Tag Archive | hope

What’s happening and where to next?

After slowly sliding down a very dangerous and icy slope over the last 8 weeks, this week I reached break neck speeds and eventually came to a not-so-graceful stop in the emergency department last night. Almost double over with some pretty epic chest pain and dizziness, it was the reality check I needed. With 6 hours of sitting around, with intermittant bursts of conversation with the ever-so-lovely Miss S, I had some time to think and realised I just need to let go. Just a little bit. I’m holding on so tightly to something I can’t even understand that I’m bringing myself down and making myself sicker in an attempt to protect myself. I’ve beel learning to find my voice and I’m trying to ask for help.

At the beginning of the week I made some calls and scheduled in some appointments with J and C. Yesterday I met with C who gave me some pretty scary ultimatums. Either I start to pick the pieces up myself or the control’s going to be taken out of my hands and someone else is going to have to do it for me. Being the control nut I am, I’m doing my best to work it out for myself. So I went to her. I sat. I talked. I asked her what I could do. She spoke to me about uni, how much it’s impacting on my life and how much of a toll it’s taking. She mentioned how much she wanted me to try the day treatment program. I brushed the idea aside because of uni, I don’t want to fuck up another semester.

I discussed why briefly with MissS last night, but it came up in conversation with J again today. She asked me why and I found myself explaining when I thought I really had no idea. Uni seems to be the only thing I have that is ‘mine’. It’s what I want, I worked my fucking arse off to get it. Nursing is what I want my life to be about and I don’t want to let go of that. It’s something I’m passionate about and strive to succeed in. It’s makes up my identity. If I let that go, even just to defer, for treatment it feels like I’ve failed. It feels like there’s nothing there that I need nor want to do, nothing that makes up my days that I feel like I have to get done. If I defer uni, then what am I going to do have there that I want? Even if I defer for the sake of recovery, it feels like I don’t have anything to put the effort in for. Even though uni is stressing me out and bringing me down, it’s my saving grace as well. It’s been giving me a purpose and I’m scared to let go of that, scared of where that will take me. So, after lengthy discussion, we realised that there needs to be a happy medium, where I can still have uni and have the possibility of engaging in stronger therapy.

My problem was I couldn’t work out any options. I could only see two, part time or defer. Neither of those I was too keen on. So I asked J what she thought about me talking to the dean. Whether I could see what ideas she had. She thought it was a good idea and off I went and hunted down my dean and organised a meeting. We chatted about where I was, what was happening, I filled her in on ED history and told her that I was struggling at the moment. She asked what support I had so I ‘introduced’ her to the team. She asked about a psychiatrist and when I said I was struggling to find one she said she’s speak to her partner, as he’s a mental health worker, and one of the other tutors and find me some names. I was blown away by how quickly she jumped in to support and how willing she was to help. I still can’t quite believe she was so cruisy. We sat and discussed a plan and the stress of how I’m supposed to do this is starting to relieve. I can see, if not light, then something that could provide the path to find that light.

So what’s the plan from here? What am I actually doing?

– Going to uni two days a week. This gives me room to negotiate potential day program for three days a week.

– Deferring prac. Even though I’m absolutely devastated about this, the option was taken out of my hands. The dean said by just looking at me she wasn’t going to let me go. This means I’ve got 4 weeks left of semester and then have a 6 week break, rather than 9 weeks and a one week break.

– Deferring my exams until winter term, this gives me some extra room to study and less pressure right now.

– Finding a psychiatrist to review my meds, because clearly something isn’t working.

– Making regular appointments with my team, working with them and fighting.

– Finding more geographically suitable housing.

– Staying out of hospital.

– Doing the absolute best I can to stick t0 my meal plan and build it back up to where it was not too long ago.

– Checking in with the dean regularly to make sure I’m okay and that I’m as supported as I can be.

This isn’t how I wanted things to work out, but reality says that this is how it is and I can’t fight it. I’ve just got to make the best of what I’ve got and try to get my life back into my control. I don’t want to be a frequent flyer in the emergency department and don’t want my life to spiral so far out of control I’ve got nothing left. I need to start picking up the pieces now before I completely lose sight of where I’m going. It’s going to be hard. Getting back on track is going to be terrifying and brutal, but I need to do it. Baby steps is all, and even if I take the same step over and over again, at least I’ll be doing something.

