To be a fraud

 ***reflecting on my story as lent begins.  my beauty for ashes***

I am a fraud,
or at least I was a fraud.  I was girl with hole inside,and I broke my mama's heart, and I did it all in a desperate grasping for attention.  Yes, I was on numerous anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications from the age of fourteen to seventeen,
But still,
I was a fraud.  Yes, I was put in a mental hospital... two actually.  One at sixteen, one at seventeen, and nothing much happened there except I met lots of interesting kids and was put on the majority of those medications.  And yes, I was given a plethora of diagnoses
obsessive compulsive disorder
anorexia nervosa
self-injurious behavior (aka cutter)
social anxiety disorder
and my personal favorite (this one was supposed to sum them all up) borderline personality disorder.

But I was a fraud.
It began in the locker room, as so many things do.  Freshman year, girls surrounding me, my friend telling a story of her trip to the dentist.  How he spoke to her in private about the lack of enamel on her teeth, asking if she had been making herself throw up.  I thought how strange he would think that, until she continued the story saying, "of course I was, but I would never tell him that!"

And I was taken aback, never had thoughts of real life friends with real eating disorders crossed my mind.  That was something from a movie, something people joked about, but not real.  And then it was.  She turned to me and said, "You too Amy?  You're so skinny, I am just certain you are too."  And it nagged at me.  I thought I could never do that, but for some reason her asking me if I did seemed some sort of sick compliment.  So just like that I decided to stop eating.  At least sometimes, and around certain people.  It struck me as a way to get attention.  And so I used it as one.

Until just saying no to food wasn't obvious enough so I decided to start making myself throw up.  But just sometimes.  And just when certain people were around.  About this time I got this boyfriend, and the whole not eating/ throwing up thing seemed to really concern him, and it was perfect.  That was the whole point anyway.  Until he went way overboard and called. my. mom.  So I denied all, dumped him and stopped my "poor eating habits."   At least kind of.

Not soon after I was reading a magazine article about a kid with obsessive compulsive disorder.  It was all so interesting, I decided to try it.  Yes, try it.  Touching my door knob 30 times before I left my house, checking locks over and over again.  Nothing was compelling me, except for me.  I considered the attention I would get when people saw my odd behaviors and it spurred me on.

But my mom was not over the whole eating disorder thing.  She had begun to watch me quite intently, talk to my friends, and investigate my life (and to be honest, I did not eat all that well even when I wasn't trying to be anorexic) and so she made the decision to take me to a psychiatrist with an eating disorder specialty.  I was so over the whole eating disorder thing but really wanted to be diagnosed with OCD, so I told her I wasn't anorexic or bulimic and then proceeded to tell her about all my "habits".  She diagnosed me with OCD, anorexia and bulimia and put me on prozac.

Right about this same time I watched the movie Empire Records.  Loved it.  The thing that struck me most was the girl who tried to slit her wrists with a razor.  She had really skinny wrists with bandages on them.  I thought, wow, I have really skinny wrists, I have a razor, I have bandages.  So what's a girl to do?  Of course, as soon as the movie was over I went to the bathroom, hacked at my wrist with my razor and then wrapped gauze bandages around it.

At school the next day I wore a long sweatshirt and when I was around anyone that I wanted attention from, anyone that I desired to look like a lost little kitten in need of help from, I pulled my sleeve up just enough so that they saw the top of the bandage, grabbed my arm, yanked my sleeve up and said, "what is this?"

Oh poor little me looked shyly away and said, "nothing."

And I would do this once a week, and the people I wanted to think I was some crazy, depressed, anorexic, cutter on prozac in desperate need of help did, and the other people knew nothing of it.  But of course, sooner or later the two lives met, everything became real, and the short of it is at 16 I ended up in a mental hospital... or an "adolescent psychiatric hospital" if you want to be proper.

After two weeks I went home, determined to begin my last year of high school and finish it, quietly.  Yet there it was again, the intense need to be noticed, to be cared for.  So I started the cutting again, the not eating again, and then read a book.  Girl, Interrupted. What do you know, there was a movie coming out... saw that right after.  And Winona Ryder glorified craziness, I saw me there.  So many of her  symptoms were mine, made up though they were.  She was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  I loved it.  It could be me.  I could be her.  And so I studied it, knew just what to say...

At my next psychiatric appointment I told of all my thoughts, my symptoms, and left with a new diagnosis... borderline personality disorder.  And soon after, a second trip to the mental hospital.

I sat there, locked behind doors, missing my senior prom, wondering what I was doing.  Yes, I had lots of attention, but the ones concerned about me were out there living life and I was in here with Adrian, but call him Darius, now call him Tear, whose cuts were way prettier than mine, and Jason who hated life and once he was released tried to kill himself that night just so he could come back, with Lexi who had just left rehab and was now hiding in a mental hospital from her drug dealer boyfriend.  This place was void of peace, of love, of hope, and as I sat there day after day I realized those were the yearnings of my heart, those were the things I was so desperate for I would do anything (even stop eating, cut myself, lie, act crazy) just to find them.

After two weeks I left, determined to stop being crazy.  And some friends invited me to church.  A place I would never have set foot in before.  But now, what did I have to lose?

While God kneaded my heart, smoothing it out, preparing it to rise, I realized it.  My lifelong desire for attention was just my lifelong separation from Him who knew me, who created me, who loved me.  He longed to dote on me, to lavish me with affections, the only affections that would fill me, make me whole.  The attention others gave me would do nothing, which was why I would continuously cook up new schemes to get more attention.  A vicious cycle I lived in, and now I knew my true diagnosis was separation from the Lover of my soul.

I was never the same.  His blood washed away my fraudulent self, His grace the new foundation of my life.


  1. Wow. You are so brave to put this out there. I wish I had something clever to say about it, but I guess I have to think about it, first. Probably for awhile. I will say that I'm glad you found Jesus and, therefore, a way to receive real love from Someone who knows you inside and out.

  2. Same what Brandee said. Wow. God is good.

  3. This is very powerful. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. I second Ruthiey and David N.: "Wow. That was a powerful testimony." Thank you for being brave to share it.

  5. A powerful story of God's redeeming love.

  6. Amy you just do not know how much your testimony has touched my heart right now....thank you!

  7. thank you for being real...i admire your willingness to be open and honest...your testimony will change lives...

  8. Oh friend!

    Praise the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits--
    who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeem your life fro the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things...

    Psalm 103:2-5

    That's all I could think of to say.

  9. Your honesty is inspiring. It takes courage and years of soaking deep in Love to tell this tale. Yes, thank you.

  10. wow...your testimony is so powerful, brave, raw much like your other writing. and just like your other writing, it blesses me.

  11. Everything that could be said about this has already been said, but I'll continue anyway and say this is beautiful.

  12. Now I know why you have such a tender heart for the broken. <3

  13. you left me breathless with this...

    aren't we all frauds, whom he makes true? and how you shine, friend, and i'm so honored to know you.

  14. how beautiful ... this story he's weaving out of darkness and into light.

  15. i love emily's words here: it's a glimpse into your heart, this peeking into your past. yes, we are broken, renewed, regenerated. praising him for being bigger than we are, truer than we are

    (hehe, the word verfify was swines?!?)

  16. WoW. I am in total admiration for you that you would be real and open up your life to us. Teach me how to be like that. How to not care what others think and let my messy stories lay in Fathers hands to use how He wills. Pray for my boldness if you will. This has truly encouraged me, thank you friend!

  17. Wonderful to know that God reaches the brokenhearted and gives you a real life with the attention and love you need.

    Such willingness to share your heart.

    You will bless others with it.