Stigma Fighters : Phoebe Pummarachai

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Stigma Fighters : Phoebe Pummarachai

My story is like any other book in an enormous library. Kept for records, collecting dust, sitting in an isolated nook in a forgotten corner. I’m not trying to downplay my struggles. I know that every story has its purpose. It’s measure of influence on lives and society. But I also don’t want to come across as a narcissistic pessimist. Because in my reality, that is exactly who I am, and exactly who I keep hidden from the rest of the world.

My life is nothing extraordinary. Nothing special. Nothing uncommon. I was born into a loving family who supported me in everything I did. Who gave me everything and anything a growing child could possibly need. However, life has a way of catching you off guard, and demons know how to jump through loop holes too. I was an ideal student, getting straight As. I was an ideal athlete, winning gold medals. I was an ideal child, attentive and respectful. I did everything my parents, my teachers, my coaches told me to do. I didn’t question them, I didn’t talk back, I just them at their word and kept my head down. Becoming the perfect cookie cutter. I fit the ideal mold. Became a role model for others to follow, but the treacherous truth in my false reality was that I was not who I projected myself to be.

I hid behind masks of success and acceptance. Two things that you would never think to be unhealthy goals to achieve. However, because of this truth, it made it the perfect disguise. No one knew that I had been sexually abused for years. No one knew that I struggled with self-confidence. No one knew I had an eating disorder. I lived the lie I told myself. I continued to live for others. Studying for my parents. Winning for my coaches. Living to make other people happy. I never stopped to think twice about my own well-being. About my own happiness. And that is why, my friends, I fell a great distance. The minute I could no longer keep up my projected persona. The second I could not bear to continue to live the lie. The moment I broke and my entire world came crashing down.

I was depressed. I was suicidal. I spent every waking moment trying to escape a reality I wish did not exist. I dropped out of school. Quit my sport. Quit life. I hid under the covers. I hid from myself. But there was no escape. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to find that stable well-kept persona that I had projected my entire life. Everything was lost. I was lost, and even more broken then before. Because now I was not the only one who knew of my pathetic story. Now I had people concerned about me. Instead of looking up at me. Instead of being proud of me. Instead of aspiring to be me. They saw someone who was broken, lost, abused, and eventually forgotten. They looked down at me, eyes filled with pity, sympathy, anger, disappointment. I hated those eyes. I hated those faces. I hated how they reminded me of who I really was. Of how insignificant and worthless I was. I attempted suicide. I landed myself on a 5150 in a psychiatric hospital. Then I was transferred to a treatment center for eating disorders. I talked to therapists, to peers, to anyone and everyone who would listen. At first people cared. At first they wanted to help. But the sad truth is that mental illness gets old, and when you relapse one to many times, people give up.

So here I was again lost, and even more forgotten. I let down the people who supported me the most. They walked out because they had enough. If I didn’t want help myself, how could they possibly help me? I fell into a deeper depression. A sicker reality. I cut deeper everyday. I spent more time wallowing. I wasted away. Distanced myself from everyone. I assumed the mask. Hid behind a persona of a recovered individual. Of someone who was healthy and happy and full of life. I projected myself the way I used to. But it didn’t matter. There was no way I could ever be half the person I was. I attempted 3 more times. But I couldn’t get myself to finish it. I knew there had to be more. There had to be a reason why I was still trying. And here is where you all are waiting to hear how I became better. How I overcame my dark past. But I’m afraid I have to disappoint you once again. I am still living a lie. I am still trying to find my way. I am still lost and broken beyond repair, or so it may seem. I have given up on relationships. It is better to have none. Because when I have people around me, they see who I really am, and the cycle repeats. They are concerned, supportive, helpful. Then they are tired, frustrated, overwhelmed. Then they leave. And so, I know this is for hope. For people to be aware of how life is like when you suffer from an illness that does not manifest itself in obvious physical symptoms. Yes there is a stigma. People are afraid of what they do not understand. They outcast those who do not fit their mold. They discriminate and incriminate those who are lost. They think that they are doing the right thing by staying away. But little do they know that they hold the gun to my head more firmly.

*****

IMG_1101My name is Phoebe Pummarachai. I am a SoCal native, 18 years old. I study at UC Davis. I’ve been a student athlete all my life. But I am no longer that girl who people look up to. My reputation has fallen off the empire state building, and I am that outcast picking up the scraps on the floor of where my body remains forgotten.

Phoebe can be found on Facebook.

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One Comment

  1. Ross H September 16, 2015 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It truly is hard when down so far but I think you have shown more understanding of yourself than you might realise. For what it is worth, you are not alone because there are others of us out there who are going through or have gone through a lot of the same. *hug* I am a writer and I think the way you have written this piece shows some ability.

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