Out of Fantasy Land, You feel defective and less than acceptable. My God, do you know what happened to me was beyond my control, my emotions, my manic behaviours, I had no control over any of that.
Mental Health Awareness Month is held every May to help increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on mental health and mental health-related issues.
This sufferer’s story appeared on Islam and Eating Disorder’s blog in February 2015. It was the mother of a sufferer who spoke about her daughter’s eating disorder and bipolar disorder. Now the sufferer has stepped forward and speaks of her anguish post relapse.
Out of Fantasy Land
I relapsed in November 2014. I stopped taking my bipolar medication convinced that it will help put a stop to my binging and will lead to weight loss. I was hospitalised for treatment in January 2015 and forced into taking medication. The treatment team was not interested in knowing how the medication was causing me to binge eat and gain excess weight.
Since the age of 17, I have had to deal with low self esteem issues in one way or another. I suffered from anorexia in my early 20s. In my mid twenties, after my divorce, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. After my divorce, I fell apart, no concentration, no sleep and a constant feeling of failure. My Bipolar had severe effects on my physical health. I gained so much weight. I would then spend months trying to shed those extra kilos. With weight gain came negative body image and I turned to food for comfort. This now allowed Binge Eating Disorder to enter my life .
I tried to ignore the adverse effects of weight gain, but there were times when my insecurities simply intensified. I would look at myself in the mirror and I would simply break down. First people took notice that I was a divorced woman but nothing else. We kept my illness hidden.
But then my illness became an open illness, when I has two psychotic breaks and I had to be hospitalized. My illness has controlled my life for many years. I did many things that were risky and out of control and I honestly have a very faint memory of those experiences (I struggle with right word here).
In November 2014, I really suffered. I stopped taking my bipolar medicine. I really thought this was the solution to my problems and to my low self esteem. I thought If i lose weight, I become this size then I will feel better and I will be accepted by everyone. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I completely lost sight of myself. I became very disillusioned. My bipolar symptoms worsened and so did my insecurities regarding the shape of my body. I wanted to change my looks at all cost. I really thought beauty salon people will give me extreme makeover, just like they do on Television and I will become a new person, a person accepted and loved by all. I really believed in this dream. I was actually living in that fantasy wonderland 24/7 a day. Within weeks I was going through my hard earned savings like water. All this had terrible affect on my family. They tried to reason with me and tried to convince me to seek help but I wasn’t prepared to listen to anyone.
One day I walked into beauty salon in a dazed state, when I came back home, everyone was shocked. What happened to me felt so unreal and beyond my control. I went from feeling down to feeling on-top-of the world, excited, hyperactive, invincible. That night somehow my parents got outside help and managed to get me into hospital with help of a family friend.
Five weeks later, I walked out of hospital on shaky legs. More sober and more quiet. That fantasy wonderland where a fairy God mother would give me Extreme makeover and I would walk out to round of applause and happy tears was shattered.
At home I looked myself in the mirror and I simply broke down. My family heard my loud wails. My long hair, beautiful hair was gone, the beauty salon lady simply chopped off all my hair. It was so short. I grabbed the scarf and wrapped my head securely in that long comforting piece of fabric. And then I saw my low bank balance. I had spent at least 50,000 rupees in One week at the beauty salon trying to get an extreme make over. They simply took advantage of me, making me believe they were changing my looks and I was looking different.
Now I look at myself, I am still over weight, and nothing about me has changed. But what has changed is me coming to terms with my illness. I don’t want to stop taking my medication anymore. I cling to this medication in a hope it will keep me stable.
When you stop medication, it impairs your judgement, and it also causes psychosis. I had many episodes of psychosis, and that wasn’t pleasant. But did you know at one point medication does stop working and that’s not a pleasant time. Then you hope the new medication will keep you stable.
I have suffered the discrimination and the constant stigma. Stigma doesn’t just hurt the individual, but also their families, creating injustices and sometimes devastating consequences. When my mood changes, it happens for no reason that I’m aware of and our society doesn’t appreciate such abrupt changes in moods. So the solution is you simply isolate yourself from everyone. Right now, I am amazed at my ability to pick up the pieces and my ability to move forward. But I am also very lucky. My employer, the principal of my school is very empathetic towards me. She understands when I’m not feeling well and lets me go home.
Before my anorexia and Bipolar, I was a very sociable person. Now people were not really interested in me and I had no real social life. I am an intelligent person, I teach. When I am in my teacher role, I am brilliant, I deliver with efficacy and I get the best out of my students. Now I go through the photos of my past years, the sadness began to settle in. But now I understood one thing clearly, If I wanted to stay sober , if I wanted to have bit of dignity and a bit of respect, then I had to stick to my medication. Our society likes it when girl if not perfectly beautiful is obedient quiet and a help at home. They don’t accept impulsive behaviours, outbursts and mood swings. Nostalgically I look back to my teenage years, when I was thin and appreciated by everyone. Today heavy and with mental illness, I am a pity case.
Co morbidity is the rule, not the exception in Eating Disorders. The most frequent that co-occur with Eating Disorders are Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Alcohol Substance Abuse Disorder, Metabolic Syndrome and Migraine are more common among individuals with Eating Disorders.
Bipolar and Eating Disorders have a good outcome when treated, but, if left untreated, they are one of the most complex forms of mental illnesses, and carry a great risk of suicide with them. Both illnesses have a high rate of recurrence if untreated.