10 Things I Wish People Knew About My Mental Illness.

Often we suffer from mental illness in private, too scared to show or tell the world what we’re really going through.

What are some of the things you wish people knew about your mental illness?

Often we suffer from mental illness in private, too scared to show or tell the world what we’re really going through. For me, the eating disorder and accompanying mental illnesses are sometimes so complex that I can’t put it into words. I often talk about anorexia with my therapist and even I have to stop myself and think;

‘Wow, that’s just crazy! Why would I even think like that?’

I’ve no doubt that most people have had the same thought about their own mental illness. It tricks us into believing that what it is telling us is correct, and we are all the bad things we think and more.

If we can’t understand it, then how can anyone else?

This post aims to inform you of 10 things I wish people knew about my mental illness, and hopefully will provide some insight into the mind of an anorexic.


10 Things I wish People Knew About My Mental Illness.

1. It’s not a choice.

The development of anorexia was not a choice, nor was my relapse back into it. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide ‘Today is a great day to start ruining my life’. Who does that?!

The relapse didn’t happen overnight but over a long period of time, one which I don’t necessarily remember. Other people saw it happening before I did, my best friend in particular, but I was in denial.

I didn’t want to relapse, I didn’t want to fall back into fighting my own responses to hunger, but anorexia and the security it gave me had other ideas.

2. Recovery from Anorexia is not as simple as eat and put on weight.

Putting on weight won’t magically cure me. It didn’t the first two times, and there is no way it will now 10+ years into this disorder. I was never ‘recovered’ before, I was just in a state of quasi-recovery where I could barely stand to look at myself on my worst days. For years I was still hiding behind the mask of counting calories, over exercising and purging. I would have still went out for dinner and picked the ‘lightest‘ sounding thing on the menu. 

The only thing that will help me is working through recovery at a steady pace with support at all angles. It’s working through my stunted emotions, my ideals of weight and body image, and learning about myself in the process.

It’s a long road but it’s one I am trying to walk along on a daily basis.

10 things i wish people knew about mental illness
3. The guilt eats me alive.

I feel guilty about everything from not being fit to return to work quick enough, to what my cat is going through. Yes, you read that right, I feel guilty about the fact that my cat could be picking up on my low moods, therefore throwing her into depression! It’s weird, right? That I feel guilty about things outside my control (least of all my cat’s mood)?

That’s the nature of the beast. You’re wracked with guilt about not being able to just function like a normal human being. Why can’t I just work 8-5 without a meltdown? Is there a reason why I can’t eat food without wanting to rip my skin off?

Why can’t I just be like everyone else?!

On the other end of things, you are also wracked with guilt when you do eat. It’s so conflicting; You hate yourself if you do and you hate yourself if you don’t.

4. It paralyses me with fear most days.

Sometimes it’s easier to be asleep rather than facing another day of forcing myself to eat. It causes me to spend longer than necessary when buying food or when eating out. I have to read the nutritional information for calories, sugars, and fats. If a menu doesn’t have nutritional information I have to guess or Google, much to my partner’s annoyance.

The fear of eating something that I consider a ‘fear food’ is so consuming.

What if I gain too much? What if I can’t stop eating?

It’s so incredibly stupid but it’s a reality that so many of us with eating disorders go through. 

I’ve cried about rice, I’ve screamed about mayo, I’ve starved for days over 500 grams of extra weight on the scale; I’ve done so many out of character things just because the disorder tells me I have to.

5. It’s 100% a mental and emotional disorder.

Like I mentioned, you can’t just feed a person up, have them put on the desired amount of weight, and that’s it. There is so much more going on beneath the surface in regards to our emotional regulation, depression and possible trauma.

It can take about 3 months (give or take) to become weight restored. The mental side of things takes a lot longer to catch up. Sometimes years. 

Not to mention the other mental illnesses that often accompany the eating disorder such as depression, anxiety and, sometimes, OCD.

6. It’s exhausting to constantly be at war with your own head.

I’m tired all the time from fighting this. When you’re anorexic, that’s one thing, but to have anxiety and depression, and all the other life stressors that come along for the ride, it gets all kinds of hard.

