I am me, NOT my mental health conditions…

You have probably by now seen the viral video about labelling people- especially kids- with mental health conditions, which was originally done as a reaction to the (in the opinion of the video maker) over-labelling of kids with ADHD (If not, this is it- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv49RFo1ckQ)

I’m not here to talk about ADHD in particular, but it does raise an interesting point nonetheless- how many of us find others including medical professionals labelling our beliefs or personalities, particularly more unusual parts of them, as part of our illness, rather than appreciating them for what they are- part of us?

*TRIGGER WARNING- talks about EDs and safe foods*

One example I have personal experience with is the belief of vegetarianism or veganism with any sort of eating disorder, or, in my case, emetophobia. I’ve touched upon this in a previous post, but I’m vegan for animal rights reasons. Not because I’m worried about getting food poisoning from meat, or dairy. Sure, if it’s one less thing to worry about it’s a bonus, and sure,I love being able to eat raw cake batter(!) but it’s not the reason I’m vegan. My phobia predates both my vegetarianism and veganism, and ironically due to all my health anxieties, if it actually had been my only reason I’d have quit a very long time ago for fear of lacking some nutrient or other if there wasn’t another reason (concern over animal rights) that I cared about more.

So it frustrates me to hear counsellors and support groups bang on about getting over a fear of eating meat* rather than stopping, listening, and accepting and appreciating my reasons why it’s not a fear of salmonella but a love of chickens making me not want to eat parts of dead chicken.

Neither does being vegan cut out all potential sources of food poisoning  I know you can also get it from things such as reheated rice or fruit and vegetables too. There’s no need to remind me of that, especially in that smug, almost gleeful way so many people do. Being reminded of potential sources of food poisoning is as triggering as fuck and I really don’t get why people do that!

*And going slightly off topic, yes, I’ve done the whole “feel the fear and do it anyway” recovery thing in terms of eating rice when out, eating out in general, going to buffets, potlucks etc. I’m trying not to let this phobia completely rule my life but it”s very, very, very difficult!!! Just because I eat and even enjoy eating something doesn’t mean I’m not worrying about it for hours and days later, attributing any gastric discomfort to possibly having eaten something poisoned or touched by someone who has come into contact with noro and not washed their hands properly.  Doing all the behaviours I’m supposed to and rejecting safety behaviours which impact my life doesn’t mean my phobia is cured. I’m still scared.

I know that for some people avoidance of meat, eggs or dairy may simply be a means of avoiding food poisoning if they have emetophobia, I know that for many others with eating disorders it’s a way of avoiding eating at social gatherings or avoiding trigger foods and many of these people don’t care about animal rights at all, but that’s certainly not true of all of us and the two things- genuine concern for animals and eating disorders- are in no way mutually exclusive. This ought to be respected before jumping to any wrong conclusions about anyone.

Another thing I find often being  pathologised  is my decision to be childfree.

Much as pregnancy and being around small children does indeed frighten me, my emetophobia absolutely isn’t my only reason to remain childfree, just one of many.

Trust me, I have done a lot of soul searching on this issue, and I don’t feel as if I am missing out on anything by choosing not to be a mother, and without wishing to offend anyone who chooses otherwise, the lifestyle is something that for many reasons, including the stress, drudgery and tedium (sommething many mothers speak of), I find very unappealing. I’ve never had any biological urges to outweigh that sense of it not being for me, and never felt any sense of loss that I’m missing out because of my phobia that so many women seeking help with emetophobia report, I simply have a sense of relief that I’m lucky not to have a ticking biological clock to contend with on top of everything else.

Do you have any aspect of your personality which you find that people pathologise, that you feel would still be part of you regardless of your conditions? x

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