Proud2Bme | My Eating Disorder Wasn’t the Only Mental Illness I Conquered

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My Eating Disorder Wasn’t the Only Mental Illness I Conquered

By Tori Lilly--This month is Mental Health Month. It is important that mental health and mental illnesses are talked about, no matter how hard that may be. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness in a given year.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

To go along with this shocking statistic, 21.4% of youth (aged 13-18) experience a mental illness. These statistics show just how prevalent mental illnesses are. They also show how important it is to talk about mental health and mental illnesses.

Living with a mental illness is not a walk in the park. In fact, it is quite the opposite of that. One thing that is even harder is living with more than one mental illness. Unfortunately, it happens to more people than it should, including me. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety at the age of 15. I was put into a treatment center to start my recovery from anorexia nervosa when I was first diagnosed.

At the time, my eating disorder was the first thing that needed to be addressed. I was dangerously ill and that needed to be dealt with in the moment. The treatment center was very good and knew how to deal with and treat those with eating disorders. But I think that they lacked the resources to deal with other disorders. It is not easy to treat someone with an eating disorder, but it becomes much more complex when that is not the only mental illness to fight.

I was put into intensive programs for treating and recovering from the anorexia nervosa, but little was done to deal with the depression and anxiety. They did have a psychiatrist and I was put on two different medications to deal separately with both the anxiety and the depression. It was effective and I was doing therapy and was dealing with both the eating disorder and the other two problems.

However, problems arose when I was sent home. The treatment center had decided that I no longer needed to be on my anxiety medicine and that I should have my depression medication dosage lowered. Now, I am all for not being completely dependent on medicine, but sometimes there are chemical imbalances that need to be addressed and sometimes the best way to treat that is with medication. It was not easy going home from treatment in the first place. I was still fighting eating disordered thoughts every day and was still on a weight gain plan. Now, I also had to fight the inner demons of depression and anxiety.

Thankfully, I had an amazing support team at home. I was slowly but surely able to kick “ED” in the butt and say goodbye to him forever. But I know that the recovery process was much harder than normal since I was also struggling with depression and anxiety. I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety for much longer than I did with my eating disorder. I struggled when I went away to college and was put on different medication to help deal with the depression. That worked and I have been doing much better since then.

All in all, there are a few important things to remember here. First, it is possible to recover from an eating disorder. Second, it is possible to recover while also dealing with other mental illnesses. Third, it is important to make sure that you are dealing with things with many different professionals (counselors, dietitians, medical doctors, psychiatrists, etc.). And finally, no matter how hard it is, recovery is worth it.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

About the blogger: Tori Lilly has been in recovery from anorexia nervosa for four years. She is currently attending Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois. She is majoring in dietetics with a minor in psychology. She intends to become a dietitian for girls with eating disorders.

Also by Tori:

Early Intervention is the Key to Recovery

When Fitness Becomes Compulsion

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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