Looking at Anorexia Through My Glasses

My resolution of my ED has been a lifelong journey, I’m nearly 60. The decision to write about it was driven by an incessant internal nagging. I resisted it for a long time, knowing that behind the recovered physical body of the anorexic, lay unresolved emotional misconceptions.

Then I began.

I smashed the experience out quite quickly 45,000 words of undecipherable me. My best friend gave me valuable critique. ‘It’s too confusing,’ she said. At this point, flashing neon doubts arose. I wondered what people would think. Where is the line between wellness and ongoing mental health issues?

sunshine

It’s easy to find out what people think. Look around at our fast paced life, where we, a highly adaptive species, find ingenious ways to use our 24/7 available resources. Our new best friends, the smart phones come with their shadow, FOMO. If we stay connected, we can stay abreast of all the latest thinking.

Nearly everyone is at least in part externally driven. We care about our appearance, clothing, brands, cars, houses … and phones! The roadside billboards and magazine advertisements are replaced by uninvited trickles of profile matched data, ‘suggestions for you,’ from the Smartphone.

These reinforce the past.

First world humanity lives under the illusion of being more connected than ever before via social media, whilst we sit silently on the train looking down. Families relax in their lounge rooms contained in their bubbles scrolling. Disconnection from the present is very damaging. disconnection per se, removes, cuts and divides. It loves the external model of living. These are the very maladaptive behaviours that led me further and further away from myself into the anorexic vortex.

But in the eyes of the world, I’d recovered and I chose to believe the world. Middle age with her gifts of grey hair, weight gain (my nemesis), and insomnia led me back to the past, another chance to revisit the old shadow. I began to lose confidence and wondered:

  • Was it middle age that caused the doubts?
  • Was it raising adolescents, who rattled my foundations that flushed out self-esteem   issues?
  • Was it a normal part of maturity?
  • What was normal, anyway?
  • When did self-depreciation, confusion and depression, enter the mental health arena?
  • Where was the line?
  • Where did I stand?

I knew some things were a bit off track. I noticed the same behaviours in friends and female acquaintances; over or under eating, sleep disturbances, anxiety, defensiveness, tears, withdrawing, excessive escapism (pills, alcohol, drugs). Fatigue, did I mention it? One day I woke up, and thought, I can’t run any more. I just can’t.

Emotional wake up call!

My body physiology loved me. It tried to save me from the fear. The biochemical changes in my body set up the fight and flight response but in my case it responded to emotional triggers and my inability to know and ask for what I wanted. It felt like the 70’s, I was still operating in ‘good girl,’ mode.

So here I was in mid-life aware that resolution lay in courage and self-honesty. Pandora’s box held the key to my resolution. I dabbled around it, initially reluctant to own it. My clinical reasoning got in the way of my resolve but the voice screaming for inner peace wouldn’t be silenced.

The twisted path through the dark forest proved daunting, so I made a tool box to keep me in there:

  • just make a start
  • unpack one issue at a time
  • there are no mistakes, just opportunities for learning
  • life isn’t perfect, expecting it to be leads to disappointment
  • be kind to yourself
  • accept that you are a yin yang sign, light and shade
  • both are okay
  • wrap your arms around all of you
  • notice things you like about yourself and add to the list each day

Middle age gave me a gift, one I’ve finally embraced. It’s taken fortitude to persevere but I’m happy with the outcome. In my writing, I’ve hit rock bottom; in my life I’ve examined rock bottom and look forward to rewriting the resolution in my manuscript. I’m taking a four-week break and look forward to sharing my the resolution of my journey with my ED with you then.

Kindly share any helpful ideas. Thank you.

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