OPEN LETTER TO MY SEXUAL ABUSERS:

I start with Taylor, my god-sister. I know we were children, I know you didn’t understand the severity of what you did. But it made me scared to be alone with you. I would make excuses to stay near my parents, so you didn’t drag me down the ladder off your bunk bed like a rag doll, pull me into the tent underneath and assault me repeatedly and then force me to touch you back. I was four to five years old when this started happening. You were seven. I don’t blame you as an adult for what you did. You have a child now, and I don’t worry for the safety of that child. I have since learned that young children who engage in unusual or over sexual behaviour were often abused themselves at a young age or witnessed it. I remember very little of your father, Eddie. But I remember he used to give me alcohol at new years and that I was a little scared of him for some reason. I called my dad and asked if he thought it was possible that Eddie could have done it. He said it wouldn’t surprise him. He was a notorious creep. I can’t imagine the hurt he put you through, or how that affects you now, if you haven’t repressed it. I bare no grudge against you. You didn’t understand. It hurt me, but he hurt you more.

 

To the anonymous male relative who abused me as a child – I cannot remember exactly who you were. You could well have been Eddie too. My psychologist says that because I was hypersexual at such a young age (from around 10 or 11), that I was almost definitely abused. It would explain also why I was so scared of men from such a young age, dreading getting in the car alone with friends dads who were taking me home after sleepovers, no matter how nice they were. I repress memories, especially such fundamentally traumatic ones, so I may never figure out who did it. But I am hurting all over wondering which person is responsible for the way that I am mentally today. I hurt all over because it could have been somebody I admire and trust. I cry whenever I think about it. I am crying now, just writing this.

 

To my mother, who sexually abused my brother: it is not my place to forgive you for what you did to him. Nor would I ever consider it, no matter his feelings on the subject. You are a manipulative, abusive, dangerous person. You hurt him, and me, and our father, in ways you cannot possibly fathom. He has BPD and PTSD because of what you did. I daren’t ask him the details. But my psychologist also pointed out that the reason you did this was because you were potentially abused, or witnessed abuse, as a child. I think about your family. Your eldest sister is cold, unloving, and doesn’t even hug her children. Your middle sister committed suicide at a young age. It is highly possible that there was an abuser in your family. I dread to think that it could have been your father, who I loved and respected so highly. I remember disliking visiting him, or any elderly people, from a very young age. I got a horrible vibe back then. It is only after his death when my dad explained what a brave man he was that I changed my opinion. But the fear is still there. The intuition of children is often very strong. Perhaps he abused me too. The thought of this makes me cry even more. I cannot decide whether not knowing is more scary than uncovering things. But I don’t know who to trust.

 

To the old man, who groomed me and manipulated me into performing sex acts for him via webcam during my early adolescence, I can only say that I truly hate you for what you did to me. I hate that you found my school friends and told them I got topless for you. I hate that you took advantage of a clearly naïve young girl with an already messed up take on sex and consent. I hate you. I hope you were caught and are rotting in prison. To this day I have never sent nudes, not even to people I love, because I have this undeniable fear and paranoia about it. I can only consider myself lucky that you did not share screenshots around my school like Amanda Todd. It is strange to be thankful in that situation, but it means I am alive today. Which is important, so I can protect other girls from men like you.

 

To the friend of my ex who tried so hard to fuck me that I sprinted away like a gazelle, who forced your tongue down my mouth and then bragged about it, who had the audacity to tell me I was a dirty cheater and that you wouldn’t ‘snitch’ – fuck you. There’s nothing else I can say about that. I haven’t taken my revenge on you yet. But I will.

 

To Tom. Tom, you hurt me the absolute most. You are the reason I am anorexic to the extent I am today. You are the reason I could barely leave my house for 3 years. You are the reason for countless suicide attempts, my denial of my sexual attraction to men, my self imposed celibacy, and fear of the city I live close to. You probably drugged me. You pulled me around, stretched me open, and violently raped and assaulted me for hours. Hours upon hours. You even did it while I was vomiting repeatedly in the sink. When I kept passing out, you poured beer over me so I’d be responsive enough for you to assault me again. Whenever I gained consciousness for long enough to run downstairs, you fought your friends for possession of me, screaming “she’s MY slut”. I was far too intoxicated to fight back, or even say “that’s wrong.” You dragged me back upstairs – the details are fuzzy as I continued to black out over the course of the night, but at some point I gained enough strength to tell you No. To tell you Stop. You ignored me. You left me on the bathroom floor so you could get a lift home from your mum and go on holiday. I ached for days. I slept with men I didn’t even like just to cleanse you from me. It didn’t work. To this day, whenever I bump into you, I cry. I think I am a strong woman. But I crumble at the sight of you. So many people I have loved want to kill you. But god damn it, I want the courage to do it myself.

 

To Rory, a boy who I trusted with my life. You were my best friend. You took care of me. But you loved me. You didn’t want anyone else to have me. You pushed me on the couch after Tom left and forced your tongue down my mouth. I was conscious enough to run away from you at this point. You said you’d be at the party to take care of me. But you tried it again. You’d get me drunk, tell me to lose weight, and then try repeatedly to sexually assault me. You told me you needed to lose your virginity, so I should unlock my door for you. You thought that you were owed my body. I tried to kill myself that night. You have seen me since. You go quiet, and avoid eye contact. So you should. You know full well the extent of what you did to me. I would avoid me too if I were you. You almost completely destroyed my trust in anyone and everyone.

 

To the men in their 20s who targeted me online when I was 15, asking me overtly sexual questions, telling me they wanted to fuck me, and almost grooming me to the point where I could have met them in person, I hope you are lonely and miserable. This includes the men who tried to get me to sext them, sent to me via my school bully, so they could share the screenshots around my school. I am still paranoid that everyone I date or who sexts me or who says they want to be with me is a con. I still worry that I am a running joke. Even when I am comforted constantly and told I am loved, the thoughts still plague my mind. What if it’s fake. What if I’m just about to be outed as a dirty slut.

 

To the bisexual man who told me I couldn’t POSSIBLY be a lesbian in a gay bar (I identified as one at the time – understandable due to my aforementioned trauma from men), who forced your tongue in my mouth because you sensed the naivety of me, you sensed I wouldn’t resist – I hope you are suffering today. I am only thankful it did not progress. I did not tell my girlfriend that you did this. I was worried that not screaming or hitting you would mean that I cheated. I will tell her one day, as we are still friends. It will hurt her so much to know that she could not protect me, even in a space where I believed I was safe from men’s advances.

