Carmelle, 32, Australia

I’ve been diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia and Bipolar mixed with psychotic depression.
I first started bingeing when I was uprooted from Canada to Australia by my family when I was 6. I remember polishing off a 1kg bag of white chocolate one night and I would spend the next 24 years bingeing in secret.
I remember starting to formally diet when I was 15 and became anorexic. I was stressed beyond belief and I focused on the only thing I could control- my weight- and it was an insidious coping mechanism that was mind, body and soul destroying.
I then became suicidal, needed to leave school and had to repeat year 11. I watched my friends graduate before me. Anorexia stole 5 years of my life and a good portion of my sanity. Since then I have been every size from underweight to obese.
I have been hospitalised in various psych wards close to 30 times since I was 19. In 2011 I experienced my first psychotic episode that lasted a whole year. I scared my family, my parents nearly divorced over it and I lost countless friends because I was so volatile. That just made me feel even more alone and ashamed. You learn who your true friends are when life gets too real and apparently I didn’t have many at all. I guess it weeded out the importers.
Since then I’ve slowly regained my life and I have a wonderfully supportive network of friends who listen, care and love me as I am and I love them beyond measure.
I think the positives of surviving a mental illness are often overlooked. For example: I am empathetic, compassionate, non-judgmental, a good listener, a solid friend, I have a mental strength that nobody can break or take from me, I actually love who I am, I’m insightful, focused, have a dark sense of humour and can pack a hospital bag in under 5 minutes!
If you’re struggling I want to tell you this: research your illness and do everything in your power to help yourself. Life is change, so it can’t be this bad for long and it won’t be- I PROMISE!!
Doctors gave up on me and now I’m completely stable and going to study youth work in the mental health sector so I can help others.
So have an ugly cry when you need to. Remember to self-care, be kind and patient with yourself and always look for the positives. Life is too short to bother your precious heart with anything else than the good and you’ve already been through enough.
My recovery Instagram account: retrain.your.brain





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