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She sits on the couch in complete darkness, hugging a worn pillow so tightly her fingers go numb.  The silence is sharp and she imagines she can actually hear the tears as they escape despite her best effort.  She flinches at the wetness and vows to imprison her emotions more tightly; even as she feels the pressure building in her chest, even as breathing becomes more difficult because of the force of her feelings.  She knows it’s a lost cause.

She’s been misunderstood most of her life.  They assume that she doesn’t feel anything because she’s so shut down, when really she shuts down because she feels too much, way too much, and she’s learned the hard way that showing emotion is the quickest way to be preyed on and picked clean of any sense of self.

So she sits alone in cold darkness and soothes herself with worn pillows and promises that tomorrow will be better, oh yes it will, and that it’s safe to allow this moment of grief for what was — and what will never be.  Some things can’t be fixed, no matter how hard she begs, bargains or wishes for things to be different.  She can’t glue herself back together when chunks of her innocence were eaten by soul cannibals who only wanted to make her bleed.

Yes, it’s better to be alone, she whispers to herself.  And resolutely ignores the fact that she aches for it to be otherwise.

 

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(this was originally posted under my blog herbloodyheart.wordpress.com)

In thick files, there are strings of letters following my name.  Not PhD. or Esq. or anything like that.  My letters are BPD (borderline personality disorder), C-PTSD ( complex post traumatic stress disorder), ED (eating disorder – bulimia).  There are debates about whether I’m bipolar type II or whether I have major depression with psychotic features (currently bipolar disorder is winning).  There are notations about my anxiety disorder, the repeated sexual abuse, the severity of my SI (self-injury), the suicide attempts/ideation and how “difficult” I am to treat because of the time span of my “problems.”  (As if it’s my fault I wrote my first suicide poem at the age of nine and thought I was “fat” at the age of six.)  Every set of letters comes with its own hellish set of stigmas.  Because just having a mental illness isn’t enough evidently; they need to make it more judgmental and stigmatizing.

Those letters follow me everywhere I go — including in my own mind.

A former therapist told me I should say “I have …” instead of “I am …” because he said I am not my illness.  But if you look at my file and all those letters that add up to a hellish picture, it’s hard to believe that I’m not my illness.  When people (including family members) think it’s okay to call you “psycho” as a nickname (“oh honey, we’re just kidding”), it’s hard to believe I’m not my illness.  When a licensed professional tells me that my problems are “too complex” for them to treat and dump me, it’s hard to believe that I’m not my illness.

But I am not.  There are other letters you could use to describe me, like c-r-e-a-t-i-v-e.  Or i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t.  Or l-o-y-a-l.  I can be loving and funny and full of joy.  There is more to me than those thick files could ever hold.  So all I ask is that you don’t judge me solely on labels.  Erase the labels and see the person.  Get to know me in all my moments of normalcy and madness.

People are more than arbitrary letters.  Please remember that.  End the stigma.

XO

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