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A new ally but no friend of mine (Trigger Warning)

I have had many times in my life when I have felt the darkness drifting in, I always focused it on to external factors, that made it changeable, manageable, it made it something I could control, but no matter what I tried to focus on nothing changed because it wasn’t external, it was internal and it had no reason for being, it just was.

As I was approaching my 21st birthday the light faded, and I just wanted to stop the world from turning. I could feel the darkness bubbling under the surface, I felt isolated and alone, it wasn’t that I was depressed, I just felt it in the air around me, the black clouds circling. The demons returned, and I sank in despair, yes, I had been here before, but I still couldn’t cope, it didn’t seem less daunting or overwhelming, I felt as suffocated as I did the first time. I refused to acknowledge the demons, I fought hard and was exhausted, I needed an outlet, but I refused to take a sharp edge to my skin, I looked for other causes of my misery and focused on anything that made me feel that disgust with myself as that hatred for myself reappeared.

I made the feelings physical and convinced myself if was all because of my body image, I put all that hatred on myself as I looked in the mirror, change who you are, and you’ll change how you feel I told myself over and over. It started off innocently enough, I reduced my food intake and increased my exercise, but nothing changed so I became more drastic in my actions, reducing my food intake to next to nothing each day. Suddenly the scales started going down and the lower they got the more I challenged myself to take them lower, but no matter how low they went, how baggy my clothes became I had built up a hatred for myself like I had never known before.

'I was frozen in time, skin and bone but I saw fat. I looked in the mirror and fed my mind with every horrible thing ever said to me, every hateful word.'

I self-harmed, if I could have cut my flesh away I would have, I felt disgusted with myself so I stopped eating all together, I found an advertisement for slimming pills on the back of magazine so I ordered some, it said take 1-2 a day, I took several, the more I took the bigger the effect was all I told myself. It wasn’t healthy, I looked ill, friends told me I had lost too much but I didn’t see it, all I saw was fat.

I was frozen in time, skin and bone but I saw fat. I looked in the mirror and fed my mind with every horrible thing ever said to me, every hateful word.

I was slowly killing myself, but at that point I didn’t care. I felt trapped and alone.

The feelings came from the same place, it was just the darkness manifesting itself into a new disguise, but I didn’t recognise it, to me my self-harm was cutting, and this bared no resemblance, but that’s what it was. I was harming myself to rid myself of the pain and the emptiness I felt, it wasn’t my body, it was deeper than that but I was afraid to look deeper terrified that life around me would crumble if I let the darkness back in, but not admitting it was there meant it had all the power and slowly it was destroying me all over again.

I no longer felt strong and in control, I had a new thing controlling me, telling me I was a fat, unlovable, disgusting creature.

It was my new comfort blanket, it manifested from exactly the same feelings the self-harm came from, but this time I was punishing myself in a different way, it was still a self-harming behaviour, it still gave me that feeling of control because although I had battled through the self-harm and stopped cutting I didn’t deal with the underlying cause, I never acknowledged that depression was the catalyst.

This time I had no intention of saving myself, I would wither away and fade out as though I never existed and that pleased me no end.

One afternoon desperately wanting to escape the house and the walls closing in on me I dragged myself out, I went to a bar to sit and drown my sorrows, and there was a man who would change my life. He served me a drink and we chatted. He was tall and had a roguish grin. His eyes looked at me rather than through me, I saw him, and he saw me. I had a few hours of feeling worth something, I felt almost normal.

We met up a second time, this time we went for a drink and a pizza. I looked at his smile and looked at the pizza, I was terrified of the food in front of me, but realised I was more terrified of him casting me aside if he knew so I took a slice and ate it; slowly. I felt rotten and disgusted with myself, I feared I would pile the weight back on and he wouldn’t then want me because I wasn’t who he thought I was.

I tried to make myself sick but couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried it wouldn’t work. I needed a plan, so I decided to starve myself on the days I didn’t see him, which would allow me to eat normally when I did. He would be none the wiser and all would be fine. It didn’t last long, we started seeing each other more and more but as I ate more regularly and found a glimmer of hope for the future it didn’t dictate my life anymore.

Slowly I started to recover. It was a long hard journey back to any form of “normal” eating habits, it was months of forcing food in and just suffering the feelings of guilt, I had to keep repeatedly telling myself that it was all lies and try not to listen to it. It was love that made me confront it, I don’t think without that I would have stopped until my body gave up because although in the beginning it was to lose a little bit and I’ll be loving life it was far more sinister than that and I wasn’t living a life; I was barely existing.

'It was love that made me confront it, I don’t think without that I would have stopped until my body gave up'

I can have a good day or a bad day depending on what I see when I look in the mirror or when I check the clothing size on an outfit. How can that little number make such a difference.

It's the same when it comes to the number on the scales, just a number but that controls how we feel about ourselves. My trouble comes from comparing myself with others and I don't think I see what others see. I can't say there is a single thing I like about myself physically and I have days when I will sob uncontrollably with disgust at myself, hating my appearance, my body and everything that goes with it

Over the years it's fluctuated, I've had kids, my body has changed. I have good days and bad days, I am careful not to calorie obsess frightened of going back to the person crying through fear at the food in front of me. I avoid scales completely. I know clothes sizes shouldn't bother me, but they do, I know I should just love what I have but I don't. I have days when I am body confident and days when I want to throw a big baggy hoodie on and hide. Like a lot of things, it can get better but some demons stay with you, never quite disappearing completely.

My relationship with food is still unhealthy and I will go days without eating, but I am vigilant now because I know where it can lead. It can be a battle, especially on my darker days but I do know it’s a comfort blanket I do not need and that it doesn’t give me the control I want; it does the complete opposite. I still occasionally battle those very same feelings, the disgust, the hatred but I know above all else that DEPRESSION TELLS LIES.

I have wished to be someone else my entire life and I still wish it now on occasion because we all have those moments, but a constant overload of comparisons will only ever crush you.

Author's Bio


Victoria is a writer living in Yorkshire with her husband and children. Author of the memoir ‘The Island Upon the Moor’ Hometown Tales Yorkshire – it is her story of a carefree childhood and battles with depression. Victoria writes from the heart about personal experiences.

If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article you can contact the following organisations for support:

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