what I want the world to know about mental illness & eating disorders
I wrote this on a long walk back from a nutritionist session. It was dark; the cars rushed past me, the wind blowing my hair back from my face. I could hear the heartbeat of the city in my veins, feel the pulse of life as a living, breathing entity... I felt alive, but I felt hopeless.
The past couple of months were really rough for me. I went to darker places than I ever knew I could go to. There were days where it was bleak and hopeless, where everything was a struggle. I pretended to be fine, because what else could you do?
What changed my life was the string of posts that BuzzFeed Health had for mental health awareness week — I was inspired, or rather, emboldened. What spurred me to write this article about mental illnesses and eating disorders was the realization that I was not alone in my thoughts, that so much of the population fought the same demons I was fighting (am fighting).
Things are better now. I've crawled out of that deep, dark abyss. I won't say that I'm glad I went through what I did, but I will say that I believe I'm a stronger person for overcoming (working to overcome) it.
I don't write these pieces so that I can complain or seek attention for my problems. I write these pieces because I want my voice to be heard — I want my voice to be the one to enact change, to speak up for those who may not yet have the bravery to say so. I want those who are struggling with what I've struggled with to know that they are not alone, and I want those who are fortunate enough never to have faced those particular demons to see that there is so, so much more than meets the eye about so many people.
My full article is found on Spoon University; an excerpt is below:
We like to pretend we don’t have problems, but the ones that shine the brightest are sometimes also the ones that fall the hardest.
As someone who is outwardly successful — I get good grades, have various internships under my belt, hold various leadership positions, work out regularly and eat healthy — I can say that my life is more of a shitshow than you can ever imagine.
Sometimes I wish that I could go to sleep and never wake up. Sometimes I feel like I will collapse from sheer exhaustion and want to, because that means I don’t have to deal with the daunting endeavor that is life. But sometimes I feel on top of the world, so there’s that.
The issue with this up-and-down roller coaster is that you think you don’t have a problem. You don’t want to believe you have a problem. You’re not like the classic depressed kid who doesn’t leave his bed and you’re not that bone thin anorexic girl who eats two pieces of celery the entire day; you can still function, so you must be fine, right? You don’t need help because you’re not sick enough, right?
If there’s anything I’ve learned; it’s that eating disorders, depression and other mental disorders do not come in concrete shapes. Just as every person is different, everyone person’s struggle is different.
There’s no simple way to generalize it; nothing is black and white.
That, combined with the taboo factor of talking about these things, as well as the general lack of education, make it so easy for so many people to accept this as their life, and take it as it is.
And who knows? Maybe this is my life. Maybe I never will stop being some level of depressed, some level of anxious about what I eat, when I eat, how I eat… Maybe my life will continue to have upswings and downswings, but at least now I know why.