Now I’m off to class and watching the clock until home time. I’ve been awake for far too long and desperate for sleep!!

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The Hardest Thing

I know the pain and heartache involved in fighting an eating disorder, I know how exhausting it is. I know how tiring it can be to face one of your greatest fears – food, and to attempt to push through that fear because, quite frankly, it’s life or death. What I didn’t know, however, was how hard and heartbreaking it would be to fight an eating disorder from the outside. To sit, looking into the pleading eyes of the hostage of an eating disorder and beg with her to do what it would take to potentially save her life.

“I know how hard it is, sweetheart, but please, please put the tube in your mouth. All it’s going to do is help you think better.” She looks at me, and with a voice both weak, but full of venom at the same time spit out two small words; “I’m. Fine.” She tells me. Legs bouncing against the foot plates of the wheel chair and her tiny, clammy hands clasped around the tube of glucose, she looks me in the eye. One pleading look before her eyes glaze over and it’s like she’s not even there, an empty shell. Repeating her name and pinching the space between her finger and thumb, I repeat my statement until she hears me. “You need this, honey, you need it to live. If you don’t have this you’re going to have a seizure, end up unconscious and they’ll give it to you in an IV. You’ve got the control now to eat it, if you don’t, they’re going to take that control away from you.” She blinks slowly, “Sorry?”. She hadn’t heard a word I said. It broke my heart to sit and try so hard to get her to eat the glucose, to see her so scared, so vulnerable and so overwhelmed by her illness. Confronted to be fighting the same illness I fight inwardly on a daily basis, wanting to scream at the eating disorder to shut the fuck up so I could get through to my friend, my big sister, to tell it to let her go, to give our beautiful girl a break so we could save her life. Wanting to do anything I could to take that pain away from her. N and I both at a loss, both worried. I couldn’t be any more thankful to have had N there with me to help our friend, to have had someone else who understands, to help talk to her, to try to get her to work with us. To help talk her into going to emergency, to try to get past ED and through to our friend.

It broke my heart moreso knowing that if our roles were reversed, the situation wouldn’t be much different. I absolutely hated sitting there getting angry at her for not doing what she needed to do to keep herself alive, but at the same time thinking to myself that I was the biggest hypocrite in the world. It killed me to see what this illness does, as an outsider fighting for someone who’s been like a big sister, getting angry with her, getting frustrated, telling the nurse to just “give her a fucking IV, ’cause she’s not going to eat this!” because I was at a loss as to what else to do. It terrified me to be standing against her bed, calling her name over and over, pinching and rubbing her arms to get her to come back to us so the nurse could do a proper assessment. Two hours and a bag of fluids later, you wouldn’t even know that the quick witted, laughing, smiling young lady in front of you was the same person.

It’s times like that make me realise how quickly these illnesses can take hold of a persons life. It makes me furious that this illness has taken away so much from so many. And times like this that make me thankful that I have so much support. I’m terrified of what this illness is doing to me and continues to do to me. I’m terrified that Ursula is so loud and intrusive today. I HATE that she’s got so much power. She doesn’t have the right to be running my life the way she is.

I know that there is never going to be an easy part of recovery, there’s never going to be anything that ‘just works’, it’s going to take hard work and commitment, it’s going to make me want to scream and cry and yell and run away, but it’s those times that I need to put in the most work and take the most from those experiences. It’s the times when I don’t want to do it any more, that I need to fight the hardest.

Never, ever stop fighting. You’re not alone, and you’re worthy of recovery.

Why keep fighting?

I went to see my psychologist at the ED clinic this morning. Flicking through my food diary she comments on how well I’ve done in the past week. “You’ve worked so, so hard to eat more regularly, eat better foods and to fight the urges that ED is going to bring up. You’re fighting, and you’re fighting hard – I can see that. If you look at this, look back at your entries, can you see that perhaps you’re stronger than ED after all? This is amazing. Seriously.”

I look at her, blink back the tears and resist the urge to tell her she’s full of shit. She asks me what it is that keeps bringing me back to her office. What is it that I keep holding onto, that I keep in mind when all I want to do is run away.

