Thursday, 5 February 2015

They just make me ... me

This is a second guest post from Patch, who previously wrote for us just under a year ago.

I've never been shy about talking about my health issues. As far as I'm concerned, they're a huge part of my life and a big contributor to the person I am today. My illnesses don't make me any less deserving of love, friendship, or snarky comments. They just make me... me.

As many who know me will know, I suffer from a multitude of mental disorders. Chronic major depressive disorder [severe]; severe generalized anxiety disorder; gender identity disorder; body dysmorphic disorder; borderline personality disorder; and eating disorder [anorexia nervosa restrictive subtype]. In other words, I have played brain bingo and won a full house. I have completed my mental health pokedex. And y'know what? I'm fine with that. For me, there is absolutely no shame in having these illnesses, or in accepting my various diagnoses. They're part of me, part of my history, and most importantly, part of my future.

My illnesses are, in my eyes, a disability. They can, on bad days, severely impact my day-to-day functioning. Even on good days they don't fade. I was first treated for them approximately 5 years previously, although symptoms were present as far back as 14 years ago. In my treatment I have spent several months in a psychiatric unit, nearly died several times, and scarred my body both internally and externally. I've taken medication whose names I can't pronounce, and whose side effects don't bare talking about. I've lost friends, lost years, and lost confidence. But i've gained a whole lot more.

In my darkest days, my friends and family never gave up on me. I've had amazing teachers who approached me with sympathy and understanding, reassuring me that it was okay to take a break and switch off for a while. I've known friends who have sent me silly pictures of dogs, called me with hilarious anecdotes, cried with me about nothing. My amazing mum has made me endless cups of tea, sat with me as I struggled, and driven 8+ hours with a dog in tow to visit me at uni. I am lucky beyond belief to be able to sit here in my university flat, still alive, all thanks to my amazing network of supporters and friends.

Now, I am fearless. I still have bad days where I can't get outside, and even taking a shower feels too much, but I know that they will pass. I know that I will probably carry these illnesses with me for the rest of my life, but that doesn't bother me. They're an integral part of my identity, and I would honestly miss them if they were gone. I am not defined by my illnesses, I am enhanced. I am made stronger, wiser, and ultimately undefeatable.

Talking about mental illness in public is still taboo, despite the millions of people that are afflicted by it. In breaking the silence and sharing my story, I hope you are inspired to do the same.

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