Tuesday, 8 October 2013

“Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.”

Good evening (a very late evening, soon to be morning actually).

It's been a long day, but a good long day- if that makes sense. A normal persons long day. It was long because I got up very early, travelled across town and into Burton to get college like a normal girl. Long because I have lots of college work to do, like normal students. Long because of having to commute home in rush hour on the joys of public transport like a normal person. In a nutshell a long day for all the rational reasons, not long because it's got fucking unbearable being inside your mind all that day that you just want the oblivion of sleep to blot it all out.

It takes years of having a Mental Health problem that makes these days of normal, perfectly logical feelings, even if they are 'unpleasant' seem so refreshing. It is scary too. Scary to realise that the abnormal is that close to becoming the 'new' norm for you. Terrifying to have to consider you may become that person cited in MH studies who 'get's used to just being depressed'Because the minute that transition happens will be the minute you stop realising any transformation has taken place; forget there was every any other way of feeling than blank or tortured. Forget there was a past you, and more crucially; that there could be a future you- a you who feels normal...or even happy...

Anyway I've rambled as usual and what I wanted to post about really was something that I have always felt but only recently started to think about. One of those 'so obvious it's invisible' things. And that thing is- why I am scared of recovering. Or put another way; what do I envision happening/not happening when I 'recover'.

I'm guessing if you have anorexia or any other ED you will have been asked at some point (if not many, many points) 'but don't you just wish it had never happened?'/'but don't you just want to be like you were before you became anorexic??'

For some reason I'd never really answered, if I had it was not a real answer because I never really acknowledged the question. Not until recently. And then I did start to think back- force myself to do something very uncomfortable- and recall the girl before Ana. She's at least 6 yrs away, left abandoned on the brink of adolescence. It was damned hard work to get myself to look at her. Like forcing yourself to stare at the sun with tired eyes that have become accustomed to shade.

I finally see her. 

I hate what I see. I recoil like the rich man does from the dirty beggar. The dirty beggar is most repulsive to the rich man who's deepest secret is that he came from the same rags as the vagrant before him. He recoils with some extra zeal just to make sure he hides his dark secret to anyone observing him. Himself included.

She was so...so....wrong. The girl I see was overgrown, unmeasured, messy. She was like a pint glass left beneath the pump, now filling up and overflowing, brimming with froth and turbulence. The new contents flows in without measure and it pours over the brim in an uncontrolled overflow.

I am sure I remember being called quiet before now, when I would have been that pint glass of a girl, and yet I remember someone far too loud. It is not vocality or loudness per say that bothers me- it this girl seems to just be noisy without consideration. She is like a ill-tuned radio- indistinct most of the time, a quiet, indistinct hum, only to erupt at random intervals with offensive noise. The random, over the top vocality I see her as displaying were stabs at making herself seen in a world that largely she was not.

She was not seen because there was nothing really to see. Here we get a possible clue as to why Anorexia came along instead of some other coping mechanism. I was ugly. I was just that bit too fat. Not 'overweight' just too....heavy..too..lumpy...shapeless. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I have always been body concious and most of the time since wanted to be smaller. I remember my first body related memory- that young I was sat in the car seat, it was summer; I was wearing shorts. I remember staring at my thighs, pressed down on the edge of the car seat. I remember watching the wobble, seeing the expansion as they pressed down on the surface. It displeased me. It was not right. Ever since then I have been in a body that was 'just not right'. Then Ana came along and promised something wonderful. Would it be right to say 'I never looked back'? Pretty much; yes.

I have always been very aware that there are many contributing and maintaining factors to my anorexia, but until now I didn't really recognise this particular, definite hate of the girl as she was just before she hooked up with Ana.

As in every case, Anorexia was going to provide something to help me improve something with myself. In this case I only realised what she did from this viewpoint- in the aftermath. When I was that disgusting, unmeasured, uncontrolled 13 year old I didn't see that was what I was. I didn't know Ana could change that either. But now I know what she did. 

She toned that girl down. Made her exert some self discipline, taught her self-control in the most extreme of ways. Made her work at something, made her understand dedication and sacrifice. She forced her to look inside herself to see the defects that needed to be trimmed, ousted and exorcised. It made her see how good suffering could feel by showing her changes in her body that she had always wanted. 

Marya Hornbacher in her book 'Wasted' described the difference between Bulima and Anorexia Nervosa in a way I suddenly related to with astonishing clarity- like they were my thoughts but had never been given words. Marya began as a Bulimic but Anorexia emerged and overtook. Marya described Bulima as a 'loud', 'chaotic' and 'angry' condition, whereas Anorexia was far more 'quiet' and introspective. Think about the characteristics and emotions which fuel the behaviours of each disorder and it really does make sense. Well I think so anyway. 

I remember when I read this, and thinking how fitting it was and it made me consider something else I've always felt. So often there is the general idea spouted about that Anorexia makes a person lose their cognitive abilities due to fatigue and malnutrition. I wont pass judgement on the malnutrition but I remember (and still experience now)the sensation of perfect calm that the numbing fatigue brings. After a certain point the fatigue transforms into a serene, trance like state. My concentration and imagination rather than being stunted was dramatically improved. I felt calm, grounded, silent. I'm not advocating starvation as a means of sedation or whatever I'm just presenting my experiences.

Anyway, back on topic....

