Blog: How I told my family about my mental health
For a long time, I thought I was on my own.
I convinced myself that everyone was against me because I thought no one could possibly understand the amount of pain I was going through.
It was me against them. The definition of 'them' being doctors, nurses, family, friends, teachers and anyone else who tried to stop me losing weight.
It didn't matter what anyone said to me. The only thing I cared about was the decreasing number on the scales. I suffered in silence for a long time because I was too afraid to reach out and tell someone the truth. My boyfriend begged me to get help from a doctor or to tell my family. I would shrug him off, spark a cigarette and carry on ignoring the problems in front of me. I was terrified to admit to myself that I was mentally and physically unwell.
Eventually, I had to accept the reality; I had become the girl I never thought I would be. The anorexic and depressed teen, who was so far from what my family had hoped for me.
My university experience consisted of tears, breakdowns, self-harm therapy and hospital visits. If you continue to run away from your problems, suffering in silence, hoping to find the answer at the bottom of a bottle or the high of a pill, things will only get worse.
The first person I told was my boyfriend. When I finally opened up to him, I felt less alone. I had someone to support me through the horrendous pain. He guided me towards getting medical help and even came with me to my first doctor's appointment. If he hadn't walked me to the doctors entrance, I never would have gone in. I was scared of being judged or laughed at.
However, that first appointment was the moment I took back control of my life. I was referred to the Manchester Eating Disorder Clinic. I started an eight-month therapy program and, honestly, it saved my life.
Looking back now, I regret not asking for help sooner. My loved ones were not against me - they wanted to help me. It takes incredible strength to admit that you have a problem and to ask for support. Just as you would get a cast for a broken bone or medication for an infection, you need help to recover from a mental illness.
For some, going to the doctors and asking for their help is too overwhelming - and that is okay. Instead, ask for help from those around you: friends, family or even strangers on helplines and online resources.
If you are struggling with mental illness, contact support services:
Two and a half years later, I am on the road to recovery. If you are facing similar struggles to mine; surround yourself with your loved ones. These are the people who will not give up on you, even when you feel like giving up on yourself and they most definitely will NOT judge you. Take advantage of the online resources out there too and please, do not suffer alone.
Recovery is not easy - but it really is worth it.
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