The air tonight is crisp and smells of burning wood, like campfires and incense. I yearn to be in the forest somewhere; wild and free. I want to be in the cabin I dream about, away from everyone and everything except nature and my true self. The self that used to care more about saving the planet than getting a new iPad. How did I stray so far from the girl who was going to make a difference? When did I become so materialistic?
There has to be a way back to that girl. I know she still exists inside of me. I feel her when I’m under starry skies or watching the sun dance through the trees. I remember her passion and certainty that things could get better if only she dared to try. That girl would be beyond disappointed in who she grew up to be.
I’ve lost my way. But there’s still time to find my way back.
Tonight: I am grateful for fresh air and the idea that it’s never too late.
♫ Mark Snow — Disturbing Behavior OST
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.