When it started…

drowning girl

You could definitely trace it back farther, in little details and habits, (when I was in high school I refused to look in the mirror and instead contrived to blindly believe I was a pretty girl without any evidence of it), but when I was 19, the sirens began to sing in earnest. I was in my first year of my BA at the University of Ottawa and still shockingly naive and inexperienced; I was knobby-kneed, messy-haired, and overly compulsive (I kept a notebook recording all of the interesting things I said to ensure that I was proving myself as a beautiful and worthy companion to the sweet, older boy I had started to date). I don’t remember what day it was, though I remember it was night and I was sitting on the floor of J.’s bachelor apartment (he lived over the bridge in Hull with his fat white kitty) clutching my knees. The sirens began to sing and their voices were unlike anything I had heard before; they seemed to communicate such terrible things so beautifully, so hypnotically. I didn’t understand; I didn’t understand because I had never heard voices like these before, I didn’t know you were meant to lash yourself to the mast to avoid crashing into the rocks. As the pressure built and the violent emotions flooded my body like adrenaline or radiation, mental illness did not even occur to me, not as a concrete concept. Nothing occurred to me except that my body was not under my own control and I wept because there was nothing else to do; the human body has very few passive ways to release feelings as dangerous and strong and ungovernable as these were. I wept uncontrollably and frightened myself and when it kept happening, when I would be sitting normally reading a book or studying my class notes, and the sirens would start to sing and five minutes later I would be crying raggedly on the floor without the ability to be soothed or calmed, we realized something must be wrong.

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I'm a former student of English literature, an editor and a creative writer who has been attempting to live with body dysmorphic disorder as well as severe anxiety and a recent diagnosis of Bipolar II. I believe that struggles with mental health are often lifelong and people in these situations need comfort, support and occasional moments of peace granted to them in order to survive.

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