When people hear that you had anorexia, they want to know what your lowest weight was. I just checked with my mum and she said that I weighed 7lb 1.5oz in September 1990, so whack that down as my answer. Can't get more exact than that. Well, I know babies sometimes lose a few ounces straight after birth, but for argument's sake, let's stick with just over 7lbs. Oh, people really want to know your lowest BMI? Bit irrelevant to much, apart from my medical notes. Bit like the composition of my urine, really.
When people hear you had bulimia, they want to know what the most you ever ate was. Ok, this one is a lie. Nobody wonders that, because they generally think bulimia is just normal eating with added vomiting. Often, though, they want to know how much you got up. I used to get some wild bugs as a kid. Nose vomit for days. Oh, people really want to hear about how much you did it when you were thin and attractive and vulnerable, but still old enough to be hot? Jokes on them, because the pictures of thin, attractive, vulnerable but still old enough to be hot women making themselves tragically and beautifully sick are lies.
When people hear you used to cut, they want to know what the worst thing you ever did to yourself was. I can answer this one unequivocally. Bleaching my hair. Although I'm really pale and freckly, I have dark eyebrows so I only suit a really narrow colour palate. And I can tell you now, blonde hair doesn't work. At all. Oh, people really want to know how many stitches you needed? Unless you're the one pulling them out or whatever, I don't know why you'd need to know? Or unless you're in charge of buying the thread used? I'm clutching at straws here.
When people hear that you were known for overdosing, they want to know how many times you did it. That's a toughy. I mean, I used to take 4 paracetamol every morning I woke up hungover and I definitely snuck some extra Calpol when I was a kid. Oh, people really want to know how many times you did it with the intention of doing serious harm? I suppose it's quite a hard one because you can't judge intent on how many pills you poured down your throat.
When people hear that you were suicidal, they want to know how many times you tried to kill yourself. I never used to use zebra crossings. I ate some really questionable seafood in my younger years. I definitely can't be arsed exercising these days, Oh, people really want to know how many times to wrote a note and took a categorical step towards death? Ever so sorry, but it rarely works like that. Some suicide attempts and some suicides are slower, more laborious or less decisive than others. Some lives are like that too, actually.
Look, I get it. Freak shows have been a thing with humans for forever. We're drawn to the odd and we are attracted to things that are completely different from us. But listen, right, the mentally ill are not your oddity. They shouldn't be the latest exhibit to marvel over.
To those who are neurotypical: respect boundaries and appreciate that mental health is a difficult topic for a lot of people to talk about, don't make shit awkward. Don't create an us/them framework or use others' internal battles to make you feel better about your own. To those who are not: don't fall into the trap of competing with others over who is the most well/ill. I've done it, and nobody ends up any better for it. Don't feel like you have to justify yourself or prove you are/have been ill, with information you're not wanting to share.