World Mental Health Day: The Weight On My Shoulders.

Today is World Mental Health Day. This is a topic that is close to my heart. Along with knowing many people who have suffered and are suffering from mental health issues, I, myself have suffered. It is so important to break the stigma. Self harmer, crazy, clean freak, depressed, schizophrenic, anorexic,  alcoholic, physco are not things people should be labelled with. It is something that they are battling with.
 It does not define them. 

Living with a mental health issue is difficult enough as well having insensitive, ignorant people judging them. This needs to stop. People need to have the knowledge of what it is really like and offer support. 

(Sorry, this is a lengthy post, but I'm worth it!)

Here's what I went through...


2 months before I moved to Edinburgh in 2012, I was told that I was border-lining anorexia. With a BMI of under 18 and a phobia of food and weight gain, it was not a case of "just eat." or "just wanting to be thin" and it was definitely not for attention. I had developed a mental illness that had taken its toll from the age of 15 when I decided to go on a simple diet. 

 I had not expected to become so obsessed and find comfort and control in restricting. From a young age, perfection was important to me and by 16, "perfection" was my life goal. If I wasn't up to scratch, I punished myself with hunger pains. "You don't deserve to eat!" is what I told myself daily. It was my secret and I hated any attention that was given about my weight. 

Meals had significantly decreased. I became obsessed with counting calories. It was the only math I could do. I would exercise in my room at night in a mad panic. I soon took up running; once a week, twice a week, five times a week, every day and walk 3 miles almost every day. Exams were tough, I couldn't control what I did in the exam room but I could control how many calories I burnt and how many I could eat. 

The weight was dropping off and went from a size 12 to a size 6.  I cant remember the time frame of that exactly. Sadly, I do remember the screaming that went on in my mind when mum bought original mayonnaise instead of low fat. I remember planning my weekly food intake instead of studying for my exams. I remember taking laxatives after going out for dinner. I remember throwing food out my bedroom window after me and mum had an argument. I remember crying for hours because I was a horrible person who was a burden on everyone and didn't deserve to live.  My closest friends worried about me, their parents showed their strong concern and I shrugged them off, got aggressively defensive and wanted to disappear.  This carried on until I was 17, going on 18, and was offered a place on the Acting Course in Edinburgh. I decided then enough was enough. It was time to come face to face with my demon.  

I was set up with a therapist in Edinburgh and meeting were arranged ready for when I moved to the city. 
It didn't happen over night. Through therapy it was noted that I was suffering from depression from a younger age, anxiety, OCD and paranoia. The therapy sessions were tough, having to open closed doors and dark memories. My first year in Edinburgh was not the wild, crazy, fun loving fresher year that was promised on TV. Although I had found some of my closest friends, I was battling anorexia. I was cancelling my therapy sessions as college was too difficult. I was not perfect in college. I was on a mission to self destruct. My confidence plummeted and I had reached my lowest weight by October 2012 at 93lbs. 
I was constantly cold. I had developed insomnia. I thought my chances of having children had completely gone. My nails broke and flaked. It felt like my body was bruised all over and my hair was falling out. Now tell me if you think that I could "just eat." and if this was all for attention.  Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is when you're doing a work out in class (that's what happens in acting classes) and you're hair covers the floor? Fur rug anyone?

I broke down. I knew things needed to change. I called my therapist and arranged a meeting. Slowly, through talking to her, I started to build myself up again. She helped me see the light and realise that I was worth something. Everything that had happened in my life had actually made me strong. I am not a weak person. 

August marked a year since I was discharged from my therapist and 2 years since I started my recovery. I am at a healthy weight and although there are some bad days, I can wake up the next day, forgive myself and move on. I still suffer from slight anxiety and sometimes paranoia will sneak up. My confidence could be better but to see how far I've come makes me so proud. To think I couldn't finish a meal! Ha! Bitch, please, pass me the cheesy pasta and dessert for everyone! 

This was very difficult to write and I am hesitant to publish it. However I think it is important to talk about it. 

It shouldn't be a horrible secret. People need to know that it is okay to step out and say, "I'm not OK and I need help." If it is something that is going to stay with them, then accept it. It does not make them any different. If you struggle from a mental illness you are not weak. You are not weaker than the person you sit next to on the bus. You are not weaker than someone who has recovered. You are not weaker than your friend who is asking if you are ok. You have that strength in you to stand up and find that light. It will be okay.

"Hold your head up high and, girl, you'll go far." Lady GaGa.