07 Aug Speak Up – By Kate
TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of self mutilating, eating disorders and suicidal behaviour
I’ve lost my identity. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost interest in the things that used to make me tick. I’ve lost my health. I’ve lost the trust that people used to have in me. I’ve lost myself. And what have I gained? Hospital bracelets, weight, and diagnoses.
My name is Kate and I suffer from borderline personality disorder with a history of severe restrictive anorexia nervosa. I received my eating disorder diagnosis in my early teens and later on came the personality disorder diagnosis. It’s difficult to sum up years of my life in a short blog post, but the gist of this story is that I destroyed my body in an attempt to receive relief that I never got. Why? In short, because I didn’t advocate for myself and my health.
I remember when I was about 12 years old having a feeling that was very disturbing. My self esteem was non-existent, I hated what I saw in the mirror, I felt depressed and anxious, and most of the time empty and lonely. I felt bound in secrecy and fear of what might happen if someone were to find out how I was feeling, so nobody knew, and as a result I felt very alone and misunderstood. At that time, I didn’t find it in myself to approach even close family members regarding my “strange” feelings, which in hindsight, I realize aren’t so strange at all. Many young girls feel inadequate and isolated, but I refused to believe that there were people experiencing similar pain and I was convinced that I was “different”. So began my journey through a disordered life. I lost a lot of weight along with my sanity in an attempt to feel as though my problems were real and valid, which drove me further down the path of self-destruction.
It took going from a healthy weight to severely underweight and a significant “suicide attempt” for my parents and society in general to realize that I had a problem, and that this problem was real and serious. I’ve put suicide attempt in quotations because my intention that time wasn’t to die, even though I thought it was and so did everyone else; it was really me screaming to the world that “I am not okay!” and that I needed help.
I wish I could tell you that this story has a happy ending– that I got better after people realized I needed help, and that upon receiving psychiatric attention my condition improved– but that is not the case. I am 18 years old now, no longer malnourished, but I was just discharged from a 7 week hospital stay to treat a serious suicide attempt that almost took my life. I am deeply saddened that my life has become a pendulum that oscillates from one crisis to the next, from overdosing to slitting my wrists, to acute intoxication, to drinking bleach, to inducing fatal illnesses, to standing at the edge of a bridge… there is no end to the lengths I have gone in an attempt to relieve my mental suffering and anguish. What saddens me is not what I have done, I will stress, but what really makes me angry and sad is that it didn’t need to be this way. If I had sought help in a productive manner, through communication to people who would listen to me and take me seriously, I would not be in the place I am now. What I hope you will take from this is that there is help to be had, but seeking help in a healthy manner is the most vital step in preventing and/or recovering from a mental illness, be it an eating disorder, mood or anxiety disorder, personality disorder, etcetera. I hope you can find in yourself the strength to speak up and know that not only are you worthy of being heard, but that people can hear you if you communicate to them. You don’t need to go down the same path that I did.