A letter on a piece of paper

Posted 01/06/2018

Maisie talks about her experience of exam pressure and how this impacted on her eating disorder.

A letter on a piece of paper
That they call a grade, a mark, a score.
Just a letter on a piece of paper,
But we are told it is so much more.

A letter on a piece of paper
That we're told defines our level of intelligence.
We aim for it and strive for it,
And class any "distractions" as irrelevant.

A letter on a piece of paper
That makes us push ourselves to work harder and harder.
It convinces us that 1, 2, 3 hours more of revision
Will make us just that bit smarter.

A letter on a piece of paper
That we think will "kiss it better".
We push all other stresses to the back of our minds
And convince ourselves that relaxation and self-care are for later.

A letter on a piece of paper
That we think defines our entire being.
It becomes a filter, a lens, a special effect
That distorts our way of seeing.

A letter on a piece of paper
That consumes our sense of self.
It make us attack ourselves emotionally and physically
And compromises our mental health.

A letter on a piece of paper
That is a goal post forever changing.
We give up laughing with our friends and family
And do some dangerous priority rearranging.

A letter on a piece of paper
That tries to categorise us into a box.
It forces us to question
If we are smart or "good" enough or not.

A letter on a piece of paper
That made my mental and physical health burn out
And made the certainty of my bubbly care-free nature
Become something I began to doubt.

A letter on a piece of paper
Was something I once dreamed I'd receive.
Yet, after being awarded it,
I couldn't allow myself to feel relieved.

A letter on a piece of paper
That trapped me in a vicious cycle
Of working harder, of eating less,
Of running just ONE more mile.

A letter on a piece of paper
That made my clothes wear me.
It made me cry, shout and feel lethargic
And it made it impossible to stay at uni.

A letter on a piece of paper
That resulted in me writing this from a hospital chair.
But, looking back on what I put myself through, 
why the hell did I care

About a letter on a piece of paper
Instead of about myself?
Was it worth choosing revision over everything
Or choosing skinny over my health?

A letter on a piece of paper
That only now I can clearly see.
My only focus, my only goal
Was on a letter that, in fact, damaged me.

A letter on a piece of paper
Is not the be all and end all of everything in life.
You are intelligent regardless of test scores
And a letter shouldn't compromise doing the hobbies you like.

A letter on a piece of paper
Speaks nothing into who you are,
Or what you’re worth, or what you deserve,
Because God made you fearfully and wonderfully and loves you from the heart.

After all, a letter on a piece of paper
Is all it will ever be.
But you are so much more than that.
You don't have to find that out the same way as me.

Contributed by Maisie

Are you taking exams at the moment? You’re not alone! We’ve got some new information up for anyone with an eating disorder who is preparing for or taking exams. You can read this here.