I’m so tired and yet I can’t sleep without being dosed up on medication that knocks me out for hours. Without I’m awake thinking about every little thing if I don’t keep it in check.

At the beginning of all of this, I was barely sleeping, then when I went on sick leave from work I started to nap throughout the day. Everything took far too much energy and effort. It’s not as bad now because I am keeping my strength up but I still find myself exhausted after social situations and long outings.

It’s almost as if I need to recharge myself after giving too much time and energy listening to other people.

7. It’s about compulsion and addiction, not about discipline.

It’s almost like I need to restrict. I can’t choose it, I just have to do it. If I don’t bad things (weight gain, failure, spiraling self-hatred) will happen.

It’s often the way movies and TV shows depict OCD;

‘Turn the light on and off 3 times of your mother will die” 

Except we’ll gain weight, suddenly turn into 4foot tall trolls, grow hair in awkward places and our teeth will fall out.

It makes about as much sense as Halloween in July (although I’m game for that).

8. The eating disorder has convinced me that I am a failure in every area of my life.

I’m a failure not just in the eyes of weight loss but everywhere else. Everything I get involved in or touch rots. I’m bad at my job, I’m bad at being a partner, I’m bad at being a blogger, I’m bad at driving; I am bad at everything.

Or at least that is what anorexia has told me.

But the problem is you begin to believe it, and that infects you. It knocks your confidence, it knocks your self-esteem and it renders you completely self-deprecating.

9. The eating disorder has convinced me that I shouldn’t drink anything or eat anything before weigh in’s so I get the ‘true’ reading.

This often means I go without food/drink for 4-5 hours after I wake up just so I can step on the scales and find out what my weight is. If it’s up I know it’s up and not water weight or food, if it’s down I know by how much!

This sets me up for the day. Depending on what the scales in the therapist’s office say I could leave, go for a coffee and have breakfast, or I could just skip it altogether.

I’ve tried to get out of this way of thinking but I can’t. It’s so damn hard and I honestly don’t know what gave me the strength to get out of this before. This time it seems so final, like once I get better there is no way I can lose weight again because it’ll throw me back into this.

10. Eating disorders are about shame, not vanity.

You feel shame about yourself and your ability, and the only thing you can do is starve because it’s all that you’re good at. It’s hard to describe but the shame runs so deep that it forces you to harm yourself, because what else can you do? You feel like the dirt on someone’s shoe. 

It’s not about vanity. There is nothing beautiful or romantic about an eating disorder.

  • Your hair is thin and comes out in handfuls.
  • You suffer from terrible stomach issues.
  • You’re constantly cold.
  • You’re pale.
  • Your teeth are ruined.
  • Light hair grows on your body to keep you warm.
  • Your eyesight can suffer.

And so much more.


These are just some of the things I wish people knew about my mental illness. It’s impossible to pinpoint everything, and people’s opinions of anorexia never fail to surprise me. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, one more person has a distinct opinion.

In fact, writing this I realised that if I had written everything I wanted people to know about my eating disorder, I would have been writing a novel. Or at least twenty more points.

What about you? Is there anything you wish people knew about your disorder or chronic illness?

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10 Things I wish people knew about mental health

142 comments

  1. I wish people could understand depression is not just a mood but an illness.

  2. I have been reading about mental health from sometime and it is very important to share about it as unless others no one will know that your fears

  3. I can relate to this so much. I think one of the most important things for people to understand is that it really is not a choice. We do not choose to be like this or feel like this.

  4. The whys listed here are powerful beyond words. It is hard for someone who doesn’t have these disorders to understand. It’s a scary stronghold over people. Thank you for being a positive voice and as always, prayers for continued strength.

  5. Amen. It’s so strange to me that so many suffer from different forms of mental illness and yet so much is not understood about it. I appreciate you sharing your insight.

  6. Thank you for sharing the myths about mental illness. We need to share understanding and more awareness about this topic.

  7. Thank you for being strong enough to face these realities everyday and for being brave enough to share a piece of yourself to us. You are one strong lady! Virtual hugs. <3

  8. Thank you for sharing this and being so open and honest. People don’t tend to understand mental illness in general, especially if it doesn’t afflict them personally. I think it is important that people have more empathy and understanding.

