10 Things I Wish People Knew About My Mental Illness.

Often we suffer from mental illness in private, too scared to show or tell the world what we’re really going through.

What are some of the things you wish people knew about your mental illness?

Often we suffer from mental illness in private, too scared to show or tell the world what we’re really going through. For me, the eating disorder and accompanying mental illnesses are sometimes so complex that I can’t put them into words. I often talk about anorexia with my therapist and even I have to stop myself and think ‘Wow, that’s just crazy! Why would I even think like that?’.

I’ve no doubt that most people have had the same thought about their own mental illness. It tricks us into believing that what it is telling us is correct, and we are all the bad things we think and more.

If we can’t understand it, then how can anyone else?

This post aims to inform you of 10 things I wish people knew about my mental illness, and hopefully will provide some insight into the mind of an anorexic.

Image from Anthony Tran

10 Things I wish People Knew About Mental Illness.

1. It’s not a choice.

The development of anorexia was not a choice, nor was my relapse back into it. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide today is a great day to start ruining my life. Who does that?!

The relapse didn’t happen overnight but over a long period of time, one which I don’t necessarily remember. Other people saw it happening before I did, my best friend in particular, but I was in denial.

I didn’t want to relapse, I didn’t want to fall back into fighting my own responses to hunger, but anorexia and the security it gave me had other ideas.

2. Recovery from Anorexia is not as simple as eating and putting on weight.

Putting on weight won’t magically cure me. It didn’t the first two times, and there is no way it will now 10+ years into this disorder. I was never ‘recovered’ before, I was just in a state of quasi-recovery where I could barely stand to look at myself on my worst days. For years I was still hiding behind the mask of counting calories, over-exercising, and purging. I would have still gone out for dinner and picked the ‘lightest‘ sounding thing on the menu. 

The only thing that will help me is working through recovery at a steady pace with support at all angles. It’s working through my stunted emotions, my ideals of weight and body image, and learning about myself in the process.

It’s a long road but it’s one I am trying to walk along on a daily basis.

3. The guilt eats me alive.

I feel guilty about everything from not being fit to return to work quickly enough, to what my cat is going through. Yes, you read that right, I feel guilty about the fact that my cat could be picking up on my low moods. It’s weird, right?

That’s the nature of the beast. You’re wracked with guilt about not being able to just function like a normal human being. Why can’t I just work eight to five without a meltdown? Is there a reason why I can’t eat food without wanting to rip my skin off?

Why can’t I just be like everyone else?!

On the other end of things, you’re also wracked with guilt when you do eat. It’s so conflicting; You hate yourself if you do and you hate yourself if you don’t.

4. It paralyses me with fear most days.

Sometimes it’s easier to be asleep rather than face another day. It causes me to spend longer than necessary when buying food or when eating out. I have to read the nutritional information for calories, sugars, and fats. If a menu doesn’t have nutritional information I have to guess or Google, much to my partner’s annoyance.

The fear of eating something that I consider a ‘fear food’ is so consuming. What if I gain too much? What if I can’t stop eating?

It’s so incredibly stupid but it’s a reality that so many of us with eating disorders go through. 

I’ve cried about rice, I’ve screamed about mayo, I’ve starved for days over five hundred grams of extra weight on the scale; I’ve done so many out-of-character things just because the disorder tells me I have to.

5. It’s 100% a mental and emotional disorder.

As I mentioned, you can’t just feed a person up, have them put on the desired amount of weight, and that’s it. There is so much more going on beneath the surface in regards to our emotional regulation, depression, and possible trauma.

It can take about three months (give or take) to become weight restored. The mental side of things takes a lot longer to catch up. Sometimes years. 

Not to mention the other mental illnesses that often accompany the eating disorder such as depression, anxiety, and, sometimes, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

6. It’s exhausting to constantly be at war with your own head.

I’m tired all the time from fighting this. When you’re anorexic, that’s one thing, but to have anxiety and depression, and all the other life stressors that come along for the ride, it gets all kinds of hard.

