Finding Peace and Hope with a Late Diagnosis

Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anorexia, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidality, and suicide. 

Since I was four, I’ve struggled with anxiety. I became anxious when it came to social situations, nursery, and school, but no one really knew so it just grew. When I got to high school, I never wanted to go. I hated getting on a bus with other school kids, I hated being in a class with 20 other people and I would be forced to go in anyways.

When I was 13, I started dabbling in stuff that wasn’t good for my mental health. At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression following a suicide attempt. They put me on medication that didn’t help much and I had no help onwards. From the ages of 16-17, I finally got some professional help as I was still in a horrible place but one week before my 18th birthday, I got removed as the help was from an organisation that works with those under 18. During the time I did get professional help, they changed my therapist four times, so I never connected with any of them and then once I got discharged, I hadn’t a clue what to do.

I tried to get on with my life. I went to college but left, had three jobs but didn’t stick to any of them, and the anxiety would make it unbearable. I got put on a new medication that didn’t help either, so I was really confused.

In 2020 (during lockdown), I started walking a lot, but it spiralled into an eating disorder, on top of that, I was self-medicating to try to solve things which I found helped me sleep but didn’t do anything for my mental well-being. In 2021, I was diagnosed with anorexia after talking to my doctor. They got me help quickly as I was going downhill fast. I went to weekly appointments (and don’t get me wrong they were very good at talking to me and meal plans), but they didn’t help my way of thinking. It was quite a pause in my life due to not being allowed to exercise, I had to leave work and cheerleading, which was an activity that made me so happy.

I then started my recovery journey. I got a new job, joined cheerleading again and was able to go out with friends. I also got to a healthy weight and new medications, I thought, “That’s it - I’m better!”

But there still wasn’t something right. I was lashing out at those closest to me, I became extremely anxious again, I felt like a disappointment to everyone including myself and would then have five more attempts, the last time I was in hospital, I got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and traits of autism. However, once again, I didn’t get any support when I left, so I didn’t know how to cope with it. In 2023, I decided that instead of being on an eight-month waiting list for therapy, I would pay for it; it was good having someone to connect with and have them listen to me but it was too expensive so I had to leave. I ended up in the hospital three times at the end of that year until they realised that I actually needed help with the symptoms of BPD. I got support workers for a couple of months to help me leave the house and do day-to-day tasks and then started getting help in February 2024 for my BPD which has been the best help so far.

Thinking back to when I was in my teen years, it makes sense as to why I would get so angry and annoyed for tiny things like misplacing things, or pushing people away then begging them not to leave, being my own critic every day, especially when it came to being in a work setting, struggling with motivation and dangerous behaviours and coping mechanisms and medications only doing half their job (helping with anxiety but not anything else), but from getting the proper support and group therapy where other people are going through similar situations, I have learned a lot of ways to cope with the symptoms. It’s not been easy, but I’ve felt so much better and I now know how to do things differently and think a little differently even if I am having off days.

What I’m trying to say from my mental health experiences is that even if you aren’t getting support straight away and it takes years, then don’t give up because you will find that light at the end of the tunnel! I was told by one professional after eight years that my records show I have had BPD symptoms for years and she was shocked no one picked up on it. Yes, it would have been good to get diagnosed earlier in my life but it’s like a weight has been lifted now that I’m talking to others who deal with it too and to know that I’m not alone. I’m now ready to look for jobs and sometimes I think that’s so bad I’ve taken so much time off, but it’s because I didn’t know what was going on with myself and I didn’t know how to deal with it or help myself. Now that I know now, it’s been so much brighter.

A late diagnosis doesn’t mean your life is over, it’s just a long pause until you learn ways to overcome challenges and that’s so brave and strong of anyone.


- Kiera

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