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Lake Effect Series: I’m Healthy Now

Note from Hollie: Today is the day that I run the Lake Effect Half Marathon.  It is hard to believe this is the result of three months of fundraising and eating disorder awareness.  We did it though.  We raised over 2500 dollars and we raised even more awareness about eating disorders.  Thank you everyone for your support.  It’s not too late to donate or enter the giveaway.  I will be doing a final post sometime this week to recap the campaign as a whole, announce giveaway winners and provide a final closure.  It has truly been an incredible experience and I never would have dreamed we would have raised 2500 dollars together. 

The final story is the most emotional and the most graphic.  Thank you for sharing.

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When Hollie asked me to share my eating disorder story, I jumped at the chance. Of course I’d help. After all, having a distorted relationship with my body and with food is all in the past. I’m healthy now. I’ve moved on. I’m recovered. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mindset of someone who has an eating disorder, even if that someone was just you at a younger age. Luckily, I happened to have kept an online diary during some of my darker years, and the entriesserve as a constant reminder of what that life was like, and how miserable it was. Some of the entries are truly heart breaking, and are hard to read, but I’ve included a few passages to paint a better picture of just how distorted your head can get when you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

Like so many others, my issues with food evolved over many, many years. At age 8, I determined that my thighs were too fat, and by age 10 I was trying out my first fad diet (Cabbage Soup). I’ll never forget going to McDonald’s with my friend’s family and passing on French fries. I felt triumphant; as if I belonged to a special society of people who were too good to put such trash in their bodies.

“I like going to bed with my stomach empty. Makes me feel…less like a failure”

During my adolescent years, I slowly started on the downward spiral towards food obsession. I went on numerous fad diets, counted calories and fat grams, skipped meals, went on fasts and eventually even tried to make myself throw up. At first I considered vomiting only as a last resort. Something I’d do in “emergency” situations where I had eaten something unplanned and “bad.” Most days I’d restrict my calories to practically nothing, only to binge on whatever I could find once I got home from school. Then, as I could feel my stomach churn at the presence of food, I’d rush to the bathroom in a panic, intent on removing as much of the offending substance as I could. But I hated puking. It was logistically difficult to manage while living with parents and it was just plain gross. There is nothing glamorous about vomit. I kept hoping that if I could just get a control on my diet, then I wouldn’t need to throw up anymore. If I could just get my weight low enough, then I wouldn’t need to diet at all. But the weight didn’t drop off like I wanted to, and instead, primarily due to my horrific eating habits, it increased.

“I want to see skin hanging off my bones. It’ll make me feel like my skin is more like a large sack and I can hide in it” 

My downward spiral continued into my first year of college. Surrounded by thin, beautiful, attractive classmates, I became painfully aware of everything that I was not. My body image plummeted, and I found myself increasingly turning to food to numb how I lonely and depressed I felt. I’d go to the dining hall and pack a to-go carton FULL of food. Starches were my favorites. Garlic bread, pizza, cookies, hot dogs, cakes, bagels. Not to mention drink containers filled with frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream. I’d sit in my dorm room alone and eat and eat and eat until my stomach literally couldn’t distend any further. Then I’d head to the bathroom where I’d wait until I knew I was alone and I’d vomit everything out. Over time I learned which foods came up the easiest, and which ones were difficult. I learned how to be quick and how to be quiet. I concealed my secret very well, but to my despair, my weight refused to drop, and instead, continued to increased.

“I feel like I’m falling apart. I’ve really come to detest what I’ve turned into. Physically, I’m really gross. I can’t even describe it. AHH! I can’t handle myself anymore! It’s like I’m teetering on the edge of this huge cliff. If I let myself go then I’ll plummet back into the world of extreme depression and unattractiveness. If I can manage to get myself on stable grounds then I’ll be okay but I’m just sort of handing there, my fingers grasping at the rim. But they’re losing their grip and I see it all just slipping away. My face.My hair.My ideal body.My grades.My friends.My future. I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m too far gone. It’s too bad they can’t put me into solitary confinement for a month so that I can just slowly wither up and die. Or at least get thin.”

