I suffer from Anxiety, Anorexia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Self Harm. All of these illnesses are tied together in some way or another. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but I hope that my story can help someone else get through it.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
I’ll start with my Body Dysmorphic Disorder, since that’s where it all started for me. I was your typical pre-teen girl, who, like all other young girls, cared what people thought.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been happy with what I looked like, but it got worse the older I got. My body started developing right after fourth grade. That’s when I think it ultimately started. I was picked on and teased. It is something I still struggle with every day. I have never looked at myself in the mirror and loved what I see; I’m always disgusted and always see myself a lot bigger than I am. And I hide under big t-shirts to hide my “fat”.
That leads to the anorexia. The older I got, the more self conscious I was about the way my body looked. I didn’t want anyone seeing me eat; I started skipping lunches at school and only did light snacking when I got home.
My mom worked 12 hour shifts. As I grew up, I’d cook supper then make myself a plate and either throw it away or give it to the dog before she got home. I battle with the urge to starve myself on a daily basis. It’s a struggle, but I’ve started eating healthier and finding things that will fill me up without gorging on them.
I have also self-harmed. It started out just rubbing raw small spots on my thighs- just enough to feel a physical pain, then I’d stop. It escalated to rubbing long gashes into my wrists and my calves. I have many scars from doing this and I see them everyday. I also see the way people look at me when they see them.
At the end of the day, I’m proud of my scars because it’s a reminder that I’ve gotten through some tough times in my life. In the moments I self-harmed, it was the overwhelming feeling that I needed that release to make the situation better. But, in fact, it just put me in pain for days, if not weeks.
I’ve struggled with Anxiety more recently. My anxiety started when I joined the navy and was separated from my twin sister for the first time in our lives. Being across the country while she was home in the late terms of her pregnancy hit me harder than I expected. I ultimately ended up coming home for medical reasons. I figured my anxiety would go away, but it has gotten far worse over time.
I have any anxiety attack daily. That’s one of the hardest things to explain to people. They see you happy, smiling, and laughing, and then the next minute you’re having a break down for some (unknown to them) reason. I constantly fight anxiety, whether it’s fighting the urge to focus on the things I do wrong or the fact that I have more memory lapses than I’d like. Anything is a trigger for my anxiety attacks and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to accept and cope with.
These illnesses have made me the person I am; they’ve given me the perspective that I have today. It’s given me the ability to reach out and help others. I hope it helps you as a reader to know that you aren’t alone in any battles. You will always have someone to help you through them everyday.
By: Christy O’Connor
You can find Christy providing support for others and sharing her story on Instagram at Lifeamongsecrets.
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