Anna's Story

My psychologist focuses on my “complex PTSD” and does not seem willing to acknowledge the extent of my continued struggles with disordered body image


I was 10 years old when I first wanted to die.


I had scoliosis and I could not do my home-schooling school work due to the intense constant pain. I felt like a failure. I needed to achieve something to be worthy of life. My body was failing me. The scoliosis was corrected by frequent chiropractor adjustments. I begged my parents to send me back to a physical school. I had been bullied and ostracised in my previous primary school, but I still craved being around people.


When I was 13, in grade 8, I was bullied again. I was called “anorexic apple” & “annarexia” by two different people – a girl & a boy. I was naturally thin and sometimes I went to school with only an apple for lunch, because my parents were struggling financially. Being called these names made me feel fat and I can’t remember why.


When I was 15 I was wrongfully accused by a “friend” of being extremely hurtful. The allegations were so serious I had to see the head teacher. I went home and attempted suicide for the first time. I had to go to hospital and drink charcoal (this would not be the only time).


Soon afterwards I noticed that two of my closer friends were losing weight & I was aware that they were developing eating disorders. I began restricting food and exercising excessively. My dad actually praised my weight loss, before it became drastic enough for my mum to beg me to eat because she didn’t want me to die. I wished for death, but I did not wish to cause pain to others. I did not receive any counselling or psychological interventions. It was neglectful parenting. Ironically, I was eating only an apple a day. I gained some weight to appease my mother & concerned friends. I remained underweight, until I left high school. I continued to exercise excessively while working in retail and hospitality. I did film and TV acting lessons, but I never thought my body was “good enough”/”thin enough”/”toned enough” to audition for anything.I kept trying to lose more weight. I was depressed, anxious and experienced panic attacks, but I was able to function to an acceptable societal standard.


This changed when I was 21 and my first romantic relationship was with an abusive alcoholic man. I was also sexually assaulted and my large group of friends, many who had known me for 8 years, victim blamed me. They also did not believe me about my ex boyfriend being abusive. I had what can best be described as a nervous breakdown. I became debilitated by depression and anxiety, and I started having psychotic episodes. I developed PTSD. I entered the mental health system, which has consisted of countless medications, hospital admissions, suicide attempts, psychiatrists, psychologists, different therapy approaches and ECT (shock therapy).


In 2005 I was referred by my GP to a group therapy for women with eating disorders. It was helpful for a short period of time. In 2006 I was diagnosed with EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) by a psychiatrist. I have been on DSP since 2005.


I am now 35. My current psychiatrist has labelled me with schizophrenia, PTSD, major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. These are accurate, but I also continue to struggle with my body image and see myself as “FAT” even though objectively the tags on my clothes do not reflect that. I can’t rationalise with the feelings of being fat. I have wanted to die for 25 years. I have struggled with my body image and food for 20 years. My psychologist focuses on my “complex PTSD” and does not seem willing to acknowledge the extent of my continued struggles with disordered body image. I seem pretty resistant to therapy interventions anyhow. I have few friends, as most have been scared away by my suicide attempts and psychotic episodes.


People say they will be there for you, but when it gets tough they quickly run away and call you an “attention seeker” and “drama queen”. The last time I tried making and being friends with people (again) by joining a running group in 2014, two women hurt me so immensely to the core of my self, that I have lost almost all faith in people.


Thankfully, I have a loving, supportive partner of 14 plus years or I would not be writing this story. (Whether or not I’ll believe that is a good thing though fluctuates throughout every single day. In any case, I keep myself alive for him – still not wanting to cause pain to others, while wishing mine would end).


My partner understands my body image issues the least of everything I have to try to deal with and manage.


So I continue to silently scream alone.