Your past doesn’t determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are to become.
I was fortunate enough to grow up with an incredible family and support system. Despite struggling with an undiagnosed Anxiety Disorder from a very young age, I was always a happy and sporty child. As I grew older, mental illnesses were considered ‘taboo’ and were unfortunately, often left untreated.
Years later, when my relationship with food, exercise and ultimately myself, started to dissipate, no one (including myself) understood what was happening. I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, Depression and an Anxiety Disorder. From this moment onwards, my life and my family's lives changed immensely.
Each day became a battle with my own mind. I lost the energy to carry my textbooks around at school and even to stay awake during class. My friends began to notice that I wasn’t eating during recess or lunch. Some were jealous that I ‘didn’t get hungry’ (I was always hungry) while others threw food at me in the hope that I would eat something.
My parents caught on very quickly and instantly took me to a counsellor to figure out what was wrong with me. After trying the Maudsley program with my family for months, it was obvious that I was just getting worse. I would create unhealthy habits to hide or get rid of food.
I changed from being the nice and bubbly girl that my parents raised and instead was overtaken by the ‘ED monster’. During this time I also developed severe social anxiety to the point where I would cry about going to school because there were ‘too many people’. I also became very depressed, another horrible consequence from my eating disorder.
It was time for a change. In December 2012, my parents decided to admit me to a private in-patient hospital to be treated for my eating disorder. After 8 weeks in hospital, I wasn’t ready to get better, I didn’t want to get better, so I didn’t. It wasn’t until my second admission that my attitude started to change.
I was now officially in the middle of year 11 at high school, with just 2 months left until I had to start my final year - It was now, or never. It was in hospital that I realised I had one goal that I wanted to achieve – to graduate high school and go to university. It was this goal that ultimately, saved my life. I changed high schools for year 12, studied hard, went to counselling and altered my life for the better.
It’s important to know that you can be the creator of your own success, you just need to find your passion and have a goal. Don’t be embarrassed of your struggles or past, they have only helped you become who you are today. Don’t forget that it’s okay to have a relapse and to still have those ‘ED thoughts’, you’re stronger than you once were. But most importantly, don’t forget that it’s okay to ask for help and share your struggles with your loved ones – they are there to help you.
Today - 5 years later - I have graduated high school, graduated university and I am now working in my dream job where my passion is endless. While I have had my fair share of relapses along the way, it’s important to know that we all do and we might always have that voice in our heads. But we’re also a lot smarter and have tools in place to help get us through those challenges. You deserve to find your own passion, to create your own happiness and to live the life you once thought you never deserved, because you are worth it. Without the help of my amazing family, professional team and my own perseverance, I wouldn’t be where I am today – I owe you all, my life and my freedom.