Today is World #Mental Health Day. I'm glad it's being celebrated, but I don't think one day is enough time to discuss it. I believe mental health must be discussed at any time because it is important for people to be educated. I have experience in mental health, and today, I reveal my story in the hopes of inspiring others potentially going through the same.

Diagnosis

On September 2015, I was diagnosed with #Anorexia Nervosa. I was twenty years old and chose to ignore it. Or rather, the voice in my head told me there was nothing wrong with me. This was while I exercised by running on the spot everyday and had convinced myself I was fat.

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It was gradual. It started at ten kilometres. It went up to ten miles. Twenty kilometres. Thirty. Around this time, my calorie intake got lower. The maximum was six hundred calories and the minimum, two hundred. All I wanted was perfection.

During this time, I was in my second year studying English Language. I had doubts in my head during my first year because it wasn't what I expected. The jump from A-level was too overwhelming. This was on top of my flatmates clubbing at 2 AM when I had 9 AM lectures. It got to the point that I refused to leave my room. I became exhausted and as expected, didn't get my priorities straight.

Instagram. A (discontinued) YouTube channel. Job hunting. Buying useless stuff voices in my head convinced me that I needed. Such trivial things took over my life.

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The inner me who knew this was wrong was trapped in a bubble surrounded by black clouds. Months passed, but I ignored everyone helping me. My parents, doctors, you name them. I wanted to be alone in a fantasy which would never be reachable.

On October 21st, I collapsed. Medics were brought round and I was told that my heart rate was low. I was sent to the hospital and found out it was thirty beats per minute and twenty in my sleep. I was put on a drip and stuck in a bed for a week. I'm not gonna lie, it was hell. I thought this would be the wake-up call I needed to get better.

It wasn't. My diet was no breakfast, a slice of bread and 300 calorie ready meals with black tea or diet coke. Not a drop of water. By December, I was sent to an inpatient hospital after constant hospital visits and taking leave from uni. None of it worked. The only way I expressed myself was shouting at my mum, telling her that I hated her. I dug myself in too deep and had to pay the price. Even after being told I needed to go, it never hit me.

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Birdcage

The five months I was an inpatient felt like five years. The room I stayed in was like a hotel suite. It had a single bed, a chest of drawers, a desk and a TV with cream walls and carpeting. It had an ensuite, something my uni dorm, unfortunately, didn't have the luxury of containing. As much as I tried to settle in, I knew it wasn't home. All I wanted to do was scream, cry and beg my parents to not leave me.

Two days in, I was back in general hospital. Another collapse. My mum travelled over an hour at 9 o'clock at night just to see me. I was nearly given a feeding tube this time around. The second I heard this, I stuck to my meal plan. To the point that doctors monitoring me trusted me to be on my own. As tempting as it was to rebel, I still did it. The only thing left of the real me was my honesty.

I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I wished it was. Only 7 words kept me going: Belief. Hope. Confidence. Love. Health. Courage. Happiness. The words on my Pandora essence charms my dad got me before my treatment. Not once did I take it off in the hospital and I still keep it today.

I'll admit, I believed the stereotypes on TV were accurate depictions of people with eating disorders. I quickly learnt it wasn't the case. Anybody could have an #Eating Disorder. No matter their size, gender or age, it's tempting call could catch anyone. As I saw people come and go, it motivated me to live. I wrote a bucket list. I wrote my blog. I wrote in my diary every night. I told myself to hold onto hope. Even on my bad days, I wrote.

One day, something hit me: anger. Broadcaster Joan Bakewell had openly called anorexia 'narcissism' and claimed 'nobody in camps like Syria had it.' The moment I read it, I had to respond. This is what I wrote:

The day after I posted that, my mum called me. She said my tweet was published in articles about the backlash Miss Bakewell received for her comments. It made me realize something: if I can get through to people in a hundred and forty characters, maybe I can use my voice for good.

The day after, it hit me: It wasn't university I didn't like. It was the course. I researched my university where I was still a registered student. There was a Creative Writing course. One with fiction and screenwriting. This time, I researched the support provided. It was perfect. The moment after I was discharged, I had one goal: go back to university.

Leaving the nest

I'm now in my second year of Creative Writing and preparing for a study abroad exchange to New York. I'll be doing work experience at publishing house in December. I'm writing novels and screenplays based on my experiences in hospital. I'm at a point in my life where my future is falling into place. It's just the process is a bit bumpy and unpredictable.

Recovery is never easy and I still feel low at times. I didn't expect it to be perfect, but I guess I thought of it like a movie where it was a happy ending. Except there is no ending. Life carries on and you grow from your experiences. It's messy. However, I know this time to get help instead of swallowing my pride.

I guess my biggest gain through recovery isn't about "beating" my illness. It's learning to live with it. While I'd love to pretend my eating disorder never happened, I know I can't. Reflecting upon it, it's crazy how much I've done in the last two years. The old me would've thought it was a silly dream.

I beg anybody going through an eating disorder. You are enough. Yes, it's the same saying you've heard a million times on Tumblr, but it's true. Just...get help. Somebody cares about you.

If you or someone you know is going through an eating disorder, refer them to your GP or a psychotherapist immediately. I also recommend visiting the charity Beat for further information. Please do it now, not just today because a group of people decided to label today as a day to acknowledge mental health.