“I don’t know,” I whisper when what I really wanted to say was: “I want my life to be about nursing, friends, love and laughter. I don’t want every waking moment of my life to be about what I can and can’t, should or shouldn’t have eaten. I want to be the girl who can confidently walk into a room, scan her surroundings and strike up a conversation rather than avoid social situations as much as possible because she’s convinced she’s too fat and repulsive to put people through the misfortune of having to look at her. I want to be a 19 year old who has her whole life to look forward to, instead of spending her days planning how to end it.”

The last few days have been a blur. An emotional, exhausting blur. Yesterday, after spending an hour on the bathroom floor sobbing my heart out, I ended up taking my medication at lunch time and sleeping for 20+ hours. The black clouds continue to roll in, pushing what little blue sky was left away completely. I feel as though I’m walking around in lead shoes and I have to make a conscious effort to remind my heart to keep beating or to remember to take my next breath.

Yet, I’m keeping up the fight. I’ll keep getting out of bed most mornings, getting dressed and leaving the house. I’ll go to uni. I’ll go to my appointments. I’ll put food in my mouth, see friends, laugh, talk, live until it starts to come naturally again. I’ll go through the motions until I find the trick to making to black disappear. I’ll keep working towards recovery so I can be the girl I described, so the flowers have colour and the rays of sunshine make me eager to leave the house each day. I’ll keep fighting because I know that I couldn’t have better friends and family. I’ll keep fighting because the girl I want to be is hiding in there somewhere, she just needs to find the strength to kick ED in the groin and take hold of life once again. I’ll keep fighting because the benefits of living far outweigh the confines of an eating disorder.

Memories

She kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. Now that she’s upright again and looking ahead, she takes a breath and she kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. She swings, with purpose and emotion to release the pain that’s built up inside her chest. The sun is setting and she can feel the change in the air as evening succumbs to the darkness of night, the sky changes from the almost angelic shades of pink and gold to deep blues. The stars emerge, almost as if prompted by a director. Perfectly timed, rehearsed. She stops kicking and lets the motion of the swing, controlled entirely now by gravity, comfort her. Back & forth. Back & forth. Each time the swing moves with a little less momentum. Eventually she kicks off and lands, gracefully, balletic, on the ground and begins the walk home.

Before she’d reached the swings she’d walked through the still, chilled water of the reserve. It was low tide, she stopped to look at the miniature forms of life that sat at the bottom of a groove in the sand, trapped – for now, until the tide returns and it can escape back to the ocean. She walked along the sand of the banks, noticing as she walked how the texture of the sand changed. When she first stepped from the grass onto the sand it felt soft, silky and seemingly untouched. It enveloped her every step, comforming with the weight and pressure of her foot. Slowly, and with purpose, she took another step, noticing the slight pull as the sand released her foot – first her heel then the gentle tickle as her toes left the earth, and felt the process begin again with her next step. A little further along the sand becomes rough, course and scattered with debris left behind as the tide washed out. Pieces of stick, seaweed and other items she couldn’t identify littered the sand, the yellows and whites of the creek bed scattered with flecks of green and brown.

Tonight, for the first time in what seems to be a really long time, she allows herself to focus on memories. Should those memories be immediately connected to her current surroundings or not, it didn’t matter. She was allowed to think. She allowed the thoughts to come into her mind, she allowed them to be there, unjudged, untouched. Whatever feeling they aroused was allowed to be there too. Just be there, no pushing it aside because it wasn’t allowed or shouldn’t be, it just was. She allowed her heart to skip a little, her breath caught in her throat, as she thought about her drunken father or abusive brother – M. She stopped any passing judgement and accepted the memory for was it was.

