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A pretty darn candid post. 
24th-Jun-2010 04:36 pm
I just want to make something clear: the world isn't divided in to 'real' people and fakers. Take a second and remember you know this. Whether you're defining a woman by her body (“real woman have curves”) or a man by his behaviour (“real men drink bitter!”) or whatever in fact, you're wrong. All women are real women. Scientists are real people. Even actors are real people. The only people who aren't real people are – well, fictitious*.

Take that home and the rest of this post is irrelevant.

Please note, this post is about self-harm and suicide and eating disorders and other triggering topics wrapped up in some mental health issues. It is also pretty damn personal, and therefore hard to me to write. I'm hoping why it's so hard for me will come out in the content. Yes, it was prompted by recent events on the internet, but no, I don't hold anything against anyone.

Everyone is a real person

Even the people who publicise themselves.

Everyone suffers.

Even the people who make a big deal about their suffering.

Even Verruca Salt.

. There is nothing going on in my life except stress. I am happy with my lot in life and in general. I am not having a fight with anyone. I hold no ill will. I am not trying to imply anything. I love you. Thank you for your concern.

I'm... I don't know how old, 7, 8, maybe? And I write a runaway letter addressed to my parents. I have no intention of actually running away, but I don't know how to just tell them, “I'm not happy.”

The cause of unhappiness, I can't remember exactly. It's probably because I've been acting out again and got in trouble for it and for the life of me I can't figure out how to change. Interrupting someone to talk about myself? Wandering off and getting lost? Not tidying up after myself? Losing something important again? These will become themes. Anyway – I do something, I get in trouble for it, I get frustrated because I don't know how not to do it, and I start to hate myself.

I pretend I'm running away because I don't know how to calm an angry adult. I don't know how to say “I'm sorry” when I don't know how to do anything else. I find my words when I'm on my own and I leave them to be found, because I'm hurting, and I don't know how to communicate that hurt except by making someone else hurt the same way.

I know that someone will find the letter and come and apologise and tell me they love me, and because I can't forgive myself, I'll take love from the person who hurt me. Because I can't stop it from happening down the line, I'll take hurt/comfort now, please.

I have no intention of running away. I'm doing it for the attention.

I'm 11 years old, in a dormitory full of twelve girls by age. I don't know why I started crying, but I know why I'm crying now; because someone is announcing at the top of her voice “she's doing it for the attention, just ignore her!” and I'm desperately trying to cry quietly and I really really wish she would just ignore me.

She says I'm doing it for the attention, and therefore my tears aren't real, and what I'm feeling inside isn't real

I'm twelve years old. It's a Monday, and once again I forgot to bring the recipe I promised I'd bring for Monday cookery class, so once again cookery class has been cancelled, and the teacher has humiliated me about it in front of the class and I'm leaving the classroom amidst bitching, put out classmates when I snap. I drop my books on the pavement and I race across the playground to the school gate.

My school is right next to the River Thames, and I'm soon walking up the field outside the fence, heading to the Thames. My intention is to throw myself in. It's the first time I'm really honestly considered suicide, and I'm thinking about how everyone will be sorry now. And even as I'm thinking it, I know that this is the kind of thing the bitchy girl does in the books, not the true heroine, and I know I'm just Doing It For the Attention.

Eventually I decide I don't want to die and I go back to pick up my books, where my teacher has been waiting for me in the cloakroom. I get to sit through a lecture on what a horrible person I am, and how pathetic these tantrums are, and how grateful I should be that someone picked up my books.

No one asked me “are you OK?”

(Very few people ask me 'are you OK?' If I cried, I was a cry baby and deserving of punishment and humiliation from both peers and adult figures. I discovered this very early in my childhood. It didn't stop me from doing it, because at least punishment and humiliation meant I was getting noticed)

I'm 15 and body image issues are catching up to me. My hips are getting wider and I'm not the same dress size as my friends. Worse, my best friend who is thinner than me is obsessed about her weight and is eating nothing more than a grapefruit a day to try and be thinner. All she talks about is her weight.

