Crunch time, that overwhelming moment when I could say, ‘I’m lost.’
It dawned on me that I was out of control, rocketing down the slippery slope without realising I’d even sat at the top of the slide. How did the anorexic descent begin? Innocently enough, either externally cued by thoughtless words or internally generated by critical thoughts.
One day the unyielding, silver bathroom mirror opened my eyes. I saw yourself as I was: in need of a little work. Our diet conscious world spouts the value of correct diet. Is that diet or dieting or both? Clean eating there’s nothing wrong with that is there?
My descent was rapid, a thoughtless phrase uttered in frustration set things off. Even now I see the incident clearly and the ‘T intersection’ with its two choices. I chose self-improvement in an attempt to be accepted. I wanted to be beautiful, tanned, a ‘new woman’ of the 70’s. A perfect body seemed to be linked to success.
Awash in the turbulence of the adolescent world, I sought to find my mind and my views. I spent hours on the phone talking to friends and boyfriends. I talked and listened and talked but stopped short of revealing my inner turmoil. It wasn’t taboo, it just wasn’t safe. My world seemed fickle and I couldn’t chance my place in it.
Catching up with a couple of high school friends recently gave me great insight. ‘Wow we never knew, but now that you say you had anorexia we can see it. You talked a lot about being skinny but already were. I thought it was a bit weird.’
They saw but didn’t see. As I cut out junk food and began to exercise more, the puppy fat melted and I received complements. ‘You look good.’ Positive reinforcement innocently given added fuel to the fire. If I did some exercises and cut out carbohydrates, I’d reach my goal sooner: bliss. It would be over.
The demands ramped. But what was it? A guide, an internal voice that had helpful ideas and understood my aim. Quite rapidly, I had limited my choices and backed myself into a corner. Guilt kept me there, working harder and harder to keep all the rituals in place, at the right time, at the right intensity, in the right way.
I got to the goal. I was ecstatic but found that I couldn’t stop. If I stopped, I’d gain weight. Exhausted, I drove myself harder. there was never less, always more.
Life got really busy. School and living with anorexia took all my energy. Reflecting, I wondered why I hadn’t spoken to mama, or a friend. But I was too busy, just surviving. Everyone else seemed okay. No one shared their inner world. I didn’t even know that I could share. I also didn’t know how to articulate my reality.
I didn’t understand my perspective was flawed and taking me to a dangerous place.
If you are reading this post and find yourself in this place; reach out and get some help. Reach out to someone has a background in eating disorders and talk to them. We are all lost sometimes.