Playing over in her mind like a monologue written and rehearsed to perfection she could hear his every word, picutre his every movement as his voice gradually grew louder. She’ll never forget the time her father came home to fight and pushed so hard her big brother, B, took it into his own hands to protect her and her mother. His hands around his throat, the colour in her fathers face slowly drained away as B’s grip tightened. Her father chocked out his words – “Get the fuck off me, you bastard!” B’s grip didn’t loosen. She’ll never forget the look of rage in his eye. He wasn’t going to stop until her father stopped resisting. She thought he was going to kill him, she was sure he would have if M hadn’t stepped in. Interrupted, B’s rage only multiplied, turning on M he took hold of him and held him against the wall. Choking him now. For a moment, she wondered if B did infact know what M had been doing to her. Why such rage and anger when M was only trying to help? Why? And, for a fleeting moment, she prayed that he wouldn’t let go of his grip around M’s throat. She prayed that this would be the end of the abuse, that this nightmare would allow her to escape from another. Then she realised that if B did in fact kill him, the one man in her life who she had ever trusted and felt safe around would go to jail. So she slipped unnoticed, or so she thought, into her mother’s room.

Closing the door on the commotion that took place in her living room, she picked up the phone and dialled 000. Asking for the police she blurted out everything she could. “He’s going to kill them, he’s hurting them. I need you to help him, protect him. He’s only trying to help.” She’d no sooner told the operator where she lived when someone took the phone from her and hung it up. She knew she’d be in trouble. Looking into her mother’s eyes, she apologised before the shattering of glass interrupted the night and a screech of car tires announced that B had once again gone speeding off, and she now had to worry, not only about the impending visit from the police, but also whether the next time she’d see her brother would be either in a hospital bed or at his funeral after he’d wrapped his car around a tree. 

The police arrived within the hour and asked a few questions before taking her aside and asking her to tell them what really happened. What really went on behind those doors, they wanted to know. Of course she didn’t tell – she didn’t want to break any rules, so she told them everything was fine. She told them she was happy, safe. She lied. The police left, and she left her parents to their own devices and crawled into her bed, where she’d hold tight to her blankets and pray, at least for tonight that the fight would be enough to make M leave her alone.

Pulling herself from the memory, she found herself on the rail bridge, looking out towards the creek mouth, where the water filters into the sea, greeted by the waves. She could hear the rumble of the ocean. The slightest breeze tickled her cheeks, the mild sea air comforted her and she reassured herself that she was in her safe place. She wasn’t in that house any more, and in her mind she watched that child close the door on that memory, at least for now, and accept that her feelings towards the men who were supposed to be a role model and protect her will, at least for now, be somewhat hostile and emotionally charged.

It’s nights like this that she finds herself grieving the childhood she didn’t have. Watching from a distance as a family talk and laugh over barbequed sausages, a single, silent tear slides down her cheek. She wipes it away quickly, scolding herself. It’s too late to mourn that now, she can’t change the past, she didn’t have any control over the events that took place then, but she does (as she so often tries to convince herself) have control over the here and now. The present. Her life, up until now, has been significantly traumatic, the effects of which still play a role in her everyday life. But the ball is in her court now. She suddenly notices that the scene infront of her, the sand, broken by a stream of water and framed by the dark green foliage of trees has colour. She suddenly notices the slight salty smell of the air, combined with the scent of spring – flowers, earth and the almost unnoticable scent of the still water that remains trapped among the rocks. There is colour, there is life – her heart is beating, her chest rises and falls rhythically with her every breath, she puts her fingers to her wrist, just above the butterfly tattoo and feels her pulse beat against them. She is alive. She takes a deep breath and turns her back on the railway. Maybe, just maybe there is hope. Maybe if she can breath through the violent images that invade her mind, the screaming thoughts, maybe if she keeps fighting she can create her own memories. Maybe next time she finds herself sitting at this bridge it will be purely to breathe in the salty air and take in the beauty of the image that is infront of her. She turns, her chest still aching with emotion, and walks to the swings. Another day, another night. She tells herself she will fight, and for now – she’ll swing as hard as she can until the ache is lessened and she’s strong enough to hold on to hope again. 

She kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. Now that she’s upright again and looking ahead, she takes a breath and she kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. She swings, with purpose and emotion to release the pain that’s built up inside her chest. The sun is setting and she can feel the change in the air as evening succumbs to the darkness of night, the sky changes from the almost angelic shades of pink and gold to deep blues. The stars emerge, almost as if prompted by a director. Perfectly timed, rehearsed. She stops kicking and lets the motion of the swing, controlled entirely now by gravity, comfort her. Back & forth. Back & forth. Each time the swing moves with a little less momentum. Eventually she kicks off and lands, gracefully, balletic, on the ground and begins the walk home.

