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Never feel guilty for admitting you have a mental illness

One May evening seven years ago I ordered a takeaway and ate the amount I normally would. All day I'd had this horrible feeling that I looked bloated and disgusting, and that feeling increased after eating. I couldn't shake the thought of what I was about to do out of my head.

Eventually I went upstairs to the toilet and did it. I sat sobbing afterwards.

This was the first time I did it, and in years to come, when people formed their opinions of how I've always been obsessed with weight and the gym, it took a long time to realise it was more than that – I had an illness, a mental illness.

For the months that followed it got worse. It would go from one meal a day to every time I ate, even if it was something small. No one noticed as my clothes were baggy and I had my own way of hiding sounds in the toilet, and to me it wasn't a problem – it was part of my life. I knew what I was going to do after every meal.

I didn't tell anyone for a long time. And when I finally did the reaction I got was not one that anyone should receive.

In the December of that year after a few drinks I told my then boyfriend what I had been doing after meals. He didn't respond, and therefore when it wasn't brought up the next day I assumed due to drink he didn't remember.

It was a few months later I mentioned that night, and his response was something along the lines of: "I remember. I don't want to know that."

I felt disgusting, like I'd done or was doing something wrong. I didn't speak about it again, but it still continued.

My health began to get affected, my gums were always bleeding and I was constantly tired. It wasn't until on a hen party with my friends where everyone started making comments about how skinny I was that I began to think maybe I had a problem.

I researched a lot on Google and, thinking that maybe I was ill, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment. My boyfriend again wasn't a great support, but I went anyway.

That morning was one of the hardest I've ever experienced. I sat in the chair and just sobbed my heart out. The doctor helped so much and put me in the direction of counselling.

I told a few of my friends and my boss but it wasn't really seen as a mental illness – more of a “why can't you just stop?” kind of thing. I told my parents and they said they had had their suspicions but thought they would know if something was wrong. I believe now a lot of people didn't know what to say.

The road to recovery was a long one. I didn't have much help and felt I couldn't talk about it, but now there is so much support and understanding about this illness. I got there in the end. It still lies with me and sometimes still creeps into my life but I have found ways to deal.

I want people to know that it is an illness and don't be afraid to talk about it.

Contributed by Siobhan