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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Speaking my truth

I wrote a memoir. It tells the story of me grappling with severe anxiety and depression from the time I was young, my eating disorder, finally receiving a Bipolar I diagnosis, and the effects of alcohol addiction in my family. It shows how food has helped me heal and learn to take care of myself. It details the coping mechanisms I've learned with support from my loving husband, friends, and family, even if they didn't always understand what I was dealing with. It's my story.

I don't intend in any way to 'blame' anyone for my mental illness or the pain it's caused me and loved ones. I take responsibility for my mistakes and the ways my illness has hurt others. But I've also come to accept that it's not my 'fault' for being sick and that it's not something I should be ashamed of (and that's been a hard lesson to learn). I hope it shows others dealing with similar things that it can get better and you can learn to live a full life with your illness, that it doesn't define you or your worth. I hope the book also gives people more empathy and understanding for those struggling with their mental health and the harmful effects of addiction. I don't mean to point fingers but merely to say these things have been part of my story, the ways the people in my life loved and supported me in the ways they knew how but didn't always understand me, weren't always patient with my illness, and that impacted me, made me ashamed, made me feel guilty, and even thwarted me from getting help. Again, it's my story, from my perspective, and I hope it offers both strangers and people in my life some insight into my life and my journey. I know I haven't always made it easy on the people who love me, the people I love. But I need to tell my story. I'm done being silent, afraid to offend anyone. I need to show others it's OK to feel, to share your story, to speak out. I would be doing a disservice to them and, most of all, to myself by not telling my truth.

I know some people will be offended. I'm already seeing that, even in ways I didn't expect. Some people will ignore the many positives about my relationship with them and only see the negatives. But I can't let that hamper my ability to tell my truth.

One of my favorite quotes is from Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character in the movie "Almost Famous." His advice to a young aspiring writer is "Be honest and unmerciful." And that is exactly what I've tried to do. Of course, others are going to have a different perspective, and they can (and should) tell their stories too, which will differ from my perspective. I know this book will hurt some relationships. That is not my intent but an inevitable result of being honest and unmerciful. I also know it will help some readers and that very much is my intent, my reason for writing. If just one person sees themself in my story and learns to accept and love themselves, as I have worked so hard to do, it will all be worth it.

Again, I don't want to hurt anyone, but they can't necessarily see how much keeping quiet has hurt me, how much their judgment (or perceived judgment) has impacted me. They need to know how fucking hard I've fought to get to this place, that it has been far from easy. They need to know the uncomfortable truths. And if they're not OK with that, they don't need to read it. I will be encouraging everyone in my life to make their own decisions about that. I won't be offended if they choose not to read the book, to stay out of it. That's their choice. I will also be telling the people in my life that I'm more than happy to have a candid and honest conversation with them about the book.

I think a lot of people simply don't understand the dire need I feel to share my story, the liberation it has given me, the ways it has helped me have agency in my own life. The literal life-saving element of telling my side of things. I want to be kind but truthful, and I know that will hurt some people. As Anne Lamott says, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories."

This is my story to tell, and I'm telling it.

Feed Me will be out in early December 2022. Stay tuned.

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