 

To Elliot. Elliot, the boy known to his friends to be a predator, who held me when I was too drunk to move, and sexually assaulted me at a work friend’s party despite my protests that I had a girlfriend and wasn’t interested, and then had the AUDACITY to brag to his friends that he had ‘bagged a lesbian’, I hate you. I may still report you to the police. I thought that being an adult who was hardened to the world made me safer and more secure at parties after what Tom did. I was wrong. I am still so fragile. I cannot resist a grown man. I fear I may never be able to.

 

I saw a therapist, briefly, a couple of years ago, who told me that instead of a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, I had a ‘play dead’ reaction. Because of psychological and physical abuse as a child (a post for another time), I fear making a scene out of anything that I know is wrong happening to me. When somebody forces themselves on me, I not only do not have the physical strength to move them, but I have a mental block and cannot cry out about it. I don’t want to draw attention to injustice when it happens to me. To someone else, of course. I am so protective and defensive of other people. But not myself. I black out, mentally. I repress memories and take drugs to block out the feelings I get from them. Sometimes I break down, self harm, and try to kill myself. It is worst of all knowing that there are countless men I have missed from this list. Men I may not currently remember. There are gaps in my brain. Sometimes the memories come back to me, at night, and they cause me to attempt suicide. The flashbacks haunt me. I am still scared of Leicester. I am scared of men who even resemble those that have hurt me. I am scared of men who have mutual facebook friends with those who are friends with men who have hurt me. The anxiety and paranoia plague me. I am heavily medicated. I will probably be hospitalised again for it. I fear I am damaged beyond repair. It took me over 5 years of sexual contact to be able to achieve an orgasm with another person. I still struggle massively with this, no matter how enjoyable the experience. I fear my trauma has broken me sexually.

 

But recently I found someone. Who has sworn to protect me, who knows a lot about my history, who would kill any aforementioned person on command. I feel safe. I feel sexually empowered. I feel almost confident. I am starting therapy soon, with a woman who wants me to be safe and happy. I feel that it is coming. “Out of the ash, I rise with my red hair, and I eat men like air.”

As much as the fear constantly plagues me that I will be assaulted again, I know there are people who care about my safety. I will stick to them. That is the best I can do with the cards I have been dealt. I will learn to stick up for myself. I will learn to say no, or stop, or scream when I feel unsafe. I will get better. But there are holes in my brain that I can never get back, fully. Places I will always avoid. People who make me physically ill. Situations that give me flashbacks or make me want to hurt myself.

To everyone who has hurt me: the universe will punish you eventually. If I don’t do it myself. I am not alone. I am scared, but not a coward. I am anxious, but I will still fight for my right to dress and drink and talk as I want.

I am not a victim. I am a survivor.

 

“JUST WALK AWAY FROM THE SCREEN”

I must have seen that infamous Tyler, The Creator tweet around 100 times being retweeted onto my timeline. It disgusts me to my core, not only because he himself has notoriously sent abuse online to other people, but because cyber bullying nearly had me take my life.

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When I tell people I was severely bullied in school they assume that’s why I flinch when people touch me. But in actuality, no school bully ever laid a hand on me. The psychological torment, instead, has damaged my personality and set off symptoms of my mental illnesses.

I’ll skip over the mild bullying I received as a kid for being ugly and nerdy and fake (which has impacted upon my self confidence massively but I digress) and go straight to the main event – two girls in 2011 that decided to start a hate campaign against me. Why was I bullied in this instance, you wonder? Because I had dated one of the girl’s exes, and because the boy the other girl fancied told her he liked me. I don’t personally believe anyone deserves that level of harassment, but even in this case it has always frustrated me because my apparent crime was being a pretty teenage girl who boys liked.

There were things shouted at me in corridors; I was laughed about loudly in lessons. While these made me want to change schools and had me leave lessons prematurely, it wasn’t the worst hit that I got.

You see, when you are a teenager with emerging mental illnesses with an outsider complex, it is natural to seek and find peace online, around strangers who understand you more than the people you go to school with. Tumblr and Twitter helped me form lifelong friendships – I blogged about my emerging anorexia, hinted at my suicide attempts, complained about my ex boyfriend – all understandable things to want to talk about. If you’ve never been weird or crazy, you probably will not understand how important it can be to be part of online communities. In just mere clicks, I could and did find people with shared experiences who wanted to help me purely out of the goodness of their hearts. This is why those ridiculously popular girls at your school probably only had 30 followers on Tumblr and never used it.

This blog was used against me. I was called ‘schizo’, ‘wannarexic’, ‘fake mentally ill’. These girls shared my blog around the school so everyone became well versed in my private business, and regularly publicly posted jibes about it on Facebook – going as far as to link a song called ‘Schizophrenia’ on my wall. They sent me anonymous abuse on a regular basis and told the entire school via Formspring (only tru 2000’s kids remember!) that I was pregnant with my ex’s baby. (I wasn’t. I had merely had a pregnancy scare, and took a friend with me to get tested. She must have been the one who spread it. This level of betrayal fucks with your trust permanently.)

That was, coincidentally, the same year that I was raped at a party. The boy who did it had a girlfriend. This girlfriend was friends of one of the girls. So it got worse. While I tried to process my trauma, I was called an ‘anal slut’ and ‘just a whore and nothing more’. People sent me abuse on Facebook, and Tumblr. I was asked how anal felt on a regular basis while I was starving myself to try and get rid of the curves that had made me appealing to this boy. They had their 20+ aged male friends send me explicit sexual messages on Facebook assuming I was up for it and a dirty slut. I was 15. They sent men to jokingly befriend me or flirt with me so they could show everyone what a slag I was. This fucked with my trust massively – worrying that every boy who was nice to me or flirted with me was just joking has created a weight on my back that has still never been lifted. I worried constantly that my ex girlfriend was just joking about loving me and was somehow tied to these old bullies, ready to publicly humiliate me.

There is, of course, a real life element to this. I went to school with these girls, lived in the same area, liked the same music. Their abuse was in person too. This combination is what I personally believe created my anxiety disorders that have affected me so awfully that I regularly take strong medication in order to function on a day to day basis.

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The paranoia that hits you when you accidentally catch people talking about you is indescribable. I checked Facebook religiously to make sure I could be there if someone put abuse on my wall. I found a hate site (deleted after they realised I had found it) that was taken from an old Tumblr url, presenting a false image of me, writing things such as (and I do paraphrase as it was years ago) “I’m a dumb attention seeking bitch” blah blah blah. I felt overwhelming anxiety when people deleted or blocked me because I needed to know what was being said about me at all times. I needed to read it.