I’m so tired and yet I can’t sleep without being dosed up on medication that knocks me out for hours. Without I’m awake thinking about every little thing if I don’t keep it in check.

At the beginning of all of this, I was barely sleeping, then when I went on sick leave from work I started to nap throughout the day. Everything took far too much energy and effort. It’s not as bad now because I am keeping my strength up but I still find myself exhausted after social situations and long outings.

7. It’s about compulsion and addiction, not about discipline.

It’s almost like I need to restrict. I can’t choose it, I just have to do it. If I don’t bad things will happen. It makes about as much sense as Halloween in July (although I’m game for that).

8. The eating disorder has convinced me that I am a failure in every area of my life.

I’m a failure not just in the eyes of weight loss but everywhere else. Everything I get involved in or touch rots. I’m bad at my job, I’m bad at being a partner, I’m bad at being a blogger, I’m bad at driving; I am bad at everything.

Or at least that is what anorexia has told me.

But the problem is you begin to believe it, and that infects you. It knocks your confidence, it knocks your self-esteem and it renders you completely self-deprecating.

9. The eating disorder has convinced me that I shouldn’t drink anything or eat anything before weigh in’s so I get the ‘true’ reading.

This often means I go without food/drink for four to five hours after I wake up just so I can step on the scales and find out what my weight is. If it’s up I know it’s up and not water weight or food, if it’s down I know by how much!

This sets me up for the day. Depending on what the scales in the therapist’s office said I could leave, go for a coffee, and have breakfast, or I could just skip it altogether.

I’ve tried to get out of this way of thinking but I can’t. It’s so damn hard and I honestly don’t know what gave me the strength to get out of this before. This time it seems so final like once I get better there is no way I can lose weight again because it’ll throw me back into this.

10. Eating disorders are about shame, not vanity.

You feel shame about yourself and your ability, and the only thing you can do is starve because it’s all that you’re good at. It’s hard to describe but the shame runs so deep that it forces you to harm yourself, because what else can you do? You feel like the dirt on someone’s shoe. 

It’s not about vanity. There is nothing beautiful or romantic about an eating disorder.

  • Your hair is thin and comes out in handfuls.
  • You suffer from terrible stomach issues.
  • You’re constantly cold.
  • You’re pale.
  • Your teeth are ruined.
  • Light hair grows on your body to keep you warm.
  • Your eyesight can suffer.

And so much more.

These are just some of the things I wish people knew about my mental illness. It’s impossible to pinpoint everything, and people’s opinions of anorexia never fail to surprise me. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, one more person has a distinct opinion.

What about you? Is there anything you wish people knew about your disorder or chronic illness?

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  1. I wish people could understand depression is not just a mood but an illness.

  2. I have been reading about mental health from sometime and it is very important to share about it as unless others no one will know that your fears

  3. I can relate to this so much. I think one of the most important things for people to understand is that it really is not a choice. We do not choose to be like this or feel like this.

  4. The whys listed here are powerful beyond words. It is hard for someone who doesn’t have these disorders to understand. It’s a scary stronghold over people. Thank you for being a positive voice and as always, prayers for continued strength.

  5. Amen. It’s so strange to me that so many suffer from different forms of mental illness and yet so much is not understood about it. I appreciate you sharing your insight.

  6. Thank you for sharing the myths about mental illness. We need to share understanding and more awareness about this topic.

  7. Thank you for being strong enough to face these realities everyday and for being brave enough to share a piece of yourself to us. You are one strong lady! Virtual hugs. <3

  8. Thank you for sharing this and being so open and honest. People don’t tend to understand mental illness in general, especially if it doesn’t afflict them personally. I think it is important that people have more empathy and understanding.

  9. This is very very very important for everyone to know about! Mental illness is a very serious problem that no one seems to know much about.

  10. This is something we all need to read. There are many times that I want to be helpful but have no idea how. This is very good.

