I went home a little over a month ago. Seems so recent yet so long ago at the same time. I met up with some friends from school, the real friends, the ones I wish I had kept in contact with far more than I have done. Some I’ve not seen for 8 whole years, longer than I ever knew them in the first place.
One thing about developing any sort of mental illness is that you withdraw. You think you’re stronger on your own so you try to stay alone. They make you think you’re better if no one knows what you’re going through. But the flip side is that, mental illnesses also tell you you’re worthless all the time. You want to be alone but its also so lonely. You don’t want people to know what’s going on but its a dark place to stay. I didn’t think I would open up, I didn’t expect to, but I did and it made me realise something.
We’re all fucked up. One way or another we’ve all been through some horrendous shit. Behind the image and pre-conception that I’m some lucky rich bitch who has everything is the father that started an affair when she was 7, who promised to give the family everything but instead spent all the money, fucked around and gave them a half-brother. The dad who everyone thinks is lovely but is still cheating on her mum. Her mum who can’t pay the bills, who she wants to help but she doesn’t get funding for sports anymore because she quit. And she quit sport because this ‘oh-so-rich-kid’ has an eating disorder. A mental illness rooted deeply in all the comments from her past. The family who picked on her. The ‘friends’ who ridiculed her. The boys who took advantage of her. The coaches who humiliated her. The boyfriends who manipulated and controlled her. The illness that manifested because there was so much pressure to be perfect. The stress of being smaller and smaller forced her into such a dark path. One of self-hatred and self-harm. All to make it. Because she though ‘making it’ would make everything alright. But it didn’t. It was never going to. I’ve had to fight constantly, I’ve never had anything handed to me on a plate but, then again, I’m proud of that. I’m glad I’ve worked to get where I am. I know that I am still very fortunate. I’m not trying to say I was brought up badly or had it worse than anyone else. But there’s so much crap that really happens, and it just goes to show you can’t judge anyone. You can never think; ‘Oh, they won’t understand.’
I cried when I told them. My best friend there already knew but the others didn’t. Even one said to me, ‘you have an eating disorder? You?’. She didn’t mean that in a negative way. I used to be scared to tell people because I thought that they wouldn’t believe the fat girl had an eating disorder. But she didn’t mean it like that, she was concerned because she cared for me.
I’m not here to talk about everyone’s issues. Only mine. But opening up made me realise that none of us have had it easy. We have all had to deal with vast amounts of different stressors. I even joked to one, that we could probably write an award winning soap together! We can all sit there and smile and tell each other about the good things that are happening to us and how happy we are for each other. But its when we let the smile go and just open up, tell each other honestly what happens in that dark corner of our mind that you find your true friends are actually there.
I might not have seen them for about 8 years, but after telling them my secret I realised that we’re probably stronger friends now than when we were kids. There’s always those people who you tell, but they don’t really seem to acknowledge or understand. They understood and I’ve never been so happy to talk about my issues to a group of people. I even ended up chatting to one for hours the week after and to realise I had a friend who I had potentially forgotten about, a friend so much more important to me now than 8 years earlier. It’s easy to think that while the world is shitting on you, that it isn’t shitting on someone else but that’s not true. We’ve experienced different things, different highs and different lows, but we’re not alone in that.
The most important thing I gathered from that day at home was that, we’re not okay, but we’re doing okay, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be slowly moving forward, looking to the future and escaping the past. It’s okay to stumble and fall some days. It doesn’t mean we’re weak, it doesn’t mean we’ve failed, it just means we’re human.
It’s okay to not be okay.