Even now, 2016, at the age of 20, this abuse affects my online presence. I do not tweet my full name so I cannot be found via google or the search function, and I don’t post my blog posts that I have been incredibly proud of, onto Facebook out of fear that they will be shared and mocked just like my old Tumblr was. Cyberbullying isn’t just about being at your computer. It’s dread. It’s sitting in school, worrying about what’s being said about you on Facebook when you cannot see it. Even if you turn off social media and walk away, the paranoia still eats you up. It’s fucking dreadful.

I don’t expect some ignorant, misogynistic, homophobic male musician to understand this. I highly doubt Tyler, The Creator (of sub par music that nobody’s talked about since 2011) has been picked apart by girls and predatory men online for his gender, sexuality and mental health to the point where he attempted suicide several times to avoid going to school and seeing said girls. I don’t think he received an endless torrent of abuse for being raped online, to the point where he refused to name his rapist to the police later on to avoid being abused all over again. I don’t think he’s so careful about using his full name in order to maintain some level of freedom from abuse from people who’ve obsessed over and stalked him online for 5 years. I don’t think he shits himself every time his blog gets a decent amount of views because one of those views could be from an old bully, reading every intimate detail about his mental health, abuse and assault in one of his few honest safe spaces. But when it comes to young people, who try to be socially aware and tolerant and compassionate, I do expect a little understanding. I do not get or like this part of the ‘woke’ (*vomits*) Twitter community that tries to be rude or seem cold and edgy on the side, laughing with/supporting Tyler’s comment. It is not possible to care for other people whilst pretending that you hate everyone. Sometimes, they/you carry the essence of ‘old bully’ with them/you. There is this attitude, this presence that people have that makes it obvious, to me at least, that they have at some point enjoyed pushing other people to the edge. And maybe they still do. The toxic hateful underlying layer to many seemingly charming and caring people seeps through the cracks in their faces. I can smell it. It smells foul. And I am tired of the stench.

I guess what I am trying to say, in all of this, is that online bullying is real. The only people who seem to think otherwise are, in fact, online bullies. Or have been. Or have hung around with them. You probably remember/know about Amanda Todd. She is tragic proof of this. Kids are taking their lives, and you’re laughing about it because some ‘funny’ rapper laughed about it.

We’ve all been mean online before. Maybe made a spiteful comment in revenge. Posted a photo of someone we perceive to be unattractive online to make fun of them. Shared inside jokes about nerds/geeks/losers to gain approval from tougher people. Sarcastically complimented someone. Anonymously sent hate. The difference is between motive, and whether you’re sorry for it. God knows I am endlessly sorry for my brand of show offy rudeness that I used to gain some form of leverage over the very few below me in the school food chain. I still agonise over how horrible I have been. I don’t understand how people can be knowingly, unnecessarily mean and not feel any guilt for it. But so many of you fall into this.

Think about what you’ve said online. And what’s been said to you. Where you feel comfortable sharing yourself, where you don’t, and why that is. Imagine having your online friends and community penetrated by someone who wants to make your life a living hell. Imagine developing a delusional paranoia that everyone who is nice to you online is fake, because you have gone through so much bullshit that you can’t possibly fathom actual friendliness. Imagine hiding your name, not to keep your drug use and vibrant online persona secret from employers, but to stop people cropping up again to attempt to chip away at what little of a person you are left.

 

 

 

BODY IMAGE: When Angles Don’t Add Up

“She’s so pretty,” friends talk to me about one another: “she looks just like her selfies.”

This is a deeply ingrained fear of mine: that I am incredibly physically disappointing in person. This fear does not seem to match up to what’s been presented in front of me: people who’ve met me via online dating still fancy me in person (including my now girlfriend), online friends tweet/post about how I am ‘just as/more beautiful in person’, people in bars are just as attracted to me as people who have only seen my filtered, controlled online presence. Yet I fear it all the same – I look at photos taken of me and become confused, at times even suicidal, when I look at what my face really looks like. Having self control over my image is of utmost importance to me.

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I obsess over the concept of selfies because they allow me to control my self image and preserve that moment.

Why does my mirror reflection not add up to other peoples lenses? Why, no matter what angles/clothing/makeup I use, do I not feel happy in photos where I am not holding the camera?

The answer is because I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder – a condition that supposedly plagues approximately 10% of the population to some degree. Some of us are affected so badly that we obsess constantly, picking, pulling or resorting to cosmetic surgery (I am broke as hell so contouring will have to do for now. But the surgery will still happen one day). It is a confusing disorder – when your eyes are decieved constantly. I cannot explain it, or how I came to develop it. The symptoms, for many people, often develop as a side piece to an eating disorder/period of disordered eating and start to grow and change after the eating gets better.

I present my case as an example to highlight the severity: I don’t have a chin, in my opinion. I would easily do almost anything for money in order to pay for chin implants, nose bridge implants and perhaps cheekbone implants. Since the age of around 13, I have been obsessed with the flatness of my face, genuinely worrying at times that nobody who has seen the side of my face could ever love me. I have spent hours of my life turning the mirror around to see all my angles, tearing up at what I consider to be my flaws.

I think sometimes it would be easier if I knew that I was unattractive. But, to see myself as this flat strange monster, and to be told that I am beautiful constantly, makes things seem more difficult. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how the mirror, or selfies, or people can be wrong.

The disorder is written off as vanity in most girls. I was obsessed with my face from the age of around 5, but instead of being spotted as a psychological problem, it was ‘cute’. It was me ‘trying to be my mother’, or ‘girls being girls’. I wonder now, if someone had spotted the hours spent in front of the mirror and flagged it as a problem rather than typical of a literal child, if I would have gotten help before it got worse. To the wildly irrational state I find myself in at the age of 20. Because it’s one thing, to think you’re fat when you’re anorexic. People could, to some degree, understand my skewed body image. But to feel literally suicidal over the bridge of your nose, or your eye sockets – these are things that people just don’t ‘get’.

Body image is one of the most pressing issues in young women today. People with average to good body image don’t understand the privileges that come with it – you have photos of you looking cute or silly in the club and don’t want to die or hide when you see them. You don’t panic upon meeting online friends for the first time, worried that you might be a catfish whose forehead is huge in person. You probably never stare at your face until it doesn’t feel like you, or compulsively check yourself in every reflective surface to see how you look in every light, from every angle.

I wander, from restaurant bathroom mirror, to my selfie cam, to full length H&M changing room, with my mood dangling in the balance. I look nice, right here, in this light. But if I recheck in 5 minutes, will it ruin my entire day?