  11. This disease is a tough one to recover from. Food is the enemy but it is is needed to survive. An alcoholic can give up food but an anorexic can not give up food

  12. Lots of mental illnesses look similar at some of these points. I can relate to them, as fear and fighting your own head can consume lots of energy and effort. Good luck! 🙂

  13. I’m glad you shared your struggles. It’s so important for us to talk about those hard things. It’s the only way to overcome shame and start healing.

  14. I am glad you shared this! It can help others who are going through this and who have friends going through it.

  15. Thank you for sharing this and raise more awareness. It can be hard to understand what people go through, especially when it comes to mental illness and people usually do not grasp what happens behind the scenes. I was not aware of most of these so thanks for sharing

  16. It is. It’s tiring and unproductive too. I look around and my friends are all ahead somewhere, but I’ve come to terms with it.

    I’m glad I’m writing. It’s pretty much the only thing I have these days.

  17. This is such an important post. Thank you for sharing about your difficult battle with your eating disorder. I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

    Having struggled with depression, I totally understand how it can feel like you’re at war with your brain. So many things that other people take for granted – having energy, going to work, and even going through the motions of life, can be so difficult for people with mental health issues. For you, even the act of eating takes a lot of effort and courage, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be.

    Hope things will keep getting better for you!

  18. This, all of this! If it were as simple as just choosing to be happy or choosing to eat again don’t you think that most of us would have made that choice a long time ago? Those statements drive me batty!

  19. I recently gave up nicotine and food is by far a worse addiction of mine. Although I’m not addicted to food, I’m addicted to the feeling of being empty from it. Anorexia has somehow convinced me that it’s better to be empty than full, and it’s a hard cycle to break, especially after so long. Thank you for stopping by and reading, I wish you all the best on your journey.

  20. Thank you for sharing your story. I have food addiction and I’ve been working on getting myself to have a better relationship with food. It is so hard, harder than when I quit smoking. So I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone.

  21. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. No one will ever be able to convince me I’m not a failure until I manage to convince myself, which will be a long time coming. x

  22. Thats the way it should be. No kids, or adults, should ever need to hide their feelings away. It should be normal to treat mental illness just like you would a broken arm or leg.

  23. A very honest and open well written blog, well done and thank you for sharing your story with the world, it will definitely help others

  24. I just want to give you a massive hug! You really aren’t a failure in any way at all (but I know no one can ever convince you that) and they really aren’t about vanity, there’s nothing vain or glamorous about throwing your guts up (same theme different disorder). Well written and extremely brave post. Stay strong and healthy xxx

  25. This was a very great read. You are so strong, and so brave. This shows that mental battles are usually far more intense than we imagine. Thank you for sharing what you go through on a daily basis. I hope this inspires others to know that they are not alone in their mental battles, and also let others know that it’s never as easy as some of us thinks it is.

  26. Love this! Agree with all these points and so wish people knew about these areas – especially the vanity and how people saying nowadays we do it for attention. Thank you for sharing x

  27. An incredibly powerful post and a really interesting read. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  28. Thank you for honesty and good writing! Every time someone shares, the stigma of mental health decreases. I have been parenting foster and adopted children for 28 years. Each has their emotional journey and most have parents with mental illness. We talk openly about it all so the kids don’t think they need to hide. Thank you!!!!

  29. Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m glad I was able to help you better understand mental illness in some way 🙂

  30. I’m exactly the same pet. I’m so drained and emotional on my bad days, for no apparent reason, that I just can’t seem to even make myself food. It’s debilitating.

  31. I definitely wish more people understood these points. For me, the hardest is the fact that it’s all so draining – when I have bad days and I’m totally exhausted, I hate knowing that in many cases, I’m being judged for being lazy

  32. Your 10th point literally brought tears to my eyes because it was so spot on. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  33. It’s the specifics that you give that really help to drive your points home and gets us close to feeling what you feel. It definitely shows how recovery is a day-to-day fight with multiple opponents that attack from different angles. That constant threat can wear you out, but it’s essentially the only option.

