Why I Double Text and You Should Too

A brief biography and realization

I find myself trying really hard not to double text. I try to play it cool(though I usually don’t succeed), consciously sending one line messages in an attempt to seem like I don’t have ten thousand things to say. All in fear of being perceived as “too much”, as attention seeking. The thing is, I AM attention seeking. I DO have things to say. I’m sure that you do, too. Taking a deeper look at this self censorship, and where it may stem from, we can see how toxic it is. By restraining our words we are telling ourselves that our thoughts and feelings are so invalid that they shouldn't be spoken at all.

We all learn what is and what isn’t acceptable to say. I started really connecting the dots at 14 when my depression was at an all time high. I spent my whole ninth grade year popping 20ish aspirin a night, and suffered hyper realistic hallucinations as a direct effect of this over-the-counter drug abuse. (I didn’t know that hallucinations were a side effect to abusing aspirin and debated whether or not I was schizophrenic for years afterwards.) I didn’t know what was going on but I knew it was unacceptable to talk about. I knew that struggling was unacceptable to talk about. What I could talk about was dieting.

We live in a world of diets. How many people on your social media are trying to lose weight? Maybe you are one of them. Maybe you, like me, have been on a never ending quest for thinner. There’s a national obsession with image, and the reality is that this obsession is valid. People get rich and famous for no other reason than that they are beautiful and fuckable. An idea that is very appealing for someone starved of self esteem and seeking validation. The held belief being “I may not be smart, talented, or driven but if I am hot enough I have a chance at a good life”. Even growing up surrounded by strong, beautiful women, diet talk was abundant and when I began to join in I was accepted into the conversation without question. This became my outlet to speak. I was heard when I talked about losing weight in the way I needed to be heard when talking about my deteriorating mental state. I was encouraged and congratulated, and I developed an obsession with thin as a distraction from everything else.

As my mental illness became harder to confront food became my distraction, my voice, and my control. Every thought spent counting calories was a thought not spent on my problems. I became acutely aware of my body, I drew “ideal” versions of myself constantly. I was so hungry that I binged and then I was so guilty I purged, and I learned that I could no longer talk about dieting without talking about bulimia. The friends I did tell stopped talking to me, and what felt like the only thing I could talk about suddenly wasn’t available. No one likes talking about eating disorders, and people like listening to someone speak about them even less. I had lost my voice.

I needed attention; I was seeking attention. I couldn’t speak so I acted out, I was angry, I fought with my mom, I fought with everyone. I desperately needed to feel valuable but I didn’t know how to ask for recognition. Eventually I received a little attention through treatment programs, but I also learned that my voice was only heard when I was saying what people wanted me to say (welcome to a new world of people pleasing). I internalized the idea that I was only heard when someone agreed. The best example I have of this is when I was briefly hospitalized in a youth mental ward and a counselor told me that if I wanted to go home I had to “fake it till you make it” and, sure enough, after a few days of pretending to be well I was released. My new people pleasing skill worked, I was being heard. The problem was I wasn’t saying what I needed to say.

So now, at 21, mostly in control of my bulimia and recently diagnosed and medicated for bipolar 2, I am finally learning how to use my voice and ask for attention, armed with the reality that people may not want to hear me. So, as an act of self respect and rebellion, I am allowing myself to double,triple, or quadruple text anyone I feel the need to. I will let myself speak all the words I want to say. I will learn how to move away from people who don’t want to hear me and find those who do. On the flip side I will make a conscious effort to listen and understand other people when they speak. I will cultivate compassion without censoring myself. I will strive to be exactly who I am, say exactly what I want to say, and I strongly encourage you to do the same.