But it’s just me being a silly, self obsessed Kim Kardashian junior, making sure I look pretty. People do not recognise the validity of the mental illness behind these behaviours or thought patterns. People do not understand how horrible you feel when you truly hate your reflection. I wish this was the part when I offered a solution – but, alas, I think there isn’t a cure. Even though I encourage positive body image and want us all to feel comfortable in our skin, I would get plastic surgery in a heartbeat if I could afford it.

Just know that the girl taking selfies from every angle could be trying to feel like a human being in a body she doesn’t feel like she owns. Know that the pouty babe staring herself down in the full length mirror might actually be checking for the tiny flaws she cries over. Things are more than they appear to be.

(P.S – if any of you ARE rich and want to help a suicidal gal out, my paypal is babydeetz@hotmail.com. I need approximately 10k to fix my face. It’s not inspirational, or tear jerking, but it would still be cool if some wealthy person took pity on my whiny self pity. Thnx xxoxox)

“NO HOMO” -When You’re the Butt Of The Joke

Of all the things I have done in my life, this is the one confession I am least proud to admit on here: I often watch The Big Bang Theory. I do not enjoy it, but as a disabled person, you become accustomed to shitty daytime TV reruns. It is whilst watching this show that I became inspired to write this piece. Because, as much as the writers would refuse to admit it, the show is homophobic.

“But they aren’t rude to gay people!” some might argue. Yes. True. But the amount of ‘no homo’/gay jokes that appear in the script is a different, less noticeable kind of homophobia. The femininity of Raj that amounts to people constantly questioning his sexuality, Howard & Raj’s homo subtext riddled ‘bromance’ and Amy’s infatuation with Penny are included in this. Because at the end of the day, after Amy is done crushing on this woman, she goes back to her boyfriend. She is never written as explicitly bisexual or gay. Her crush is just a funny little thing – “oh isn’t Amy funny! Fancying a woman!” – in the script.

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One of many moments that poke fun at the concept of being gay

Digs at hetero characters sexuality could be considered acceptable if only the writers did one thing: include gay and bisexual characters. Important characters. Not just background noise. If you are going to appropriate our culture in the form of making straight men ‘metrosexual’/giving straight women ‘girl crushes’, then you have to throw us an actual bone. Not a plastic squeaky one. One with meat on it.

And it’s not just the characters. We want writers and producers who have control over how we’re represented. It’s not enough to hire a pretty hetero woman to play a lesbian on TV, we need to know that she’s going to be treated as a multi dimensional character who exists as more than just a tragic story line, killed off halfway through her development.

I’m one of those angry feminist lesbians that people rave about on social media. Even other gay people, usually men, in fact, think I take things too seriously. But seeing issues doesn’t mean I lack a sense of humour. I’ll still watch funny shows and films, even if they’re problematic to me. I cannot help but notice, though. I am on my guard. And let any other angry lesbian tell you – when you put that guard up, it’s impossible not to see the cracks. Obvious in your face homophobia is pointed out and torn to shreds on social media. Rightfully so. But the more hidden, insidious, kinds of homophobia – the ever present ‘no homo’ – are greeted with so much approval and laughs from straight friends that it feels dramatic to call out. No matter how grating, insulting or outright degrading the jokes are, if you are outnumbered in the audience, you don’t feel like you have a right to speak up.

But don’t we deserve better? Don’t we deserve more than groups of heterosexual characters jostling each other about their latent homosexual tendencies with a cheesy laugh track over the top? Don’t we deserve more than to be greeted with either ridicule or tragedy whenever we’re handed representation on a cheap plate?

I love making gay jokes about myself and my friends. I believe that every community that is oppressed has the best sense of humour. Difficulties harden you, and make you see the funny side of things. I don’t, by any means, think gay jokes should be banned from the media. I would like for once just to be included in the joke.

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OITNB – the jewel in the rough. A show that represents us and our humour and humanises us.

I close on this – look at Orange Is the New Black. Look at what they’re doing – LGBT writers and actors, jokes from the inside, laughing WITH us rather than at us – they’ve given us a taste of what we deserve as TV aficionados. So what’s your excuse?

GIRLS LIKE GIRLS: Spectrums, Sex & Samantha Ronson

It isn’t until later, when you are self aware, that you realise just how gay you were in childhood. My intense need to look away from scantily clad women in music videos so nobody called me a lesbian; my outright fear every time someone suggested we play ‘gay chicken’; my infatuation for Samantha Ronson – these were all things I didn’t recognise at the time.

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like many millennial lesbians, this was my first glimpse at what could be

Many famous lesbians discuss how natural and normal being gay felt to them as children. “I was a tomboy, I wanted to marry girls and not boys, it always just felt right to me” are paraphrased comments often passed. I envy this, to some degree. I don’t know whether it was the area, the time or just my permanently anxious disposition, but I never once felt comfortable or safe in how I, very very secretly, felt about women. It terrified me. Even before I really knew why. My more comfortable straight friends would kiss each other, would talk about ‘hot’ girls and girl crushes, whilst I fabricated crushes on boys in order to seem normal – “Tom is objectively attractive I think. A few girls fancy him. I will fancy him too.” (The most pivotal and now, hilarious, example of this: when I said I had a crush on a boy named George in order to feel normal. My friend’s then outrage because he was her crush, or her boyfriend, I can’t remember. Me then back footing and saying “I was lying! I fancy Ross”. A different friend saying Ross was ugly. Me laughing and insisting I Really, Actually had a crush on Jacob. Then giving up altogether and saying I fancied a boy from my Old School, the school I had last attended at the age of 9.)
When I was around 6, I read an article in a teen girl magazine about asexuality (I was a genius kid with a ridiculously high reading age, don’t judge me) and though I told nobody about it, the article struck me. It was from the perspective of a teenage girl who didn’t have crushes like her friends did – I know now that asexuality is more complicated than that, and that you can be both gay/straight/bi AND asexual, but this was 14 years ago so shit was different. I related, to some degree – I didn’t like boys. I didn’t like them the way that my friends did. It felt empty and soulless and I often wondered whether attraction to boys was real at all for anyone. 9 years later, when I became sexually active, I came back around to this idea. I remember coming into school and looking at my friends who I knew were having sex with their boyfriends, and thinking to myself: “does she like it? Does she get excited and aroused thinking about it?” because it made no sense to me. Sex was a way for me to feel admired and loved, nothing more. I fucked my boyfriend because that was what you do in relationships. It was like a job that I did to earn money – except in this case, it was approval and normality instead of cold hard cash.

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Naomily, the relationship that helped countless teenage girls find themselves.

