I couldn’t control anything, so I controlled everything.
The start of my story began at 12. I moved my whole life 7 hours away from the place called home. It was the last term of year 7 and I was the odd kid out. Everyone already had constructed their friend groups and I was just finding a place to sit at lunch time so I didn’t look alone, I had a group but I didn’t really have any close friends. I didn’t tell them how I was feeling or what was going on at home. I was also seeing a psychologist as my family had just gone through a 12 month long custody battle. A result of this was no longer having contact with my father, little did I know it wouldn’t be another 5 years before I’d see him again. At home I was being physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Not to mention at my new school I was being called names and would have people throwing food at the back of my head on the bus. I didn’t tell anyone about that either. It felt like I had no control over my life and like I didn’t have a way out. I had no voice. The only aspect I could control was my behaviour and what I did in my day to day life, a big part of me was a pit of hopelessness and I felt like I couldn’t escape this feeling, nor did I know that this feeling I had was depression and anxiety.
When I was 14 exercise became my best friend. I was always involved in team sports. The competitive edge inside me grew and I became an avid runner. Every afternoon when I would get home from school running was my escape. It started at a few kilometres and eventually graduated up to multiple kilometres a day. I became obsessed and wouldn’t miss my daily ‘escape’. Another thing that followed this obsession was how I fuelled myself. I began restricting my intake of food and adopting extreme dieting in order to ‘stay fit’. No one saw what was going on, asides from my GP. My menstruation had stopped. She encouraged me to see a therapist much to my mothers protest as ‘It was all in my head’ and ‘ I’d get over it’. Every Tuesday afternoon after school I’d see my therapist and sit there listening to her trying to get me to bring down my walls which wouldn’t budge.
At 15 I hit my worst point. I was frequently falling asleep in classes, I couldn’t concentrate and many of my teachers were ‘worried’. And so were a few of my friends I had at this time. I would still run every afternoon even though I felt so weak and was in so much pain, I’d also constantly experience blackouts and dizziness. One night I woke up and had severe chest pains and it felt like I was having a heart attack. I remember waking up in the emergency department attached to an ECG. This point for me was a wakeup call. I needed to change before I wouldn’t be here anymore. I was referred to another psychologist specialising in adolescents and I opened up to one of my teachers at school who helped me regain healthier habits of eating and exercising. It wasn’t until I discovered strength training that I gained a voice for myself.
I left home at 16 and focused on my mantra “this is making you stronger, you are strong.” Don’t give up on searching for hope, there are people out there willing to help and not every psychologist, psychiatrist, councillor might be the right fit for you but don’t give up on the search for the one who will really help to change your life. Believe in yourself too, You have the right to speak even if your voice shakes.