A couple of months into my sophomore year, I hit a breaking point. I couldn’t say exactly what changed, but something inside me snapped. I stopped eating.  I lost all focus on school or relationships and instead became entirely fixated on my weight. I weighed myself almost hourly, making sure that I didn’t magically gain a pound when I wasn’t looking. I hardly ate anything and what I did eat I immediately threw up. My hands couldn’t stop feelingmy hips, stomach, thighs, and collarbones, searching out for areas that felt thinner or bonier. I’d try on and retry on clothes to see if they fit any looser than the day before.

“I hate the way I can’t think about food normally. I hate how I can’t stand the way it feels inside me. I hate the way my mood is so dependent on those three digits the scale reads. I hate how throwing up doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. But I couldn’t imagine living any other way. This way of thinking is too infused with my way of thinking. So throwing up food isn’t particularly good to a number of my body systems, but it gives me some sort of mental comfort, like some sort of accomplishment. Sick? Yes. But I can’t stop. If I did what would I do?”

By that spring, I had lost about 30lbs over the course of 3-4months. I was feeling good and in control. I just wanted to lose a little bit more.If I could just lose a little more, then I could give myself permission to be happy, because only then would I be worthy enough.But while my weight was still well within the normal range, the weight loss began to attract attention. My parents became suspicious and shortly thereafter figured out what was going on. I would like to say this was the point at which I finally got help, finally started getting better, but that was still a long ways off. Instead, I was forced to see a social worker and then a therapist. I know my parents were only doing what they thought was best, but I was not in the right mindset to receive help, and instead I resented them for it, and quit going shortly after only a couple of sessions.

“I have so much emotion stored up in me and I HATE having it come out. Crying is weak and therefore I am weak. I detest weak people. I want to be strong and resilient and independent and not need anybody but I’m nothing like that. But food helps me pretend. It gives me a focus. By constantly focusing on weight and good I can take my mind off everything else that I hate about myself. Because if my weight was perfect, then I’d have to find some other part of me that wasn’t and try to fix that too. Because there has to be a reason I’m so messed up. There has to be something wrong with me. But I can only fix one problem at a time because otherwise I’ll get so depressed and frustrated I’ll just give up and succumb to the sadness.”

Over the next year and half, I continued to struggle with my eating. I frequently found myself in debt after spending entire paychecks on food that would be gone in a night. I isolated myself from friends and avoided social situations, but I also became increasingly frustrated and angry with my situation. I hated that I had become so controlled by food, and gradually I tried to release myself from its grasp, which was of course easier said than done. I’d start off Monday promising myself I’d eat healthy and nutritious and in moderation, but by Friday I’d be consuming an extra-large pizza by myself. It seemed hopeless. I was hopeless.

“I’m sick of this. I’m sick of binging. I’m sick of throwing money in the toilet. I’m sick of wondering when I’ll get my next “fix”. What it will be, when and where I’ll do it. I’m like a drug addict.”

However, I did make tiny steps towards progress. With graduation looming, and threats from parents, I finally decided to commit to getting better. I bought myself a book on recovering from bulimia as well as a few books on intuitive eating. Despite appearances, I was still a somewhat rational person and knew that I needed some nutrition. So I started there. In between my massive binge/purge sessions I’d force myself to have an apple, or maybe some carrots, and let that sit in my stomach, repeating to myself over and over that while uncomfortable, the nutrients were necessary. Using the books as a reference, I relearned how to eat and how to recognize fullness. Once my eating had somewhat stabilized, the real work began. My eating disorder was an excuse for me to ignore some very painful emotions that I had hidden from myself. For years I had believed myself to be unworthy and incapable of so much. Identifying and confronting those beliefs as false has taken years.

