Eleanor’s Story

I have been symptomatic all of my life…but I did not always know it. Until diagnosis and medical intervention, I had never had a baseline. I just assumed my normal was “normal” or “neurotypical.”

CAVEAT: The validity or efficacy of psychiatric labeling may be in question, and I understand, accept, and will respect any client’s reticence to use it but, for the sake of understanding, I will use it in telling my story.

Abuse, punctuated by truly idyllic childhood moments, permeated my world from birth until a culminating traumatic event that resulted in the dissolution of my immediate family when I was 13. Prior to this I struggled with severe social anxiety, and from this moment on I struggled with C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) and ED-NOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified, restrictive eating disorder/anorexia) until, through a lot of self-work, becoming entirely symptom-free from these disorders after a lifetime of suffering with them.

This was not without hiccups. A hospitalization for my eating disorder, and a near-death, in and out of consciousness experience when I was 23, was a response to my grandmother’s cancer diagnosis and taking grief out on my body the year she lost her life, was a wake up call for me.

But in October 2010, at 27, came an ultimatum from those I love and respect most dearly, because my pain and the pain of those around me persisted. So I walked into a crisis centre and told them my story. In that instant, the trajectory of my narrative changed forever.

“Bipolar Disorder.”

It doesn’t define me, but it does define my problem, and it has empowered me to make previously unimaginable change. Now, in my 30s, I enjoy a daily peace, general contentedness, and relative stability I once relegated to others and believed impossible for myself.

My gratitude for all those who intervened or tried to, for all of those I have gotten to learn from as a peer supporter, abounds.

I just want to give back.