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December 18, 2018

Being Sick.

I’d lie if I said that I’m no longer sick.

Unfortunately, this sickness is not so easily shaken. There’s no miracle drug, and it’s highly stereotyped and full of shame. One of the reasons I’ve never spoken about it before is because the shame of having an illness that predominantly effects white middle class young women, is embarrassing. It silenced me. It took away my ability to recognize that something serious was happening. The illness keeps you invisible, but shame keeps you silent. I was dying, and I was getting positive feedback and approval from those around me. I was so filled with the shame of being sick that I buried it inside and would do everything possible to pretend that nothing was wrong. I ate shame like it was the food I hid and avoided throughout most of my teenage years, and into my twenties.


I’m still filled with shame. And that little devilish voice in my head is a constant. It gets quieter as you learn to decipher the lies and calm it down, but it will always be there. It’s hard to have an illness riddled in shame yet also so public. I mean, I’m doing it to myself, right? But the hate and utter disgust I felt for myself, my body, and my thoughts, were so strong they were palpable. They lead me close to death. My heart almost stopped beating and feeling, and my body began to shut down. As the voice lead me towards the cliff’s edge excruciatingly slowly and silently, I refused to admit that there was a problem because somehow, I knew it was unacceptable to feel these things towards myself. I felt shame at turning away food when so many others don’t have access to it, and I felt shame every time I took a bite.


It’s a finicky thing, this illness, because we’re walking proof of our pain. Yet we plaster on smiles and pretend to be alright because what would be worse? Admitting that I’m making myself sick or holding the pain and hate so tightly that I isolate myself from all the love and bodies around me. So closely that the voice and my person become one. Intertwined, disillusioned, and depressed I thought at least this way no one else will know.


It took some time, but eventually the voice consumed me, and we became one. This dark union lead me to feel that somehow dying in silent shame was better than revealing the broken mess inside me.


I never wanted to publicly discuss these things. I would watch other people come out with their stories and I would think “they’re showing they’re flaws. They’re showing they’re weakness. I feel sorry for them”. But these experiences don’t make us weak, they make us strong. And sharing them makes us brave.


On the eve of my 22ndbirthday I wrote this down while stuck in the Toronto Pearson Airport with a blizzard raging outside. After hours of watching the storm wipe out the world, I decided I was tired of letting shame control my life. I was tired of hiding and holding on to so much pain. I was ready to let it go and try to let people see me as I am. So, I walked out into the storm and let myself feel strong admits the raging wind and snow.


I can’t believe how long it took for me to realize that showing the colours of yourself that you’re shameful of and that feel raw and uncomfortable isn’t showing your weakness. In fact, its showing vulnerability that allows us to be free and forgiving of ourselves and others. I hope I can begin to meet the world again as I really am.

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