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Anorexia

It’s Always About Attention

I’m addicted to my own sadness.

This is mad right? Crazy. Why would I want to be sad. How could this be an addiction?

Being sad puts me into a position to be cared for, because let’s be honest here, I crave attention. When I’m not getting the attention I want, I do one of two things: become angry or become sad.

Being angry causes other people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m angry and try to calm me down or figure out how to help. Being sad causes people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m sad and try to help me be happy, they tell me good things about myself; cater to my needs.

Being sad also puts me in a position of the victim, which in some messed up way, allows me to feel like I need to be extra cared for. People feel bad for someone who has depression, who looks sad, who is a victim.

So it makes sense to want to play that part.

Why would I want people to feel bad for me, though? Attention. It always comes back to attention. Although I find this to be confusing as well, because as much as I crave the attention of others, I hate being in the center of it. A quote from Blackout by Sarah Hepola:

“I’ve always been mixed up about attention, enjoying its warmth but not its scrutiny. I swear I’ve spent half my life hiding behind a couch and the other half wondering why no one was paying attention to me.”

Perfect.

Maybe it stems from my childhood. Although I think I had a normal one, obviously there was a lack of attention or love from somewhere. I know that as I got older, around seven to ten, my Mom started giving her attention to the neighborhood kids whom she babysat for. I didn’t like this. I acted out while they were around, being mean and grabbing at my Mom. I felt left out, like she was dumping me for these new children.

Maybe that’s where my attention-seeking behavior began. Scratch that, I know that’s where it started.

That, and the whole other fact that my Dad didn’t have any interest in my life, besides wanting me to be normal and be a good golfer. Like my brother.

Fighting for attention with my brother was another issue. One that, along with many other probable causes, led to my eventual downfall into anorexia, depression, and anxiety.

I wasn’t getting the attention and care I so desperately needed, wanted, so I concocted my own seemingly awesome plan: Stop eating and maybe people will figure out that there is something wrong with me. Act depressed and then maybe people will care.

But I soon realized this was not the type of attention I wanted. Actually, I wasn’t getting love at all, but anger. My Mom, angry that I was losing weight. My Dad, angry that I wasn’t being normal. My brothers, angry that I wasn’t the same happy kid I used to be.

As much as I hated the angry attention, it was still attention, and I clung to it with all I had. My fragile self thrived on this.

So when the anorexia was fought and I started eating like a normal person again, this attention stopped. Panic arose inside and that’s when the depression took over. Thoughts of killing myself became the new course of action.

Because it’s easier to hate yourself than to love yourself. And it’s easier to feel sad than to search for happiness. And it’s easier to gain other people’s affection through your own shitty-ness.

Being a depressed mess also makes you feel like you’re special, even if it’s in a fucked up way. I don’t feel any sense of uniqueness from being happy or looking on the bright side. Yet bringing myself down, contemplating suicide, and having a negative opinion about everything makes my insides feel special. I’m more fucked up than you. I’m more special than you are.

Sad.

These days, I can’t stand when people say their eating disorder isn’t about attention, because it is. Just be honest. You’re craving some form of attention, affection, care, love. And if it’s not an eating disorder than it’s depression, alcohol, drugs, whatever.

When we hurt and don’t want others to know, we turn to alcohol or drugs or food in a desperate search to not only cure our aching minds, but also in a hope that others WILL notice and in turn save our drowning souls.  

I’ve found, since losing the anorexia persona, depression is a lot harder for people to notice. I keep up a pretty good facade, in an attempt to appear normal, yet on the inside wishing I could let me guard down; fall apart. Because then people would realize something is terribly wrong, and help me. Feel bad for me.

Attention: it’s a devil’s game. 

You’ll never win.

Anorexia, Anxiety, Depression, Life, Personal

This Too Shall Pass: My Journey With Suicide

I distinctly remember the first time I truly wanted to die. I was applying to borading school and in order to be allowed to go, my doctor would need to talk with the nurses there to make sure they knew what my deal was.

I was a recovering anorexic.

I hated this. This made me want to end my life. The fact that I would never be able to wipe the slate clean on my past made me want to kick and scream.

I wish I was dead. That’s what I wrote in my journal that day. And then I gave up on going to boarding school until I could go without needing to inform the world of my problems.

Looking back now, obvously, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’ll tell anyone who is interested that I used to have an eating disorder. It’s not shameful anymore. But back then, when I was still suffering in the stigma that surrounded anorexia, this was a big deal. I had no desire for anyone to know my secrets.

From this point on, I began to think that suicide was a valid option to get rid of my pain and sadness. I would teter between days of being motivated to live and then days where all I wanted to do was die. It was a constant roller coaster.

One I could never get off.

I think when people know someone is suicidal, they assume they’re holding a gun to their head, when in reality (and in my case), we are not actively trying to kill ourselves, but we wouldn’t necessarily be disappointed if we died.

Up until this spring, I refused to wear my seatbelt in hopes we would crash and I would not make it. (I only wear it now because our new car beeps outrageously). I remember driving back home one night, crying, tears rolling down my face, and all I could think of was how much I wish I could just swerve and hit a tree or something. I wanted to end everything because then people wouldn’t have to deal with me.

I also stopped looking whenever we crossed the road or train tracks, in hopes something would it me. It was okay to risk it because, best case senario, I would die. And the worst thing? I stopped caring about using sunscreen in the hopes I would get cancer and eventually die.

These things are terrible, and it’s hard to even write it down. I feel like a such a horrible person voicing these thoughts out loud, but honesty can be freeing. 

My journey with suicide continues today. It’s a constant battle and they days seem to be more bad than good, lately. It comes in waves. I can be fine for weeks, then fall apart for a couple days, or be happy for a whole day, then sad all night. It scares me sometimes because, lately my first reaction to my pain is that everything would be better if I just wasn’t here anymore. And this shoulnd’t be my first thought.

It can be terrifying, even to myself, how my brain works. I have a hard time controlling my emotions and most of the time feel as though I’m drowning and I can’t breathe. That is not something you want to feel. It’s a feeling of too much pressure. Like all your bones could snap at any moment, and your heart might burst.

 

One Way Road Sign on Concrete Wall, Vancouver, British Columbia

 

How I’m dealing?

To be completely honest, I haven’t really been dealing with anything very well lately. Usually, my coping mechinism involves talking with my Mom, but I haven’t wanted her to worry, so I don’t say anything. And that does not help. Talking about our feelings is always okay, even when you feel asamed or unworthy. You are allowed to share your pain with others without being judged. 

I have been trying to push everything down, put on a happy face and act like everything is fine. Especially at work. The other day, I cried on the whole drive to work, but upon getting there, I wiped my tears, smiled, and pretended everything was fine. The day went surprisingly well. Sometimes you just need a break from the thoughts, and some good laughs.

My favorite method of enduring the pain is a simple saying: This Too Shall Pass.

Simple, yet completely true. Everything eventually passes, and until it does, we must be gentle with oursleves. Beating myself up for feeling a certain way only makes things worse, so I try to remind myself that this too shall pass, and focus on something good.

 

xoxo

Tayla

*If you or someone you know if struggling with suicide please find help. The suicide prevention hotline # 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention, and TWLOHA for help.

Anorexia, Life, Personal