How lonely it is to have a mental illness

It’s been forever since I last posted on my blog, but today I had the urge to share a few things with the world — so here I am, again.

For those of you who don’t know me yet, I have an eating disorder and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which is absolutely no fun. It’s hard for me and for everyone around me, and I completely understand that. It’s even harder for people who don’t suffer from a mental illness to understand certain things, and I also get that.

When I say it’s lonely to have a mental illness, is because most people don’t understand the disease; or they think they do and get anxious to see you get better as fast as possible — which is impossible. When you’re physically ill, you take the medication needed to get better, and you do. But when you’re mentally ill, things are not that easy — or that fast. It’s important to seek help and get the right treatment, but that needs to be done at our own pace. I believe that’s the biggest problem when dealing with someone who has a mental illness: wanting them to get better fast, and getting anxious when they don’t.

Unfortunately, that’s how mental illnesses are. It takes time, it takes a lot of therapy and a lot of mental work in order to change the cognitive distortions happening in our brains. Every little step forward is a victory. People getting treatment can see that very clearly, whereas people seeing things from the outside, don’t. I’m writing all this because recently I’ve heard from people who I truly love that I’m not trying hard enough, and it felt like a punch on my stomach. It instantly invalidated all my efforts, and it almost took away my will to continue the treatment.

Is it easy for them? Of course not, and I know that. I understand how frustrated everyone gets when I fail, or when I take a huge step back. I understand how exhausted they are, and I wish I could get better over night just so they wouldn’t have to feel this way — but I can’t. I’m actually trying really hard here, but I don’t think many people acknowledge that. That’s usually when most people choose to leave — and some of them have. It hurts like hell to be ignored by loved ones, especially when you suffer from BPD.

There’s a very good article that explains all the symptoms of BPD, and the first one is the fear of abandonment. I can’t even start to explain how empty I feel now that my fear of losing loved ones became true. All my head keeps telling me is that it’s all my fault, that I’ve pushed them away. Maybe it’s true, and maybe leaving me behind was the best decision for them. It doesn’t stop me from feeling worthless, though.

Other symptoms of BPD can easily be misunderstood, like for example impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. Drinking, binge eating, gambling etc, can easily be seen as anything else, but not as a symptom of BPD. I know that, because I’ve been told I’m something I’m really not, just because of one of these behaviours caused by my BPD. But how can I say otherwise? The more you say you don’t have a specific problem, the more people will believe you do.

This is all very exhausting. Not only for me, but for everyone who I still have in my life. So I encourage you to read the article I linked to this post, and please understand I’m not choosing to do certain things. Even though it’s hard for you to believe, I AM doing everything I can to get better.

If you’re going through the same thing, share this post with your family and friends. And please, feel free to leave a comment if you think it’s necessary.

I wish you all the best.

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Being a mom with an eating disorder

It’s been 16 years since I was diagnosed with Anorexia. I have my ups and downs, obviously, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s an everyday battle, a constant war I have to fight in my head to stay alive. Before it was hard; now, it’s even harder — I have a baby.

The most difficult part of having a mental illness is how hard it is for other people to realize you’re not choosing to be like that. “You have to eat to be strong for your baby.” Yes, I know; It’s part of my battle. People say that, thinking it will help, but it only makes it worse. It makes the guilt almost unbearable. I look at him so fragile in my arms, depending on me to survive, and here I am not being able to eat. “If I died, he wouldn’t even remember me,” I tell myself every day — but it also doesn’t help.

During pregnancy I was able to eat normally; even I was proud of myself. Of course there were days when I didn’t want to have a full meal, but at least I ate. “It’s for the baby,” I told myself; and it really was. But now he’s not inside of me anymore and, unfortunately, I’m not breastfeeding — my motivation is gone. There are days when I can’t even open my mouth; it’s shut, it’s sealed.

Having an eating disorder is punishing. “Eat and fight your head. You have to be stronger than that!” If only people knew that’s the same as telling someone with cancer to fight it and let it go. (And before anyone says anything about my statement, I’m a cancer survivor. So yes, I know how cancer is like.) Trying to explain gets tiring, so you start to hide yourself from the world. Only I know how many times I’ve said things like “I already ate, thank you” or “Mmmm that looks delicious! I’ll try it next time!” Before it was bad, but now I look at my baby and feel even worse. Guilt starts building up the moment I feel good for not eating anything — now I always feel guilty, regardless if I eat or not.

Every day I wake up thinking “I won’t care about it anymore,” and every day I fail. I see people eating and I simply can’t understand the pleasure they feel. “How come they’re not ashamed?” I ask myself and envy their satisfaction (in a good, wistful way). I miss my childhood years, when I didn’t know the pain, shame and guilt I feel every time I eat. I just hope I’ll be able to fight it over and over again; I hope I’ll keep myself alive for my son and my family. I know it will never go away; the day I look at myself in the mirror and not see a fat person will never come. I’ll never look at food without getting anxious and trying to figure out how many calories I’ll be eating. It’s a curse.

I’d like to thank my husband Jeremy for always being there for me, and my family and friends for trying to help. I know it’s hard, and I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry. I don’t know how to stop.