Opening Up to the World

When I first sunk into anorexia and began treatment, I feared people figuring out my illness.  Who could possibly understand?  Even I could not fully explain my fear of food, weight, and life.  My parents and siblings stood loyally by my side although they grew weary.  Although they reached out a bit for support, they kept my struggle a secret.

Silence concerning my mental health has always been difficult.  Since my diagnosis of depression at age 12, I never knew how much I should tell others.  Thus, I often began over-sharing.  After all, my therapists demanded that I open up my darkest wounds while doctors pried into every choice I made and how my body worked.  Telling the disturbing and troubling details of my life became my norm.

Unfortunately, this honesty pushed many people away before we could even connect.  Teenagers and even adults are not accustomed to this level of rawness and intensity.  When people asks, “How are you?” they are not hoping to hear that you want to kill yourself.  In fact, they usually respond with a nervous chuckle before moving on to interact with someone else.  Left alone, I wondered what mistake I had made now.  To complicate matters further, my aspergers made it difficult to read people.  Were they mad at me for wanting to commit suicide without caring about who might witness the deed?  Did they not care if I lived or died?  Perhaps my desires were normal and not interesting at all.  Confused, I would sit alone wondering what to do in future situations.

Once, in my years of severe cutting, a girl I looked up to pulled me aside.  I thought that she would give me encouragement and hope.  Instead, my friend began to yell at me.  My scars were nothing to be proud of, according to her.  Because I pranced around with them showing, I was being a idiot who had no right to do such a stupid thing.  People who cut only did so because they wanted to die.  I, on the other hand, only felt guilty because of fighting with my sister and other mundane problems.  After calling me several names, she forced me to promise that I would never cut myself again and to certainly not let people see my arms.  Tears streaming down my face, I attempted to obey her.  It didn’t work.

So, when I became anorexic, I decided to do the exact opposite.  No one could know about my problem.  Starting in college, I would be healthy.  Depression, anxiety, overeating, self-harm, suicidal thoughts – all of those were things of the past.  My past was erased.  Finally, people would want to be my friend instead of shying away.

That didn’t work either.  Shy and anxious, I stood alone in the corner while classmates laughed together.  Miserable, I collapsed into the arms of my eating disorder.  It claimed that by losing weight I could have friends plus my crush would finally realize my feelings.  Determined to make a change in my life, I gave myself over to anorexia, depression, and anxiety.  Of course, this lifestyle just led me to even more pain and isolation.

Now, I still struggle but am on my path to recovery.  Also, I finally believe that I have found the right amount of honesty.  No longer do I joke about my self-hatred or openly display scars from the past.  Instead, I write these blogs hoping to help others.  Also, I open up to others when I believe the time is right.  In the past week, I spoke in a student panel about my disability and also wrote articles for the student newspaper and student literary magazine concerning my struggles.  These opened myself up to others and left me vulnerable.  But they also helped me to keep my dignity instead over-sharing.  Although I am still learning how much to open up and what manner to do so, I am finally feeling at ease with this area.  It is a delicate balance but one that is important to find.  For all of those who are struggling, I want to encourage you.  Struggles are not something to be ashamed of but you also do not need to disclose information to others.  Knowing how open to be is a process that looks different for each person.  With time, I believe that all of us can get to a place of security but honesty.

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16 thoughts on “Opening Up to the World

  1. jefairgrieve says:

    Hi, Anna Rose! Thank you for having the courage to write this! Over-sharing is a problem I struggled with, too, and I more or less resolved it the way you did by deciding to share if my sharing would help somebody else. It took me a while, as it did you, to come to this decision. It seems that when the pain was really, really bad I went to one extreme or the other–I either told everyone I encountered or I said nothing to anyone.

    Also, I cut for a short time right after I turned my husband over to the police, and I also banged my head repeatedly on the sharp corner of the doorframe because doing those things seemed to dull the psychological pain. I told my therapist about this ONLY after I had stopped doing it. As time passed and I built a relationship with my therapist and made new friends, the pain subsided, and I didn’t feel the need to cut or to bang my head.

    Reading your post has inspired me to write a post on the same topic, which I will try to do today. I’ll refer people to your post and will certainly give you credit for the inspiration! Thank you, Anna Rose!

    • I look forward to reading your post! Self-harm is a hard thing to overcome because it does seem to take away the psychological pain. I am so glad that you do not feel the need to do it anymore though! Also the fact that you share to help others is wonderful! Thank you so much! I know that what you have shared has helped me a great deal!

      • jefairgrieve says:

        Thanks, Anna Rose! It was way back in 1981 when I turned my husband in and resorted to cutting and head-banging. That was a long time ago, but it’s not something a person forgets. Thank God those days are in the past, though. Someday those days will be in the dim past for you, too. You have come a long way already, although you may not think so at times. But you have, and you have your blog posts and reader comments to re-read to see your progress. Way to go!

        • Yes, I thank the Lord a lot too because I know He has brought me out of so much! And thank you for the reminder of my progress! It is indeed hard to see at times but I know that I am in such a different place than before.

  2. 80smetalman8 says:

    I take my hat off to you. You are very brave to detail your struggle like this and I believe that you will come out much better in the end.

  3. I applaud your bravery and your honesty. It can be difficult to figure out how to be honest about these experiences. Best wishes as you continue on your road to recovery.

  4. Mark kent says:

    very very very WELL DONE TO YOU FOR TALKING ABOUT IT…WILL HELP OTHER PEOPLE..i have had very bad Anorexia in the past . i have aspergers all so have M,E, this can put me in a wheel chairlot health problems.. if you would like too chat please do e.mail me .LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR REPLY.e.mail mkentdad12@outlook.comDO NOT BE AFRAID TOO TALK.. mark Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2013 15:18:01 +0000 To: mkentdad12@outlook.com

  5. […] I read a post by another blogger, Anna Rose Meeds, who publishes Rose With Thorns on Word Press (https://annarosemeeds.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/opening-up-to-the-world/).  I follow her blog and recommend it to all of you.  Among the challenges in Anna Rose’s […]

  6. disgruntledmails says:

    Hi Anna Rose. Great blog! My name is Justin Meeds. I found your blog, oddly enough, when I looked up my own name. What’s even more odd, is that I myself, and other members of my family on the Meeds side have struggled with depression and mental illness. I can relate to many of the things you talk about in your blog entries. I’m not sure if we are related or not, but I had to comment just in case. Anyways, if you ever would like to contact me, my email is justin.meeds@gmail.com.

    Congrats on all of your accomplishments! 🙂

    • That is really neat! Thank you for contacting me! I wonder if we are related. 🙂

      • disgruntledmails says:

        It’s possible, my grandpa’s name is Gail Meeds. It could be that we just happen to have the same last name, or perhaps we are very distantly related. But in any case, as I read your posts I find that I have dealt with many of the same social anxieties, self-esteem issues, and feelings of extreme guilt or empathy. I am also 22, and in college, and things seem to be getting better for me as I mature. Just thought I’d let you know. Thanks for the reply!

        • Well, I will have to see if my grandparents on my father’s side of the family know anything. They are Everett (he goes by Hub) and Patty Meeds.

          That is so wonderful that things are getting better as you mature! It does take time to get other such difficult issues.

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