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eating disorder - Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

Your pain is valid and it is real

I was raped by my ex-boyfriend in Secondary 4 and had to proceed with a secret abortion at 3 months (with zero knowledge from parents) because I got pregnant soon after. I did badly for my national exams and subsequently had to battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for the past 2 years. It was probably the hardest struggle I ever had to endure and I was confused. I was scared. I couldn’t accept what happened to me and why I kept breaking down almost every day, tired from pretending in front of my loved ones that I am okay. The nightmares kept me up at night, endless thoughts of self-doubt, self-blame and shame were wrapped around me tightly.

The suicidal urges were so bad, I had numerous attempts and unhealthy coping mechanisms (drinking, hooking up) were used to suppress the pain. I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was probably the only one back then who must have been feeling like this, and I felt that I should be ashamed for feeling this way. Fast forward 2 years later, the pain is slowly becoming lesser. Therapy (and opening up 2 years later) is helping me learn how to cope with the pain and not to carry it around with you like a mountain on your back, but instead to slowly become like a small pebble that I carry around with me.

There are still days where you feel like the world is against you, where you feel like you lost it all, there’s no hope for anything anymore and everything feels extremely fucked up. But I urge you to stick around for the days that you see yourself trying to heal as best as you can, for the okay days, for the good days, for the days where you didn’t give up on yourself and are able to carry the pain more easily. We need you around in this world, to continue the good fight. I promise you, to anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault, and/or who are currently struggling with your various mental health issues – you are never alone, and you ARE a survivor and a warrior. You are brave and you are strong for coming this far and for still sticking around. Your pain is valid and it is real and no one should ever tell you otherwise. Please don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to a trusted person for help. I hope that you are or will get the help that you truly deserve.

I’ve been struggling to find the light

I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks, depression and an eating disorder for around 6 years now. 

I wished people understand me a little more instead of shutting me down with the usual, “Just get it out of your head, it’s all inside you.“ Over the increasing years, indeed it hasn’t been easy and many times I’ve been struggling to find the light in the dark. Even though it has been increasingly challenging every day and there were many times I felt like giving up I keep telling myself, “If I can survive today, why not try another day?” Perhaps that is why I’m still here after 6 years. I wouldn’t say that I have recovered fully, but sometimes all you have to do is hope and count on yourself.

I feel like I’m a bomb

I wish I could express my struggles to my family. As a trans male with anorexia, OCD and mild anxiety, I tried really hard to distract myself from all those unwanted thoughts, with studies and a part time job, to the brink of exhaustion. Overworking myself seemed to be the only way to seek sanity. My family always, always claimed that I’m emotionless and have a ‘low EQ’. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the case, sometimes I feel so wronged, because they don’t know what I’m going through every single day. I feel like I’m a bomb that’s about to explode any time soon.

Recovery is possible

I have a twin sister. I guess it’s normal for siblings to be compared to one-another, but being genetically identical to another person means people find the comparisons even more entertaining. They’re desperate to know ‘which one’ is cleverer, taller or heavier. Which one is better. Even our teachers at school were encouraging us to compete against each other. So from a young age I was desperate to be perceived as the more attractive twin, became obsessed with my size and began skipping meals. I completely internalised the idea that my entire personality and self existed relative to my sister. I spent my entire adolescence trying to prove myself. I was spiteful about her achievements and wished failure upon her. She did the same to me. We loved each other so much but society had entered us into a vicious competition against our will, in which we were rivals. We would sabotage each other to get an advantage, though we’d never admit it. By the time we were 18 our relationship was in ruins. 

We resented each other, we couldn’t trust each other, but we were also grieving the relationship that we deserved to have that had been taken away from us by the competition. Eventually everything came out. We talked for a long time about things we both knew but had never acknowledged, and we decided to turn a new page and be honest about how we feel. I would tell her if I felt intimidated by her success at something, and vice versa. That platform of communication changed everything and we became closer than ever. But I couldn’t shake the physical comparison: the first and most obvious comparison to be drawn between us. I wanted there to be no doubt about which one was the skinny twin and, by default, which was the fat twin. 

It sounds awful writing it down, but that’s where my eating disorder was at. I became very underweight and everything I did was in fear of gaining weight. I had no friends as I couldn’t socialise – I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was out of control of my diet. I left my job because I was too exhausted, and I became a prisoner in my bed, drained, depressed and hungry. But I was the thin twin. It’s true that comparison can kill you. 

I was at rock bottom, physically and mentally, and I firmly believed that I couldn’t be helped. But I was incredibly lucky to be assigned a therapist who probably saved my life. She laid the foundations for my recovery. I’m now a healthy weight and I have a healthy relationship with food. I’m learning to accept myself as an individual with my own personality and my own aspirations. My adjectives don’t end in ‘-er’. I am funny and passionate and giving and determined and goofy and so many other things. My sister is funny too. She’s also sporty and trendy and bubbly. 

I want anyone reading this to know that recovery is possible. I didn’t believe it at all – I thought that I would never be truly comfortable with food or my weight. I honestly believed that for me, recovery was impossible. But I’ve restored everything that I’d deprived myself of and it’s been the most enjoyable and exciting and beautiful journey. It’s a cliche but I honestly feel like I’m stood with my hands on my hips looking at the mountain and proudly thinking ‘I climbed that’. I really want everyone to get a chance to look back at their mountain, because it’s such a beautiful view!

Community is important

I believe that your mental health has a lot to do with the community of people around you. I developed an eating disorder at 11 years old, a year after witnessing my father have a heart attack. I didn’t even really pick up on my behaviors until a year later when I decided on a whim to tell my friend about the fact I was purging. I didn’t expect her to say anything, I even begged her not to but she did anyways. That’s the only reason I ended up getting help.

From then on a lot of people knew and they used that knowledge to support me and hold me accountable. If I didn’t have that amount of constant support, basically I wouldn’t be where I am now. I still struggle with eating but I am finally at a place where it doesn’t constantly consume the entirety of each day.

Community is important, think about the roles you play. They can really make a difference.