Sometimes life cracks you open and sometimes it doesn’t. Facing one’s mental health issues does. It does. Rising above the monsters that lurk behind the 2D cut out self, takes self-compassion and patience. Some would say we have to fight and slay the beast. But is it so?
I had to befriend mine. An acrostic poem …
We have them now and then, those weeks that see you taking a deep breath and praying you’ll make it to the end healthy and sane. Last week was one of those, things stacked up, lots of big things: goodbyes, a new job, facing the demons …
I thought I’d examine the effect on my mental health. Weeks like that can uncork the most grounded being. And I’m working on the grounded part. I’m a leaf with a rock on it.
Conflict? Is it beneficial? Soul-destroying? Or an opportunity to learn? Can we become addicted to conflict? Writing my story, I’m in year eleven of my high school experience battling anorexia and I’m forced to address conflict. I was at breaking point. Something had to give and it couldn’t be me, good girls don’t make waves.
I’d made a huge discovery, I didn’t like the life I was living anymore. I’d had enough. Would this ensure recovery? Would it be enough?
Everyday I discover something new. That’s how I choose to live my life. Tackling my struggle to stay on top of the inner critic, I’ve had to embrace honesty and self-awareness. My body talks to me. Yours does too.
But do you hear it?
I’ve lived with the shadow of anorexia for 45 years and have spent a lot of that time trying to understand why this happened to me. It took me nine years to physically recover: weight within a normal range, regular periods and less sensitivity to the cold. But in my inner world the duality continued. As I understood myself more, it lessened.
Ageing is confronting in a world where beauty is valued and financially rewarded. Although the body ages slowly, the changes are possibly more apparent to someone living with an eating disorder. Many women my age, 55 plus, have either not been diagnosed nor have they ever been treated for their eating disorders.
I’m home but my words float along behind me. The break from the rigour of my manuscript has done its job. I hope my words catch up to me soon. So here is a prose poetry account of writing, travelling and most importantly changing.
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?
Retail therapy? I like shopping. Sometimes, I indulge my unhappiness with a new pair of shoes. Sometimes window shopping isn’t enough. Wandering around, checking things out, watching people and walking away with a brown paper shopping bag can be very therapeutic. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.
I hope you enjoy my prose poem.
My road of self discovery has been jagged, strewn with attempts at change. Mastery remains a lofty goal. I once asked one of my spiritual teachers, ‘It gets easier ,right?’ She smiled wryly. I didn’t want to receive that answer.
At the moment, I’m working out how to deal with people who trigger me. I’m sure you also have people and circumstances that trigger you. Mine involves:
- overstepping boundaries
- breaches of trust
Have you ever felt your back up against the wall, repetitive and intolerable situations pressing you tighter into the corner? My life has been a series of micro-deaths, traditions, observances and people. But I keep trying to fix whatever is broken. I’m looking at the finger not what it’s pointing at.