This post is personal. I am in no way glorifying my past struggles, just demonstrating that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. I am a true believer that Mental Illness is now a topic that can be openly discussed and not frowned upon. And thank goodness for that. (Almost) gone are the days where we felt the need to hide our dark thoughts and feelings. I truly believe that over the last 10 years, Mental Illness is recognised in schools, workplaces, homes and beyond. And support is at hand for sufferers.
Reaching out and asking for help is braver than hiding your struggles. Hiding your problems can only exacerbate the problem. I am a Blue Voice for Beyond Blue – Australia’s largest Mental Health awareness initiative. The statistics of Mental Illness and suicide is frightening in our country and the world.
I, myself, am a past sufferer of Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia and Self-Harm. And I seriously contemplated suicide. I have to be careful when discussing this topic as it’s very personal, however, all I can say is, thank goodness I didn’t. I believe I am now making a difference to help others. Through my talks in schools, workplaces, women’s groups and the like, I believe I can take my past struggles and turn it into a positive to help others.
I used to put SO much pressure on myself to look a certain way, act a certain way and to constantly please people. When somebody upset me, or did anything I didn’t agree with, I would take it out on myself. I was punishing myself when it was other people who were letting me down. I would purge, harm myself through cutting or scratching, or exercise to the point of physical exertion.
I was controlling every bit of food that entered my mouth. If I felt that a situation was out of my control, I would control my eating and weight. I was starving myself to look a certain way that isn’t actually real in the first place. I was obsessed with magazines, models, skinny actresses. But why? Why was I putting myself under SO much pressure? Why did I want to please and impress others and not myself? Why was I making myself so ill just to gain respect and compliments from others?
When I was clinically diagnosed with Depression, it was a relief. It answered my questions as to why I was finding it hard to function in day-to-day life. Why my sleep patterns were all over the place. Why I didn’t feel like eating and when I did, I had to get rid of it. Why I was alienating myself from my family and friends. Why I was trying to find companionship in alcohol and recreational drugs. It was a vicious cycle.
My lowest point was when I was living with an ex partner. He emotionally and physically abused me on and off for a long time, yet why couldn’t I leave? Why didn’t I have the confidence to get out of such a poisonous place? I was at rock bottom. I had no confidence and felt I didn’t deserve any better. I locked myself in the office of our house and sat in the corner rocking back and forth for two whole days. No food, no contact with others. I was scared to leave that space.
It was then that I realised I had to get help. And I did. And thank goodness I did. To cut a very long story short, I healed myself through my very demon. Food. It became my life! Through good nutrition and finding a spiritual path, I healed. It was a long process, and exhausting and hard at times, but it was so with it. Today, I thank myself for having these struggles so I can use them to identify with others and help. I want to make a difference in people’s lives!
If you would like to read more about my story, please head to the BOOK section on this website to buy your copy of my autobiography, Out of the Blue.
To anybody out there suffering, please reach out. Share your struggles. Open up. I did. If I hadn’t I would be here today. And, for goodness sake, please DON’T be afraid to ask somebody if they are ok.
Sending love and light to all… xx
If you or anybody you know is suffering, please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or visit their website www.beyondblue.org.au or Lifeline on 13 11 14