Candlelight

I watch the flame flicker and the shadows on the walls move around me.  I sit and stare at the flame as it burns, ever so slowly, down the wick. I watch the wax melt, pooling around the wick, sending off the slightest scent. The flame dances, slowly, then flickering as my breath stirs the fire. Watching the flame, I brace my self for the inevitable – that flame will die, the light will be extinguished, the scent will eventually disappear. The wax will set and the wick will cool, almost, if not for the blackened remains, as if it had been untouched. Similar to a secret, one that’s been kept for so long & is finally brought to light. Finally acknowledged and accepted, and the hope that that secret will no longer need to be kept is the light from the flame, the freedom of the flame’s dance. The wax, slowly spreading as it melts is the truth that is being unveiled, piece by excruciating piece. Yet, after the initial furore that surrounds such an emotional revelation, comes the darkness. The cold that washes over you when you feel like the truth will spread no further. The wax has set, the secret will be once again kept within that small circle.

My candle, once again alight, was cold and dark for such a long time. The secret so big that the heat that emanated from the flame would be too overwhelming, too hot, for me to handle. No longer is this that case, I’m stronger, bigger, wiser. I’m in control of the flame, of my candle. The secret, the wick, is mine and I choose when it is to be extinguished, I choose who gets to put boundaries on how far I spread the truth. I’m  in control of my life now and the light and warmth from the flame, the shadows dancing on the walls are exciting, almost enticing. I want to see where this may lead, if I’m open and honest, if  stop running from my past, stop hiding and protecting the things that happened and talk about them, work from them and grow because of them. Will that change the person I am, better the person I could be?

Holding on to a secret is so tiring, pretending and hiding from the truth takes up so much of my energy. The effort that goes into pretending is no longer justified. Speaking, first to my doctor, psychologist and best friend and then to my family about my depression, eating issues and anxiety that are results of years and years of bullying and sexual assault, among other things has been somewhat liberating. Like lighting the candle once again, watching as the flame slowly takes hold of the wick, eventually consuming it’s entire being, then growing and dancing as it feeds from the oxygen around it. I feel like I, myself, am feeding from those around me, my psychologist, GP and youth worker, my incredible friends and family. I feel like as I redirect my feelings to the areas that it’s justified rather than containing them within myself has set me free to breath in all that oxygen and grow, so much. Each time I let go of something that I’ve been keeping inside me for so long and set it out into the universe, share it, speak it, cry about it, let someone else acknowledge my hurt, I realise that even though I feel slightly overwhelmed by the heat from the flame, it’s not impossible to handle, I’m strong enough to withstand the heat.

I’m not keeping secrets any more. I’m not pretending, I’m not hiding. I am lighting the candle to a better, brighter and happier life. Embracing the warmth like a hug from a friend, I smile in the knowledge that even though things are still a little dark and scary and heavy around the edges, the flame will grow and the light from the candle will spread further. The flame will probably be extinguished a few times in before it gets there, but it’s important that I persist, keep relighting that candle and protecting that flame from dark days so that I can allow it to illuminate the way out.

Life Goes On

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past few weeks, is that there is normal, functioning life outside the deepest depths of despair. No matter how low I’m feeling there’s always things that need doing, uni work that needs catching up on, house work that needs to be done, appointments to attend. The world keeps spinning, and I need to keep moving.

I can’t believe how up and down my mood has been over the past few days. I’ve been swinging between “I can totally do this, I’m ready to fight” to “Fuck this shit, I don’t care any more” all in the space of a day or two. I am aware that this is probably an effect of coming off my meds, but it’s just not pleasant and I hope it passes soon, I’d really like a stable mood – at least for a little while.

I’ve had a friend staying with me since Monday which has been AMAZING. J is just incredible. She’s funny, energetic and adorable and full of awesome cuddles. We’ve spent our days wandering around shopping centres, watching the new Harry Potter movie and drinking hot chocolate while curled up on the couch watching movies. J makes me smile and laugh until my cheeks hurt. I say it a million times, but I’ve got the best friends in the world.

