Living alone has either been the best thing for me or the worst, and it fluctuates often. As an adult living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it's easy to stray from the task at hand or spend a whole day doing nothing.
I recently realized there is a safety to wanting nothing. In spite of the fact that wanting nothing in and of itself is horrible, that safety can actually feel comfortable -- especially after a long time.
Receiving words of affirmation does not come naturally to me. My instinctive reflex is to feel uncomfortable whenever someone compliments me—even if the person doling out this kindness is a family member, close friend, or my partner. I automatically want to minimize the compliment, so as to deflect attention as far from myself as possible. But as I continue to live out the process of eating disorder recovery, learning to receive affirmation feels like the next step in my healing.
I have aphantasia, a neurodiversity whereby I am unable to visualize. Most of you reading this now can easily imagine a sunset or a calm lake or fluffy white clouds against a crisp, blue sky. I simply cannot conjure images. Having a blind imagination, as it's sometimes called, used to trigger my anxiety insomuch as my inability to visualize used to cause frustration, anger, confusion, shame, and a feeling of failure.
During my mental health journey, I have experienced the harmful effects of stigma for learning disabilities and mental illness. In school, students bullied me for being the last person to finish tests. Therefore, I thought I was stupid. The stigma placed upon me by my classmates led me to shame (or stigmatize) myself. Thankfully, I have gained many strategies to stop self-stigma from controlling my life. Here are five techniques I use to reduce self-stigma.
"Wow, you look so pretty in that dress." -- Compliments like these are hard to accept when you have anxiety.
Around this time last year, I decided to cancel my gym membership. I wanted to try a new way of exercising that would help me lean into my recovery from binge eating disorder (BED). I'd been experiencing a deep shift of motivation in my recovery, and I was encouraged by my counselor and my partner to try something new. I had a feeling I'd outgrown my gym routine and I wanted to experience a new way to interact with my body.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I’m someone who can become overwhelmed fairly easily. Sometimes, I think it developed in my adulthood, but maybe it’s just something I never noticed or had the words to identify as a child. Whatever the case, being overwhelmed negatively impacts my mental health, and I want to talk about it to address the stigma around it.
The phrase "clean eating" is often used in wellness circles to denote a preference for natural, organic foods over artificial, processed ingredients. At face value, this is undeniably beneficial. After all, the human body requires essential nutrients to function, many of which come from vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. It's important to be mindful of this. However, I feel using the word "clean" to talk about eating habits is problematic. In extreme cases, I worry it could even influence eating disorder behaviors. In my humble opinion, clean eating is not healthy—it's a harmful trend with potentially serious consequences.
For those who know me best, I have a strong desire to take responsibility for many things. From making sure everything with a friendly gathering goes exactly as I planned to the time the kids need picking up from their activities. My spouse is no stranger to my anxiety-driven internal scheduler, whom he refers to as my need to control everything. As a victim of verbal abuse, has my anxiety turned into attempts to control everything?