I have struggled with mental illness for a long time. A victim of extreme bullying, I fell into a crippling depression at age 10, and I started self-harming to cope with the hopelessness I felt. I didn’t know what depression was, I just knew that none of my other classmates wore long sleeves in summer. I was ashamed, so I hid. My depression went undiagnosed for seven years. Seven years of hiding. Seven years of lying. Seven years of pretending to be happy and normal for fear of being bullied even worse.
Five years into my depression I developed an eating disorder. I had convinced myself that if I was super skinny that the bullies would like me, so I stopped eating. Two years later (seven years into depression), I was dangerously underweight to the point where I was having heart problems. I had the body I always wanted, but I was even more unhappy than before. The world seemed bleak, and I considered ending it all.
My depression went undiagnosed for seven years. Seven years of hiding. Seven years of lying.
Then I found out my best friend was in treatment for EDNOS and self-harm, and doing wonderfully. She told me how much better her life was after seeking help and, in a tearful exchange, convinced me to seek help myself. The very next week I admitted myself to the hospital. It was terrified and for the first time in my life I knew I was not alone.
I am currently six months into recovery and doing wonderfully. I was finally diagnosed with anorexia, major depressive disorder and dysthymia. My parents and close friends now know everything. I have been free of self-harm for four months—the longest period of time since I was 10. I am back to a normal weight and proud of it. I know that I will struggle with my disorders for a long time, but I am at long last unashamed.
My name is Libby. I am a girl who loves theater, fencing and being with her friends. I have a mental illness, but that is not who I am.
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