A mental illness is not anyone’s fault. Guilt is something that I struggled with very much and I know others do as well. There’s a lot of questioning about why one would let oneself get to such a low point. It’s a sad thing to know that people are beating themselves up over something that was out of their control.
People who don’t have a mental illness or have never battled one sometimes do not understand that we are not in control of what our mind is capable of making our body do. People don’t “let” depression take over them. People don’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to become anorexic. That sounds like a great way to live.” It hurts to know that people truly think those things when the inner struggle against negative thoughts is so difficult and exhausting.
When my eating disorder and depression started creeping back in and causing problems, I had to explain to Javier that there wasn’t anything that he could have done to prevent those things. I came up with a little metaphor that I think did a good job of explaining things: Depression is like an illness that stays in your body once you get it. It’s always there inside you, but it is laying dormant. That’s how depression is; you may not think it’s there, but it could creep back in at any moment.
In my case, my eating disorder was caused by a failing friendship. Relationships have been and probably always will be a soft spot for me. No, it’s not as hard for me to make friends as it used to be, but I still am very selective about who I let into my close circle of friends. I hate conflict, so whenever a problem arises with a friend, I try to be very passive about it and hope things will work out. Recently, though, my conflict was so bad that I had to address the problems and everything imploded.
When my eating disorder thoughts started sneaking back into my life, I was confused about what caused them. I did point out the failing friendship with the girls from Remuda I kept in touch with, but I couldn’t see how that would have been enough to cause it all. What I didn’t point out, however, was another close friendship that is rocky.
So many factors go into mental illnesses and they’re a very dark place to be. The one thing that helps most is having a sold group of friends and family that will be there for you to hold your hand and tell you it’s going to be okay. If there are negative aspects in your life that are impacting your ability to get better, you need to get rid of them. As tough as it may be to do that, ask yourself if you would rather live in misery or suffer a short-term loss for long-term benefits?
The people that will be there for you through thick and thin will be your friend and love you unconditionally. They will understand that the choices you have to make will put your health first and foremost. If they cannot understand that, then I do not believe that they are capable of supporting you. It’s hard to lose friends, especially for me, but sometimes it’s just a part of life. The most important thing is that you can handle it in a positive way and thrive from the outcome.