Tuesday, 18 April 2017

One Day at A Time: A Mental Health Word Vomit

I’ve always been a ‘worrier’. 

(TW/CW: Anxiety, Eating Disorders)

When I was a kid, I was always sick with worry whenever my parents were away. The worst time I remember was when my Mum was in the hospital, after having my youngest sister, and I had my head in the toilet bowl because I felt inexplicably nauseous. When I was in high school, I’d be literally sick with the dread of going to school every morning. I grew out of that in year 9, but for several years this would literally be every single day.

I went for years without thinking about my anxiety, but I was dealing with it unknowingly. I’d avoid getting up and going to the toilet in university lectures because I was scared that I’d trip down the two steps and everyone would laugh and snigger. If Dave was out and I was worried about him, I’d call him literally 50 times if he didn’t answer his phone, which inevitably put a strain on our relationship.

I was in deep with an eating disorder. I’d lock myself in my university room and binge until I could barely move, and then made myself sick until I cried, and the blood vessels around my eyes had burst. Although this was arguably at its worst in University, emotional eating carried on and is something I’ll always struggle with. I gained a lot of weight over several years, and this wreaked havoc with my self-esteem. 

One thing I can pinpoint is exactly when I felt my lowest with my eating. I was 18 years old and working for a pizza chain. I had gotten to the shop too early to open, so I stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s on County Road in Liverpool. As I was eating, I was reading, and I looked up and spotted a group of kids taking photos of me and laughing. Obviously, it excited them to see a fat girl eating a McDonald’s, and it was so hilarious and rare that they had to take photos to prove that this had ever happened. I was beside myself with embarrassment and rage that I packed up my stuff left my breakfast and ran out of the place in floods of tears. If you take anything from that story, let it be ‘don’t be a cunt’. I’m a firm believer in not needing to be nice to everybody, because let’s face it, sometimes people are utter pricks, but why would you intimidate and belittle someone you don’t even know? Yeah, make some snarky remarks at a guy on twitter that thinks your review of a bar is shit, but don’t humiliate someone just for shits and giggles. What do you even get from that? Are you pleased with yourself? Does permanently affecting someone’s mental health give you a thrill?

It’s impossible for me to tell you when I hit bottom because I felt so low for so long. I knew I had great things going on. I started off well at University, I’d met the love of my life, I had great friends, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t worthy.

I’m very aware that when I talk about my childhood and upbringing, that I come from a place of privilege. I mean, I’m no Princess, but my parents raised me well and did everything that could to make sure that I was off to a great start in life. The thing is mental illness doesn’t give a fuck. I know that a lot of people can link their mental illness to things that stem from childhood, or their teenage years, and that’s true to some extent for me, but it isn’t the sole contributing factor.

My biggest issue was that I would never open up to anyone. I struggled to deal with my emotions, and I would shut off. As an example, after my Granddad died, if anyone dared to ask about my eating, or how I was feeling, I would completely shut them out. I stopped speaking to my family about anything that was happening with me, I fought with Dave about stupid shit, I stopped attending any social events, and I spent my time at home, worried about everything. It felt like I’d created a little prison for myself, and I didn’t feel good enough to leave it. I had an official diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Bulimia last year, and it was really only when I was referred for CBT that I feel I started to recover.

I came away from my sessions emotionally (and sometimes physically) exhausted. My first session, I had cried that whole hour. I’m not even being dramatic, it was the whole hour. I sobbed as I finally started to articulate everything that I’d bottled up for an indiscernible amount of time. I detailed that I had struggled to control my eating for so long, and how I some days barely saw the point in anything I was doing. My biggest fear when I was first referred to a therapist was that she would take one session with me, tell me that I didn’t need help and that I was fine by myself.  Moreover, I was worried that she would think I was being overdramatic. She listened to me when I thought I was being stupid. She gave me coping mechanisms when I felt overwhelmed, she helped me process and identify my emotions when I couldn’t previously. She helped me understand that mental illness had consumed me, and I hadn’t even realised. I had become a completely different person to who I was even just three years ago.

Although I attribute a lot of my recovery to my CBT, I’ve also had so much more support than I expected outside of this. I finally told Dave everything I had been feeling in a tear-filled word vomit after my first session, and he’s done everything he can to try and help any way he knows how. I finally opened up to my parents about my anxiety and inability to cope with the mounting pressure and was met with the support and love that I needed. I’ve had so much love from the friends I’ve made through blogging that it’s been overwhelming at times.

As a lot of you may know, because I’ve made no secret of it, my Mother in Law passed away in February after a long battle with cancer. In the last few weeks, we spent virtually 24 hours a day in the hospice by her side. I am under no illusions that if I hadn’t undergone my course of CBT, I would not have been able to cope in the slightest. I found myself opening up about my grief to my parents, sisters, and friends and I wasn’t finding any time that I could to hide away in bed. I occupied myself with books and writing. I kept myself around people that I knew could support me rather than shutting myself away, while I supported Dave and his family as best I could.

I’ve now been discharged from my CBT, and I’m feeling stronger than I have done in such a long time. A lot of the main stressors in my life have been dealt with, and I’m coping with things that used to overwhelm me with a lot more conviction. I know that I’ll always struggle with my eating and my anxiety, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel like I have everything under control. I finally have a control on my debt, I’m no longer completely in the dark about my health, I have some amazing friends, and Dave and I are looking to build a strong future together. My head is finally above water, and I’m no longer sinking. I know this feeling may not last forever, and every day will bring tests, but I can only do my best. It’s all just one day at a time.

If you liked this, you'll love A Year On.


  1. Absolutely beautiful. I can't articulate the pride that swells in my chest when I read this, because even as you speak about pain and sadness, you do it with the same strength and care you put into everything you do. I am so lucky to have such a warrior as one of my best friends xx

  2. You go, girl! :) Being able to see the changes in yourself are the most amazing sign that you're getting to where you need to be. Inspiring, as always x

  3. I loved this post, it was open, informative and brave. This will help people Sam, and that you should be super proud off. xxxx