  34. As always a reallly well written and honest post. It is great you are using your voice in this way to help raise awareness and also help other sufferers not feel alone.
    You deserve so much happiness.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  35. What a beautiful post- eloquent, informative, well laid out and personal.

    It felt like you were able to pull apart the constituent parts of a complex situation and clearly convey them.

    It is heartening to hear that others have these tumultuous inner experiences- though I’m saddened to hear that too.

    At least we know that ‘it’ doesn’t know what it’s talking about- we all know that you’re an awesome blogger!

    Thank you for sharing.
    Peace and love, Spence ????

  36. This is completely eye opening! No one can understand the battle inside a persons own head and body but this will certainly help people to see that as you said there is no choice.

    No one would choose this for themselves.

    Sending love as always x

  37. Thank you for sharing this Nixie! It’s very difficult for an outsider to understand what exactly it is that you’re going through.

  38. Great quote and so, so true! It’s hard to understand something in someone else’s mind, especially if they can’t understand it themselves, which we so often can’t.

  39. Thank you for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed this and could relate to it in some way. Thank you also for sharing, briefly, your story. x

  40. I do intend to have them be generic, however, because I am dealing with an eating disorder some specific ones slip through. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for reading.

  41. Thank you so much for sharing your own story with us here. There are so many misconceptions about eating disorders that just, excuse the pun, eat me alive.

  42. Nobody will understand except for those who are going through it. As much as others try it really is hard to truly get a grasp on it. Just remember the ones who matter don’t mind and the ones who mind don’t matter.

  43. As someone who suffered with Anorexia too, I agree with all points, but most especially 8 & 10. I’m so happy you chose to share this. It’s really hard for people like us and recovery can be a years’ long process, if ever. Thank you for being courageous enough to educate others on this topic!

  44. I really enjoyed reading this. Well written. It’s important to talk about mental illness as much as we will need to????

  45. Thank you for sharing this useful information. It is important that we are mindful of those with mental illness, and try to be more understanding. It is not the easiest journey to go through and having those to support you in your journey goes a long way. Sending you lots of love!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

  46. Thank you for sharing all of this. Half of the stuff i didn’t even know. Keep educating about anorexia, you help a lot of people!

  47. Many of these points are easily applicable to many other mental illnesses, and it’s so sad how little understanding people who haven’t been diagnosed of one have over how it can manifest in those who have been.

    – Laura || https://afinnontheloose.com

  48. Thank you for this! So many more need to be educated about mental health, especially eating disorders. I do feel most have this assumption that all of a sudden you just start eating again you’re fine like no you have to remove that negative self talk in your head that made you develop an eating disorder in the first place. Personally, it took me a year in therapy to finally have a healthy relationship with food. Trying my hardest to view it as fuel and not bad, as I had been conditioned to. Thank you again for speaking out 🙂

  49. People often misunderstand or just don’t know about the physical impacts of mental illness. Stress killed my stomach for months to the point where I was afraid to leave the house. There are so many physical symptoms that it’s hard to pinpoint just a few.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond. I really, really appreciate your support.

  50. No one would choose to be unwell and yet we are often made feel like it’s our fault, which is just sickening. People don’t get how terrified I am of certain foods, too much food and weight. It’s paralyzing, as you know all too well pet.
    I was out yesterday with my best friend and I had to socially recover when I got home. Yes, even after being with someone I find comfortable to be around. I just need some ‘me’ time or ‘blog’ time to restore my soul.

    Thank you so much for stopping by Ruth, as always I love to hear from you 😀

  51. Thank you so much for your kind comment. So many more people need to allow mental illness into their lives, not to suffer it, but being open to understanding it and the people it attaches it’s self to.

  52. Thank you so, so much. I appreciate it so much to hear these kind words. I’m working on the book, and my confidence, so I hope I’ll have even a short story drafted by the end of ’19!

