There seems to be an assumption that people who speak out publically about mental health problems are recovered. This is something I find very difficult because I end up having a lot of conversations with people who assume I am recovered and okay when the truth is that I am not. I feel positive for the first time in a long time, I want to live my life and achieve things and make positive change for other people’s mental health which is why I speak out and put a lot of effort into doing so. This positivity is a new thing, even as little as 8 weeks ago I didn’t feel positive about life and if I am completely honest I didn’t want to be alive. I use this positivity to inspire others because for over a decade I spent every single day wanting to die and I didn’t believe that could ever change but it did and it happened when I was least expecting it. It is very early days, I’m still in the stages of ‘firsts’, the first time I took paracetamol for a headache, the first time I sat down and watched my favourite film. All these little things that add to taking care of myself I am doing for the first time.
With anorexia, I’m not sure I will every be completely better, I have suffered with this illness since I was 5 and to me recovery isn’t about anorexia completely disappearing, it is simply about being healthy enough to participate in life in a fulfilling and meaningful way. I am actually quite unwell with anorexia at the moment, it went downhill after Christmas and I haven’t managed to halt it yet. I work at it every single day but my weight is not healthy, my body is not healthy and my mind is not healthy. I still have a long way to go.
People can speak out about mental illness and make a positive impact on the world around them whilst they are still unwell. I don’t have to be a shiny, recovered, perfect smile kind of person in order to achieve the things I want to when it comes to raising awareness, understanding and educating and inspiring others. I have been detained under the mental health act twice in the past 12 months, I am in treatment for anorexia, I am nowhere near well and recovered and I will probably never be mental illness free.
The media tend to have a focus when they are covering a mental health story. It often involves looking back on the person’s past with mental illness and then a short bit on how well they are now. This is the case for some people but it would be more beneficial to focus on the ‘now’ and on the day to day living with a severe and enduring mental health condition. I think it is very inspiring to see how someone built up a satisfying and happy around their mental illness rather than showing someone who miraculously recovered. There are some people who will probably never be completely well, the media do not cater for these people.
I speak out about mental health, I campaign for positive change in mental health but I still suffer with a severe and enduring mental illness every single day.