“I’m slipping. I can feel my thoughts changing. I’ve been trying to stay so positive and so on top of things but it’s getting too overwhelming. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. It’s like standing on a point and being told by a million different people that in order to reach your goal you should go this way or that way or no this way over here. So you pick one, hoping it will lead you in the right direction, but now you’re feeling even farther away than you started and you being to think you chose the wrong path so you start to doubt everything you’re doing and try to backtrack or maybe hop on another path. But how far do you try out one path before you give up? How long do you go without your goal in sight before you try a different strategy?”

My recovery from an eating disorder, like my descent into it, was a gradual process. I still have days when my demons rear their ugly heads, attempting to lure me back into the darkness. Luckily, I’m stronger now than I once was, and I know how to face them. I still occasionally worry about weight, but I try not to let those worries consume me and my former obsession with food has even evolved into a loveof all things cooking and baking. I guess that a silver lining?

A big thank you to Hollie for letting me share my story with you all. Hopefully you gained a better perspective of what it’s like to be in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. If you have, or are currently suffering from, an eating disorder or eating disordered thoughts, my heart goes out to you. You are worth so much more.

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Lake Effect Series: 15 Year Battle

Note from Hollie: This is the final story before the race tomorrow.  I cannot thank everyone enough for sharing their story, for donating and for being apart of this journey.  We are currently at 2361 and only 139 dollars from 2500!  There is still time to donate if you can.  Seriously, thank you.  Also it’s not too late to share or enter the giveaway associated!  There are lots of great prizes like Kind bars, energybits, granola, Healthy Bites and Pocket Fuel!
On another note, I have recently started following the author of this story Jackie.  She is an amazing, incredible and strong woman and I cannot sing her enough songs.  I definitely encourage you to check out her blog.
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Submitted by Jackie 
My journey from eating disorder to recovery has spanned 15+ years, but the sweetest feeling in the world is knowing that there IS life after an eating disorder. It doesn’t have to forever be the defining statement over your life, your relationships and your thoughts. Recovery is possible, just never give up.

My struggle with food and eating began in my elementary years, I can’t pinpoint a year, but I know I had an unhealthy relationship with food even back then. I slowly gained weight and by junior high was pretty overweight. The pre-teen/teenage years are pretty unforgiving when it comes to being overweight. It seems that people love to target and pick on the overweight kids. I was bullied and made fun of on a regular basis through junior high, but you would probably never know it, I learned to hide it well. By the end of 8th grade I remember having episodes of purging, but it was scattered here and there. It was often associated with stress and handling all these feelings that I didn’t know what to do with.

By high school (particularly later in 9th and early 10th grades) my struggle had become an all out battle. What was at one point a stress relief became an overwhelming addiction that I had lost complete control over. I lost over 100 pounds through this time and by 10th grade, not long after my 16th birthday, my family doctor recommended to my parents that they seek treatment for me. I spent six weeks at an inpatient eating disorder clinic and thanks to insurance was told I had to leave and pursue treatment back at home. I struggled with depression, anxiety, thinking that this was the end of my story, I couldn’t see hope outside of my eating disorder, it was my best friend and my worst enemy and it had its grips on me.