  53. Thank you so much for your kindness. Writing this blog is a massive factor in my recovery and I owe it, and my readers, so, so much.

  54. Thank you. I know we have a lot of advocates out there now for mental illness in general, but eating disorders always seem to get left behind somehow. I vow to expand that reach and talk more openly about eating disorders during the course of my blog to raise that all needed awareness.
    Thank you so much for reading and commenting. x

  55. Thank you for writing about this. It’s scary how lacking both support and education is for eating disorders – the only reason I know about some of the stuff you talk about is through me actively choosing to undertake a course in MH first aid which was only accessible due to my job role, and even then there’s a lot you’ve mentioned here that I wasn’t aware could come with an eating disorder. I think it’s amazing that you are presenting this information to the public eye, so please keep doing so as it’s vitally needed!

  56. Thank you for stopping by and reading. I’m sorry you’re going through anxiety, it’s horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy!

  57. It’s horrible when no one quite understands what’s going on in your own head, least of all you. Even more painful when you’re made feel awful for feeling that way.

  58. Thank you for stopping by and reading. I keep going on to read your blog but it won’t connect or there is nothing on it. Would you mind responding with a link as I always feel bad because I have no way to recip.

  59. Thank you so much. That was one of the key points I wanted to bring up but didn’t know how to really word it correctly, so I felt mentioning discipline suited well. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my posts.

  60. Exactly my understanding of it. It would be like talking to about a broken leg, rather than something which apparently sparks offense or awkwardness in some people.

  61. By all means, you can link me all you wish in your posts. I love that this has inspired you to write your own story and I can’t wait to read it. I’m so pleased I was able to inspire you in some way.

  62. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. I’m glad you found it to be helpful to the mental health community in such a proactive way 😀

  63. Hi Nyxie! This was so so so well written! I have so many things to say about like, each other these points, but I won’t hound you down with all of them, lol. One of the things I wish people knew about mental illness in general (I know you were talking about anorexia, but I guess I’m broadening it a bit), is that it’s also a physical illness. There are so many physical symptoms that come with depression and anxiety, when everyone thinks it’s all in your head! Cold sweats, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, etc. are all symptoms of depression and anxiety. So it literally is the mind and body connection! But thank you for another excellent post and opening other people’s eyes to mental illness. You’re an amazing advocate!! <3

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

  64. While I don’t have a mental illness, so much of this rings true to me as someone with a chronic illness. Thank you for sharing it.

  65. True! It is a mental illness and not vanity. I love the statement makes as much sense as Halloween in July.Enjoyed thanks for your time.

  66. I felt each and every one of these deep in my soul. I hate the idea that is pushed (and in my case – and I suspect often pushed by therapists) that you choose to be unwell.
    I wish I could get people to understand just how deep and multifaceted my food anxiety is – that it is as raw as “will there be anything to eat at this function/restaurant that I can put in my mouth without gagging” and it is a strong panic because I was force fed foods that I just couldn’t eat.

    I have to rest after social functions – and often that looks like not talking for a day or so. Which I’m gradually feeling less guilty about but a lot of people don’t understand why I can’t be the same as them, as social and go go go as them.

    The thing that I wish people knew is that kindness and compassion, acceptance even without understanding, goes an awful long way in helping me.

  67. You are so strong!! You’ve got this! And you’re absolutely right about all of the points you made here.

  68. Powerful words yet again. I wish people were more educated about mental illness in general and that it’s not up to your loved ones to fix us, but to support and love us so that we know they are there for us even though we are sitting deep down in the dark emotional well of despair.

  69. Nyxie, what can I can say? I read your blog posts and all I see is an incredible woman. A fighter, someone who doesn’t easily give up! So NO! You are definitely not a failure but a success story! You are suffering through all these and still find time to write (and yes to writing a book! You have it in you!). Keep fighting darling. You are winning! By the way, you inspire me and I know you inspire everyone who reads your blog!

