If I had a nickel — no, a penny — for every time I woke up and said, “Today, I get control of my eating disorder. Today, I can do this!” I would have enough money that there would be no 99% or 1%. We would all be sitting poolside sipping the drink of your choice without a monetary care in the world.
Okay. That might be a slight exaggeration. But not much of one. Because my eating disorder is my version of “Groundhog Day.” It’s my own private hell where every day I wake up with good intentions and go to bed feeling like shit because I once again couldn’t get my act together. So why is this Day One any different?
Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’ll fail again. Or maybe, just maybe, this time I can be kind enough to myself to say, “Self, you aren’t perfect, and stop trying to be. Just do your best and don’t let ED tell you that you’re not worth the fight. You are worth the effort.”
We all are. Here’s hoping today is a Day One of some sort for you and that you’re successful. And if you’re so inclined, please wish me luck. I need all the help I can get.
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.