A 20-year-old model who finds herself trapped in her dark bedroom all day, everyday, has bravely opened up about her mental health journey in order to help others.
Michelle Hardy said she is currently going through the ‘worst time of my life’ and can’t do anything at all.
Despite being in constant pain and a dark room alone, Michelle wants to promote other young women to love themselves and not allow self-esteem issues to become an obstacle.
After her boyfriend cheated on her, she began suffering from depression, an eating disorder, and photophobia – a sensitivity to light – which has got so extreme that she can’t go outside, is on suicide watch, and has to be tube fed.
Talking to UNILAD about how she got to this point, Michelle said:
I always knew my boyfriend was a cheater since I met him. But I always had low self esteem and didn’t have courage to break up with him.
I caught him a few times texting girls, and he promised to stop. Everything was good for a few months, but then in April I caught him again and this time since my mental health was very bad. I got the shock reaction because I wasn’t expecting him to cheat in a time when I needed him emotionally to support me.
My mental state has never been ‘good’. I’ve always been depressed, I have a lot of mental and personality disorders, which is what probably led me to staying with him for a long time.
After the shock reaction, my mental health went to a new level, I developed new disorders and started thinking I was going crazy. The mental state I was in turned physical and it wasn’t good.
Michelle said the worst part of her situation is that she is ‘not able to do anything at all, losing all my friends, not being able to party or go out to the beach or just for a walk, being in pain and relying on medication 24/7’.
Her declining mental health soon translated into physical manifestations such as chronic migraines and photophobia where she experiences pain in her eyes due to light exposure.
Explaining her photophobia, Michelle said:
I cant go out at all not even during night. Like I cant even go in the restroom with the lights on for a long period of time because it triggers really bad headaches or migraines and it hurts my eyes a lot.
I go to the doctor weekly and so every time I go to or when I went to the hospital, and emergency room visits (I go there a lot too) I wear a bandage around my eyes, and my boyfriend or whoever is taking me has to guide me and hold my hand or just carry me.
I don’t know when I will be able to leave my room without a bandage around my eyes and feel the sun and the breeze, it seems impossible to me, but I need to have hope that my life isn’t over it, I don’t want it to be.
Michelle feels her life is ‘hopeless’ but is not giving up, and wants to empower teenage girls to love themselves.
She said she sees a lot of people, especially young girls, who don’t love themselves and due to their insecurity issues, they ‘rely on boys who hurt them’.
She explained her message to others:
A lot of people don’t take mental health seriously, [they] don’t ask for help or keep doing things to themselves that hurt them.
If I would’ve broken up with my boyfriend, asked for help and learned to love myself, I’m sure I wouldn’t be in this hell I am in.
People need to learn to not take things for granted. Even taking a walk out in the sun is something not everyone can do.
Girls need to learn to accept themselves and not let anyone tell them they’re not beautiful or hurt them in any way especially when it comes to abusive relationships, those can hurt you bad. Ask for help before it’s too late.
Though Michelle doesn’t see much hope for herself, her family are very supportive and are looking after her.
She decided to stay living at home with her parents because unfamiliar environments are uncomfortable and she has to see many doctors daily.
Due to her health issues, Michelle had to stop modelling and her job at the haunted trail. She has to rely on her parents until she is in a more stable place.
Despite her boyfriend cheating on her, Michelle has stayed with him. She explained it is not something she would recommend but she ‘did it and he’s very supportive now and [she] thinks he finally opened his eyes to the dangers of hurting others’.
She said ‘sometimes when it gets too isolated or I feel way to depressed he comes over to keep me company but its definitely not the same. We can’t go out on dates, or adventures, we’re in a dark room, I’m hurt and in pain and he’s just there’.
She explained that she is learning to love herself:
Of course I would never want to stay with a cheater, or anyone who hurts me, I have to learn to respect myself.
Fixing things with my boyfriend is not what I recommend or what anyone would recommend, but I’m learning to love myself and not be insecure.
We hope Michelle makes a recovery and is soon able to do the things she enjoys.
If you have been affected by the content in this article and want support with eating disorders, you can call the BEAT helpline on 0808 801 0677.