Fast forward through the high school years, I continued to struggle. I graduated and moved off to college and rather than the freshman 15 most gain, my eating disorder amplified and I struggled badly for those years. I am an overachiever and push myself to my limits at anything I do. I was trying to balance college studies and my struggle with an eating disorder, and having a hard time. I was pushing to graduate college with a double major in three years, wanting to keep all A’s. I used my eating as an escape for the stress I felt. A binge/purge cycle would relieve the feelings of anxiety that built up inside.
There were times that I’d get a handle on my eating, I’d think I had made a turn for the better, and then without notice I’d be swept into the struggle more fully than the time before. Eating disorders are rough because you always think you have control of it, until you realize that you don’t. I saw therapists. psychiatrist, etc throughout this time, all trying to help me…all aiding in my eating. None ever understanding how I kept falling back into the same cycles over and over.
I finished college in 3 years, and met my future husband. I got engaged and a year after college, I got married. Shortly after getting married I found out I was pregnant. Eating disorders and pregnancy are hard. You’re already freaked out about your body and then it starts morphing and changing in ways you cannot control. I did my best. My very, very best for my child. Trying my hardest to always put her needs before mine, I did well for awhile, but once she was born the struggles continued to come and go. Four years later I had another daughter and somewhere in between this time, in the highs and the lows, I began to crawl out of the pit I had been sucked into for 15 years. I can’t pin point a moment, I can’t tell you I did x,y,z, and that helped me. I don’t know exactly what it was. I do know I never stopped trying to get better.
Lets jump to today….I have 2 beautiful little girls that are 4 and 8. They look to me as an example, they want to look like me, act like me, be me. That is very scary when you struggle with an eating disorder and you’d give your life to spare them from this struggle. I started working out and lifting weights a few years back and begin to find the strength in my body to be amazing. Just very recently, I discovered my love of running. I just completed my first Half Marathon the past weekend (Feb 9) and am still in awe that I ran that far. I see beauty, I see redemption, I see a newfound respect for my body for its strength to carry me. I have found my legs to be such an amazing gift to me, food is now fuel for me and I have such a healthy relationship with it that I shock myself on a regular basis. I can truly say running has saved my life. It has given back to me something that I never knew I possessed….pride in myself and a love for myself.
Running has made me feel whole, see my worthiness. I am a Christian and I thank God always for sustaining me in my struggle. He truly has given me the strength to press on and never give up. My faith carried me in the darkness and that coupled with my running shoes are carrying me places I never thought possible.
I fought a hard battle, I never gave up having hope that one day I would live without the struggle of an eating disorder. I am a survivor. My voice may be small, but I am not longer ashamed of the battle I fought. I made it, many others are still fighting and I want to give people the hope….just keep going! If one person finds help, if one person sees hope, then my battle has been well worth it. Eating disorders don’t have to stay hidden and in the dark, there is such beauty in the freedom of the truth.
Thanks for letting me tell my story,
Jackie 🙂

Lake Effect Series: Never Hitting Rock Bottom

Note from Hollie: This story is extremely heartbreaking but I know many people can relate too.  As she never hit rock bottom but had clear struggles with disordered eating and pushed through.  Thank you to everyone for sharing and donating.  I am hoping to reach my half of my goal by mid January so anything you could donate would be so appreciated!  And if you have a story to share, please don’t hesitate to email me at lolzthatswim(at)gmail.com.  It truly means a lot to me to everyone supporting me during this race, whether you are donating, sharing a story or just sharing my story.

Submitted by anonymous 

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I have always been athletic. I started gymnasts at the age of 9 and competitive cheerleading shortly after.  Both sports are notorious for body imagines issues and I have dealt with body image issues my entire life.  For as long as I can remember I have felt very body conscious. It probably didn’t help to have one of my gymnastics trainers put me on a special diet when I was 10. I can’t imagine starting a diet at that age was a good idea and it most likely contributed to some of my issues. Either way, I was always incredibly insecure about my body.  I maintained a healthy weight throughout high school and college.

I believe my body image issues developed into a full blown problem around the time I graduated and felt like I was at an in-between phase in my life. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting but did not feel ready to enter the real world. I was interning while going to school and I just found myself a little lost. Everything up until that point in my life was mapped out for me – Elementary school, middle school, high school, and then college. Now nobody was telling me what to do or where to go next and I wasn’t really sure myself of what I wanted to do.

So I went right back to school to get my Master’s degree. I bartended my way through college for extra money which was fun while I was in college. In Grad school, I had to continue bartending for money as I was not working full time and was going to school during the day and interning part time at an accounting firm.

This is when my problem started. All of my friends and roommates who I went to college had gone on to get their ‘big girl’ jobs. The girls I lived with would wake up and go to work every day and I would not have class until 2pm. I didn’t like the feeling of being unsettled and not knowing what to do next. On top of it, being a bartender – I was feeling like I was on display all the time.  My uniform showed my stomach. This was not a good combination for someone with a body image issue.  As time went on, I found myself getting more and more confused.  I lacked direction and wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be and as a result I became depressed.

