introducing, the autodidactic tiger cub

BY THE AUTODIDACTIC TIGER CUB

In language classes some of the first things to learn is how to ask and answer questions. The hope is to acquire the skills for basic conversation. “Where is the bathroom?” “How much does this cost?” “What time is it?” “What is your name?” “Are you busy?” These are all very good questions. The inability to ask or answer has the potential to cause some serious problems. The sanitation crew would have their work cut out for them having to constantly be cleaning everything, budgeting would be a hell of a problem if prices were a mystery, High School Musical 2 would be lacking an opening number, friendships would be hard to start if contacts couldn’t be shared, and plans could never be made if availability couldn’t be expressed.

Likewise, in the dialogue about mental health, it’s important to be asking and answering questions. “What are the signs of depression?” “How are panic attacks treated?”

These questions are important and necessary, but also often absent. They are the equivalence of the first three questions in the paragraph above. There’s an impersonal element to them. While the disorder is discussed, the person isn’t. “What is it like to have an eating disorder?” “Who suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder?” These questions are more like the last two in the paragraph above. They’re personal and allow for discussion about the person with the disorder rather than the disorder alone. I’d argue the “what is it like” question to be the most important personal question there is to ask. It has the potential to get at the heart of the problem and allows for better understanding of how a deviant mindset works. Through better understanding, treatments and cures can be improved.

Of course, these won’t always be pleasant answers. There’s going to be some hard stuff to hear, just as there is with information on cancer, AIDs, and paralysis. However, mental health is a topic that affects everyone. We’ve all got a mind and know someone with one as well. Even if you or the person(s) you know don’t suffer from anything, you’re part of a society that has a number of people who do. In order to maintain a healthy and functional society, this is something that needs to be addressed. I’ll admit, there are some topics I’m not too excited to discuss, but in order to get the desired end result, there has to be talk. So here’s the deal, I’ll address these topics and answer these less than enjoyable questions in posts, if you take away information and answer these same questions as well.

Or, “how did your eating disorder start?” I have two answers reserved for this question. One is just a simplification of the second, really. “Control” fits within the common causes of eating disorders. It’s the answer I have planned to give in order to gauge reactions, test the waters, so to speak. I want to see how people deal with the information. Am I their new test subject? C’est la vie. It’s not that big of a deal. My detailed answer is still secret, and. Have I shattered too many illusions? Quite frankly I try to avoid this at all costs. There’s a conservative list of people whose livelihoods I try to protect. Telling them any fraction of the truth would be like shooting Bambi. Are they fascinated by what a part of humanity has told them? Excellent. Now we can get down to business. To these people, I’m still human. I haven’t been simplified down to an object or idealized into a god.

So, what else is there to “control?” Problem solving. Again, that’s also fairly stereotypical for eating disorders. Except for the fact I was literally problem solving. The goal I had in mind was beating puberty in the name of gymnastics. I aspired to reach level ten, same as the elites. In order to do so, I believed I had to stay small and lithe. From a more scientific standpoint, that’s not entirely wrong, but it’s also not right. Physics would say that it’s easier for a prepubescent body lacking a defined butt and breasts to flip and twist because one’s total mass is placed more evenly towards the vertical axis. However, it’s not impossible if one doesn’t have the optimal build. There’s just more of a challenge to it.

At age twelve I was already strategizing. What was the minimum amount of calories I could consume while still having enough energy to train? What was the best time to eat before practice to trick my mind into thinking I had more food than I actually did? By adapting this system early, I figured I’d be able to avoid the curves most of my classmates dreamed of, not to mention escape the mess of dealing with periods.

Part of me is sad to say it worked. That only reinforces the notion of small equates to success. It gives reason to someone else to follow in my footsteps. The other part of me rolls my eyes at the part that’s sad. What else was I expecting to happen? I was adhering to the structure of a fad diet. Initial success is generally the given. That knowledge isn’t new to me, so why should I be surprised?

That’s a taste of a sociopathic tendency, by the way. The world is a tool box. Everything and everyone is a machine. I look for the ones that give me results.

Even mental illnesses.

But to worries, we’ll go slow. There’s plenty of time to get to all the hard hitting questions.

And, who am I?

Liberal arts college student. Freshman year completist. Future physicist and engineer. Gymnast. Tea drinker. Cat lover. Runner. Short. QuestBridge finalist. Pianist. Origami enthusiast. Nightvale listener. Wannabee Massachusetts resident. Chinese adoptee. Rural Wisconsinite. Fashionista. Potential vegan. Ace, or something like that. Feminist who’s a little skeptical of the third wave. Tumblrist. Tiger cub type kid raised by chocolate lab type parents. Daughter of a widow. Friend. Another’s person. Slew of extended familial titles like cousin or niece.

Blogger. I’m the Autodidactic Tiger Cub.

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