  9. This is very very very important for everyone to know about! Mental illness is a very serious problem that no one seems to know much about.

  10. This is something we all need to read. There are many times that I want to be helpful but have no idea how. This is very good.

  11. This disease is a tough one to recover from. Food is the enemy but it is is needed to survive. An alcoholic can give up food but an anorexic can not give up food

  12. Lots of mental illnesses look similar at some of these points. I can relate to them, as fear and fighting your own head can consume lots of energy and effort. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I’m glad you shared your struggles. It’s so important for us to talk about those hard things. It’s the only way to overcome shame and start healing.

  14. I am glad you shared this! It can help others who are going through this and who have friends going through it.

  15. Thank you for sharing this and raise more awareness. It can be hard to understand what people go through, especially when it comes to mental illness and people usually do not grasp what happens behind the scenes. I was not aware of most of these so thanks for sharing

  16. It is. It’s tiring and unproductive too. I look around and my friends are all ahead somewhere, but I’ve come to terms with it.

    I’m glad I’m writing. It’s pretty much the only thing I have these days.

  17. This is such an important post. Thank you for sharing about your difficult battle with your eating disorder. I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

    Having struggled with depression, I totally understand how it can feel like you’re at war with your brain. So many things that other people take for granted – having energy, going to work, and even going through the motions of life, can be so difficult for people with mental health issues. For you, even the act of eating takes a lot of effort and courage, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be.

    Hope things will keep getting better for you!

  18. This, all of this! If it were as simple as just choosing to be happy or choosing to eat again don’t you think that most of us would have made that choice a long time ago? Those statements drive me batty!

  19. I recently gave up nicotine and food is by far a worse addiction of mine. Although I’m not addicted to food, I’m addicted to the feeling of being empty from it. Anorexia has somehow convinced me that it’s better to be empty than full, and it’s a hard cycle to break, especially after so long. Thank you for stopping by and reading, I wish you all the best on your journey.

  20. Thank you for sharing your story. I have food addiction and Iโ€™ve been working on getting myself to have a better relationship with food. It is so hard, harder than when I quit smoking. So I appreciate knowing that Iโ€™m not alone.

  21. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. No one will ever be able to convince me I’m not a failure until I manage to convince myself, which will be a long time coming. x

  22. Thats the way it should be. No kids, or adults, should ever need to hide their feelings away. It should be normal to treat mental illness just like you would a broken arm or leg.

  23. A very honest and open well written blog, well done and thank you for sharing your story with the world, it will definitely help others

  24. I just want to give you a massive hug! You really aren’t a failure in any way at all (but I know no one can ever convince you that) and they really aren’t about vanity, there’s nothing vain or glamorous about throwing your guts up (same theme different disorder). Well written and extremely brave post. Stay strong and healthy xxx

  25. This was a very great read. You are so strong, and so brave. This shows that mental battles are usually far more intense than we imagine. Thank you for sharing what you go through on a daily basis. I hope this inspires others to know that they are not alone in their mental battles, and also let others know that itโ€™s never as easy as some of us thinks it is.

  26. Love this! Agree with all these points and so wish people knew about these areas – especially the vanity and how people saying nowadays we do it for attention. Thank you for sharing x

  27. What an informative post. So many people will benefit from this. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. An incredibly powerful post and a really interesting read. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  29. Thank you for honesty and good writing! Every time someone shares, the stigma of mental health decreases. I have been parenting foster and adopted children for 28 years. Each has their emotional journey and most have parents with mental illness. We talk openly about it all so the kids don’t think they need to hide. Thank you!!!!

  30. Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m glad I was able to help you better understand mental illness in some way ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. I’m exactly the same pet. I’m so drained and emotional on my bad days, for no apparent reason, that I just can’t seem to even make myself food. It’s debilitating.

