Here’s a hot topic for y’all, mental illness! Just a disclaimer, I get pretty detailed in regards to my illness’ so if you are someone easily triggered please be aware!
I plan on dedicating one post per week to my journey with my mental health, my past experiences, and more in depth posts to some of the topics I touched on below. So if mental health/illness is something of your interest or something you wish to learn more about stay tuned!
There’s something strangely taboo about being a Mom and speaking out about your struggles with mental illness but in reality us Moms aren’t always super heros. Some of us (a lot more than people think) battle with mental illness. And I’m here to share my story, in hopes to encourage people out there to seek help or just to make someone feel like “hey it’s not just me.”
Those close to me know my past, I’ve breifly mentioned it on social media but never really fully opened up about it, so here we go.
My grade 12 year is where it all began. Although I’ve always been hyper aware of my body image and the way I looked for as long as I can recall, it never really negatively impacted me until then. There was so much going on in my life which is a whole other post, but in the midst of all these things I decided to start a very restrictive diet. As the pounds fell off and people started to notice I felt so good about myself, I was more confident than ever before, I loved the way clothes fit, and was getting more attention from guys than I had ever received. Things were good for a bit, but eventually it wasn’t good enough I wanted more.
I started stepping on the scale once a day instead of once a week, I started skipping meals, and cutting more foods out of my diet completely. And just as I wished, the number dropped. But it still wasn’t good enough and I still wanted more.
So I started stepping on the scale multiple times a day, I started skipping entire days of eating, I started hiding food and lying to my family about what I was eating, and started to spend hours in the gym burning whatever little calories had gotten into my system. At this point I was full on obsessed.
Before I knew it I was three hours away from home living on my own at university which made my anorexia easier to conceal to people at home. My illness began to truly consumed my entire life, because of the anorexia I developed OCD, anxiety, and depression as symptoms to the underlying issue- my eating disorder.
For the next almost two years I would bring my own weighed and pre calculated food every where I went. I wouldn’t eat at social gatherings. Not one bite of food or sip of a drink went into my mouth without knowing it’s caloric value. My one and only daily priority was getting a two hour (sometimes longer) workout in. And if my size 00 jeans felt even the slightest bit tighter than the day before I punished myself by refusing to eat that day.
I could talk for hours about how consumed I was and all of the awful things I did while wrapped up in my disorder but I’d like to move on, to when I realised it was time to get help.
I vividly remember, I was in my second year of university living off campus in a house. The day I decided to reach out for help I had just gone through a terrible couple of days of binge eating (the result of starving the days prior) and was on the bus to the gym, I was on the phone with my mom on verge of crying asking what was wrong with me? I told her that I really needed help, and that I can’t go on living like this. I completely broke down on that bus ride and begged her for help. She agreed, she was so relieved I had finally reached a point where I was ready to accept help. In the following two months I switched to online university, moved home, and was admitted to the out patient eating disorder program at Toronto General Hospital (I will do an entire post dedicated to my experience in this program later.)
Essentially this program saved my life. Once I graduated from the program I was on my own, which I’m not going to lie it was (and still is) tough. But I’ve been out of treatment for almost two years and although I have had many slip ups and am not perfect I’m doing much better than I was two years ago when I entered the program. Anyone who has/had an eating disorder can tell you although there is such thing as recovery, an eating disorder is something you will always somewhat struggle with.
And that leads me to today. Yes I’m a Mom, but I’m also someone who’s a recovering anorexic who on top of that still battles anxiety and OCD. Becoming a Mom didn’t make all my mental battles with myself suddenly melt away like society sometimes seems to think. It’s been tough to battle my eating disorder thoughts being post partum and unhappy with my body, and it’s tough for my OCD and anxiety adjusting to my new role as a Mom. But I now know strategies to cope with my symptoms and help me to get through bad days whenever they arise.
Being a Mom with mental illness’ makes me motivated to raise my daughter with even more confidence and strength. My goal is to set a good example emotionally, mentally, and physically. Committing to living a healthy lifestyle is just as much for me as it is for her. On my bad days she is a constant reminder of why I keep pushing myself.
I’m no where near fully recovered or free from my mental illness’ but thanks to lots of help I’ve learned how to better cope with them, and although they are a part of me and something I have to deal with they no longer define who I am and that’s a hell of a lot more than I could say years ago.
If there is one thing you take from this, let it be that it’s okay not to be okay, and you are worthy of getting help no matter who you are, mental illness does not discriminate.