I go to university, I go to lessons, I chat to course mates…But I battle with fear of failing and fear that no one really likes me.
I study, I write essays, I do coursework…But I’m not allowed to sit down and I’m constantly distracted by thoughts of food and weight. Terrified of gaining weight and deliberating what I can eat today.
I go out for dinner with friends…But I’ve scoured the menu looking for what fits in to my calorie allowance. It’s no a question of choosing a meal I want, but what meal is the right number.
I eat dinner at home seemingly with ease…But I’ve barely eaten anything all day. And should I be served a meal that looks larger than I am expecting, I’m riddled with fear and anxiety, needing reassurance.
I go running every week and power walk every day…But I’m physically exhausted. Trying to run with barely any muscle is harder than you can imagine.
I can meet up with friends and have a chat and a laugh…But I’m overwhelmed with depression and loneliness the 95% of the time I am on my own.
I worked as a chef for 2 and a half years, cooking food for other people…But I have never tried any of my own cooking and never ate a morsel of food whilst at work.
I watch the latest shows on TV…But again, my mind is distracted by food and weight, a sudden panic that I’ve eaten too much, that I’m going to have gained lots of weight.
I commute with others on a daily basis on the train…But again, I’m not allowed to sit down.
I get dressed in the morning and have a shower at night…But I look in the mirror and feel utter repulsion and disgust, wishing I could take a carving knife to my body.
I smile at the lady in the shop as she asks how I stay so slim, how she wishes she could be thin like me…If only she knew. If only she knew what it was like living with an eating disorder. Living with depression and anxiety.
Appearances can be deceiving. I do normal things, I go about daily activities. But there is an inner battle, an inner torture, an inner suffering that is like no other, that I can’t even describe in words. I dream of going out and doing things with friends, having a life…But I lock myself away, scared and alone. Convinced I’m not capable of being sociable, convinced no one actually wants to spend time with me, convinced my life is destined to be this way.
That is what having a mental illness is – living in constant fear. Having hopes and dreams but then behaving the exact opposite through shear fearfulness. And it is not all about appearances. Eating disorders are not just about weight, you don’t have to be skinny to suffer. Depression isn’t just about being sad and how many times you cry. It is not like physical illness, you don’t get a bandage or crutches. You often cannot see mental illness. But it can very much be there, despite of appearances. Just some food for thought.