Of all the therapists I have seen, all the psychiatrists who have treated me (or at least tried to) trying to find out the cause of my eating disorder, one word is always at the forefront. Invisible. Ever since I could remember, I have felt invisible to people. 'Felt' is an understatement. I am invisible. Or at least that's what it seems like to me...
It does sound rather ridiculous but a mental illness has very deep underlying issues and for me, it was mainly going unnoticed during my childhood, teenage years and now into adulthood. Being a naturally quiet person, it is of course inevitable to be overlooked, which is something I have experienced all my life, at home, at school and at work. Whenever I do try to speak up, it never gets heard. It doesn't seem to matter. Which in turn makes me feel like I don't matter and don't deserve to be in this world.
Developing an eating disorder wasn't a conscious decision. I slowly and gradually stopped eating. It wasn't for vanity. In fact, after various mental health treatments, it is becoming clear that I developed an eating disorder because I didn't feel part of anything or anyone. In fact, I never felt I fitted in. I always felt different, ignored and disconnected. I quickly made a name for myself, but in a negative light - "the quiet girl". I stopped eating because I wanted to be invisible on the outside because that's how I felt on the inside. I wanted that to show. It was a cry for help. Call it 'attention' if you please but it was a reason to feel like I mattered. The more worried people were, the more I'll get noticed.
I want to be someone who is outspoken and confident because those are the people who are popular and have lots of friends. Confident people are liked by their peers and colleagues and they are not left out. People who are confident, get noticed, get the jobs, get praised and get invited out. Because I am quiet, I feel like people do not really understand me or even want to get to know me, which is the reason why I usually isolate myself even more leaving me to become this very anxious person I am today. I question myself on a daily basis - why am I like this? Why doesn't anyone seem to notice me? Do people hate me? Why do I have to be so scared of everything? Why can't I be someone else? Why do I have to be me?
It is easy to blame oneself and others for feeling this way. But I have learnt the disconnection from myself led to the feeling of being invisible to others. Which is why I am on a journey to reconnect with myself. I never felt visible in myself, so how do I expect to be visible to others?
Everything I write will always have some kind of message. My moral and message to this piece, is that if you notice a quiet person, please do not be afraid to approach them. Even a simple "how are you?" can make that person's day. If you see them alone, make conversation with them. Because when someone actually notices me, it gives me a boost of confidence, raises my self esteem and I suddenly don't feel that invisible. For someone who constantly feels alone, anyone reaching out like that can make me feel like I belong and that I am worthy.
Useful websites and helplines:
Beat, call 0845 634 7650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393