Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Catching Up

In October, I stopped eating. When I say I stopped eating, I don't mean that I completely stopped eating. I stopped eating properly. I would have a couple of slices of toast in a day. I felt sick. I woke up feeling sick. If I so much as drank water in the morning, I would throw up. My mum came up to visit me. She bought me lunch and I sat and tried to eat. Trying to eat that salad was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Eventually I couldn't stop tears running down my face as I realised that she and my sister had eaten a whole pizza and I had managed one bread stick and a couple of pieces of lettuce, and I excused myself to the bathroom because I thought I would vomit.

Food has always been one of the first things to go when I get anxious. If I have an important examination or another stressful situation, I'll skip food. Usually I manage to get some kind of sugar in me for energy, but I can't eat. I just hadn't ever felt like that for so long before.

It was a vicious cycle. The sicker I was when I ate, the less I wanted to eat. The less I ate, the more stressed I got. The more stressed I got, the sicker I felt.

Objectively, those weeks were not the worst of my life. I have had some really difficult times in my life, where really shit things have happened. But there's a difference between something happening to you and something happening in you. In October 2011, wonderful things happened to me. I started to study at one of the best universities in the world. I met some incredible new people. I was doing academically well. But something terrible happened in me.

Looking back, I have no idea how I got through. That sounds exaggerated and horribly false, but I am being truthful. I was a complete wreck, and I honestly have no idea how I made it. One day when I was at my worst, my mum called me. She told me that my grandma died. That happened to me. And somehow this awful thing - the death of somebody I loved - made something better happen in me. The week before my grandma died, I got this card from my 12 year old sister.

She was proud of me. And she was dead. And I ate. I've been fighting depression for a long time now, but the difference between the rest of my time with depression and anxiety and those weeks in October 2011 was that in October, I wasn't fighting. I had fallen, and I had no idea how I was supposed to get out of the place that I was in. I believe that my grandma gave me the strength to carry on.

I feel better right now. My last term at university was amazing and beautiful but the place in my mind was terrible. I'm only now trying to catch my mind up with the things I have achieved and the beauty of the city surrounding me.

It's still feels impossible sometimes, but I'm fighting now. I'm catching up.

NB: Like I said, I've had a depressive disorder for a very long time now, but this particular tailspin was hell. I haven't recovered and I expect that at some point I will be ready to talk about it in better detail. I think that it is important to post about things like this, though. Sometimes I feel very alone, because we are taught that this is not okay. But it's not about whether or not it's 'okay'. For me, this is an illness as much as diabetes is an illness, and I don't want anybody else to feel ashamed.


  1. Emma: I'm sorry you have gone through this, but am glad to hear that you're feeling better. Depression is never fun and it can be incredibly difficult, but here's to hoping that we can - when those times arise - move through them with the support and friendship of those in our lives. The DOC has helped me on that front more times than I can even count. Best your way. And, I'm sorry about your grandma. Wishes and prayers, and good D-vibes sending along.

  2. Thank you, Michael! I am so glad that I have the support of the DOC, I'm not sure where I would be without you all. :)