Despite my rant about the dietician yesterday, now that my mood has changed (once again) I’m feeling like she’ll be helpful. I’m still not too fond of her ‘bluntness’ and not-so-easy-going tone, but I probably need a little bit of force and a kick up the butt, agree? I’m going to give the meal plans a go, and will hopefully start planning each meal exactly for the week so the stress of preparing meals and shopping is reduced a little bit. It’s been good having Mum stay with me and then J because they have both been cooking while they’re here, but I know that I need to start moving back into normal life, which means that people are going to have to go home and I’m going to need to start cooking for myself. I can’t have people stay here forever, and I trust myself to keep myself safe now. I want to be able to start looking after myself again, I don’t want to be dependant on people and I don’t want people to feel like they need to be near me every second of the day any more. Life does go on.

Courage

Before I start, I just thought I’d point out that it took a lot of courage for me to be able to write this post. Part of the reason that I’m writing this is because I know in myself that I’m not going to make any progress in recovery until I’m honest with myself and everyone around me. A friend on Facebook had a status the other day that said “The first step to “recovery” is admission.” I realised then how right she was. Recovery is a journey, a tough journey and one that will take a lot of time, heartache, pain and tears, but it’s a journey that I cannot travel alone. Which is why, today, I’ve decided to take a deep breath and reach out. Reach out for the support and strength that can only come from an honest relationship with the people around me.

Very recently I began to make contact with headspace, an organisation that helps people between the ages of 12 and 25 with mental health and the associated problems. At this stage I was still swamped with shame. Shame that I, who has a roof over her head, food in the fridge and a loving family, couldn’t cope with day to day life. Shame that no matter how hard I tried, nothing appealed to me. The world was just that, nothing more & nothing less. There was no deeper meaning, no thrill, no excitement. I was suffering from severe depression, anxiety and bulimia nervosa. I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem, until I spoke to a beautiful friend of mine who went out of her way to support me and show me that it was okay to ask for help and that what I was going through was nothing to be ashamed of. She pointed me in the direction of headspace and that is where my journey began.

The last 3 or 4 months have been a whirlwind of GP appointments, psychologist appointments and self discovery. There has been many times when I’ve thought that nothing in the world was going to change how I was feeling, and that there was nothing that could help me see past the cloud of black in my head that distorts my perception of the world. It’s like I’ve been sucked into a rip at the beach and the harder I fight to keep my head above water just to catch a breath, the deeper I get sucked in making it harder and harder to keep sight of the light that I know is just above the surface. There have been days where the sound of my alarm clock has caused me to burst into tears, just at the thought of having to face another day.

Today, despite my desperate urge to curl up in the dark and pretend that none of this is happening, I’ve decided to open my mouth and share my story. Share it, so that everyone I love can understand that some days, I just can’t bear the thought of having lunch or dinner with them because my eating disorder (I’m still getting used to saying that, it’s not something I’m ready to admit just yet!) is so loud that it is too distressing to have other people watch me eat, or so that they understand when I say that I don’t want to go out because my anxiety is making it difficult to leave the house, or that the black in my head leaves me wanting nothing more than a dark house and quiet.

Many of you know that high school wasn’t a pleasant experience for me. I was bullied. I was the black sheep  of the school, the outsider and the target. I was pushed and shoved, yelled at and abused. Manipulated and blackmailed into doing things that I didn’t want to do. I lost count of the days where I went home in tears, begging my mum to let me change schools. I used to have nightmares about the kids at school following me for the rest of my life shouting “Man the harpoons, white whale on the loose” every where I went, until the day I died, where my eulogy consisted of a string of their favourite insults and cackling laughter from the people in the congregation. I used to have my lunch stolen and then thrown at me, having them tell me I was too fat to eat it and the starving kids in third world countries are going without food while I was being selfish. In year 7, shortly after my grandfather passed away the black cloud appeared. It was terrifying that I felt so low every single day, that I felt that there were days when nothing was ever going to be good enough and that I was just a waste of space.

