Hayley s Story
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
"It comes down to this simple concept: it's complicated. Life is complicated on a good day, but when it feels like the entire world is against you, it sometimes becomes unbearable. With an arm-length of diagnoses including Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Anxiety, Depression, Dissociative Disorder, PTSD, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Anorexia, life seemed less than desirable.
With a diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 8, I wasn't blessed with a childhood. From that hospital admission onwards, I could no longer be a kid anymore. Living in the physical body of a 60 year old before I hit the age of 10 was hard to cope with. So I didn't.
Every procedure, needle, infusion, and admission that followed just led with me numbing out. Phony smiles and a brave face soon led to not feeling anything at all, which then presented as panic attacks and later seizure-like episodes.
Just recently, after all of these years, I was diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder. This diagnosis came after complex PTSD from my childhood in-and-out of the hospital, along with traumatic events that happened in my early teens.
My eating disorder was naturally a shield to hide behind all of the physical and mental pain. I didn't get a choice in anything else that happened to me, but I could control one thing. Food. Purging, restriction, and exercise was all something I controlled. I was the one causing the pain. Not a disease or another person.
Just months after walking down this road I landed myself into the hospital... yet again. This time from malnutrition and risk of heart failure. I transitioned into our only outpatient treatment for Eating Disorders in our Province. As hard as the staff at the treatment center fought for me, it just wasn't enough.
Just a couple months later, I was back in hospital, only this time I wasn't able to leave. I was held there until a bed became available at a residential facility half way across the country, where I spent 4 months fighting for my life back- away from all my family and friends and supports.
As my physical health improved, my mental health only declined. All of my trauma and pain slowly crept back in. I was having multiple seizure-like episodes a day.
I finally opened up about my trauma and became venerable. Everything triggered me. Eventually I became so burnt out that they needed to send me home for a mental break from daily therapy sessions.
Since then it has been very up-and-down, but every day I'm becoming more honest with myself and others. I'm allowing myself to feel the 12 years of pain I tried so hard to hide. I'm back in therapy and in the process of starting outpatient treatment for my eating disorder and trauma. It's not easy, but I know there is a bigger and better life out there than one controlled by any type of illness. Never stop fighting for the freedom you deserve. There's more to life than just being alive, you need to live it."