Recovering From Anorexia, Bulimia and Depression – A Personal Journey
At the age of 25, I have seen and experienced more than most people will in their lives.
From the age of 13, I was severely anorexic, bulimic and depressed, which madly enough was aspirational for my generation. Having a medically defined label was a status symbol, and I had the status, a pyrrhic victory. Continually shifting between not wanting to live and being on the brink of death, under a crumbling facade of highly successful student and popular teenager with a vigorous social life.
Every day was a battle for survival, and after a couple of suicide attempts and sexual abuse my only tool was my decaying mental health. My eating disorder finally released its innocuous grip after a 13 week stint at a specialist clinic, and I left liberated of the crippling domination and assured demise of anorexia but nowhere near free of the underlying causes or bulimic habits, which had been cultivating beneath the stark physicality of my frame for 3 long years.
Still, I pressed on with my A levels, gaining entry into my choice of university to pursue an education in Marine Biology. With my anxiety, bulimia and depression still key players in my everyday life, the first sweet experience of alcohol allowed me to disengage from the voices and constant pressures and was a revelation! I didn’t have to feel my emotions anymore, there really was a magic potion. I didn’t scrutinise my every encounter with others, or second-guess my actions or thoughts, everything was a free flow of what I perceived as excitement and creativity.
Fast forward 6/7 years to 2016 with a fully established drinking problem, having dropped out of University after yet another suicide attempt and spending 3 years in a hostel as a technically homeless young adult, consistently let down by the swathes of mental health services that couldn’t comprehend a complex needs case.
I’d been in and out of services, groups and units to no avail. Stuck on a copious cocktail of antidepressants, anti-psychotics and various other soothing pharmaceuticals.
I had just gotten over a serious case of jaundice and hepatitis, amongst cries from the drinkers around me that I was too young to have any serious problems or be an alcoholic.
I was finally signposted to Impact, as a hoop to jump through to prove I was serious about getting into a rehab funded by the NHS. Sceptical as usual, I turned up with very low expectations of what yet another group could do for me, after all, I’d seen it all, done it all, and heard it all before.
I remember after the first group my dad picked me up and asked how it was and with a huge sigh I lamented that I just wished I could be in a group of veterans for once, not newbies! Little did I know that the key here is that Impact is RUN by veterans, and each one has tapped into a different wealth of experience to help run the course. I am now 6 months sober, 5 months chemical free and I have friends again.
More importantly, I have myself again, the person who has faded into the background of diagnoses, symptoms and the debilitating self-stigma that accompanies that.
I have had a spiritual awakening through the YOU Programme and the Pathways to Recovery that I genuinely thought was unattainable for someone as far gone, and muddied, and broken, and wretched as I was. I am a whole being now, with each aspect of my life being maintained by *myself*, a person I didn’t think was capable of existing anymore. I can’t recommend this group, and the mentors, highly enough.
They are all wonderfully compassionate, instinctive, accepting people eager to share with the misguided and lost. They have helped show me the way to becoming a genuine being once more, and my vision has never been clearer.