By Zoe Jessica Dawson
A rather vulnerable SCAB (present tense).
This SCAB is going to get a little deep, if Marc decides to publish it then consider yourself warned.
I have noticed that talking about mental health tends to be something we do in the past tense. We’ve all acknowledged that it’s hugely beneficial to open up about our struggles with mental health, and if anything it is becoming a bit of a buzz-topic. We seem to think that voicing what we went through (past tense) might help someone reading (present tense) feel abler to voice their own (present tense) struggles, even though we ourselves felt able to do so only retrospectively (past tense). There’s a flaw in this logic that seems glaringly obvious to me, but has not stopped me doing the exact same thing on social media.
I spent 10 years, on and off, dealing with eating disorders of a few shapes and sizes (past tense). As of late, I try to make this relatively common knowledge (present tense). Every time I bring it up, I feel like I’m “attention seeking,” a term that has haunted me since it was bitchily introduced at 14. But I have forced myself to continue bringing it up because it has genuinely helped me with my recovery. Talking about it (present tense) holds me accountable, it makes me feel validated, it feels progressive in the battle against diet culture. Maybe it makes me feel like I can keep it past tense.
It is no longer past tense.
I am currently dealing with eating disorder thoughts and behaviours, present tense.
Starting something like SCA is not a small thing for anyone with any weakness in their mental health. I hate to say it, but I think that is probably most of us. So, starting something like SCA is not a small thing for anyone.
Things that make this so: A change in routine. Moving house/town/etc. Being part of “the most successful advertising school in the world.” Pressure from Marc & the mentors, pressure from parents, a great deal of pressure from me. The overwhelming imposter syndrome. The overwhelming apparent talent/creativity/coolness of my intake. The fact that I know it’s going to be hard work. The fact that I know it’s going to be emotionally intense. The fact that I know it’s all on me to succeed. The fear that I might fail. The mild social anxiety tied up in spending a year with 37 people who might not like me. The severe social anxiety tied up in finding a partner out of them. The fear that I might not fail, and that this time next year an agency might open its doors to me for me to risk failing all over again.
It all feels very much out of my control.
You know what is very much in my control?
SCA prep is present tense. My struggles are present tense. I am talking about them present tense.
But my time at SCA is in the future tense. The hard work is in the future tense. The emotional intensity, the intellectual exertion, the long hours, the socialising, the networking, it’s all in the future tense. And I’m sure my struggles are future tense too.
But when all of that is present tense in 25 days’ time, I sure as hell am going to need lunch.
So here’s to talking present tense in an attempt to help future me.