By Jighna Chauhan a 2nd Year Psychology NTU student
Content warning: This blog mentions personal experience around self-harm and eating disorders which some readers might find triggering.
This feels a little strange to write, so let me introduce myself first. My name is Jighna but my friends call me Jig, I’m 20 years old and a second year psychology student. I wanted to write this post to highlight that anyone can struggle with an endless array of mental health issues. I personally have experience of eating disorders and self-harm. As this week is eating disorders awareness week and also self-harm awareness day, I feel now is the perfect time to open up.
For me, self-harm came first, it started when I was 12 I learned other people at school did it so I tried it too. Before I knew it self-harm became an addiction and I craved the outlet it gave me. Now eight years on, it still pops into my head on a particularly rough day. At the time it gave me a sense of relief from everything I felt and didn’t understand. I hardly understood what I was doing all I knew was the way I felt afterwards – a second of release followed by constant regret and shame. I recall hiding the evidence desperately hoping not to be caught out while somehow also silently screaming out for support. The cycle continued for many years and even as recently as last. For this, I have forgiven myself.
Following the addiction to self-harm, an eating disorder developed. I developed several irrational fears in relation to my body and its appearance along with a number of foods and social situations including any of the above. For me, I restricted my intake and became obsessed with numbers. I also found myself idolising anybody with a body type that I viewed as ideal, even if they did look emaciated. I found myself searching out diets and comparing my caloric intake to those of others. Despite being 5’11” I was trying to sustain myself off the diet of somebody much smaller. I was constantly seeking out and idolising dangerous material on the Internet and convincing myself that the sicker I got the more satisfied I would be. This is a dangerous game to play, too many people end up in hospital or sadly dying because of it. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate amongst all psychiatric disorders. (Arcelus, Mitchell, Wales & Nielsen, 2011).
When I was 17, I had my first therapy appointment. This was absolutely terrifying and I was so scared of opening up all of my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings about myself however, I knew that it was what I had to do. The therapy I had undergone is known as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This means I explained to my therapist as best as I could the things I feared the most and she helped me to understand them, challenge them and begin to change them. I was in therapy for around a year and it was the smartest decision I ever made, without the support and channel of communication that therapy provided me I would still be struggling much more than I am today and likely wouldn’t be enjoying uni as much as I have done.
Below, I’m going to list a number of websites and other places you can go for support if you feel you have been affected by any of the above. Some of these were places I found throughout my own recovery and I hope they might be able to support you too.
Harmless (Would recommend for accessing therapy)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCey1WBhNthBx0vDy-pHe9uw (Real recovery vlogs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9z5xqAP7ek&t=1s (more fitness related, her experience after gaining weight following restriction and bodybuilding competitions)
For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Support from NTU
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness