I never thought of myself as one of the “mentally ill” until 2004. I knew I had issues, I knew I had to address and deal with them. I knew I had “anorexia” – I had been saddled with that label in high school – but I refused to let it define me. I hid it from my colleagues, and most people not close to me probably thought I was rather “thin,” but never thought of me as simply ANOREXIC – as most do now.
I never thought of myself as a defective person, or a bad person until ten years ago, when I officially entered The System, was branded, and never escaped. I never thought of myself as “crazy.” Now “mentally ill,” “defective,” “crazy,”vand “morally bereft” are all I think of myself as.What Western society’s messed up psychology looks like in practice is a woman who has to pick and choose which bills she’ll pay and which she won’t each month, and a woman who would be homeless if it weren’t for the charity of her family. A woman who’s tired of not being able to afford simple things like a new paperback book (she only uses the library now), and had to sell more than half of her most beloved books a few months ago for a mere $25, so she could purchase a bit of food. It looks like someone who can’t do little things that most of you take for granted: replace the $15 Walgreens blowdryer that broke four months ago; indulge in the occasional cappuccinos she used to enjoy; or even get a fu–ing trim at Supercuts.
It looks like a woman who as of Nov. 27 – as always occurs at the end of the month – had $20 to last her until her Nov. 3 disability money arrived, and had to decide whether to spend that on toilet paper and toothpaste, or some minimal amount of food. And since she obviously can’t go without the former but has lots of experience going without the latter, the choice was obvious. This woman was hungry and would prefer to eat, but she really could NOT tolerate the utter humiliation and shame of asking her family for yet another hand-out, so she decided she’d go hungry – for real – instead. And hey, there were bonus points too! Maybe the not-eating-for-a-week would kill two birds with one stone. Maybe her heart would finally give the fu—out, and she could die after all.
It looks like a woman who by late Wednesday was so cognitively out-of-it, due to lack of food, she found herself spontaneously screaming at a stranger staring at her – because she felt the stranger was judging her wretched appearance and dented jalopy – as well as sending off a scathing, profanity-laced email to a big-wig, eating disorder researcher who had failed to respond to her interview request.
It’s a woman who had to swallow the last crumb of pride she possessed and ask for another financial hand-out last Thursday, so that she didn’t end up so food-deprived she landed in jail for doing something even stupider and more deranged than the above.
The stigma, labeling, misconceptions and mistreatment of the “mentally ill” looks like a woman who is starting to wonder whether she cares anymore about writing for a Web site that only a tiny handful of friends and family actually read. Because as much as she loves and appreciates the people who are listening, they’re not the ones who can get her a job or change The System. A system she wants to be taken seriously in – and isn’t – for once.
It’s a woman who has done a lot of research and studying about all of the above, but has heard so many stories about other people overcoming exponentially worse adversities – like horrific trauma, or cancer, truly wretched poverty, or more severe mental health struggles – that she knows, at root, she’s the one to blame in the end for her immoral, pathetic life and failure to simply turn things around.
A woman who when she does, on good days, find the will and ability to try and “work” and eat, is soon besieged by so many chains of thoughts detailing her failings & loneliness, down to the tiniest minutia, that she eventually returns to either drinking, or sleeping, or most often a lot of both, to shut it all out again.