Leah 's Story

In the end, you have to fight

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I remember reaching out for help so clearly. One night as my parents were out at a concert, I paced the house scared not knowing what to do. I struggled with my thoughts and was frightened of dealing with my demons alone. I was only 16 when I had written that letter reaching out for help and slipped it under their pillow.

It was a long and sometimes frustrating process to get the right help for my eating disorder. But my parents became my lighthouse. In the darkest of storms when I felt like my little boat was sinking, there they were, a strong supporting light. My parents could see the struggle I was going through and they knew that by remaining calm and slowly showing me the path, that I could get myself out of this situation.
In those moments where I felt like I had hit rock bottom, be it my parents, a nurse, or a therapist, someone was always there to throw down a rope ladder of support.

A nurse once told me, “It is ok to hit rock bottom. When you are down there you can even sit and rest for a little bit, it’s been a tough road. Just remember not to set up camp down there, slowly but steadily you must begin climbing back out.” Those words have always resonated with me in my recovery.

In the beginning, my eating disorder made me very resistant to change and I ended up at rock bottom too many times to count. But I got tired of always ending up there, friends moved on and began living their lives and that rope ladder was harder to find. I realised that I needed to take ownership of my recovery, this “Sudo recovery” I was living off restriction and denial wasn’t going to let me join my peers.

When I reached the age of 20 and after living with anorexia for 5 years I felt I was behind my friends. They were out there growing their careers, having fun on weekends and traveling. I had to complete my HSC via pathways (2 years) and do university part-time to balance hospital admissions and therapy. My youth was very different and I felt that. I became angry and frustrated at my eating disorder for stealing so many years from me and hindering my passions. I felt like mental illness was my life.

Suddenly it was like a switch flipped in my brain. I wanted that life that a 20-year-old should be living and I was going to get it. I began applying all those skills and strategies I had learned over the years from therapists, that I stubbornly ignored previously.

Now I’m 24 and am studying nursing at university, holding down jobs, mentally surviving a global pandemic, and excited to celebrate and eat with friends and family. I can notice early warning signs of my mental health going down and use my newfound hobbies and passions to bring myself out.