On top of it, I had a serious boyfriend for about 2 years who I thought was ‘the one.’ He was a year younger, still in college and was bartending as well.  When my boyfriend graduated college he became pretty much obsessed with the night life industry and I started to absolutely hate it. I wanted to be settled in the next phase on my life that all of my friends had entered. He let himself go physically and lost all motivation to do much of anything outside of the bar scene. Although he loved me very much and treated me very well, I just wanted to move forward and he was obsessed with everything I started to hate.

At this time I felt like I lost control of everything around me. I wasn’t where I wanted to be at all. Somewhere during this time I discovered counting calories. I started counting calories and experimenting, and I started losing weight-fast. I loved the way I looked, I felt great, and I thought I looked great.  It was the one thing in my life that was going the way I wanted. As someone who has always been self-conscious, I finally felt comfortable in my skin.

For the first 6-7 months I legitimately did not realize what trouble I was getting myself into. I thought I was fine, I thought I was healthy and looked great. In reality, I was eating 3-400 calories a day. About once a week I would get so hungry, I would eat everything in sight, and then I became bulimic as well. I lost 20 pounds off my already small frame and my weight was all I could think about. I think it was a distraction from everything else in my life I was unhappy about. I wrote down everything I ate and my mood completely revolved around whether or not I was “good” or “bad” that day with my diet.

My boyfriend, friends, and parents obviously became concerned and I found myself completely unhappy in my relationship. I knew I had to break up with him which tore me up inside even more because I knew how good he was to me.

My friends and family started saying things to me and I became incredibly defensive because I legitimately did not believe I had a problem.

But I did.

How much I weighed became the only thing in my life that mattered to me. If I was having a ‘good’ day where I was able to eat only the food I had planned to eat – I was happy. If I veered off track slightly I was miserable, and started making myself sick, a couple of times per week. I didn’t want to go out with my friends or do anything because I was tired all the time. I either wanted to go to sleep early to avoid eating, or I was upset because I had eaten more than I thought acceptable. It was not a fun time in my life, and yet I thought I was doing great and those that were concerned about me were crazy. I almost started to identify with my eating issues and they became a part of me I was strangely proud of, although I was severely depressed.

I don’t know exactly how or when exactly I got better; I think it was a combination of things. Throughout it all I purchased a treadmill and started running religiously 6 days a week as soon as I woke up in the morning. I found it to be the only other thing in my life to make me happy and it gave me time to clear my head and think.

I struggled but pushed through and finally graduated with my master’s degree.  I later broke up with my boyfriend and landed my first ‘real’ job. Things in my life, outside of my eating started to get better slowly. I started to do some reading online to see if what my friends and family were saying was true and the more I read the more I realized I absolutely did have a problem- it sounds cliché but it’s definitely true.

Realizing I had a problem scared the crap out of me but it helped me work to fix it. There was no true rock bottom moment or moment where I fixed my issue. It happened gradually as the pieces of my life started to fall back into place. I began seeing a therapist to just talk through my feelings….to get out everything I was thinking and everything I held on to and it helped big time. Although the underlying issue of why I went was my eating issues, we almost never addressed them, and it still helped make me better. The one constant that remained throughout my recovery was my running. It became my therapy, my release and my place where i could work out all of the feelings that made me feel badly about myself. Every morning I would work through what was bothering me on my run and start my day. Everything got better and I got happier. I came back to a normal weight and was eating more.

I truly believe you cannot fully understand it until you go through it. I even have a hard time relating to who I was when I was going through that time. I know I will never be fully recovered as I am still self-conscious but I no longer let it affect my life and running remains to be my therapy. I know I was lucky and not everybody is able to pull themselves out as I was – I had a great support system that was able to recognize that I was having a problem and urge me to get help. I think your cause is so important because I know there are so many people out there struggling and raising awareness is a huge part in helping people suffering and their loved ones.