I think when you’ve internalised homophobia so deeply for so long, it takes being around proud gay/bisexual/queer women and having it presented as normal to really bring it out of you. This is not just a me thing – take Phyllis Kroll from The L Word as an example: she lived for a long while thinking she was hetero, until she met Bette who was openly gay and comfortable with it, which helped normalise attraction to women for her. This is similar to my experience with realising my attraction to women – my first and only boyfriend was part of a friendship group that had a couple of openly bisexual girls in. These girls spoke to me about liking girls as if it was the most natural thing in the world to them, and because of that, I started to realise my true feelings. In the space of a month, I went from “I’m straight but girls are just really hot”, to “I have intense feelings for a woman and I’m okay with that”. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t really let anyone outside of my best friends know that I had come to the discovery of my sexuality, therefore the girl I heavily crushed on thought I was straight and didn’t push any romantic stuff past us making out at a party.
Now comes the tricky part – the part that countless questioning girls have asked me about – How You Figure Out Whether You’re Gay Or Bi. It took me several years to start using the term lesbian for myself – admittedly this was in part due to my mental illnesses that made me repulsed by the idea of sex and/or relationships altogether for a long while. I think now, looking back on everything, I knew I was exclusively attracted to women the second I kissed the first girl that I believe I ever loved. Kissing her felt like my insides were fireworks; I had all those jumpy excited moments that I had, up to that point, only heard about in songs or read about in books. From then on, it became clear to me how empty kissing men really felt. I became increasingly bored and unaroused. But I still clinged to bisexual as a label for myself.

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This show ended at season 1, okay? I think we’re all agreed here.

I can’t tell you how you know. For me, it was taking in lesbian media (lesbian youtubers, The L Word, various shitty gay films, Jeanette Winterson, Tegan and Sara songs) and generally becoming so involved with young lesbian communities online that made me really accept that I couldn’t ‘go back’ to men. I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried to love men, but I’ve cracked my shell now, and my identity is seeping through, and I can’t sellotape it up and pretend to like men anymore. For most women, it takes years. There is indecisiveness. There is experimenting. There is learning about compulsory heterosexuality, there is analysing your breaths when someone of each gender touches your skin and whether you feel sparks for anyone.

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I truly mean it when I say cannot tell you how you know. I can only say this: reach out. Read up. Don’t feel forced into calling yourself anything, and don’t feel bad for changing your title if you make a discovery. There is no shame in delving into the hidden parts of yourself, or taking time to feel your way. We may fling mud at each other on a regular basis, but this is one lesbian saying: I love all of my lady loving sisters. No matter where on the spectrum you identify.

 

 

IN DEFENCE OF JENNIFER SCHECTER (TV’S MOST HATED LESBIAN)

I can already sense the anger created by this. If you are not here to have a deep breath, take in this rarely covered opinion, and challenge yourself on your behaviours, then this is not the place for you. This is your official warning.

(Also…. spoiler alert.)

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I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in The L Word that turned viewers off Jenny Schecter for good. I think most, non empathetic, viewers probably disliked her to begin with. So I’ll make this an easier read, and write, and defend every point made against her that I’ve heard very quickly and simply.

“SHE CHEATED ON TIM”
Bette cheated on Tina. Shane cheated on damn well near every girl she dated in the course of the show. These are still the two arguably most beloved characters on the show. Besides, Marina pulled Jenny into cheated with her, knowing that they were both in relationships. (Marina also later sabotaged another of Jenny’s relationships out of jealousy, but everyone selectively forgets that.)

“SHE WAS WHINY/SELF PITYING”
She was a mentally ill woman who had experienced childhood trauma that 99.9% of people who hate on her for this can never understand. This childhood trauma left her with a painful and complicated brain that made relationships, sex and identity very hard to deal with. It’s also very clear that she has BPD. (Her behaviour and thoughts would easily land her with a BPD diagnosis, this is not just me projecting). What she, as a character, has been through, is probably more than you. She has a right to be whiny and self pitying.

“SHE WAS MANIPULATIVE AND MEAN”
Again, BPD here. Yes, she was manipulative and mean. That’s because her relationship with her identity was so fractured, that she eventually created a new one to help cope with how cruel the world had been to her. Bette was also manipulative and mean. We applauded her for that, though.

“SHE WAS A NARCISSIST”
Her narcissism/self obsession/’prima donna’ attitude was a way for her to protect herself. It is a common thing that Borderlines do: we detach ourselves emotionally, big ourselves up in order to try and not feel the pain of rejection that follows us everywhere, and, as said before, create personas in order to cope. The traits that Jenny displays here are a mirror of ‘Electra Heart’ (temporary stage persona of Welsh performer Marina and The Diamonds), a character that was well received in most young online circles. We all praised Electra’s narcissism. So why do we source it as a reason of hatred in Jenny?

“SHE WAS TRANSPHOBIC”
The L Word’s undeniable transphobia is a deep issue that needs to be tackled outside of just calling it ‘problematic’ and moving on. But if we are going to call Jenny out for this, and use it as a reason to devalue her whole character: let’s go on to hate Bette, Shane, Kit and literally every other beloved character that made transphobic comments/jokes aimed at Max and/or Ivan. Or laughed at them. You have to be consistent with your opinions, and not just use them as ammo.

“THE WRITERS ONLY PUT IN HER TRAUMA/SELF HARM STORYLINE TO GARNER SYMPATHY FOR HER”
It’s really pathetic to argue this point, seeing as it’s very clear that her trauma/mental illness is something that has been a part of Jenny from episode one, if you were only a trauma affected mentally ill woman who can see the signs in others. Not to mention, that if you pull this, I could also pull that the writers made her meaner/crueler in order to garner attention for the title ‘love to hate’ character.

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I argue these points as a mentally ill lesbian survivor of trauma. I argue them because Jenny was hellbent on her own self destruction, clearly killed herself, and that the lack of care about this or her and lack of empathy for her is hard not to take personally. I argue them because The L Word fans are on the whole, very hypocritical, condemning one character for her faults but ignoring those same faults in other characters. I argue them because so many young L Word fans will take part in #MentalHealthPosi, yet trash Jenny due to symptoms of her mental illness. I argue them because “I KILLED JENNY SCHECTER” t shirts once became a cult hit in lesbian communities, and because 99.9% of people label her as an unrelenting horrible force. Jenny did not have a bad soul. She was sad. She was desperate. She was traumatised. She was an artist who sourced words from her pain, who was protective and ultimately un-cared for.

That’s all. You can go back to your hate blogs now.

SPLITTING UP: BPD & Relationships

I love to joke about the time my first boyfriend broke up with me, and how publicly emo I was about it for months afterwards (the relationship itself only lasted a month). It is funny, and ridiculous to me. But it was also a glaring sign that I was dealing with BPD/emerging BPD and that I just couldn’t handle rejection or abandonment well.

