I remember being afraid to go to school every single day. In 8th grade I played sick so many times in the morning that it prompted my mother to ask if I, a thirteen year old girl at the time, had something I needed to tell her. I feigned sick so many times that when I actually was ill I had to go to school because they couldn’t tell the difference between real and fake sickness. I had trained my body so well to be on my side that it would give just the right amount of sick symptoms, so much so that I could no longer tell when I was truly sick and when my anxiety just wished to take over. When I was in seventh grade we went through a family situation that made an anxiety level I could handle on a daily basis (well as well as a 12 year old could) and turned it into a level that made me feel completely out of control. The thoughts that normally trailed through my mind like a freight train had turned into race cars running circles in my head on the Autobahn in Germany. I was being torn from the inside out and I had to find a way to compensate my mental state with the physical. My family felt like it was falling apart, I could no longer control the anxiety that had so long taken over my mind, and I felt that I needed to justify the feelings on the inside in a physical matter. I began to introduce myself to self inflicted pain to try and control the scramble that had taken residence in my mind.
People never understand the impact that their words have on others until that person makes a drastic decision about themselves and their life. Words were thrown in my direction for as long as I could remember. I would hear “You’re so fat” “You’re worthless.” “Please don’t eat me.” “Why are you so fat?” “You’ll never find someone to love you.” It only takes so long before these words begin to embed themselves into the DNA of your own thoughts. The letters taking part of your chromosomes and replicating until they flood your being. The words become so known that when they’re said by someone new it just becomes numb. Many would think numbness it better than feeling, but what they do not understand is once you’ve gone numb you have all but given up. You don’t want to fight anymore, you don’t want to think, feel, or be. These words had made there way into my core and made me believe that I was no longer worth anything more than to be just another body in the ground. I was no longer worthy of feelings, of love from any person in my life, and most of all of living.
Depression and Anxiety as two separate entities can make a person feel alone and ashamed. I remember viewing the commercials for antidepressants and it looked so easy to cure someone of the feelings I felt on an every day basis. It looked so simple to make someone who frowned for 2/3 of the commercial smile for the remaining 15 seconds. I wondered why the years I spent going to a doctor whose job it was to cure the illness in my head was not doing what the commercials showed the medications should have done. I wondered why I was still frowning, contemplating the point of my young life, and not smiling and enjoying the life before my like the people in these commercials. I didn’t feel myself getting better, I didn’t feel myself becoming the person I somehow still believed was harboring deep within. I could no longer be the girl that was constantly made fun of, the girl that was constantly bullied. I could no longer be the girl that was screamed at while walking across the street to “move her fat ass quicker.” So I stopped trying to be the girl I wanted so badly to get rid of.
Being alone, no matter how much you tell yourself is okay, is not a feeling one can live with easily. I craved the understanding of just one person. I had wanted to rid myself so badly of the person I’d become, the person named Bianca that I began to impersonate other personalities to the people whose attention I needed the most. I was trying so hard to no longer be the girl that everyone hated based on outside appearance that I began to push those who had gotten to know me away. I would impersonate other people, add people to my life that truly did not exist, and I made lying look like an art. It did not matter if a person had grown to appreciate me for the person I had been, I needed them to appreciate me for things I did not have, for a person that truly did not exist. Looking back I realized I ruined a lot of friendships through an illness I could not control, not that I truly wanted to admit it was there. For the truth was I was ignoring the illness that had been brewing behind the surface. I was hiding behind the idea that if I ignored it it would go away. And this only made me that much more alone.
When I was sixteen I had crossed the line. A friend I had made while hiding my interior had fallen subject to my cover up. I don’t truly understand why what happened did to this day, but when it all came to the surface I found no point in hiding any longer. I let my illness pour out like a river flowing down a mountainside. I felt like an ice cream cone melting in the heat. I was being swallowed by the immense cloud I had swallowed for so long that I could not cope with it all coming out at once. I no longer had friends, I no longer had anyone to distract myself from the dark cloud inside waiting to come out. I no longer had a barrier that kept the darkness within, and so when it came out there was no longer a point in fighting. I let it drip out, seep out, and then fully drain till the illness I had so long been fighting consumed me. I stopped going to school completely, I locked myself into a dark room, and I convinced myself that I was no longer worth the fight. My life no longer had a point and it was time to let the cloud consume me whole.
My illness caused fights amongst my parents and gave them the fear of one day walking in on their only child no longer living. With my last light I held through the cloud of darkness I told them it was time for me to get serious help, and a week later I emerged from a hospital stay with a feeling of victory for believing I had killed the cloud that had tried to take me. The belief that I had won only lasted roughly three months. It was then that I lost my grandmother and it was then that the cloud began to reemerge. My grandmother had been in the hospital at the same time I had been and had made sure to call me at least once, if not twice, a day when I felt at my lowest. She would make it her goal to make me laugh at least once so I did not feel so alone. When she died I felt as if God was betraying me. I felt like God was trying to punish me for trying to take control of my own mortality by taking someone’s whom I loved. I was alone again and everyone was the enemy.
As I went back to high school and finished my education I learned more and more that my disease was so misunderstood by those who did not have even a morsel of anxiety or depression. As I got older and further understood that my illness also contained bipolar, I began to understand how to deal with the highs and lows of my emotional spectrum. The titles of my illness did not bring any further understanding to those around me though. Teachers, principles, and even family members who did not understand did not think it necessary to try and even grasp a small part of what someone they interacted with on a daily basis was going through. Teachers and staff would say “Oh I have bad days also” and family would find it necessary to remind me that I was just too emotional. They didn’t understand that their lack of understanding, their blatant disregard, and their condescending tones did not aid in achieving their goal of rectifying the situations.
It took many years for me to understand how to cope with the illness I was dealt, and even more time to aid my mind in healing on the proper medication. It took me years for me to unweave the DNA the words I had been beaten with in my youth had given me. I still cannot eat comfortably with people around, I still cannot look at myself in the mirror with a smile, and I still, even after losing over 200lbs, do not see a body worthy of love.
The words that escape our mouths can act like knives on the skin. You never really think a critique of someone’s appearance, weight, etc could be their breaking point. We need to start thinking before we speak.
We need to begin to realize that sticks and stones may in fact break bones, but words do also hurt.
Words could be the simple thing that could bring someone to the point of taking their life.
Who are we to make comments on someone’s life? Who are we to think we are better than anyone? Who are we to call someone fat? Stupid? Ugly? A slut?
Who are we to tell someone that their invisible illness does not exist?
Who are we?
Remember at the end of the day that we are all human. We all have to remember that is is our job to make this cruel world just a bit more bearable. Do not live in hate. Do not live in fear.
Believe you are much more than the illnesses you have. You are much more even when you feel you are completely out of control.
May we all learn to see ourselves as those we love most do.