I had so much positive feedback from beginning the blog, it made me so happy and I finally feel like I definitely made the right decision. I want to begin with discussing diagnosis, for me I was diagnosed with my mental illnesses throughout school and therefore writing about it without mentioning how education escalated my problems is impossible. I recommend to anyone if you are ever unsure about your mental health, just go and speak to a professional; even if you don’t deal with it immediately knowing the diagnosis and then moving forward is the easiest way.
When I was diagnosed with anorexia, I was stick thin, I remember looking at my body and feeling huge. The people who I was ‘friends’ with would tell me my thighs were huge when I could literally hold the entirety of my thigh with one hand. I would refuse to eat lunch and often throw away my sandwiches, fruit and vegetables so I didn’t have to explain to my parents that I wasn’t eating. I was a generally sporty child, despite being horrific at sport, and would overwork my body throughout the week to stay ‘thin’. I guess the problem wasn’t that noticeable as I was a very tall child, I still stand quite tall at just under 5ft11 but at such a young age having such long limbs it isn’t shocking why my weight wasn’t a red flag to so many people. Having been diagnosed at such a young age, I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t want my parents or family to find out because I didn’t want them to force me to eat.
What came next was the anxiety and depression, when I was in year seven, I made the stupid error of trying to change who I was to fit in. I went to a high school with no one from my primary and thought I could reinvent myself and maybe things would be okay. My first memories include a lot of crying, LIKE A LOT OF CRYING, becoming obsessed with chocolate and realising that I wasn’t as smart as I thought. In primary I had some of the highest SAT results, and upon entering my high school I assumed that I could carry on being close to top of the class. I was HORRIFICALLY wrong and in most classes I sat at about a C/D standard. By this age I had finally started speaking to a therapist and with the realisation I was dumb I began comfort eating AND I would eat a lot. Most days I would go through ten chocolate bars and sweets as if it was nothing, I became obsessed with the high I would get from eating sugar and in times of anxiousness I would find myself shoving chocolate down my throat.
Once again, I was too young to understand what anxiety and depression meant, so it didn’t faze me. I fell out with a lot of my friends throughout high school and felt alone a lot of the time; I had two constants throughout school and even to this date they are the only two true school friends I have, and I am so grateful for them both. My depression was easy to hide, I would act fine and happy all day to go and cry myself to sleep every night. I remember reading through some people’s opinions of me on those anonymous askfm sites and just thinking I wish I wasn’t around; I remember hearing and reading people’s opinions of me calling me vile, ugly, etc. on a daily basis and just thinking I was never going to get over feeling so worthless and useless. Guys were interested in my body and not my personality, frequently the guys I was texting would ignore me in person around their friends but be begging attention on texts. My insecurities grew and grew.
I’d just like to say that I wasn’t a saint, I had a lot of hateful opinions and I did some stupid things that I truly hope people have forgiven me for. When I was sixteen, things changed. After completing my GCSE’s whilst grieving the loss of three of my friends and dealing with some really toxic relationships and falling short in grades I finally began to realise how important my mental health truly was. I began speaking out and drifting away from those dragging me down, I finally spoke to our Headmaster and asked to do my first ever talk on Anxiety and Depression admitting to a full assembly hall that I do indeed have both and it is normal and it’s normal to not feel okay.
I finally felt like I could handle things. I wasn’t doing amazing at school, but I was finally not letting my education define me. By the time I was 17 I had spent over half of my life hating myself, hating my body and feeling constantly insecure. I had finally lost the weight HEALTHILY and it was a turning point in my confidence; I started speaking to a guy and I was in such a good place. Then came my bipolar disorder diagnosis, I broke. Looking back on the diagnosis and understanding what it all meant I can see that all of the symptoms were so obvious but at the time I was convinced they’d made a mistake. I have always had varying mood swings, my times of depression lasting months and manic periods less frequent but noticeably different to just slight happiness/joy. It affected how I saw myself and I lost almost all the confidence I had just gained, leading me to the loss of more friends, the guy I was speaking to choosing someone else and a general low place.
My journey isn’t perfect, my time in education had a huge impact on my self-confidence and I have spent ages since learning to love myself again. I spent most of my youth trying to hide my mental health problems so now I find it difficult to sometimes show that side of myself despite no longer being ashamed. My journey isn’t reliant on some letters on a piece of paper, some nasty words people said about me or a medical diagnosis but how I learnt to pick myself up and carry on through everything I’ve been through. I love who I am now, I still have bad days (more like months but bad days sounds better) but I’m learning how to control that and trying to turn my future into something bright.
I really do want to post more advice, tips and stuff like that, but I felt like before I could get into that I kind of needed to introduce myself and my journey, so this is kind of what is happening at the moment. I have a lot of ideas brewing and I hope in the upcoming weeks and months I can put my suggestions to reality. Thanks for sitting through this, it was a bit longer than anticipated.