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Charlize Theron & Christina Ricci portraying Aileen Wuornos’ obsessive, destructive pivotal relationship. (This does not define BPD and relationships but I just have a lot of feelings about Aileen okay.)

Some people with BPD have never faced a pivotal moment of rejection or abandonment. For some of us, the trauma is only imagined. But that fear is still there, and larger in us than any other person. Many borderlines will admit to ending a relationship just to feel they have control over the situation and protect themselves from being hurt. In my last relationship (I guess I’ve become the kind of blogger who dishes the dirt on my personal life), I constantly told her that it was okay to end it, that if she wanted to walk the door was open. Giving that space to prepare for rejection was the easiest way for me to handle things. Trying to get her to take her way out before I became too attached was self preservation on my part. She didn’t do it, of course. Most people don’t hear their ‘crazy’ girlfriends say “I’m fucked up and you should leave me it’s okay if you leave” and go “whoops, guess you’re probably right. Bye. Return my hoodies in the post.” But we all, to some extent, have probably tried it. Ended relationships that we liked, begged the other person to leave, maybe even attempted to destroy it from the inside, purposely being mean or neglectful in order to help cope with the ‘inevitable’ break up.

That’s probably a headache for our significant others to deal with. But, it’s even more of a headache for us to deal with so I’ll cough up an old line: “sorry not sorry”. Believe it or not, BPD is not just ‘irritating’ or ‘too much’ to witness, it’s a nightmare to really feel.

Navigating relationships with BPD is harder than dating a borderline. That’s a controversial statement to make in an age where ‘how to date your horrible abusive borderline bitch’ type articles are basically all that’s to offer when it comes to dating with BPD, but it’s a true one. Fearing every day that your partner doesn’t actually like you or that they’re leaving you is horrific. It’s more than just fear, too. Because being left, or being rejected by someone you care about is more than just initial shock. With BPD, it tears you up from the inside out. It feels like a part of your soul is missing, and that you have to fill that part with someone else, or drugs, or alcohol, or casual sex. We often attach and cling so easily and so deeply to people that losing them suddenly feels like we have had our heart ripped from us.

“I don’t let people close enough to hurt me” – an age old saying, often spouted by mysterious guarded TV characters. This quote, however rings true for many of us. We fight our internal urge to cling and merge with whoever we’re idolising that day, and over compensate by steering clear. When all you feel are feelings, they begin to hurt. They make your chest sink. When you are so hyper aware of people’s movements, tone of voice etc that even a slightly unenthusiastic ‘hello’ makes you think you are about to be history to them, it feels safe and warm to be distanced. Or to put your eggs in countless baskets – holding countless romantic interests at any given time so that the loss of one doesn’t break you.

This is the part where I break this self pitying ramble and offer some solid advice. The thing is, if I could offer such advice so easily, my own romantic life wouldn’t be in the shambles that it is. I think sometimes, you need to make lists of the good and the bad of the person you’re seeing, to try not to idolise them or see them as the devil. As much as it is considered the Ultimate Evil to be remotely non monogamous, finding outer people/characters/experiences to pour yourself into in order to feel like your entire heart and soul isn’t dependent on your one favourite person, can be helpful.

 

There is nothing more important, however, than finding someone who understands that you have BPD, and that you have specific needs related to that. You cannot put your faith in a relationship if you are hiding your illnesses from them, it will only end in ruins. This is easier said than done. The stigma can make you vulnerable to manipulation, or abuse. Sometimes, as much as ‘professionals’ would probably warn against it, dating other borderlines is a plus here. As much as many of us seek stability in a partner to shield us from the crashing waves inside, dating somebody who understands that at times you need everything and nothing can aid communication. Explaining BPD symptoms or behaviours to non borderlines can be long and tiring.

Now, here comes the bit I am looking forward to writing as there is so much false, toxic information on the internet: How To Date A Borderline, if you are not one.

1. Understand that they may go through periods of wanting to be completely alone, and periods of being completely attached. If they want to be alone, don’t push it.

2. Encourage them to talk about their feelings in a frank and healthy way; NEVER make them feel bad for ‘oversharing’ or accuse them of being manipulative/emotionally abusive if they tell you they need support.

3. Ask them what helps. Get to know their triggers, and learn how to calm them down in a bad situation.

4. Do not get angry at them if they are in a time of crisis. I cannot state this enough. Do not guilt them. If they say “nobody cares about me”, it is not a personal attack on you, it is merely how their brain is tricking them. We experience black & white thinking. At times, 1 person not caring means that Nobody Cares. It is, believe it or not, not our job to explain or relax you when you feel offended by these untrue statements.

5. Do not force them to tell you about themselves. Do not ask about their childhood or trauma. This seems like an obvious one, but people still think that it’s acceptable to ask a borderline Why We Are The Way That We Are. It’s not. If we want to tell you, we will.

There is much more advice to offer than this. I could write a book. We should group together, borderlines of the internet, to write a collaborative book on the matter. I would love that. But this will do for now.

It feels impossible, most days, to be like this. It feels like there is too much of you to ever be fully loved or cared for. We present fake personalities in order to be liked. But I will tell you this, my borderline sibling: you deserve love. You deserve a love like your wildest fantasies, or like a Disney film if that is what you want. You deserve your partner, if they are genuinely good for you. And if they are not, you deserve better. You deserve so much better.

 

ASKING FOR IT: On Sex, Consent & Disorder

I declare my proud status of a mess, a trainwreck, a hoe, etc online. I say that I am sexually empowered. But at its very core, sex as a concept is something I struggle to enjoy and struggle to understand. After each sexual encounter with a stranger, I wake up and want to peel my skin from my head to toe. I sink into periods of deep, suicidal depression returning home after the aptly named, in my case, ‘walk of shame’.

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‘Nymphomaniac’ – Lars Von Trier’s notorious film depicting female hypersexuality

It is hard to admit this, in a period where feminists are supposed to celebrate sex positivity and sexual revolution. Online feminist communities, in a sense, often applaud my hypersexuality. Hypersexuality that has been thrown upon me, by what I can only pin down first and foremost to childhood neglect, abuse and trauma. It is not a good thing. It does not make me feel nice. I have little self control, especially when intoxicated, because this fear of abandonment and BPD that has arisen out of said childhood trauma makes me cling to every tiny piece of love or applause that I can gather. If that applause comes in the form of a stranger in a night club toilets, then so be it. If I think I’ll feel something, anything, after a Tinder hook up, I’ll go for it. Relationships crumble for me before they begin, not because I need too much sex for one person to handle, but because I struggle to stop myself when a girl comes onto me. I’ve lost what could have been soulmates.