Walk to SAVE Lives Recap

As you guys know, I was in charge of helping to promote the campus and community wide Suicide Prevention Walk.  In all honesty, it was one of the most rewarding projects I have EVER worked on and I can’t thank everyone enough for donating.  It really means a lot.  I raised close to 1600 dollars.   

1600 dollars.

As a whole and when the rest of the sponsor checks are calculated, we will be close to 25,000.  

We had over 450 people walk and I truly believe we touched the lives of over 1000 people.  1000 people.  Can you believe that because I certainly cannot.  I’m going to post a few photos of the Walk. 

I contacted the winner of the 100 dollar giveaway who asked to remain anonymous and thank you every one for entering and donating.  Once I have them made up, I’m going to be sending out personalized cards for everyone that donated. 

A few days before the WALK, all the coordinators in pink plus one of the sponsors a local Roller Derby team.

Some of my undergrad coworkers who came and helped 🙂

Before the walk

The Walkers beginning the actual walk! 450 coming!

After finishing clean up and 9 hours later…it’s nap time. YES I thought it would be funny to lay in the fetal position.

Question for you: What is one of your most proud accomplishments?

Sister.

This is the last day to donate to raise awareness for suicide prevention and my cause.  If you can donate, it would really mean a lot and I really cannot thank every single person enough for their donation.  Also don’t forget, I am having a GIVEAWAY about it.  If you want to share a story about suicide or depression awareness, please email me.  I would love to share my blog space with you.  (lolzthatswim at gmail) 
This story comes from Charley, a gorgeous and supportive reader I have recently gotten to know.  
Hollie
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I’m going to share a story about my sister, she is two years older than me and ever since I can remember, she has always been the shining star of the family. From a young age she was bubbly and as a singer, she was constantly entertaining, her talent was in her from the moment she learned to sing.
We had an amazing childhood, a mother that gave us so many happy memories – threw us party after party, took picture after picture, our childhood was spent on an English farm and it was filled with love. But my mother had reasons that she had to put so much effort in, because she was the only one, my father and her were still married but he only stayed at home at the weekends, and as we got older, it was clear that their marriage was mostly a shell. Still, my mother did not want to let that affect us, and continued to fill our lives – taking us on amazing holidays, enriching our lives with stories, the fact my father wasn’t always there never seemed to be that great of an issue.
Throughout these years living on that farm, my sister was happy, she performed at school plays, at churches, at home – she was still the star, and I, as a younger sister, remember watching her in amazement and constantly wishing to be her. To me, she was everything, I wasn’t talented like her, I didn’t have friends like hers, I didn’t have hair like hers – the list goes on. To sum it up: I idolised her.
Take the story on a few years and my parents have finally decided to divorce, and what came along with this was a move, from the English countryside to London and from a large farm house with plenty of acres of land to a semi-detached London townhouse. The move changed our lives completely, but my sister took it harder than I, she had always been much closer with my dad, and she was also at the delicate age of 12-13 where your live is already changing.
We both went to new schools, but she went to a high school and it was so different to what we were used to – she still seemed happy, but the friends she made there weren’t exactly the best friends ever, and that is where this all started. The friends she so desperately clung to were essentially half bullies at the same time, suddenly, my bright sparkly sister went emo – started wearing black sweatbands – she changed. Looking back, she was just trying to figure out who she was, but I remember being so shocked with the massive change of personality.
When I realised she was cutting herself, I didn’t quite know what to do, I didn’t say anything, no one told me anything – but I was so confused – was it for the attention? What was going on? Why would she do that to herself? My mum found out and took her to a counsellor, but all of this was behind my back – I still don’t know how long it went on before it stopped.
She ended up passing out of that phase, making some new friends as some of the more evil ones left, and in 11th grade she moved schools – to a typical English boarding school – but also the best one for music, drama and musical theatre – her talents had only strengthened as she aged. Surely, the problems actually started there, and she began taking anti-depressants during her second year but again, this was not told to me, I still watched her perform and continued to idolise her talent.
