This post deals with eating disorders and suicide, and might be triggering for some readers.
I come from a British working-class family.
Crying was seen as a weakness.
If you had a problem, you sorted it with your fists and you didn’t ask for help. It was frowned upon to talk about negative feelings and talking about mental health was out of the question.
Watch: Clinical psychologist Amanda Gordon discusses children and anxiety. Post continues below.
The first time I heard an adult in my family talk about mental health was when I was seven years old.
My aunt said I would kill myself before I reached adulthood. I was displaying symptoms of anxiety and my family was ashamed of me. Even though I was well-behaved as anxiety made me fearful to the point of obedience, I was viewed as a problem child.
I tried to bottle up my feelings and be normal. I wanted to please my parents. I wanted my aunts and uncles to like me instead of talking about me as if I was weird. I wanted people to stop talking about the "funny farm." This was an expression commonly used in my family to refer to the local mental hospital.
If I struggled with anxiety, I was warned to "snap out of it" or I would end up in the funny farm.
It’s no surprise that my anxiety got worse. At 12 years old, I started to experience panic.
I had started secondary school, which is a big step for any child. But for an anxious child, this is not just a big step. It’s a gigantic leap.
I was bullied by older students, some of them as old as 15 and 16.
This is when my mental health issues started to spiral out of control. It was no longer limited to excessive worrying and crippling shyness.
I worried about my weight, the way I looked and was constantly on a diet. I felt so hideous that I wanted to die.
Little did I know, I had developed Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
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