I consider myself recovered. But some days a small voice nags. It is still there lurking in the background. Weird things seem to trigger it, but most centre around a central theme: authenticity. I used to feel separate, Anorexia does that. It cuts you off.
Challenges are a gift. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes life gets me down and I struggle to see the positive. But at those moments that I feel the most disconnected, I’m again honouring the inauthentic in my life. In a world dripping expectations, remaining true to oneself can be quite a challenge. I’m not ashamed to admit, I spent a good deal of my life chasing rainbows.
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.
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?
Normal. Where is the line? When do faulty beliefs become pathological?
Spiralling into an eating disorder at 12 years of age, I’d crossed the line into the unhealthy zone. I didn’t know that. My parents watched me derail weight loss, cold, amenorrhea, exercise compulsion, obsession with food … It became unhealthy.
The epilogue of that experience, scattered ideas, metaphors and images scrawled in a notebook. I think better on paper than on a computer screen. I wanted to crystallise what I’d gained from my unhealthy association with my inner critic. What was the root cause of my ED?
I’d lost myself.
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?
It didn’t feel good then. But as I began to write, there’s been an unravelling of me. My story came out haltingly. To my surprise, I had to prise it from my memory. Once again, I touched the darkness within.
and I went to write
dark emotions threatened the page
so virginal and pure
empty space stared back at me
dare I disclose my struggle?
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
Anorexia divides you but its subtle. The anorexic voice in my new novel even has a name, Saima. It took me a while to work out that my inner voice had gone awry. Let’s face it how often do we share the machinations of our inner worlds? Not often. Why? Probably because we are ashamed of some of the thoughts and embarrassed by others.
The question is ‘her’ or ‘me’? And more importantly how do I recognise who is speaking?
Image source: http://thebluediamondgallery.com/a/anorexia-nervosa.html
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.
Are you a firecracker or a pickle jar? Life is a continuum and you may lie somewhere in between. Firecrackers explode. It can be an unregulated emotional experience. Pickle jars bottle things up, quietly contorting their inner space; wondering if the lid will still fit on.