So where am I going with this? I’m setting these out as stepping stones to where she was last year, after finishing music university and getting an amazing degree – enter my worst memory of her sitting with me and my mother in so many painful tears begging us to let her kill herself. For, at university, living alone in London, dabbling with drugs, alcohol and god knows what else – it seems like my sister had lost that passion for music, and lost herself as well – finally all the years of little issues had come to this. So many doctors prescriptions, so many therapists – no results.
I didn’t understand depression myself, for ages, when I didn’t see its severity first hand, I just couldn’t understand why she didn’t have the passion for life, why she didn’t want to make something out of herself – why she couldn’t see how lucky she was to have had the life she had. Because to anyone looking at the life that my sister and I were brought up in – they would not understand how SHE could be depressed. But after 2 years on anti-depressants – my sister had reached this ultimate low – and what were my mum and I to do? My mother was amazing at talking to my sister, but she could never bring her out of the mindset completely. I just watched my sister helplessly as she clung on to a bloody pillow. My idol had become an empty shell – she wanted to leave me. How could I live when she was dead?
So many memories of my sisters darkest days stay with me – of the time she called me to her room because she thought she had cut to far into her arm and hit an artery and felt faint, of the times my young cousin saw her arm and started crying, of the time I heard my sister say she didn’t want to listen to music. She was not the bright young talented spark she once was – and with so much talent – why couldn’t she realise how much she had?
That night she told us she wanted to really die, my mother decided it was time to seek further help – my sister was checked into hospital – a facility that is well known in England, and I silently prayed that this would do something. But seeing her so low – I didn’t quite know how anything would help. But you know what, 4 months of therapy and inpatient treatment later my sister left the hospital and continued the courses, and 2 months ago – she was released. Granted, for a while she still struggled, she still cut, she still looked dark – but slowly I saw her lift out of the darkness – she had new friends, she had left memories behind, and her scars were healing. She had gone through a therapy called DBT, dialectical behaviour therapy – and after 2 courses of it, it finally worked.
My sister now shines again, she wants to sing again, she smiles – she still has low days, but she is self harm free, she has friends who give her meaning – and she realises how much her family love her. She inspires me so much – she will always be my idol.
To those who have never experienced a friend/family member with depression it is so hard to understand just how much weight this has on your soul, none of my friends understood how much I was going through when my sister was in hospital, but any type of help for this cause, or any light shone of depression is needed. People need to realise that it is a mental illness, you cant just shake it off, you cant just look at your life and realise how lucky you are. But you can get better – people do leave the darkness, and they need as much help as they can get for that!
I just want to share a poem that my sister wrote last week to mark the year anniversary of her breakdown – It made me cry it was so beautiful:

A thousand new memories I never thought that I would make 

A few hundred journeys, I never knew Id take 

New faces etched on photos plastered on my wall 

crazy tales, old scars, I didn’t think would last the fall

Weddings and babies, I never thought Id never see 

a blonde girl in the mirror, I never thought Id be 

A heart still beating, I thought was hollow inside

A smile I thought had disappeared, gleaming back with pride 

A year gone past and life has changed from darkness into light 

My head has cleared of pain and loss into something bright 

I never would have seen today

I never would have met my best friend 

I never would have kissed my boy underneath the stars 

I never would have seen her grow up 

I never would have laughed at my bosses joke 

I never would have breathed this breath 

If I would have succeeded in choosing death 

Instead I have thousand of new memories I never thought I would make 

And a hundred wonderful journeys, I never knew Id take

I cant wait to watch my sister become the famous singer I know she will be, and then she will be other peoples Idols as well and I’ll always be standing right behind her – cheering her on.

This time last year, her life was surrounded by darkness, now it is not. Even severe depression can be overcome – people just need the tools to do so. 

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