Natasha, 18, SA
Hey, my name’s Tash, I am 18 years old and I am recovered from anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, anxiety, border line personality disorder, alcohol and drug problems, self-harming, post-traumatic stress and depression.
Growing up I had an abusive father which my mum, two sisters and myself moved away from. It was like starting a new life when we moved interstate. At the time we had no house so we were moving in and out of people’s houses until we found one to rent. We were always moving houses which meant I was changing schools a lot – in total I went to six schools. In primary school I changed schools 5 times. This made it hard to settle especially as I was shy and it would take a while for me to make friends.
In school I was bullied a lot, but not only was I bullied at school I was bullied at home by my mum and when I went to visit my Dad. I was told a lot that I ‘better watch my weight’, that I was ‘gaining weight’, that I was ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ or ‘a mistake’. My mum repeatedly still says to me that I am a mental case, that I’m never going to get better, that I’m a failure, nobody likes me, nobody wants me. She says that I won’t ever achieve certain things like passing year 12, passing my nursing course, and that I wouldn’t get into my psychology course at Uni and if I did, she said, I wouldn’t pass it.
At times it all got too much so I would run away, wondering each night where I will stay and the next day I would worry about where I was going to stay that night. During all of this, I just wanted to be perfect so I studied harder, exercised more and ate healthy. Not long after, this turned into a way of control of my life and a big problem. I would exercise hours a day (I remember one time I spent hours on the treadmill). I would repeat assignments over and over again, I would fast for days and stay under a specific number of calories on the days I would eat. I dropped a lot of weight in weeks when I first started. My heart rate was around 42 beats per minute, I had low blood pressure, I had sores all over my skin and had very dry skin, I started losing my hair, I lost my period, I was always cold, had low electrolytes, had a lot of chest pains after restricting food for so long.
Eventually I gave in and had my first binge. This turned into another binge and another and another and soon I was addicted to binging even though I hated it. Soon I was binging 3-4 times a day! I started to gain weight and this lead me to severe depression. I had my first suicide attempt after a binge. I wanted to take control so I would fast for days and then binge and then throw up. I would never eat a snack or a normal sized meal, I would only binge. This is when I turned to drugs to escape the pain I was facing - I started using ecstasy, speed, weed, and cigarettes. Soon I was smoking 50 cigarettes a day.
Replacing my binges with cigarettes and cups of tea helped stop me from binging as I used it as a distraction. Soon I would fast and throw up after everything I ate. This is when I was diagnosed with bulimia. This all led to suicide attempt after suicide attempt and by the end of it all I reckon I attempted suicide around 20-30 times. This combined with bulimia was very unhealthy.
In 2010 I was pronounced dead on arrival to hospital. I went into a deep coma when I was revived. My bulimia was so out of control I was throwing up blood and blacking out every day. This meant hospital admissions due to dehydration and other complications. Soon I had a planned admission to a psychiatric ward for my bulimia, but I was able to get away with too much in there. I had planned fortnightly admissions, although they didn’t help with my bulimia, it helped for me to talk openly about things.
In 2010, I was also raped and I was so traumatised that I would have flash backs. I couldn’t lie on my back and I was afraid of boys. It was also at this time that I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I would take massive risks like self-harming and sleeping with randoms. One day I went down to a main road during the night and jumped in the car with a random boy, got drunk and slept with him.
Late in 2010, I lost my best friend in a car accident. We had been best friends for 10 years. It was after this that I realised how important life is and I decided to recover. With psychology, psychiatrists, and a lot of self-help and research on how to get better, I started getting better. Then I met a guy who I fell in love with and he made me happy which helped my recovery. Now I am recovered from everything and I am in the process of quitting smoking. I’ve gone from smoking 50 a day to currently 3 a day and I am doing well and am happy! I look at life very differently. I love life now and I take every experience as a way to learn. I don’t look at myself as a rape victim, I look at myself as a survivor. Going through all these problems has made me a stronger and more understanding person.
Now I am moving into my own home with my bf, I have a new job I’m about to start, and I start uni next year.
I passed year 12, I passed my nursing course, and I got into psychology at uni. I did this all with problems. Anything is achievable. Believe in yourself, don't give up, and when you fall down get back up again. Appreciate every moment, because you don't know when life will end.
Thank you to everyone that helped me, especially my psychologists and boyfriend who helped the most.
So I am living proof that anything is possible and recovery is possible.
Life is so short and precious.
This is a picture of me now: healthy and happy :D