Survival Kit
// by Alexis Bates

 

 

Alexis Bates suffers from an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety. The combination of these illnesses has a tendency to skew her perception of reality and make day-to-day life difficult. However, she finds strength in channeling her experiences into her work and being able to connect to others on an intimate level.

 

Three Pieces of Art

1. “Control,” Halsey:
This song was originally written about bipolar disorder but I relate to it heavily with my eating disorder, which is control based. I constantly feel like my disorder is something to be feared but also glorified. This song allows me to feel these negative emotions in a healthy way that isn’t self destructive. More than that, it makes me feel safe and valid in having these emotions that others have told me are wrong to have.

2. “Truth and Beauty,” Ann Patchett:
This is a memoir about a friendship between two writers: Ann and her friend Lucy. I resonate with Lucy’s story that revolves around fears of abandonment, issues with poor coping mechanisms, and abnormal relationships. While at no point Lucy was diagnosed with BPD, I have find my major symptoms in Lucy’s character.

3. “Breezeblocks,” Alt-J:
This song is not directly linked to eating disorders, but I found it and became obsessed around the time that my eating disorder kicked up. It kept me company while I binged, purged, and restricted. It was also the song I used to cope with relationships I knew, logically, I was secure in but emotionally felt like I was losing my grip on.

 

Two People That Make You Feel Less Alone

1. Alex Everette (partner)
“You don’t have to be beautiful like other people; you’re beautiful like you.”
I’m always worried I don’t look like other people and, therefore, don’t fit in. This keeps me grounded and reminds me I can look like me and not be completely out of place in the world.

2. Shuck Ennis (secondary partner)
My second partner keeps me very grounded in reality. My perceptions of reality are very skewed due to my illnesses and he’s very good at grasping just the right facts and presenting them to me very plainly so I can get a grip on what’s actually going on in the world around me.

 

One Thing You Carry With You

I always, always, always have a pen on me. Usually a fountain pen. It’s not just a practical thing to have on me but this is a device used to cope, create, and function. I rely on my art to keep me focused and stable. It’s an extremely important coping tool for me to write.

I’m often told to not let myself be victimized by my illnesses, which is a cruel thing to say to someone. I am a victim of my illnesses. I am coping in the best ways I know how, but to say that they haven’t hurt me and that they don’t hurt me daily is a lie. Still, I do the best that I can and it’s the most I can ask of myself.

 

 

Alexis is an artist in Baltimore, MD struggling with an eating disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Her work can be found in Rising Phoenix Review, Doll Hospital, and others. She has a chapbook forthcoming from Varsity Goth.


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