I've come to realise one of the biggest maintaining factors of my Anorexia is the fear that now I have realised what I escaped in that girl I hated so much, that if I 'recover' I will return to being her. Return to the ugly, fat, flailingly chaotic character I left behind. 

I have no doubt this whole post seems unlikely, irrational and silly but it is just the feelings I have, and here I do not censor them but present them as they occur. 

We all have irrational fears but them being irrational makes them no less real to the people who experience them.

So what about you?
Do you see yourself as significantly different before your ED came along? Maybe you don't even have an ED but something else has 'changed' you, drawn a line between one you, and the you that you are now? 


  1. I'm not sure what I see. I would agree probably, that I do feel different, but if I'm being honest it was more that I was a product of my age and my experiences. As a child I was loud, outspoken, headstrong, and mouthy. I wasn't good at controlling my impulses and I was very spontaneous. Those aren't bad qualities inherently but they're difficult to reign in. I was chubby as a kid and I grew fast. Tall, long arms and legs, too much body. My friends were all short and petite while at 12 I was already five feet five inches. I wasn't popular at all and there was always this sense that I was ugly. I had glasses and eventually braces. I hated that the boys didn't like me and I was more nerdy and artsy. I think I hated my body about seven or eight, maybe?

    Anorexia snuck up on me when I was 14 and my friend told my mom that I was being sexually abused. Everything just sort of spiraled out of control at that point. I can't even remember how I became that way really. I don't remember the beginnings of restriction or how I did it. I just know that one day at the beginning of the summer when I was getting closer to 15 that I stood in the bathroom with the door closed putting on an outfit I wore to church that had been tight previously. When I put the top on it was very loose. It literally had no where to cling to my body. I felt so empowered. I started to weigh myself at my grandma's and went further and further. I was attractive for once. The excess weight coming off gave way to guys looking at me and girls feeling envious but in the end, I was a mess inside and the wistful glances became gossip over my obvious illness and how gaunt I was. Something was wrong with me and no one could figure out what.

    I got better after an epiphany one night. It was a slow process but then I gained too much because you just don't know how to eat. You don't know how to live. It's all nothing or excess. I hated that. I hated that this is how I am. I'm intelligent but prone to laziness. I'm outspoken and blunt. I like to be one of the guys but still wear dresses. I want my masters, not a doctorate anymore. I would spend a year of my life just traveling and meeting people and helping them, seeing the world. I am not the calculated, unemotional girl anorexia made me. I am vibrant. That scared me. The fact that I was not the girl that I am when I'm anorexic scared me. I totally believe you're right when you say that she was accurate in describing the personalities of EDs and I was really the kind of person that had to withdraw and get away, hold people at arms reach as they let me way into theirs.

    Sorry this is such a long post! Lots of thoughts. Now I just want to grow up. I want to be healthy and happy. I don't want sexual abuse to weigh me down because I'm no longer a victim. I don't want anorexia to make me float away because I am strong and I prove myself in the weight room every day. I'm going to graduate with my bachelor's in Psychology in December and I'm applying for my master's in counseling so that I can work with people with EDs hopefully after. I am more than that and I can be the person I am, still being a beautiful young woman. It's just believing that that is hard and accepting recovery fully.

    That's where I'm at. I hop you take the leap. I understan how hard it is. <3

  2. Beautifully said! I often used the thought of my pre-ED self as motivation for me to exercise or restrict. I hated that girl too, as well. Not just how I looked, everything about myself. I, too, have found comfort in anorexia and bulimia, and have felt myself enveloping an identity around it. Recovery terrifies me because I don't know if I'm ready to lose that.

    But I don't believe that recovery means turning us back into what we were. I think we've already grown so much, nothing can reverse what we've gone through. Recovery should be just undusting a healthier version of yourself, both physically and mentally.

    Don't give up. As apprehensive to recovery as I am myself, I know it is the only option. And the sooner the better. Stay strong and keep fighting <3

  3. I commented the other day and it didn't go through. I am happy to hear you are back in school and working on other challenges. I know what you mean about body image when we are younger... my step mother used to tell me I was fat... I wasn't I weighed 107 pounds and I was 5 feet 6 inches tall... I was rail thin... I ended up being bigger most of my life, hiding behind my potential... I have taken control back, I am eating healthy and exercising... I need to watch myself though... I am an all or nothing kind of girl Katie...

    I am sending good thoughts and prayers to you, I want you to succeed in ways I know you can :)

  4. I've started college this year too, and I totally get what you mean about doing 'normal' things. Everyone else moans about these things, but I love it, just because it's 'normal'. And it's refreshing, so refreshing. Difficult, but refreshing. And terrifying.

    I can't remember a time when I haven't been body conscious, a bit like you with the thighs on the seat. And I feel like I've always been in a body that's 'not right'. My head's never been right.

    That makes so so much sense about anorexia being quiet. I wanted to become quiet, silent, non-existent. And anorexia turned me into this.

    I think it's great that you've been able to discover what's been keeping you from recovery. It's so brave and courageous of you, and then to be able to admit it to yourself. Has it made recovery any easier for you? Your post isn't irrational at all - it is very insightful to be honest, and I admire you for being able to write it. I understand as well, how real the fears are, even if others aren't able to see it, and even if they may be irrational, they are still real and terrifying.

    I guess I'm still working on myself, but it's interesting to read about you and maybe motivate myself to do the same. Sometime.

    Hope you're ok lovely