My biggest health struggle has been self esteem and confidence, its cliche right?
I wasn’t born this way, it’s not my natural personality however it was something that I chose to be a part of my life. Its was a slow simmering process to low self esteem, brought on by years of bullying slowly breaking me down. That constant torment and insults about my looks, my personality, by excluding me, spreading rumours or damaging my school work or belongings.
However everything is a choice, I choose to be a victim and not to stand up for myself. I chose to take it all on board and it slowly but surely ate away at my confidence, self esteem and self worth.
The bullying started in grade 4 and went right through to year 12. It did start to dwindle toward the end of my school years, I guess as people started to mature. When I was 16, feeling hopeless, not good enough and being close to surrendering, I turned to exercise to try and gain a sense of control back in my life. I believed at the time, if I changed the way I looked then maybe they would stop tormenting me, especially about my appearance.
I became obsessed! Exercise can give you a burst of energy, a rush of endorphins and I became addicted to this feeling because it was one of the only times in my life, at the time, that I felt positive.
A year later I started to notice weight loss. I had a boyfriend and people started giving me compliments about my appearance, which fuelled my fire. In my mind I had now linked all of these positive changes in my life as a result of my weight loss.
I started restricting my diet because I was now afraid of gaining weight. I thought if I put weight back on then the bullying would increase again. I continued to obsessively exercise and I felt a sense of confidence come back slightly because people are now complimenting me on my looks instead of poking fun at them.
As my food intake became less and less, I lost weight at a rapid rate and I became officially diagnosed with anorexia. By now I could no longer exercise because I physically couldn’t, I had depleted all of my energy and I no longer had a period.
Now I was 18, single, anorexic, moved out of home, at uni and trying to mask the fact that I basically ate nothing not only to everyone else around me but to myself as well. I was in complete denial that there was anything wrong with me. I was emotionally numb and my new form of escape was partying. I lived for the weekend, like exercise, it was the only time I was able to feel free.
This was a very dangerous combination that I maintained for around 6 years. Partying hard on the weekend, with little to no form of fuel or nourishment. With no fear or value for my life I didn’t think about the consequences.
In 2013 I had two seizures only a couple of weeks apart. Both times I was rushed to the Alfred hospital in Melbourne. After the second seizure, mum and dad came to Melbourne and took me back home.
There is a saying that the recovery takes as much time as the journey that got you there. I now believe this to be true, combined with hard work and patience.
I would spend days with dad helping him down the farm, journaling and meditating with mum, seeing doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists and dietitian’s. I read books about healing, practice mindfulness and daily affirmations, all of which were a major struggle to get me to even try. Eventually I did and sometimes I would feel like I took two steps forward and one step back but it was apart of the process.
Once I had defeated the eating disorder then the real challenge came. I felt worse! Why do I feel worse after so much hard work to be in this awful place? I started to feel emotion again and most of it was sadness and anger. It was so overwhelming and I had panic attacks almost daily. I was hypochondriac, every time I felt faint I thought I was going to have a seizure and my anxiety was through the roof. I had social anxiety as well I was afraid to go out in public from fear of judgement and even people just looking at me. When I would see people I knew, I would wonder what they think of me? What are they saying about me? What is the current small town rumour about the anorexic girl? I would drive myself into a state with these thoughts sometimes.
But I just kept going, I had to and I’m so proud that I did. Unraveling buried emotion is the most important process to healing and often the hardest, I know this now. If you truly want to heal yourself you need to make exploring and dealing with your emotional experiences a priority. Burying them will only manifest into something else like an illness or form of mental health disorder.
If you or someone you know can relate to my journey, I would love to help. You can get in touch with me by filling out the contact form below.