Inspired by Beverley Blaine’s Life As Twins With Mental Illness (a highly recommended read), I have been thinking about my own experience of life as a twin. Unlike Beverley, my sister and I are not identical and instead are so different that most people refuse to believe that we are even related. I am left-handed she right, my hair is brown whilst her’s is auburn and there is a hefty height difference of 5-6 inches. We are chalk and cheese in terms of personality as well as appearance and it seems strange to imagine that our polar identities came from the same environment and same gene pool.
Despite this we both have our struggles with our mental health. She is currently attempting to restore her weight because of her battles with anorexia and recovering from a period of depression. I am learning to deal with BPD, anxiety and self-harm. What is somewhat amusing, albeit dark, is that we both took time out from different universities and degrees because of our health within weeks of each other. We get along but we find that we have little in-common and on occasion our personalities clash so this similarity appears even more unexpected.
More strange occurrences happened throughout our schooling. For example, during SATs (British exams for 11yr-olds) we scored identically on the majority of our papers. The saddening side to our similarities is that we both share our disordered eating habits. I want to make it clear that I have never had an eating disorder unlike my sister, but I have at times in my life had disordered eating. My struggles with food started when I was 11/12 so about 8 years prior to my twin’s but after talking, we share many thought patterns and bizarre food-based rituals. It might be as a result of a similar illness, but from speaking to others with eating disorders, ours’ are somewhat specific and un-common in the eating disorder community. Depressive thought processes and symptoms also manifest similarly in the two of us and I strongly believe that because of this, we have a deeper empathy and understanding of each other.
I would like to think that I have helped her in her times of need but I do know that she has helped me. I hate seeing her pain and knowing the pain that I have caused to her in the course of my illness, but I like to look at it positively. We have just got to deal with the cards that we were both dealt.