Anonymous, 22. Anorexia nervosa, OCD and severe anxiety
What’s in your Heacase?
I suffer from anorexia nervosa, OCD and severe anxiety
When did you first notice things might not be quite….’right’?
I think looking back I can see how things were never quite 'right'. I used to worry so so much as a child and I think I can see that's when the anxiety started. I used to worry about things happening to me and others and used to lie awake at night worrying the world was going to end or I was going to die. Seems so sad looking back at that's how I used to feel even at the youngest of ages.
What were the symptoms/what happened?
I used to worry about anything and everything. I used to cope with the anxiety and OCD by overexercising and not eating for periods of time. I remember being terrified going to school, coming home, being out of the house, being in the house - just all the time. It was exhausting!
How did you feel?
I felt extremely worried and scared all the time. My coping mechanisms of not eating and overexcercising turned into anorexia and made me very unwell.
Do you know why this started?
Yes I know why it started but I'm not able to talk about it yet.
Did you know what it was, or what to do?
I didn't know what it was until I was nearly 30. I just thought I was the way I was and that I would have to be like that forever. I think I thought I was just a worrier but actually I was really ill.
How long did you wait before telling anyone?
30 years! I just kept it to myself and plodded on. Some days it was crippling and I couldn't do my job.
Who did you talk to?
Eventually people at work used to notice the anxiety, OCD and that I lost weight. I used to throw everything into working and try and push the mental health issues away. It didn't work though. They just got bigger and bigger. They put me in touch with occupational health and I have such a good GP she got me in involved in specialist services.
What help did you get?
I was an inpatient twice for my anorexia. During this time I also got help understanding the OCD and anxiety. I really started to work on them and I started taking medication. I now work with a clinical psychologist and have a psychiatrist.
What happened then?
The combination of medications and therapy helped me massively. I started to get help with why it all started. Being able to talk about my childhood was so important in coming to terms with why I am the way I am now. I find regulating my emotions so hard and I am really working on that now.
What one thing do you wish had/hadn’t happened?
I reverted to self-harm on a number of occasions and have felt very suicidal. It makes me sad to think my mental health can effect me that point.
What was the moment you remember things changed for the better?
When I realised as an inpatient that I didn't need to feel like this all the time. That there was help out there. That I didn't need to be this way forever. It felt such a relief.
Who helped you the most?
My clinical psychologist helped me the most and still does. I also have a superb GP who really has helped me so much.
What is the best piece of advice you were given?
I can't think of anything specific, there has been so much. I think something to do with self-care and looking after yourself.
What worked best for you?
Talking. Talking in therapy and talking to friends. I don't have a great relationship with my family but I have had so much support from therapy and friends.
What you would say to anyone who is suffering similar things?
Talk to your GP. If they don't help go and find another GP. I WISH I had done it sooner. I suffered for years with anxiety and OCD and just wasn't brave enough to take that first step. When I did talk to the GP it was the biggest relief and I then started to get the help that I desperately needed.