Story #24640

My mental health journey, similar to many people’s, started in middle school. Technically earlier if you take into account my ACE’s score, but that is more of my backstory and not my journey. I was about 12-13 when I first noticed that I did not feel good about myself. I knew I was surrounded by supportive friends, I had a home, mom and dad, I did average in school, I was not not pretty, I was not popular but not unpopular either, so why did I feel alone, ugly, hated, sad all the time, angry much of the time?

7th grade was the first time I skipped meals; it was also the first time I cut myself. I knew I could not get away with skipping all meals, so I skipped breakfast and lunch everyday then ate very small portions at dinner, some days having as few as 300cal but typically I tried to stick to about 500, anything more than that and I felt disgusted with myself. I needed to be punished on those days, I felt weak when I needed to eat more. I lost weight that I didn’t have to lose. I started catching the eyes of guys my age and older and I felt good about it. Looking back, I know that it was not good attention. I had my first and second boyfriends, they knew something was wrong, but I never let them in on how I was hurting myself with restrictive eating and cutting.

By 8th grade I no longer had hunger pains or food cravings before supper time. I was thrilled about this. In high school I continued, having become pro at making excuses for why I wasn’t eating lunch, “I had a snack last period,” “I had a really big breakfast,” “I have a big test next period and I am too nervous to eat.” I was down to about 100lbs at 5 foot 7 inches tall. Over one of the school breaks I must have eaten more than usual since I was home with my parents and when we returned to school a friend made a comment that I looked like I put on some weight and that I looked good and like I was getting healthier. I should have taken this as a compliment but all I could focus on was the fact that it was noticeable that I had put on weight. The next few weeks were rough, I was self-injuring a lot and eating as little as possible. I pushed away from my friends, clearly they were too close if they could notice slight fluctuations in my weight, they couldn’t actually care about me if they were pointing it out, they hated me because I was a fat slob. I told myself so many nasty things. I isolated myself.

The summer between freshman and sophomore year my parents insisted that we go to the Coast Guard Festival, I knew that I could not get away with wearing long sleeves, so I told my parents about my cutting. They put me in therapy but were not consistent and when I told them that I did not want to see the therapist anymore they did not force me. This therapist did, however, diagnose me with borderline personality disorder before I quit.

Sophomore year things began to change. I met a guy I was really into, so were many of my friends, I could not have been happier when he asked me out in January of that year. Like most high school couples, we were not good together, but we thought we were. I told him about all my issues. He made me promise to stop cutting, I promised but never kept it, I just stopped cutting my arms and moved to more hidden spots. He also would insist that we ate something every time we were together. I hated it and would often purposefully drive a wedge between us.

September of junior year we decided to take the next step in our relationship and became physically intimate. This meant that I could no longer hide the cuts, so I did not care if they were on my arms or other body parts. February of my junior year we were not careful and despite not having had regular cycles for a long time I got pregnant. When I found out I was 114lbs, this was the first time I met with my gyno. She knew that I had been unhealthy for some time and we discussed it. I admitted to her how I had managed to straddle that underweight but not TOO concerning line for so long and we made a dietary plan so that I could gain weight and have a healthy pregnancy and not trigger the ED too bad. I fell in love with food again. I redefined my relationship with food and became friends with my once biggest enemy. It was a lot of hard work and talking to myself through every meal to remind myself that eating was helping my baby and me grow and that if I wanted success for my baby in the future it needed to start then.

December of my senior year I gave birth to a healthy baby boy! I wish I could say that that was the end of it. Unfortunately, I had severe postpartum depression, there were nights that I sat up begging my parents to take custody of my child. There were days that I left him in his crib crying while I cried in my bed. I was not doing ok. So, at my next checkup I spoke with my doctor and told her everything, we decided antidepressants were going to be the best bet. I took one for 2 months with no improvement, then another and another. I had tried 5 different medications over 10 months and all that happened was I started gaining weight like crazy which triggered my ED again. With my doctor, we decided to stop all the meds. I was starting to level out (to my previous state) and my son was out of the newborn stage and getting easier to handle. I thought I was ok. I skipped meals when I could (about once a day, cutting back to about 1500 cal) and only cut where no one could see, and I told no one about it. Outwardly I was ok, inwardly I was still a mess.

When I was about 24, I decided to seek help again as things had gotten really bad again. I started seeing a psychiatrist, but we did not mesh well. She confirmed the BPD diagnosis, which was inappropriately diagnosed the first time since I was only 15. When I stopped seeing her I decided that I was going to take things into my own hands. I started researching BPD and treatments and how the treatments were done. I did the work on my own. I wish I could say that I am better now, all fixed, no more issues, but that would be a lie. I still struggle every day, but now I have a great support system that loves me unconditionally and is there when I am in my darkest places, even when I am trying to push them away. I no longer self-injure, though the temptation is still there, and despite the struggles with my weight I now go about weight management in a healthy way.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek immediate help.

988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

1-866-512-4357 – Crisis Helpline, CMH of Ottawa County

616-494-5590 – Children’s Mobile Crisis, Ottawa County (available weekdays 5:00pm-midnight)

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Warning

This content may contain sensitive subject matter, including but not limited to discussions of mental health conditions, self-harm, suicide, and sexual assault. If you are in crisis or need immediate support, please contact a mental health professional or a crisis hotline. Viewer discretion is advised.

  • 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • 1-866-512-4357 – Crisis Helpline, CMH of Ottawa County 
  • 616-494-5590 – Children’s Mobile Crisis, Ottawa County (available weekdays 5:00pm-midnight)