I haven’t spent a lot of my time in talking about my eating disorder lamenting how much I regret having the mental illnesses I do or wishing that I didn’t. I try to be honest about how shitty they can feel, but I’ve never been the kind of person who honestly hates their mental illness. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it forever.
A lot of people that I know are angry at their disorders. They’re angry that it’s taken things away from them or gotten in the way of their lives. I never had that kind of anger towards it. I never felt like it was getting in the way of anything. I never wrote open letters of hatred telling my eating disorder how shitty it was. I try to be open about what the experience of having my eating disorder is, but I so rarely conceive of it as anything separately from me that I can’t feel like that towards it.
But for some reason that changed today. I happened to read an article by someone I knew in college. She writes for a site that I love and that I would feel honored to write for. I looked back over what she’s done, and she’s accomplishing so much. I felt a flash of jealousy, because I want to be that person that people look up in a few years and feel awe over how much they’ve done.
I took a moment to remind myself of what I’ve been doing recently, things that I’m proud of. I’ve been published on a number of sites, I’m working somewhere I love, I’m working to build a fund to help people with eating disorders. These were all things that have happened in the last year when I was finally hit with the realization that if I want something to get done I can just do it. I don’t have to wait for permission, I can simply call the people I want to work with and get it done.
And I wonder how much sooner I could have had that realization if I wasn’t so busy telling myself that I deserved nothing.
I have always been motivated by accomplishment. But somehow being obsessed with accomplishing kept me from actually working on getting things done, or realizing my own ability to do things. And now I’m just a little bit angry. I’m just the teensiest bit pissed off that my brain’s particular constellation of oddness managed to convince me that I wasn’t allowed to send an email or show up to an organization and just say “here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it. Will you help me?”
I’m sure that I have grown in my ability to conceive of projects and understand how to accomplish things in the real world as well as in my mental health in the last few years. That’s what happens when you start working instead of living in college world. But I had the critical thinking skills to figure out most of it. I conceived of some of these projects three or four years ago and simply thought that I wasn’t old enough, wasn’t connected enough to make it happen.
I was. And I am angry that I convinced myself I didn’t deserve it or couldn’t do it. If anyone else in the world had told me that I would have put in any amount of hours to prove them wrong.
I wonder if this is a step towards a healthier mindset. Or if it’s just that the eating disorder had never taken anything away from me that I cared about before. Either way, it’s something to fight back against.
That leaves me in a weird position. For the last couple of years I’ve been trying not to fight. Instead I have been trying to find ways to embrace the particular oddities of my mind. I’ve been trying not to make my mind a battlefield, because I do that pretty naturally anyway. So it’s odd to suddenly have a realization that I have violated my own boundaries and hurt my own values in such a blatant way. I’m not sure what to do with the information, or whether I will start to take on that “fighting” mentality that some people do. But at the very least, I’m thoroughly upset and will make my jerkbrain take a time out for keeping me from being as awesome as I could have been.