"It's not like I'm depressed or anything, just sad."
"Ya, like I'm anxious but it's not like I need therapy or anything."
"Sure I have weird eating habits, but it's not like I'm anorexic."
I'm not that bad.
How many times have you either heard, or said, one of these? It's so common today to think that you're problems, espcially mental, just aren't big enough to get treatment. That's what happened to me, and what still happens everyday with my struggles with my eating disorder. It's something I find that is way too common with mental illness; the idea that even though we're suffering (whether that be from mental or physical pain) if we complain we're weak. If we complain it's selfish because someone must have it worse than us. We may be hurting, ya, but it's not that bad yet right?
For about 3 years I've been struggling with an eating disorder, and through my life I've also struggled with OCD and anxiety. For the longest time I thought that even though I was hurting, I never thought that my problems we're big enough. Sure I went through my teenage angst phase (ugh, my life is so hard they got my order wrong!), but when it came to my mental health, no matter how much my illness started to debilitate my everyday life I thought that if I actually admitted I had a problem then it would make me look weak.
I'm not going to go into a long detailed account of the specifics of my illness because it doesn't matter how much I may have been hurting because that's not the point; the point is that I was and I didn't think I deserved to get any help. In my head someone always had it worse and that's all that mattered. So I ignored my problems, like too many of us do, and convinced myself that I could be fine. I made any excuse I could to avoid any kind of help; I had work. I had school. I had a friends birthday so it would be so attention seeking of me to complain.
Obviously things didn't work out quite like the romantic comedy I was hoping for. I had to give up running, the sport that took up about 90 percent of my time. I'd become incredibly isolated from my best friends. I ended up taking a year off from university after it all got too much. And I finally accepted the help everyone around me could see I needed, and the help I clearly deserved. I went into inpatient treatment for just under 4 months and it was easily the best thing I ever did. Even though it completely changed my life in the best way possible, there was still that shame I had when telling people why I had to take time off. I was so terrified of being seen as weak. I was the president of my high school, the extrovert in the crowd and an annoyingly proud camp counselor that went through two years of leadership training. How the fuck was I supposed to tell people that I had struggled for so long. My ego was going crazy, thinking that people would see me so differently now. I would be seen as weak and so incapable.
The response that I actually got after all that treatment? Nothing but positivity and comments about how strong I was. And what did I expect? If I told someone that I went into rehab and all they could say was how weak I was then that's a grade a asshole I don't want to be involved with anyways. But still, "wait....strong?" was all I could think. I finally realized that it was actually really fucking brave of me to admit that I needed the help I needed. I finally recognized that my problems were actually problems and to stop being so terrified of what other people thought of me getting help. And in my opinion anyone who can openly admit that they need help is (excuse my french) a badass boss for knowing what they need to get better. Whether that's needing to call a friend because you're upset, or taking some time to go into more intensive treatment. It's that toxic thought you need to reach one extreme of the spectrum to get to "qualify" for help.
But again, my dreams of a romantic comedy plot line didn't quite work out and my mental illness started to creep back in again full force. All kinds of recovery, has it's ups and down. And just because you go through treatment does not mean you're cured. And like the stubborn teen I was (am), I refused to listen to my own advice and claimed that I was totally fine, completely ignoring any "small" struggle that I obviously thought wasn't "serious" enough.
And so here I am today, with an eating disorder that again is kicking my ass. But I didn't take that kick boxing class circa grade eight for nothing, I'm ready to beat this bitch. I'm admitting that I'm struggling (and I'm not trying to make this sound like it was an easy decision because I think I grew grey hairs trying to decide), and I'm legitimately happy and proud to say that I'll be going into the Toronto General Eating Disorder Day Program for the rest of the summer so I can get better. If that makes me weak then see my comment above re. grade a asshole, because this is what I'm doing.
If I had recognized my problems earlier, when they weren't as extreme, maybe I wouldn't have gotten to that extreme that has taken away so many things from my life. You shouldn't wait either, you deserve help, no matter what level it may be at or what you think people will say about it.Pain is pain. We all feel it. And even though we feel it on different levels, (and I am in no way trying to minimize anyones struggles) I firmly believe that we should all have the right to get help. If you or anyone you know is struggling, don't wait until your in the hospital to get help. There's no such thing as sick enough. Seemingly minimal problems can quickly turn into debilitating ones when we don't give them the attention they deserve. Give yourself the attention that we all deserve, basically talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. You would never call them a pussy for asking for help if they're having a bad day, why talk to yourself like that?
And if you need me you know where I'll be; kicking ass.
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