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They urged me to wear make-up and contacts and to style my hair.They implored me to talk about subjects that other kids my age were interested in. Contacts and make-up were horribly uncomfortable; I never really succeeded in figuring out how to stick to “normal” topics of conversation. I was a hard worker, I received straight A’s, and for that my parents were proud of me.When that first serious boyfriend left me, in part due his embarrassment of my meltdowns, I felt such intense self-hatred that I sliced my arm up and down with a razor.
I became convinced that if I did not keep up my good grades, maintain a certain weight, keep my room clean enough, put on make-up every day, and maintain a calm, level-headed disposition the vast majority of the time, free from meltdowns or intense emotions, then he would leave.
But wasn’t my self-harm a natural reaction to that situation? I thought back to my first hospitalization, where my roommate had been locked up due to saying she wanted to drive off a cliff after walking in on her husband kissing the babysitter.
Don’t most people at least to do something drastic after being betrayed or abandoned by a loved one? The work of scholars, researchers, and survivors who ask these and other questions to challenge the validity of “personality disorders” in general no doubt serves an essential purpose in the field of critical psychiatry.
During high school, when I stayed up until the wee hours of the night studying, striving to earn straight A’s, everyone around me was shocked when they found out my end goal was not to get accepted into an Ivy League college.
I stayed up late studying because I was terrified that my grades were the only good thing about me, and if I scored anything less than straight A’s, I would no longer be valued or liked by those around me. Growing up, I was that socially awkward kid with glasses, braces, and bushy curly hair who would not stop talking about or the original stories I was writing.