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When I drive through the familiar streets of my hometown, I experience a sharp realization that time is passing. My family is older, and my hair is thinning and greying. My friends have moved to different cities or states. I notice I feel completely different about my life and my future compared to when I was growing up with an eating disorder. My experience with eating disorders, and specifically binge eating disorder (BED), used to suck the vitality out of my life and leave behind a rigid pattern of living that made me dread my future.
I am a relatively healthy person, apart from having anxiety and the physical symptoms associated with it. I'm lucky. Like a lot of people, I take my physical health for granted. Sure, I try to eat right and exercise almost daily, but on the whole, I go about my days assuming my health will continue to serve me as it has. Very recently, however, I heard from my doctor that I need a special test because cancer is suspected. Managing my anxiety while waiting to undergo medical tests has become my latest challenge.
Do you know the feeling when you successfully book your flight and accommodation for a vacation? No, not the feeling of excitement -- the uncertain feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something might go wrong on the trip. That feeling is trip anxiety.
Boundaries are one area in my life that I wish I were better at. I have trouble completely putting myself first, even if it becomes a detriment to myself, especially my mental wellbeing. It dawned on me, though, that I had set boundaries before. While I had thought I didn’t really have any, I do have boundaries I’ve set up to protect my mental health. The reason I’ve never really thought of them in that light is that I’ve struggled with feeling like a bad person by doing so.
Distraction from bipolar symptoms is something I rely on as a coping skill. In fact, it's pretty much an everyday coping skill for me. Bipolar symptom distraction may sound overly simplistic, and sometimes it is (although, not always), but sometimes the simple things just work.
As of this writing, I basically live alone. My family is scattered around the country, and though I have a good amount of friends, none live close. For a while, I've been debating whether or not this living situation is healthy or sustainable in the long run but deciding where to live is stressing me out.
I never really had a hobby, per se. I married young and had three kids. That, plus a full-time job, left little time for me, let alone hobbies. I write—this blog, for instance—and read, but I don't consider either of these hobbies. As a creative outlet, and with the hope that I could channel my thoughts and energy into something that wasn't all about my trauma and residual anxieties, I decided it was time to pursue a hobby.
Recently, I came down with a really bad cold, and my schizoaffective disorder and accompanying anxiety made it worse. I honestly thought I would never get well again. Here’s what it was like.
Violent entertainment is nothing new to humankind, but depictions of self-harm in video games can be especially shocking—even more so, perhaps, if you struggle with self-harm yourself. 
Depression is not one-size-fits-all. However, if you had asked me a year ago to describe someone suffering from depression, I would have given you a generic and straight-up basic answer. My response would have gone something like this: An individual who is depressed is sad and doesn't enjoy pleasures that were once joyful. I'll be honest, my answer is not incorrect, but I can't seem to shake the hint of judgment in my tone birthed from ignorance towards depression that I had at the time. I would even go as far as to say that I had an unconscious bias towards the illness and mental health issues in general; little did I know, depression, like people, comes in all shapes and sizes.

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Comments

John
I had read voraciously since a child due to not having a tv in the home. Nothing to do with trauma. I would rather read than watch tv even as an adult.
Brya jean
My anniversary also coincides with my birthday which is so horrible, it’s my birthday today and I feel highly anxious and have down the past 2 nights, I just have that sick feeling in my stomach, but I was really excited for today and fun things I have planned, it’s so hard to forget, it’s like the more I think and get excited for my birthday, the more I remember what happened to me, this is my 6th year since it happened and my 22nd birthday
Mary
I was ghosted after a hypomanic episode by 2 very close friends. It’s extremely damaging and very hard to overcome. I was diagnosed with major depression two years prior so nobody knew I had bipolar. It still hurts many years later. and has made me scared to ever disclose my diagnosis. I always feel like people will reject me for having this illness.
Rick Sanchez
Thank you for writing this. I often tell people my tombstone won’t have my name or dates on it. It’ll just say “Finally Something Good Happened”
Jonathan C
Natasha, this article is obviously a magnet for people who are experiencing this very thing. I appreciate you writing it and replying to many of the people who wrote in. I also imagine that it's pretty heavy getting all these responses. I am praying for you, and for each person who commented here. I hope you all are feeling and doing better than you were at that time. I hear you, and I am so sorry to hear what you were and perhaps still are going through.