  32. I definitely wish more people understood these points. For me, the hardest is the fact that it’s all so draining – when I have bad days and I’m totally exhausted, I hate knowing that in many cases, I’m being judged for being lazy

  33. Your 10th point literally brought tears to my eyes because it was so spot on. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  34. It’s the specifics that you give that really help to drive your points home and gets us close to feeling what you feel. It definitely shows how recovery is a day-to-day fight with multiple opponents that attack from different angles. That constant threat can wear you out, but it’s essentially the only option.

  35. As always a reallly well written and honest post. It is great you are using your voice in this way to help raise awareness and also help other sufferers not feel alone.
    You deserve so much happiness.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Alyssa
    THESACREDSPACEAP.COM

  36. What a beautiful post- eloquent, informative, well laid out and personal.

    It felt like you were able to pull apart the constituent parts of a complex situation and clearly convey them.

    It is heartening to hear that others have these tumultuous inner experiences- though I’m saddened to hear that too.

    At least we know that ‘it’ doesn’t know what it’s talking about- we all know that you’re an awesome blogger!

    Thank you for sharing.
    Peace and love, Spence ????

  37. This is completely eye opening! No one can understand the battle inside a persons own head and body but this will certainly help people to see that as you said there is no choice.

    No one would choose this for themselves.

    Sending love as always x

  38. Thank you for sharing this Nixie! It’s very difficult for an outsider to understand what exactly it is that you’re going through.
    Love,
    Shalvika

  39. Great quote and so, so true! It’s hard to understand something in someone else’s mind, especially if they can’t understand it themselves, which we so often can’t.

  40. Thank you for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed this and could relate to it in some way. Thank you also for sharing, briefly, your story. x

  41. I do intend to have them be generic, however, because I am dealing with an eating disorder some specific ones slip through. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for reading.

  42. Thank you so much for sharing your own story with us here. There are so many misconceptions about eating disorders that just, excuse the pun, eat me alive.

  43. Nobody will understand except for those who are going through it. As much as others try it really is hard to truly get a grasp on it. Just remember the ones who matter don’t mind and the ones who mind don’t matter.

  44. As someone who suffered with Anorexia too, I agree with all points, but most especially 8 & 10. Iโ€™m so happy you chose to share this. Itโ€™s really hard for people like us and recovery can be a yearsโ€™ long process, if ever. Thank you for being courageous enough to educate others on this topic!

  45. I really enjoyed reading this. Well written. It’s important to talk about mental illness as much as we will need to????

  46. Thank you for sharing this useful information. It is important that we are mindful of those with mental illness, and try to be more understanding. It is not the easiest journey to go through and having those to support you in your journey goes a long way. Sending you lots of love!

    Nancy โ™ฅ exquisitely.me

  47. Thank you for sharing all of this. Half of the stuff i didn’t even know. Keep educating about anorexia, you help a lot of people!

  48. Many of these points are easily applicable to many other mental illnesses, and it’s so sad how little understanding people who haven’t been diagnosed of one have over how it can manifest in those who have been.

    – Laura || https://afinnontheloose.com

  49. Thank you for this! So many more need to be educated about mental health, especially eating disorders. I do feel most have this assumption that all of a sudden you just start eating again youโ€™re fine like no you have to remove that negative self talk in your head that made you develop an eating disorder in the first place. Personally, it took me a year in therapy to finally have a healthy relationship with food. Trying my hardest to view it as fuel and not bad, as I had been conditioned to. Thank you again for speaking out ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. People often misunderstand or just don’t know about the physical impacts of mental illness. Stress killed my stomach for months to the point where I was afraid to leave the house. There are so many physical symptoms that it’s hard to pinpoint just a few.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond. I really, really appreciate your support.

  51. No one would choose to be unwell and yet we are often made feel like it’s our fault, which is just sickening. People don’t get how terrified I am of certain foods, too much food and weight. It’s paralyzing, as you know all too well pet.
    I was out yesterday with my best friend and I had to socially recover when I got home. Yes, even after being with someone I find comfortable to be around. I just need some ‘me’ time or ‘blog’ time to restore my soul.

    Thank you so much for stopping by Ruth, as always I love to hear from you ๐Ÿ˜€

  52. Thank you so much for your kind comment. So many more people need to allow mental illness into their lives, not to suffer it, but being open to understanding it and the people it attaches it’s self to.