On top of this, thanks to intense amounts of anxiety related to people rejecting or not liking me, I can rarely say no. This blurs the lines of consent, because consent education is often centered around ‘no means no’. If I don’t speak up, does that mean it was healthy or enjoyable? No.
Contrary to popular belief, ‘consensual sex’ (all sex is consensual, ‘non consensual’ sex is rape or assault) does not necessarily mean ‘a jolly good time for everyone involved’. Sex isn’t always fun, and I’m not talking about sleeping with people who are bad or incompatible in bed. I’m talking about trauma and abuse survivors who don’t enjoy sex most of/all of the time. I’m also talking about people, usually borderlines, who use sex as a method of self harm. Many trauma survivors and borderlines often switch between hypersexuality, and sex repulsion. This switch can often occur mid sexual act, which puts pressure on relationships and makes dating incredibly uncomfortable.

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It’s considered a rule that personality disorders cannot be diagnosed until a person reaches 18, but I was diagnosed with emerging BPD at 16, and had displayed symptoms long before that. I can only trace back my hypersexuality to the age when I actually became sexually active, which was 15, but I’m sure my thoughts were linked with it before then. At first, periods of hypersexuality made me feel cool and wanted – I walked into school with a neck full of love bites, pretending to be ashamed but inside – very proud. I liked the feeling of power that sex gave me – I didn’t ‘enjoy’ the act itself, per say, because I was very closeted about being gay and only slept with men, but there were elements of being wanted that made me feel good. But as peoples opinions of me lowered, so did my opinion of myself. Hypersexuality began to make me feel disgusted.

Society’s opinions on female hypersexuality puts girls in danger. My reputation as an uncontrollable ‘slut’ made boys think that they had a claim on my body. My rape could never be considered a rape, because I was such a slut that I totally asked for it. My male best friend climbed on top of me and kissed me without my consent countless times, and then said that a girl he liked would never sleep with a virgin, so we’d have to have sex first. I went home in tears that a boy I trusted with so much assumed he was owed my sex, and I tried to kill myself that night. I struggle with the whole “who cares if I’m a slut” side of feminism, because that word has been used to violently dehumanise me and wash over my experiences.

These are heavy issues to consider, when talking about sex. I don’t usually like to drag them out, for the world to see, in all their ugliness – instead I tackle them like I tackle everything else: with humour. I joke “I hate myself” after nights out, and people laugh with me, but deep down I do mean it. I sit alone and try to block out what I did in my head and feel like a criminal passing through the same bars, the same clubs, hoping nobody will recognise my face. When people jokingly remind me of my sexual mistakes, I feel a sense of dread take over me. And when I go through periods of sex repulsion, it makes it even harder for me to process what I’ve done. It gets harder still, when sex positive feminism preaches that sex is fun and cool at all times, to feel this way. You feel invalidated by your peers. You feel like the ugliest parts of yourself are glorified, and it gets messy.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know why I wrote this – to educate, maybe, or as a form of confession. Or to feel related to. Because hypersexuality, as a young woman, is a hard thing to admit to having. It’s hard to admit that I may need help. In this difficult time of mental health funding, it’s almost impossible to even get that help if I wanted it. It’s unbelievably difficult to be believed when I talk about my assaults, or my rape. And it’s rarely spoken about, in honesty, in our circles. So many of us message each other privately, shamefully sharing our sexual secrets, out of fear that posting about it online will land us with backlash and stigma. I figure that, with everything else I’ve shared on here, I might as well do this now. What’s the harm?

TOUCH FAITH: On God, Goddesses, Satan and Stars

I think I was about 9, the first time I prayed for something without being prompted. My first primary school was very Christian, I was a Polish Catholic, my mother was devout – but I didn’t feel my heart was in it. I can’t remember what I prayed about or for. I think it was for my dad to be okay in his depression. It might have just been a prayer for snow so I could miss a day for school. The content or specific desire isn’t important, what I learned was this: I didn’t have faith. Not in a God that was chosen for me, at least. I looked up to the sky after my prayer, and cried. Because I wanted, so badly, to have such an easy faith. I wanted to put my heart and soul into the church. I wanted to fulfill my mother’s manic wish of becoming a nun. But I didn’t feel it. That magic that people seemed to feel.

I went by the label atheist for years, from that age until I was around 16. I didn’t feel like my atheist friends, though. They seemed so sure of themselves, and of the world around them. I wandered, lost, dreamily, not sure where I put my faith but hoping to find it. Even the concept of being Agnostic seemed too solid for me; Agnostics seemed to be at peace with not understanding everything.

I have never been at peace with my faith. I fight with myself on a daily basis, about what I believe in. And to tell you the truth, at 20, I still do not quite know. I have thought about God. I have read about Satanism. I have thought about Goddesses, and Paganism, and Witchcraft, and Astrology, and Mythology. I like to think that all of my, at times, contradicting beliefs could form a whole person. I could be an indulgent self loving Satanist, and a repentant Catholic. I could believe in mermaids, and Greek Goddesses, and stars, and witches. I do, in a sense, believe in all of these things. I could simply say that I am in my own little spiritual bubble that doesn’t conform to any side’s standards. But it is much easier to say that you are okay with not knowing where you fit in on a religious spectrum, and much harder to actually believe.

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Personality disorders complicate identity. BPD makes it nearly impossible to be comfortable with not understanding yourself. Because at its core, faith is about your mind, and it is about your identity, so it makes sense that mental illness can contradict or blur the lines of religion. There are extremes of this. People with psychosis or mania believing they are a higher power, for one. Restrictive eating disorders and depression being triggered or fed by the strict self sacrificial practices of some churches is another common tie. Some mentally ill people cling to churches, mosques, temples, religious organisations etc in order to feel they have some form of structure or safety in their life. Rules and routines tied in with many religions keep you grounded. And for some of us who feel helpless, being told that there is a higher power that loves you and wants you to live can feel…. comforting, for lack of a better word.

In this modern age, especially on the internet, faith is often overlooked. Most young people in feminist or social justice circles are not expected to or perceived to have a faith in a higher power or concept. Nobody asks. I wonder how many of us secretly cling to rosary beads, or attend religious ceremonies with nothing but love for it. It is considered silly and ridiculous, by most social justice communities, to not be an atheist. Many LGBT+ groups or activists respond to religious homophobes with things like “but God isn’t real”. And these groups/activists rarely stop to think of all the religious LGBT+ people they are isolating by doing that. It is assumed that if you are well read on politics and equality, that you must be a skeptic. tumblr_li8img1YSh1qzoaqio1_r2_500

It’s harder still, to figure out the messy world of spirituality, when you are presented with some home truths about these religions: holy texts were written in a time very different to ours. Slavery is no longer legal. Women do not have to be subservient to men under the law. People can marry people of the same gender. You have to be extra critical when reading these texts, because of those facts. And if, like me, you simply want to throw yourself to the will of a church but have very strong convictions, this is increasingly difficult.

