When I was 16, I was hospitalised for anorexia. The shortened story as to how I got there was that I had a very difficult childhood and became very depressed from a young age.
I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and when I was 13, my parents were facing bankruptcy and with a lot of younger siblings I felt protective over, as well as the pressures at home and school, I developed an eating disorder.
I spend two consecutive years in an inpatient unit for adolescents, where majority of the staff were very harsh and unkind, we were treated badly, without compassion or care. I had no control over anything, the biggest choice I was able to make was what outfit to wear that day.
I suffered so much in that hospital and instead of getting better, I became a lot worse. During my time in hospital, I self-harmed a lot, I came out with many scars. I feel my emotions intensely, and I had nowhere to direct my pain other than onto myself. Being without my family or support was the hardest thing for me. I was trapped in a unit, I felt so alone and angry, and I tried relentlessly to tell my family how we were being treated, but
no one believed what I was saying.
I don’t think I went a single day in those two years without crying. I cannot begin to describe how badly we were treated. I witnessed things that no child should have to. I saw how people with authority can abuse their power and I became very untrusting of people
Once I turned 18, I had to be moved to an adult unit. Even though I hated the Priory hospital so much, for all the trauma they had given me, I had gotten used to it and I was very scared for the change. I was living in a world that wasn’t realistic, where you are watched 24/7 and the idea of going back into the real world was terrifying.
I moved to the adult unit, where I spent only a month and a half at. I was shocked at the difference in the way the staff treated me, with kindness, and respect.
Being in hospital is very overwhelming, especially for a child or a young adult. I remember finding it extra hard one day, one of the nurses saw I was crying. She said to me, “don’t be sad, don’t worry, we’ll look after you, you need a hug”. I remember being in shock. She showed me genuine compassion and I will always be grateful to her for that.
When I was finally free from hospital, I felt totally broken. I was ashamed, angry, and totally lost. I did not have the opportunities to experience normal things a young teenager/ young adult would have experienced. I missed two crucial years of development; I had no social skills or confidence, I was scared to talk to anyone, to be around people and most of all, I felt so ashamed of my scars, I was convinced that everyone saw me as crazy and worthless.
The next three and a half years, up to where I am now has been one hell of a journey. A journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and growth. No one teaches you what life after hospital is like, no one tells you how hard that journey is. I had PTSD from my experience in hospital, I had constant breakdowns, flashbacks, panic attacks. I went on so many late-night walks where I wondered if I will ever find my place in this world.
I cried many times over the friendships I’d lost, the betrayals I felt, the loss of my own innocence. It’s a journey that I can’t really describe. Where just staying alive feels like an impossible challenge, every day hurt, and I felt so alone.
The biggest turn point for me was falling in love. And then getting heartbroken. It was special for me, to love someone so much, to feel seen for who I was. I loved the time I spent with him. It was the first time I was able to say I felt happy. I love raw and real, so my heartbreak set me to my lowest point in life. Despite what I have gone through, somehow this felt worse than anything else.
It brought back every single painful experience I had gone through. And in my desperate search to find comfort and relief from my broken heart, the universe directed me to someone who truly inspired me.
He opened my eyes to the possibilities that believing in yourself gives. I realised that the only thing holding me back from success is myself, my own insecurities and believing that I was not worth anything.
I still have a long way to go, to repair myself, but now when I see myself, I see someone who has battled hard, and she is stronger than she ever thought she could be. I am learning to be grateful for the challenges I’ve faced, because it’s made me who I am today.
I have already shocked myself with what I’ve done in the small amount of time since this person inspired me. My journey has been long and painful, with many tears and grief but I have grown, and I will continue to grow.
I am going to do great things and help many people.