Abuse, self harm, and a cancer scare. I was 16 when my physical & mental health began to spiral.

Updated: Nov 13, 2019


Warning: This post deals with domestic violence, bullying, mental illness and eating disorders and could be triggering for some readers. 


SIXTEEN

I was never really the type of kid who attended school with the intention of being top of my class. I much preferred the social side. Unfortunately, the social side didn’t love me quite so much.


“Slut”

was their favourite name to call me. Under their breath, behind my back or over a message. I never really understood why. I’d never even kissed a boy.


I’d be called all kinds of nasty names everyday. I remember walking into the public toilets and sitting down to pee in peace; and next I’d be reading something disgusting about myself on the back of the door. I can still remember the anger, embarrassment and hurt.


I was targeted in group chats by girls who would masquerade themselves as my ‘friends’… I silently hoped that karma would come to bite them, and that they’d finally leave me alone… but as I kept pushing through to my final school year, things just became increasingly difficult. I experienced loss after loss, and grieved the deaths of some of the people I held closest.



SEVENTEEN

I experienced my first ever relationship with a boy when I was seventeen. It went from "I’m happy" to "I’m scared" in just eight months.


Being verbally and physically abused by someone who is three times your size is honestly so terrifying. Getting away from him was the hardest part of all.


It took all my strength and bravery, I had to stand up and tell an extremely controlling guy, that I will no longer tolerate his abusive behaviour; bracing myself to cop a hit while doing so.


While enduring all the lows of a painful break up, I had become very unwell. It took five months for numerous doctors and specialists to figure out exactly what was wrong with me. I was attending school only when my body allowed me to, which was a maximum of 2-3 days a week, trying my best to keep my grades up to a passing level, trying to keep in contact with the few friends I had and dealing with a relentless and possessive ex boyfriend.



EIGHTEEN

After my 18th birthday, I was tested for leukaemia. I will never forget the words he (my ex) uttered that day.


“I hope your tests come back positive you c**t and that you fucking die.”

Unfortunately for him, they came back negative. Bummer.


I was finally diagnosed with Thrombocytopenia, a condition in which you have a low blood platelet count. It can range from mild to severe depending on its underlying cause and the symptoms can cause severe bleeding… even fatality if left untreated. It knocked me around for another good twelve months or so. Completely bedridden.


I had bleeding gums, ears and nose, severe bruising all over my body from just the slightest of knocks and I was the colour of a pale, neutral paint. Literally. As both of my parents worked full time jobs, the only company I had was our family pet, a gorgeous golden retriever named Nahli. If it weren’t for her being there, I’d likely not be here today.


Being home alone day in day out and not being able to keep up with my age group at social events lead me into a deep depression. Miserable that I couldn’t do the same things that everyone else my age seemed to be doing, I’d often find myself curled up on the floor, screaming out a cry until I’d fall asleep from complete exhaustion, feeling numb, lost and trapped.



NINETEEN

Although I was still unwell, I had come a long way in just 12 months and I started going out and socialising again… and feeling a little more like a normal teenager.

I soon became friendly with a boy who was mixed in with the wrong crowd... and that crowd, soon became my crowd.


We were in a relationship for nine months of 2018. It was hands down the worst year of my life. It took a mental and physical toll. I was taking a lot of drugs and drinking to excess, every weekend. Everyone around me would say, “it’s just a bit of fun, Dem. You’ll be fine.” And yep, at times I was one of them. But I can assure you, it was NOT fun for me in the long run. I was NOT fine.


I hit rock bottom. My head became a nasty place to live inside. I would abuse myself until I caused significant bruising to my body. Always in places that were easy to hide. I was diagnosed with anxiety and a nasty eating disorder. I weighed 63 kilos and only three months later, I weighed only 51 kilos. I was a completely different person.


I had no self control, and I really struggled to deal with the world around me, which even landed me in hospital a few times.


“It’s simple.” I’d say. “I want to die.”

It took a lot of convincing from both of my parents, 2 sisters, and boyfriend at the time, to get help and see a psychologist. When I first started seeing her, I was doing it for everyone but myself. I felt so much resentment towards my parents.


“This isn’t fair!” I’d scream at them. “I’m only still breathing for you!”


I never thought I’d overcome this illness and be well again but the more I was forced to go there, I found that parts of my old self were trying to reach me. I was assigned regular visits with this psychologist, as well as a psychiatrist, and prescribed medication which I was to take every day.



TWENTY

I still had a long road of recovery ahead of me. I took the best advice my psychologist had given me, and made it my matra:


“If it isn’t helping you get better, get rid of it.”

Well fuck, I was single and friendless in the blink of an eye.


Exactly three months went by before an old school friend crossed my path, and I quite quickly I found myself head over heels in love with him. Kind, caring, fun and a treat to the eye, he had stolen my whole heart and somehow made it that little bit easier to let go of everything that had been weighing me down.


Being in his company helped me to reconnect with my ‘old self.’

I had a passionate kind of love for him that I’d never felt for anyone before. They were the most enjoyable five months I’d had since I was 16. I experienced the most agonising heartache when those five months ended. I knew I had come a long way within myself, and I knew that I was going to be okay. I had a goal to become my healthiest self and this wasn’t going to set me back.


Now, don’t be fooled, there were many bad days, many breakdowns, and many “I can’t do this anymore” ...but there were also many hugs, many smiles, and many supporters by my side to reassure me that I CAN and I DAMN AS HELL WILL beat this illness because I am the strongest person they know and they believe in me. Really, all I had to do was believe in myself.



TWENTY ONE

I’m now on the road to recovery. Believe me, it’s been bumpy - but no bump is matched for me anymore. Although I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel just yet, I bloody-well know I will one day soon. It’s a work in progress. I’m still on daily dose of prescription medication, however, I’m no longer required to have regularly scheduled appointments with my psychiatrist, or even my psychologist for that matter. I’ve learned to control almost everything around me - well, the things that I know are within my control. it’s been an incredible personal achievement. And in only 10 months. Today I know that I’m an extremely strong, capable and independent person, who has been through a world of darkness.


Image: Demi Bills

But I wouldn’t wish for the last five years of my life to have been any other way.

‘Why?’ You might ask. Well, because every experience I’ve faced has shaped me into the compassionate young woman I am today, and the stronger woman I aim to become.



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