the cliché; the white, working-middle class adolescent, crying because she had too many biscuits. It is not just women, it is not just young people and it can be anyone. Anyone can struggle inside and it’s okay. It’s about time society started looking at, and out for, everyone.
I cannot change everyone’s views on these things but people need to start questioning the people who have called someone who is visibly thinner than most, ‘anorexic’, or someone struggling with their frustration and anger ‘crazy’ or someone with cuts on their wrists an ‘attention seeker’, or an ’emo’. Challenge it! Would you like to be judged and called things you have to battle with just on your own?
It took me years to clamber out of depression, it took me 3 to realise I deserved food, it took me what felt like a whole lifetime to let myself be who I felt comfortable being.
Body dysmorphia, anxiety, anorexia, depression, anger, self destruction, self hate, laziness, aching muscles, loss of appetite, painful movements, headaches, stomach cramps, constipation, nightmares, hallucinations, itchy skin, bad circulation, fatigue, mood swings, weak nails, weak bones, hair loss, disrupted menstrual cycle, trust issues, swollen throat, bad breath, loss of concentration, loss of motivation, shakiness, unhealthy skin, bloated stomach.
Any more for any more? Sometimes I forget what it felt like, many would question why I put myself through all of this. I remember the freezing walks to and from school and college, pain in every hip movement, it being 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, still in bed wishing the day over. Wishing to sleep the weekend away. Minor complaints for the sake of what felt like life’s greatest goal. Something to be done now or be punished for not doing later.
When I was supposed to be enjoying school, learning things for the future, going out and enjoying the rebellious years of late teens I was learning the calories in food; how to lie and deceive; how to get out of eating; how to trick the doctors scales; how to push people away. I was brilliant, that’s what my head told me. I was doing great, every week a pound less and every week a new piece of skin to hate on. The weeks snowballed and after a visit to an eating disorder clinic things had to change. The shell I had tried so hard to fill with acceptance from anorexia became mush, unrewarding, endless. I always wanted more, ironic when I was always giving my body less; I gave my body no respect. No happiness, just guilty binges and mental torture. I hoped someone would be able to come and make it all go away, hoping the people I looked up to would share some great secret about what it was to be happy with yourself.
Making a change
Gradually, I began to turn inside out. It was hard and took a long time, but slowly I began to let out what was inside through poems and letters. I began to speak out about how I felt and the painful weight of it all began to shed. The food I had been so afraid of didn’t scare me so much after I told myself it was okay, I said to myself I wanted to live and I wanted to dream again. I had been seeing a physiologist in my home town and she would ask me what I thought about of future. I did not see it there, not in my home town or even in England.
I wanted to grow wings and fly away.
They told me that I would not fly, not if I didn’t turn it around; not if I did not make the physical steps forward. One session I spoke of my dream to travel Australia and see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney.
Starting to think
Every night, itchy and uncomfortable before sleep, I would place myself next to the bridge of Sydney harbour. Counting down to midnight. I would dream of a future with no pressures, no one telling me to be something, my mind telling me I was free and happy, not ugly and wasted and that I was worthy of people’s love and beautiful. Isn’t it shit that society and media only pokes at not being good enough. You don’t look like the photo shopped models, NOBODY DOES, you don’t have perfect skin like the people in the adverts, NOBODY DOES, you don’t have hair or big breasts like that model you see, NOBODY DOES! You aren’t better than anyone and nobody is better than you.
Anorexia left me before depression did. Depression kept its negative, poisonous hands on me for a while, groping out in the back of my head when they were least wanted.
Hello, you might be having a brilliant time and in a great mood right now, but I’ve brought my friend Anxiety and we’re going to bring you down. Not sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you
I learnt to fly before I got wings. I learnt that people affect you more than you think and having the right support and the right people around you is one of the biggest steps to recovery.
Do what you dream
Everybody experiences life differently. Everybody wants different things from that life. I never wanted university and I never really gravitated towards a career, never wanted a big house or nice car. These are the goals we are told to follow and aim for: the stable job, the good grades. What if all you’ve ever wanted was to be happy? Dreams are for following and wishing for, big or small. Dreaming led me to living on bicycle, no major qualifications needed, some savings in the bank with no decent career prospects. I am away from family and the friends I have left. But I will find new friends, I will meet new families. I am away from the misty, fogged up past. Piece by piece, crumb by crumb I allowed myself to eat more just to see what it would be like, just to scare myself and try being someone else for a change. Moment by moment I stopped letting people bring me down, I started making myself scared more and trying new things, just to see. To try, for myself. I was trying to be someone else for so long, trying to please people, to be their idea of perfect.
It took me so long to figure out perfection doesn’t live in people, perfection doesn’t live in the bumps in the road, the stories of reality. Perfection is not life itself, it is a thing we have created through magazines, Photoshop and movies. I had forgotten who I was ever supposed to be. Then I stopped trying to be someone else’s idea of perfection, but my own. I bettered myself through happiness and acting by what I felt was right and wrong. I realised I am who I allow myself to be.
So I made the steps and I grew my wings.