Behind Amanda's Mind

     My mental health journey started at the young age of 4 when I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and general anxiety disorder. Having been born with a soft cleft palate, I was unable to soothe myself which fuelled the development of my OCD and anxiety. I would rub the backs of my hands until they would crack and bleed, and I often counted things such as facial features, panes of glass or windows. I didn’t know then, but I know now that counting repetitively is a coping mechanism. 

I was in and out of therapy starting at age 4, and now at 24 I have been in therapy consistently since the age of 16 after being diagnosed with major depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia. 

My world was turned upside-down when I was admitted to treatment for my eating disorder on April 1, 2012. I was 16 and had no idea what recovery meant other than weight gain which terrified me. This led to a relapse almost immediately after being discharged 7 weeks later. I was readmitted in 2017 for another 6 weeks. My anorexia was my way of coping with a world that seemed too harsh and mean. Later in therapy in the year 2019 while I was working with a therapist specializing in trauma work, I came to the realization during EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that my eating disorder developed because I am afraid of rejection of any kind. Therefore, when someone or something was mean to me, it didn’t hurt as much because my own eating disorder in my head was incredibly worse than anything else that could be to me. 

Anorexia is a bully that I use to toughen myself up so that when the world feels too mean or too difficult to manage, I am more prepared. Thankfully, I currently work with 2 amazing therapists and a dietitian who have been helping me work on not using an eating disorder to cope and to use healthier methods instead. I’ve learned over the years of therapy that writing poetry and doing art is my favorite way to express myself and share my life stories with others. It helps myself and others feel less alone. I hope to someday soon have an entire poetry book published and to also start selling my artwork. 

My mental health journey has not been easy. Mental illness is complicated and recovery from any mental illness takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I may still struggle with my diagnosis day to day, but I’m not nearly as sick as I was as a teenager; I’m making progress and I know the love of my life, Emily, will stick by my side through it all, and together we will achieve great things. I am much more than my disorders, I am a goofy artist, poet, fiancé, college student, daughter, and animal lover. It won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect, but I will recover.

 

Amanda O.

Toledo, Ohio

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