Last year’s writing experiences included surprising insights. I unpicked my adolescence and refashioned it. I wrestled with my inner world conflict and attempted to capture the elusive turning point with anorexia. Profound moments hit me like bowling balls skittering pins.
Life challenged me and I lost and met myself over and over. My bucket filled and overflowed. I relived the discomfort of inner world overcrowding. My health suffered and insomnia robbed me of clarity. I spiralled in on myself like a Nautilus Shell. And in the darkness of near defeat, I finally accepted the profound effect of trauma on my life.
This poem reflects the complexities of the search, the gift a metaphor.
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.
The Echidna crossed the road. My husband stopped the car and I ran back. ‘Hurry,’ he called and I began to run. but the Echidna ran faster. He’d begun to hide.
Writing about my adolescence and my descent into anorexia, I’ve re-discovered what I’ve come to know. To truly overcome any affliction, the body, emotions and mind need to integrate the experience into the fabric of ones being. Integration usually involves a lot of avoidance.
I’m a master of avoidance.
For many years I worked in ICU, the Boxing day shift heavy with tragedy and food. I want to thank the 000 workers who never rest providing emergency help every day of the year. The Festive season is a frantic time for them.
I’m reading, ‘Chasing the Scream,’ by Johann Hari. It explores addiction. It asks some thought-provoking questions and it reminds me of the commonality between living with mental health issues and living with addiction.
Addiction rarely visits alone. It brings friends to the party, friends that increase the sense of social isolation and foster anxiety, self-recrimination and depression. Anyone with a label suffers in our society. They are immediately set apart and seen as different. People react differently towards them as they rumble around in a system created by society which often dis-empowers them.
I believe that any illness is a bi-product of the society in which we live.
I’m reflecting. I’m evaluating my input into people’s lives. It’s what I do as a physiotherapist in a Community Health Centre. Life’s tough out there. I’ve changed my practices, as I do periodically in the search of excellence. The general health question is a mire, extract, untangle, add up …
People come to me for answers and hope. I’m blessed to have time to listen, time to ask. I’ve added a new question:
‘How’s your mental health?’
It’s a keeper. It a leveler. If you have the kindness and courage to touch their pain, it creates rapport and success. Seeds blew in the spring wind this morning, each also had a story.
School holidays, a whirl wind time for any parent but my children have flown the coop. Two weeks of memories, emotional provocation food for the shadow. Would it stay away this time? So far, so good.
Friday night, movie night, Netflix, who’s watching, arrow up, arrow down, arrow left, because you liked… My partner had the remote in hand, a boy thing. I stood in the kitchen thinking about a glass of red and eating a date. New releases, how about ‘To The Bone?’ Inwardly groaning, I agreed.
Anorexia is my shadow. It’s been with me since I was twelve. It coerced me, engaged me, changed me but never left me.
I hated it. It made me feel ashamed and flawed. Why? Why me? How did this happen? How did a beautiful, intelligent, successful person live a dual life? No one knew. The duality remained hidden.