I can at least say this, without a doubt: I believe in ghosts, I believe that trees have spirits, I believe in mermaids, I believe in witches, I believe in astrology, I believe in aliens and I believe that there is at least one higher power. These are small comforts, when observing organised religion makes me feel like an outsider looking in. It feels like, in some sense, everyone in each religion is on a giant cloud, holding hands and understanding each other. I, a lost, undecided wanderer, am on my own cloud, and sometimes the cloud dissolves from underneath my body and I fall.

I will never rest to stress the importance of faith. Whether it’s in religion, or magic, or concepts, or people. I will never stop talking about how beautiful organised religion is, in its supportive and loving communities. I will never stop trying to figure out where I lie or what I want. I will never stop encouraging exploration of spirituality, especially in periods of mental health recovery.

At least, for now, I know that I will be celebrating Easter Sunday with my family. After that, who knows. Maybe something will stick. Maybe my cloud will solidify or join with another.

 

THE REMAINS: On Recovery & Relapse

I could tell you all about weight, BMI, calories, pulse, blood pressure, bones, hospital admissions, purging, exercise – but I won’t. Because in the grand scheme of things, those are not at all important. They don’t define when you should begin recovery, and they don’t make what you went through any more valid.

The truth is, most people who struggle with an eating disorder will never be underweight, let alone emaciated. The TV image of 13 year old girls with feeding tubes only makes up a fraction of what eating disorders usually look like. But the image is still memorable, it’s still haunting, and it still makes people in recovery feel like they don’t deserve to get better because they were never ‘that ill’. So let me tell you this, first of all: it doesn’t matter what you weighed. It doesn’t matter how long you starved, purged, binged. It doesn’t matter whether you got an official diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if you were or weren’t admitted to hospital. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t have that inspirational film moment where your parents sat down with you and cried about how worried they are. It doesn’t even matter if nobody noticed at all. What matters is that your relationship with food and your body negatively impacted your life. That’s it.

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Demi Lovato, an ED recovery role model.

When I was 17, I started ballet for the first time since childhood. I was in the throws of my anorexia at the time, (not as ‘extreme’ as it had been, but still life ruining) and so I sat down and plotted my expected calorie intake and outtake for the next few weeks, as per normal for me. For ballet days, I allotted myself extra calories, so that I wouldn’t pass out. In my starved brain, that made sense: you eat more calories, you instantly get more energy. I didn’t know at the time that when you’re not eating enough, almost all of your calories go to keeping your vital organs running. All I really did on that first morning of ballet, when I had a normal sized breakfast, was keep my heart somewhat okay that day. That day was the most physically grueling thing for me, and it was only beginners ballet for an hour. (I should add that I also suffer with low blood pressure separate from my eating disorder, so exercise is more difficult for me.) I didn’t know it then, but when I came home that day and told myself to eat more before ballet, I had begun my journey into real recovery. Because week after week, I started eating more on Saturday mornings. And then I started eating more during the week. And I started getting better at ballet. Much better.

People worried, as you would expect, that dance would make me worse. And for some people, it does. But the strict weight boundaries in some ballet schools, being faced with your reflection, the eating disorder epidemic that sits out in the open for spectators of ballet to behold – these didn’t hurt me. I was genuinely doing ballet for fun, surrounded by curvier teenagers who were happy. When I stared at my reflection, I didn’t see how skinny my legs were: I saw how high they reached. I stopped comparing my size to other girls in that room, and started comparing skill and flexibility and strength.

This was at the same time in my life that I had started reading for fun again. I read a lot that year. I read every day of the week, in bed, on the train to ballet, on the bus to town, everywhere. Tolkien’s fantasies that relied upon the beauty of nature and warm smiles helped me see my own beauty outside of the gap between my legs. Joanne Harris’s novel Chocolat that placed high importance on the wonder of indulgence and revealed restriction to be what it was, ugly and miserable, helped me start to learn that I didn’t need to justify chocolate with stomach crunches. I read the Satanic Bible, a book that also taught the importance of pleasures of the flesh. I started really tasting food, cooking for myself with rich ingredients, and sending myself baskets of chocolate. Food started not only becoming a tool for survival, but something that made me happy. I let it sit on my tongue, so I could really enjoy it.

 

Recovery is not a straight line. It is a mess of tos and fros, zigzagging, should I/should I nots, twists and turns, and full circles. I have relapsed since that year. But once you’ve tasted life again, it’s difficult to go back to being dead. It gets harder and harder to tip toe the line between happiness and the abyss. You start asking yourself, what’s really the point of it all? That nasty voice that was once your entire being starts sounding like an immature 12 year old boy. “You’re fat,” it teases. “Does it really fucking matter though?” you retort, with a face full of ice cream. “You were prettier when you weighed less,” it jeers. But you see the sparkle in your eyes, and the sheen in your hair, and you know it just isn’t true.

Eventually, you stop living out every day counting calories. You stop relapsing. You stop having panic attacks when you grow out of your skinny jeans. You stop using exercise to lose weight. You look at old hospital papers or doctors notes, if you have them, and can’t remember what The Person described in them was like. That takes years, on average. I am still, with all this progress that I have made, near the bottom of a very tall staircase. But all these difficult years will be worth it when I am in my 40s, eating cake with my children. All the effort you put in to getting yourself better will pay off. All those tantrums and tears over the nutritional value of pasta will lead you somewhere.

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Kesha, after completing rehab treatment for bulimia.

Because, as difficult as it is a truth to hear, you either get better to some extent or you die. You cannot sustain a human body on years of malnourishment. It’s impossible. And the sooner you take the plunge, and start building a future for yourself, the less physical complications you may end up with. That plunge can be complying with your diet plan, or watching Kati Morton videos on youtube, or throwing out scales or laxatives. It can be learning a new language, writing a diary, or doing anything you always told yourself you wanted to do. Recovery is not just about the food. You’re not just building a better body for yourself, you’re building a better life. Filling your time with things that truly make you happy, gives you a reason to get better.

 

At the end of the day, a life in which you aren’t enjoying your body or your worth, doesn’t seem like a life at all. And it is possible to get past that. Countless people have managed it. Why not us?