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Grasping for Control

Trigger Warning: Mentions of eating disorders, self harm and suicidal ideation


Everyone can empathise with feeling out of control, its not a feeling people enjoy it can leave you feeling helpless, confused and lost. For me, control is an issue that I really struggle with.


As someone who experiences a range of mental health disorders I spend a lot of my life feeling out of control. I have found it hard spending so much time trying to find a way to control the things that have happened in my life and it has left me using some really unhealthy coping techniques, ones that although may make me feel like I have control of everything for a second are both damaging to me and also only a temporary fix.


At my most depressed I decided to start losing weight, I thought that that had to be one of the things that was making me feel unhappy and therefore by starting a diet I was taking control of the situation and doing something about it, however, using food to control your emotions is a dangerous game and for me quickly spiralled. Although I still believed that I was in control, I thought that I had fixed my emotions and I was the most disciplined person I knew, the reality was that my Anorexia had taken control of me, I had no control over what was happening in my head or to my body and it was starting to kill me.


For me, being in control of my food felt like a substitute to the lack of control I felt over my emotions, however, in the end I ended up sick and fighting for my life.


Anyone who spends time with me has probably noticed that my arms are scarred. It's interesting to me, I am sure that people notice, but very few people ever say anything to me, it leaves me wondering what they think about it and what they think about me. Yes, I struggle with self harming, and it's something that I sometimes feel ashamed of , but me wearing short sleeves and showing people that part of my life is a statement of moving forward from that one moment where I gave into the urges. Those who have known me for a long time may be aware that I have struggled with self harming since I was about 16. It's something which I have had periods of recovery from (Particularly in the depths of my eating disorder). It's something I am currently battling with, when one coping mechanism is taken away people forget that that doesn't mean that you are going to automatically be able to cope, and for me I haven't got to a place where I can cope with the rollercoaster of emotions that I deal with.


At my lowest lows I struggle with self harming and suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide) and for me self harming gives me a sense of control over the agonising mental pain that I am experiencing. It's not healthy and it's something that I would like to recover from. I wish I could give advise about how to get away from these toxic coping mechanisms but unfortunately for me it's still something that I battle with on a daily basis, in the dark tunnel desperately hoping to see the light.


I am lucky in that I have amazing people in my life that I have started to be able to communicate with about my struggles and that is the most relieving thing ever. I know, that if they see my scars they don't look at me and think I'm disgusting or broken they want to help me. I have a friend who told me in no uncertain terms 'next time call me before it happens' and maybe I will be able to do that next time.


We all have different ways of trying to gain control, and a lot of them are really unhealthy, for me that's definitely the case. It's not okay to hurt yourself, but you also shouldn't be ashamed. Your pain is valid and you shouldn't feel blame or embarrassment about the pain that you are feeling. I hope that by talking about it it may encourage people to also talk about it, as cliche as it is the line 'a problem shared is a problem halfed' is actually pretty applicable, when you aren't stuck in a shame spiral you may be able to take a breath and find something that can help you move on.

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