  70. Keep fighting! You are brave and I admire your vulnerability in this post. I suffer with anxiety and depression. Drives me crazy when people say things like you have so much to be happy about. I am happy! Depression is not a choice! Great post, praying for you.

  71. I loved this post. As someone that struggles with mental illnesses, I can attest that I also wish people knew certain things. They don’t truly understand what it’s like and it can be terrible.

  72. It’s a very important thing to break it down this way, so that people can better understand. Perfect post. I’m so sorry you’ve had to live with this, but so grateful that you are brave enough to not only fight everyday for your own wellbeing but to also help others along the way. ???? All the best to you!

  73. Thank you so much for sharing this! Unfortunately, many people believe that those of us who suffering from any kind of mental illness simply choose not to get better, which is not the case. It’s hard, especially with an eating disorder to wake up and say “today’s going to be better than yesterday,” because our brains aren’t wired the same.

    You are so strong and I’m proud of you for posting this and fighting the good fight!

  74. Hi Nyxie,
    This is an excellent article as everyone of your articles I have read are. It sad how ignorance of not understanding mental illness of any type whether it is Anorexia or depression etc. causes people to avoid the person and so much shame is involved when there shouldn’t be. Mental illness is like any other illness your sick – something is wrong and you need help. Thanks so much for all your support on BTC. Your doing a great job on your blog with your valuable and insightful information. Have a healthy, happy & blessed weekend.

  75. This is such an important post. People are so quick to judge with mental illness, especially eating disorders. Without people like yourself raising awareness and sharing your authentic experiences people like me wouldn’t have a clue! I appreciate all the hard work you’re doing to bring mental health into an open forum of discussion – it’s so needed. xx
    El // Welsh Wanderer

  76. Love this expansion on what there is behind mental illness; often we do not know what a person is going through. Writing is the best way for me to express all my emotions, and I admire you for sharing your experiences in a way that others can learn from.

  77. Thank you for raising awareness of what suffering from a mental health issue is like xx

  78. Thank you for sharing your story.
    You are so right when you say that many who suffer from a mental illness do so in private. I remember not wanting to welcome anyone into my world of darkness and self loathing.
    To me, it was a private matter.

  79. I deal a lot with anxiety and fighting all of my anxious thoughts. I wish people would understand that sometimes, this does make so exhausted that I don’t want to do anything. It’s also not easy to just “stop.”

    Great post, thanks for sharing this!

  80. So painful. The most annoying fact is people don’t get it. They don’t know the misery and pain the sufferer is experiencing. I have an idea what and how it feels

  81. I always love your post they are always so i formative I love how you stated that it isn’t about discipline because I often think that people believe that people who struggle with mental illness just don’t try hard enough or don’t have the will power to become better and that’s not how it goes…continue to spread this great information ❤️

  82. God there is so much I wish people knew and understood about my mental illness too. Perhaps if MI wasn’t always so taboo, everyone would be much more understanding x

  83. Thank you for sharing this list. I often fear that I am not as sensitive or empathetic as I should be, and this list will help. I appreciate your openness and honesty.

  84. So brave of you to share. This is a hard one to write about, and that makes you a great blogger. Please keep on writing.

  85. Thank you for sharing and this very informative post, there certainly are a lot of things about eating disorders I learned from reading. Keep up the important work of raising awareness!

    You have inspired me to blog about things I wish people knew about scleroderma, my chronic illness; if it is ok with you I would like to mention this article and link back in my future post.

  86. Thank you for sharing this Nyxie, it was such a powerful read and really insightful too. I think a lot of people should read these sorts of post to gain an insight into the sufferers head, because quite often they just have a picture of what they’ve seen in the movies or on TV. It’s this sort of post that is really going to educate people on mental illnesses rather than just cold hard facts. Wishing you all the best in your recovery ❤️ x x

  87. Thanks for sharing this, it deeply touched me. I couldn’t agree more and feel exactly the same. Loosing weight became an addiction indeed but now I’m so much better but, even so, the feeling of failure, the guilt, is still part of me. Wishing you all the best.

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