This month, the Marshfield Mariner is featuring editorial pieces written by AP English students and submitted as part of a class requirement. As always, we welcome submissions and letters to the editor from writers of all ages (and from those not receiving course credit!) at email@example.com.
Prior to this summer, I always prided myself on being a dependable person.
My loved ones would describe me as “self-motivated.”
However, not even my closest family members could see behind the scenes. In order to cope with my suffocating course load, my ballet training schedule, and my constant desire to be successful and not disappoint, I developed an extremely restrictive eating disorder, which turned my world upside down.
My eating disorder made me feel hardworking and successful because it gave me the illusion of self control. Though I desperately needed help, I thought I didn’t deserve it because I wasn’t sick enough.
After a summer spent, not relaxing at the beach, but in an eating disorder clinic, working toward my recovery, I have realized the importance of acknowledging pain and asking for help.
In today's society, it is commonly understood that if you believe your pain is “less painful” than someone else’s, your pain is therefore less legitimate and you deserve help less than those who “have it worse.” It is important to separate yourself from other people's pain, because struggling is not a competition.
Everyone experiences pain differently and it is unreasonable to use another’s trauma as an excuse not to get help. While it is true their loss could be earth-shattering, their pain is unrelated to what you may be going through, therefore it does not minimize your struggle.
In my case, I would tell myself that there were people with much more severe eating disorders in the hospital, who needed real attention, meanwhile the longer I starved myself, the more I deteriorated. When my parents finally took me to a specialist, I was shocked to see myself introduced into a world of people that were telling me I really did need help -- and quickly.
I didn’t even realize how ill I had become because I belittled my pain, feeling selfish if ever it occupied the attention of others. Just because I didn’t see the excruciatingly thin ballerinas that I so desperately wanted to look like struggling, didn’t mean they weren’t, so I held myself to an unreasonable expectation and put myself down for suffering from my disorder, viewing the mental and physical toll it took as weakness.
Therefore, just because others may not be receiving help, doesn’t mean you have to silently suffer until you inevitably break. Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak. On the contrary, it is one of the bravest things one can do because admitting you’re not okay exposes you and makes you vulnerable to everyone’s judgment.
True, you may not believe your struggle to be as intense as another's, but without a doubt everyone deserves a happy and full life and the only life you have a true impact on is your own.
Getting yourself help isn’t a disservice to others who are struggling, but a contribution to your quality of life, as well as the sanity of those who love you.