Dear All of You,
Here’s my (Ana, age 25) answer to the writing prompt.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What can you do now to make this a reality?
I think I’ll first have to define what I’m afraid of, and then narrow it down to what I’m avoiding and how to stop doing that.
My fears, in no particular order:
- People finding out that I’m bipolar and had a psychotic episode
- People finding out I have an eating disorder
- Having another psychotic episode
- Loud noises
- Men, especially those who are attracted to me
- Losing weight and becoming more attractive
- Gaining weight and becoming less attractive
- Being unavoidably visible: taking the subway, walking, working, exercising, dancing
- Having to live with my family again, becoming dependent, and never being able to leave
- Being on a boat
- Being physically confined
- Strangers approaching me
- People finding out where I live
- Having private information made public
- Offending people (especially as a foreigner)
How I handle these fears:
- I don’t tell people anything personal about me
- I worry constantly
- I avoid things I fear
- I avoid most people, especially men
- I binge
- I hate myself for bingeing
- I prefer to go out at night when it’s harder for people to see me and most people are at home
- I’ve moved to the other side of the planet
- I haven’t tried to meet new people
- I don’t drink or take recreational drugs
- I always sit where I can both see everything and exit easily
- I don’t post anything on Facebook
The base fear that underlies the majority of these fears is of letting people get to know me.
So: If I wasn’t afraid, I would let people get to know me.
Things I have already done:
- Created this blog where I can talk openly about PTSD, eating disorders, and being bipolar
- Gotten back in touch with old friends
- Started eating at local places where I have to talk rather than just buy food at convenience stores
- Hung out a few times with people I’ve met here
- Bought housing with roommates so I will not be entirely alone all the time (I move in later today)
- Stopped bingeing (it’s been almost a week now)
- Started liking things on Facebook again. I actually wrote “happy birthday!” on someone’s wall, which will make me appear in the news feed rather than just the ticker (although that still happens sometimes when I like something)
- Agreed to do some temp work until my next job starts
Things I want to do now:
- Go outside during the day more often
- Interact with people more
- Actively look for friends by joining hiking/climbing groups
- Let future friends get to know more about me
- Exercise (healthily)
- Figure out the city bike rental system here and go for rides along the river (because that just sounds really nice)
- Someday be in a romantic relationship again (but not for quite a long while)
That was pretty much all bullet points, not really a letter. But I addressed it to you, right? So maybe it still counts?
It’s almost 5am (now almost 8am) and I haven’t gone to sleep yet because I am terrified of moving and still recovering from being social on Christmas. I’m about to plunge into that by having roommates. Should be fun.
Looking forward to hearing from the rest of you.
Ana (age 25)
I think including an extremely brief update on external life events with each letter would be useful for creating context.
Once a week is nice, but I think it’s hard to keep everything in perspective when the update is so infrequent.
Also, I was just able to zip up the back of a dress!
I haven’t been able to do that in over a month. I’m trying not be extremely excited because it’s disordered to hate my body at a larger (any) size…but still. Not bingeing and seeing a change is incredibly lovely.