When Eating Disorders Attack

One of my friendsĀ from high school faced a challenging battle with anorexia. At the beginning of high school she was a healthy weight. Over time she began to loose a lot of weight and it wasn’t until prom of grade 12 that I became aware of how much she had really lost. (I went to a Catholic school, therefore we had a uniform. The uniform was quite baggy on most students making it hard to notice when someone gained or lost a few pounds.) On the night of prom, we were all piling into the limo when I noticed that you could see every bone on her back. My mom who was standing about 20 feet away also noticed this and pointed it out to one of the other moms.

Only a month a half later at graduation it was clear she had shed a significant amount of weight since prom. She was skin and bones. Throughout the summer and into the fall, she was in and out of hospitals until she finally flew across the country to seek more help. She was extremely depressed. Her eating disorder had truly taken over her life. Weeks on bed rest, a feed tubing, and countless pills a day. That was her life.

Isolated pills

623556d1e6aebbfb83925b44add83613It was extremely hard for myself, as well as numerous others we went to school with, to learn about her disorder. All we could do was follow her ups and downs through social media and wish her a speedy recovery. I know she received a lot support while away for recovery, and still does to this day. She has fluctuated in weight since this all time low, but for the most part has been able to remain a healthy weight. She is overall happier with her life, having learned to fight through some of the toughest times of her life. I am so thankful that she was able to receive the help she needed before it was too late.

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Recovery isn’t a destination, it’s a journey

The title is something that has taken me years to realize and fully understand.

When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I had a pretty severe depressive episode, and I basically dropped out of high school for the semester. I failed the Ontario Literacy Test, failed all my classes, and fell behind.

At that point, i didn’t want to try. I was convinced I’d always feel this way, feeling hopeless, sad for no reason, angry, irritated, and relentlessly exhausted.

By the time I went back to school in September 2010, I was actually doing so much better. My medication was working, and I was actively trying to better my mental health. There was a point I could confidently say “I’m not depressed anymore”, and I thought that’d be the end of it.

But I was so, so wrong.

Depression is a fickle thing. Many people experience it in different ways, and sometimes a person experiences another depressive episode so different from their previous one, they don’t even realize they’re having one.

This is what happened to me quite a few times over the last six years. Each time was different, so it was difficult to even realize. Or in a couple cases, I was just simply in denial.

And this is why I think recovery is not a destination. Recovery is an on-going process, filled with unexpected and unwanted bumps, detours, and backtracking.

Since that one time in 2010, I don’t think I’ve ever said to myself that I was recovered.

Recovery is about finding what works for you. What coping mechanisms help you best, medication or no medication, meditation, yoga, therapy, etc. It’s about actively working to better your health, but also being able to realize when you’re hitting a small bump, and life gets a bit rocky. That’s when you’ve taken what you’ve learned so you can get through this rough patch.

I didn’t realize until just a week ago how far I’ve truly come, and the progress I’ve made in six, almost seven years.

My life has been hectic since July or August. My dad was in and out of the hospital, and currently he’s there now. He’s doing well now, but for months I worried constantly. When the semester started, my mind wasn’t focused on school. I fell SO far behind, and my first two midterms were subpar marks. Its been almost a month since those first two midterms and I still haven’t caught up.

Years ago, getting below 70% meant I failed.

But at some point, I had to cut myself some slack. I was fighting so hard just to stay afloat, and not succumb to the darkness of worsening depression. I realized that the marks I got were actually pretty good considering all that was going on.

Sometimes I’ll still be upset that I didn’t do so well, but I find it so much easier to see it in a more realistic view. How on earth could I expect to get 80s on my midterms when my focus wasn’t on school, I was missing classes, and putting studying on the back burner?

Honestly, I’m incredibly proud of myself. I very seriously considered dropping classes. But I didn’t want to delay my graduation. I was in a tough spot, but I knew I’d get through one way or another. And now I’m more determined than ever to get through the semester.

My experience is going to be different from yours. The recovery progress is slow, and perhaps unnoticeable for a long time. Sometimes you’ll take five steps forward, and two steps back. Sometimes it’s one step forward, and ten steps back. Sometimes you just don’t move.

I don’t write this as a way to brag, and I hope it doesn’t come off that way. I just hope someone, anyone, realizes what I did about recovery and progress. And I hope it inspires even just one person to keep trying, to keep going, no matter how little progress you think you’re making.

You’re stronger than you think.

Students Seek Escape Through Music

When UOIT students were asked by a Mental Health Services representative about how they deal with their stress, it was no surprise that many students answered: music.

Seeking solace in music seems second nature for some, closing the world out and losing yourself in the music and messages the lyrics sew. It’s become evident that music is so successful with people suffering from mental illness, that a Music Therapy has been created to help people with understanding and developing self-identity, promoting quality of life, and maintaining well-being. The five main resources used in this therapy includes: song writing, lyric analysis, improvisation, listening, and playing instruments.

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