I fought through the next two years at school, trying my hardest to stay out of peoples way, sulking in the shadows and watching over my shoulder for anything or anyone that had the potential to hurt me. By year 9, I couldn’t handle it any more. There were voices in my head that mocked the insults that I faced at school, they followed me everywhere. I was too fat, too ugly, hopeless, worthless. I began to engage in a destructive cycle of binging and purging. I was sneaky, I managed to get away with this for years without anyone knowing, but by year 12 it was controlling every single thought and every single action. I didn’t know how to express to the world what was going on inside my head, so I decide to do my year 12 major art work on eating disorders. I did a lot of research, but a lot of the time I was working from personal experience.

I got through my HSC and left school, I hoped more than anything that after I left school I would be able to move on and start afresh, but things only got worse. It was harder and harder to cope, depression set in harder than ever and some days all I could feel was this intense anger at the world. A lot of the time, through high school and even afterwards, I took my anger out on the people around me. Snapping and fighting with them, just to get some of that emotion out of my head.

Then I moved out of home. Everything changed and I was scared, I felt vulnerable and small. That was when I lost control. Of my head, my thoughts and my actions. I began to get lost in a cycle of self destruction, where I was so obsessed with my weight and exercise and eating and restricting that I lost focus of everything around me. Uni took a back seat, and ultimately I failed a unit. After I started my journey with headspace, things started looking up. I was hopeful that I could get past this, but there was one problem, I couldn’t be honest. Not with myself, my therapist, my GP or my family. I couldn’t admit the extent of my problems, and that held me back and restricted the progress that I could make. Part of my problem was that I was seeing a male therapist and that there was this lingering insecurity, this feeling that no matter how qualified or how professional he was, I couldn’t trust him. So after 7 sessions, my GP and I decided to change therapists. I’m now seeing a lovely female therapist who, in one session, managed to get me to open up to her more than I had ever even considered revealing to my other therapist.

It was last week, that I decided I needed to be honest with myself and everyone around me. I needed to admit that I had a mental health problem, and admit that I needed help. It was last week that I decided, after years and years of engaging in these behaviours, that I needed to tell my mum and dad the truth. Which is exactly what I did last night. I spent hours and hours pondering the possibilities. Do I call them? I can’t. It’s too hard, I’ll never be able to explain everything that I need to explain. Do I wait until I see them next? No, that’s leaving it too long and I’ll change my mind by then. Email? That’s a little impersonal. But… it means I could put down all my thoughts and feelings at once and once it was sent I couldn’t turn back. So that’s what I did. I sent a very long winded and apologetic email to my parents, and that’s where I felt my journey really begin. Even though I’m not even close to being ‘cured’ or whatever, although today, I feel worse than I have in months, I know that I’ve done the right thing by opening up and sharing my story. I know that there are people who wont accept this. There are people who will judge me and there are people who I may lose my relationship with for doing this, but that’s nothing I can control. There is such a stigma around mental illness, that the only way the stereotypes can be changed is if people are open and honest about mental health problems. If I was suffering from a physical illness, I’d see no shame in asking people for help and I don’t see why mental illness should be any different. So here I am, this is me, and I’m asking for support. It’s not easy, and I’ve still got an intense desire to just run and hide from the world and pretend that nothing is wrong with me, but I’m drawing on the courage of my family and friends, taking a deep breath and accepting help.

I have a lot to live for, and I know that my life has so many opportunities to be amazing, I don’t want to let this control me forever, I don’t want it to take away my love for nursing and I don’t want it to destroy my relationships. I want to grow from it, I want it to be the burning strength that helps me kick through each day, I want it to be what drives me to keep going. The knowledge that I’ve come this far, and that I’ve fought so hard is what I need to be able to keep fighting. To give me the strength to become the devoted and passionate nurse that I want to be. This isn’t going to be my life, this isn’t going to be the determining factor in how my life turns out. It’s just going to be a learning curve that helps me see where I should be.

I’ve got a long way to go, and there are going to be up days and down days, and days like today where it seems that recovery is an outrageous concept that is barely achievable. But I’m holding onto the teeny, weeny fragment of hope that things will get better and I hope that both you and I can walk this journey together, cause sometimes I still need someone to hold my hand crossing the road or to give me a little support while I get used to my training wheels. This is my journey, but I’m asking you, all of you, to travel it with me.

xx L