This time last year, I was thinking about every detail of my Christmas leave, working out ways to make it manageable and achievable — a real challenge considering it was my first bit of extended leave away from the unit. This year my Christmas prep is a lot more normal; I’m back at work with annual leave coming up, I completed my University assignments and exam and I’m in a much different place in myself.
I may well be guilty of oversharing; I’m pretty open when it comes to talking about mental health and my experiences, and I spend my time treading a fine line between too much and being on the right track. I really believe, and have experienced, if you keep mental health problems a secret, you can end up trapped and wrapped up in them. Being able to talk about what’s going on is really powerful and can give you the support and strength to challenge unhelpful behaviors and thought patterns.
I’m not a fan of labels. I think they can be something that frees you and empowers you, but I have also seen how they can make you feel more stuck. I struggled for a long time to accept the severity of my illness and found that certain medical measures — like BMI — just reinforced the ideas I had about it all not really being that bad. I found the key to my eating disorder was that it wasn’t just about the food, it was a symptom of underlying problems. Once I was able to move away from the food, I was truly able to actually tackle what was really going on.
To try and help others to find their voices and talk about their mental health problems. I won’t let my eating disorder beat me and persuade me to go back to a place where my struggles can’t be spoken about, and I hope that by sharing my experiences I may be able to help others who are struggling.
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