And she gets attention for that. She's pretty and popular and much better at having friends than me and I hate how unpopular I am and I hate my body and I don't know how to tell people I hate myself without being met with 'well, change'.

I skip meals. I try to keep meals skipped. I want to develop an eating disorder. I want to be like those girls on the TV, because everyone knows they're the devastated victims of today's society, and everyone knows they're hurting. And no one will know I'm hurting until I show them.

I try, but I don't succeed because changing my brain chemistry to develop a disorder is as impossible as changing it so I don't have ADD. It just can't be done. But I do develop the ability to skip the odd meal even if I'm hungry, because I don't deserve to eat. I do train my body to realise that misery doesn't get fed. I do, I'm convinced further down the line, fuck up my digestive processes something wicked.

And when my mother notices, I have the opportunity to scream about how unhappy I am, because I'm not equipped to say “I'm having issues with my body image” without harming myself through starvation in order to be heard.

A few years later when a friend sees me leaving a meal and going somewhere to wallow, she tells me I'm doing it for the attention. Which I am; I'm miserable, but it's much more important to me to have a well-meaning but insensitive friend lecturing me while I ignore her than it would be to be on my own and ration myself into just forgetting all about it.

I'm doing it for the attention.

Crying is emotional blackmail.

I'm an adult, and I'm ashamed of every emotional reaction I have, and it feels like I have them all the time. If I let someone see me crying, if I tell someone about how badly I'm handling stress, if I talk about any of this stuff above, I'm doing it for the attention. By making this post, I'm being unbelievably selfish. I'm making it about me. I'm writing about my feelings publicly on the internet.

I'm doing it for the attention.

Well, of course I am. I thrive on the drama. I can't wait for 'how are you doing?' to come up in conversation, because even if it does, I'll answer about this second, and not earlier today when I was shitty or even how I am in general. If I want someone to actually notice I'm not OK, I have to scream it. I have to pick a dramatic way of writing across the sky I'M NOT OKAY. Because I don't know how else to say it.

It's emotional blackmail. It's manipulative. It's psychologically violent. It's probably in some cases, abusive. It's wrong, and I know it, and believe me as an adult I do my darnedest not to do it.

But this isn't about me now. This is about the whole of me, across time. This is about the eponymous me of this journal. The little girl I carry around in me, who isn't quite healed from everything yet.

I don't have an eating disorder
I'm not suicidal.
I'm not going to run away from home.
I'm not a 'real' self harmer who does it for the physical sensation.

But that doesn't mean it's not my coping mechanism

I do it for the attention.

But that doesn't mean I'm not hurting.

The attention is my coping mechanism.

So please, the next time you feel like saying “they're just doing it for the attention”, don't.

Even if they clearly are doing it for the attention.

Because if someone says they're hurting, they probably are.

DISCLAIMER: I AM OK. There is nothing going on in my life except stress. I am happy with my lot in life and in general. I am not having a fight with anyone. I hold no ill will. I am not trying to imply anything. I love you. Thank you for your concern.

*except Batman. He's real. Pascal's wager suggests you agree with me here.

This post is also posted at InnerBrat @ Dreamwidth. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.
24th-Jun-2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing and writing this.
(Deleted comment)
24th-Jun-2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Was going to say something like this.
24th-Jun-2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
utterly brilliant (this is, you are)

some (not nearly all) of this I experienced as a child, some of it astonishingly word-for-word. I have never managed to think it through let alone write it down this coherently. Your posts are frequently insightful, and I rarely comment, but please know I always appreciate reading them.
24th-Jun-2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
This is very interesting. I have noticed a trend for people to manifest physical symptoms to ‘prove’ their illness. Because let’s face it Major Depressive Disorder isn’t sexy is it? And if you say ‘I’m depressesed’ well that can mean anything. And you can’t see depression so people think you’re attention seeking.

