This photo was taken when I was 20 years old. I look pale, sick, and miserable because I was. At this point I was diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder with psychotic features, dissociative disorder not otherwise specified, and complex posttraumatic stress disorder. I was being treated as an outpatient, the last time I was in inpatient treatment being a monumental failure. I was severely underweight at this time, severely malnourished, sleep-deprived. I had flashbacks, nightmares, and sometimes hallucinations. I starved myself during the day and often binged and purged at night. I cut myself with razor blades. My medications did not work well because my brain was so starved, and I was resisting the idea of inpatient treatment again.
This is what mental illness looked like for me at one of the worst points.
I was extremely fortunate though. I was one of the lucky ones who had the resources to go to inpatient treatment another two times. But really, I healed and recovered afterward, with a great therapist, clergy, family, and friends. With God’s grace, I am stable today.