I wanna talk about the state I was in when I was very ill, a state that still tries to come back and kick me in the face on days when I am not careful. That state is kinda like doomy utter irrational paranoia. Here’s a list of symptoms: feelings of guilt, persecution, punishment, personal inadequacy, delusions, distortions in thinking, extreme suicidal self-loathing, reverse grandiosity (I thought I’d come up with a new term but when I googled it, it’s already been invented – oh the irony!), visual/olfactory/haptic hallucinations… This is what I had. It’s also some of the symptoms that define for example psychotic depression (most of those lifted straight from the PD Wiki entry). Emphasis on the psychotic. I really must stress that I feel I was in a partially psychotic state and unable to be myself or care for myself. This is a feature seen in many eating disorders, a feature that can make spotting the illness really difficult. When I was very ill, I had enough energy to hide my ‘senselessness’ from most of the rest of the world, for shame reasons, and because the part of me not consumed entirely by the illness was still alive and wanted to do nice things in the world and for the world. But, in my illness I also felt shame for my compulsive thoughts and behaviours, because I felt shame for having the vulgarity to continue existing. How dare I breathe? Walk the pavement, take up room? Shame was an integral symptom of my illness.
Now I am not ashamed of anything relating to my illness. Shame almost killed me and so I’ve very little to lose here. Every day I continue existing is a win. Also, how can one feel shame for symptoms one is unable to control due to being so ill? More importantly, the future of those living in shame now could be something so much better and if in any way I can communicate to someone that every person is of the same worth, I will try. I urge people to ‘let the crazy out’. Admitting to having certain compulsive thoughts/behaviours may be the first step towards recovery. My life, as I’ve experienced it without the ED symptoms, is of contentment with my place in the world, and control of what I can do to help make it a better place. When I was very ill I felt I was responsible for the well-being of the entire society (yeah, irrational thoughts are irrational) and if I dared to for example be unemployed (not for any lack of trying, it’s hella hard in the capital region), the society was literally crumbling down around me because of me. It’s a feeling very very intense, yet hard to describe. Another feeling I often had was like a mental pain manifesting as a physical ache in some part of my body. I very much felt that my body was an offence against the universe and the anxiety over the deep deep disgust I felt about my body would manifest as an ache, particularly in areas where I felt I ‘had gained weight’ in. Sometimes I wished to cut those parts off. I was ashamed of the mood swings I had and the all-consuming anxiety I felt. I thought everyone has this anxiety and everyone is just so much better at dealing with it than me. I felt I was an eternal teenager because I couldn’t fix my doom roller coaster.
So much shame. Let me tell you reader, it’s pretty cool now to have rid myself of some of it. It is not mental health -aiding to constantly feel you are the shittest person alive and you should feel shame for existing. I can report to you now that those thoughts are ED -created and have been diluted by the now-functioning-and-rational brain of Pihla. Pihla lived in shame for 20 years and refuses to do so in the future.