I hope you are not being too hard on yourself because all of those events you mention are ones which clearly had an impact on you, which means they weren’t ‘desperate for attention’ or ‘cries for help’ but genuine reflexions on your own feelings. And that’s totally valid. I do actually think there are fakers. And manipulative people, but it isn’t manipulative to carry around something difficult in your head and occasionally need to scream it out.

Um I hope I haven’t missed the point somewhat. :/
24th-Jun-2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
BTW What I mean by fakers isn't people who need help (including ones who've gone really too far into something in their head like Liz Jones (IMHO)) I mean people who are not sad or in need of help but are out to get whatever they can in a rather heartless way. Though many people think Liz Jones is in the latter catagory I guess.!)
(Deleted comment)
24th-Jun-2010 04:57 pm (UTC)

Thank you.

Mary x
24th-Jun-2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I can relate to the heart of this post so much it's not even funny. I might have more to say once I'm done making lunch, but, damn. This. All of it.
24th-Jun-2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
hokay, here goes: I've never been told that my emotional pain has been attention whoring. I have been told, often, by my mother, that ~the world does not revolve around me, so I have come to link that hand in hand with everything that I do. Everything that I do, from writing fic to lashing out, emotionally, is because I am self-centered and want attention.

And it's true. I am self-centered. I think the world revolves around me. I want attention. I want accolades. I want validation. And, yes, very often I use my emotional pain as a means to get all of this. The thing is, being aware of my flaw has done an ugly number on my psychology. I've taught myself to believe the emotional pain I use to get attention is invalid. Because I'm being selfish, it's a means for manipulation, it's not real.

I think almost every time I absolutely have to announce that I'm hurting intensely, it's preceded by me talking myself into it. I don't want to do it because sure, I might want to commit suicide right that very moment, I may think I am the scum of the earth, but this isn't real, you're just making this up, you just want attention and hugs. I wish I knew how to make that line of thinking stop. I know it's not healthy, I know that if I let it stop me from saying hey, guys, I'm suicidal, that could be the difference between living and dying. But I just. Yeah. After all these years, all these medications, it's still hard for me to fully believe that I'm not okay.
(Deleted comment)
24th-Jun-2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. x
24th-Jun-2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Just commenting to say: I read. I appreciated. Thanks for writing.
24th-Jun-2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Uhhh, except that was me. Eljaaaaay.

Captcha: encountered throat

I feel like it's symbolic.

24th-Jun-2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
um, since you wrote your tweet about being triggered yesterday i've been thinking about my own triggers, when they last happened, how they felt and wondering what would happen if I came to them again now.

Umm, I want to put something else here about attention seeking and how it isn't always a bad or wrong thing, and the hurting is still real, and about how you(i) slot into or develop certain fixed (disordered) ways of behaving to prove that there is something wrong, but I have a mental block not letting me thinkg about it now.
nevertheless, thank you for writing the post and making those points.

I'm not really sure what my point is here.
24th-Jun-2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Holy crap, yes. Now with 100% more articulation!

Thank you.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jun-2010 08:24 am (UTC)
Never seems calculated to me ::cuddles:: For what that's worth ;)
24th-Jun-2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
*except Batman. He's real. Pascal's wager suggests you agree with me here.

LOL, that is a good point.

Re. the cookery class: that is a pretty crap teacher who would show up to class with no contingency plan for if a student forgot to bring their recipe. What the hell?

Thank you for this post. I don't really know what to say except it's and important topic and I'm grateful to people who are brave enough to share such personal things. It helps so much to know we're not alone, there are other people who have similar problems and feel the same way.

It's good that you're OK. I'm doing pretty OK right now too. Virtual hugs anyway! {{hugs}}
24th-Jun-2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
*hugs* thank you for sharing.
25th-Jun-2010 01:41 am (UTC)
By making this post, I'm being unbelievably selfish. I'm making it about me.

You're not making it about you. It is about you. This is the it that is about you. This is your life and you are allowed to be the center of it once in a while.

It is okay for there to be something that's about you.

You may already know this but I feel it bears repeating, even so.
25th-Jun-2010 01:57 am (UTC)
Definitely bears repeating. *nods firmly*
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