Note from Beat: Please be aware that this blog post contains a brief, non-graphic mention of attempted suicide.
I was the clever girl, the smart, bubbly, smiley girl who knew what she wanted, stood up for “justice” in the school playground, and wasn’t afraid to use her voice. Yet at the same time, all I wanted was to gain approval from friends and the adults in my life. A good example of how I felt was the “princess situation”. When we were little we would play princesses, but the problem for me was that I didn’t look like any of them. I’m half-Japanese and all I wanted was to fit in with my peers.
I suppose I never felt any approval from my mum growing up. Her expectations of me were high; why should I get praise for doing well at school when that’s what she expected of me anyway, right? So I sought approval from my teachers, the nurturing kind who were just like how I wished my mum would be.
I knew my mum loved me; after all, that’s what mums are supposed to do. However, I never felt that she liked me, and I never thought that I could do enough in her eyes. She was strict and shouted, which is partly I think why other people’s anger makes me so anxious. My dad, split up from my mum, was worse. He had a temper that scared me, but his unpredictability frightened me the most.
There was a massive expectation for me to do well when I started secondary school, from my mum and people around me, but mostly from myself. So it wasn’t before long that the pressure became too much.
I was already incredibly body conscious; I was short, but not like many others my height who were “skinny”, and I hated how short my legs were. It grew from there, until I hated almost every part of my body, hated my natural build of big thighs and short legs. I just wanted to be “the same” as everyone else. Last year, I became obsessed with exercise, “healthy eating” and my body. But it wasn’t long before the guilt set in when I didn’t exercise, and that’s when purging started.
At first, I just purged any “unhealthy” meals and continued restricting. I planned to stop when it came to my school dance, the big event that I wanted to look good for, but that didn’t happen. The dance came and went, I lost quite a bit of weight, especially for my height, and by February, I broke. I told the school nurse, my mum was informed, and everything was out.
It stopped for a while, but came back with a vengeance. This time, bingeing began, the worst part of bulimia for me. It made me, and still does make me, feel ashamed, disgusting and guilty. Eventually, it got to a point where I went to the GP and got a referral to YPD (Young People’s Department).
Unfortunately, the waiting list was quite long, so it was two months before I had my initial appointment, then they made a mistake with appointments, and I was going to have to wait a further two months. By this point, I was done. School work was causing an incredible amount of stress and anxiety, my relationship with my mum wasn’t good, my eating disorder was consuming me, and I couldn’t say anything. People were aware of my mental health issues, but not the full extent.
I didn’t want to live. Not even that, I couldn’t live. So on the 2nd November 2017, I took an overdose. I am lucky to have lived, and it has been a wake-up call not only for me, but the people around me. I just wish I could have done things differently, before the stage it got to.
Beat has been an amazing support which I have used in the past and has helped me to find out more about bulimia. I am still in the grips of my eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean I’m backing down! I now see a therapist who is lovely and whom I have a lot of respect for. In fact, although I myself think it’s a bit too high to aim at the moment, I would quite like to do a job like my therapist does, where you support young people, and can truly make a difference. You never know, Beat, I may just apply for a job with you one day!
I have often thought and said how “illogical”, “irrational” or “stupid” my thoughts are. How worrying that you spoke too much or spoke too little, or thinking that someone must hate you after meeting you once, how all of that just doesn’t make sense. And yes, that is true, but just because something doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make it stupid or daft. All mental illnesses aren’t entirely logical, and I’m trying to learn that this is okay. It’s okay to feel down or great and not know why, it’s okay to think “illogical” thoughts, because that’s what being human is about! Keep fighting, keep loving, keep laughing, but most importantly, keep living. Trust me, it’s worth it.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
I want to shed some light on diet culture and what it drove me to do to myself for eight years. I will never get those eight years back, but what I do know is that I will never put myself through all the self-inflicted pain it took in order to look a certain way.