Seeking help for an eating disorder is in no way the end of such a destructive illness. For me it was really only the beginning. The beginning of the most hellish, scary, back and forth, up and down, round and round and round roller coaster ride ever created!
There is only so long you can go on treating your body and your mind in such a destructive way. The emaciation, whilst disturbing for others to witness and not a sign of good health, is really nothing in comparison to the emotional torture. You hate everyone for caring about you; for bashing their heads against the wall in attempts to get you to eat something, anything.
You hate yourself for not being good enough, strong enough, thin enough, perfect enough. Most of all for upsetting those you love. You want to be a good person, want everyone to like you, everyone to be happy.
You never stand up for yourself because you are not worthy of having rights. Any thoughts or opinions you have on anything are crap and airing them makes you (feel like) a bad person.
You are driven by the need for perfection in every way. Nothing in your life can be out of place, from the direction of the pile of the carpet, to the pencil on your desk. Obsession about everything, especially food, to the point of debilitation is incomprehensible to those not in the black hole with you.
You know you are in deep water but you don't want to give it up. It's been your friend, helping you take your mind off the real traumas of life you are trying to avoid. Would you want to say goodbye to a friend who distracted you from your real problems and helped you cope?
In reality you are not coping at all.
"OK, I'll see someone, perhaps I do have a problem" I said to those around me. "What a joke, let's see how wrong you all are when they take one look at me and confirm that I don’t have a problem" I thought to myself. I was the best at telling them what they wanted to hear.
My first appointment with a "professional" (How professional can he be? He says I have anorexia and I clearly don't!) was daunting. To be honest, my main focus was how thin the other girls in the waiting room were compared to me!
The appointment was at the hospital where the Professor practiced. I wonder what goes on back there behind those doors where all the inpatient anorexics are? I wonder how thin they are?
I was threatened with admission to hospital. "Bring it on" I thought, "If I was thin you'd be putting me there right this minute. I'll show you how thin I can get".
Denial is bliss. Anorexia is only about being thin in Denial Land. It is not about anything else.
I dutifully went to see the dietitian once a week. Because that's what they wanted.
“Yes, I'll record what I eat”, and I'll just jot in a few things I didn't so it will look better to you.
“No, I don't take laxatives at all. Well, OK, I'll be truthful, just a few”, But not 50 a day, get that? Not 50.
“Goodness, I have no idea why my weight is dropping so dramatically” - I mean, look at everything I write down that I'm eating!
I tried doing it at home, tried to eat, tried to be normal. Because that's what they wanted. My mind and body were so starved of nutrition and the capacity to see reality that I was beyond help on the "outside".
The "inside" came soon enough - inside a "prison" with 'inmates'. Fellow eating disorder and psychiatric victims.
And what an experience that was to be.
When told I was on a waiting list to go into hospital, I pretended I was dreading it. Because every anorexic sufferer is meant to hate the idea of hospital where they make you eat and get fat. But secretly I relished the idea, in part seeing it as the help deep down I knew I needed, in part being around people like me because I'd felt so alone with what I was going through.
If I let on I was looking forward to it, it meant I admitted I had a problem (which of course I didn't), and that I'd be willing to work to get better (there's no work to be done as I'm not sick).
I held all my cards close to my chest. I packed my bag and waited patiently for a few weeks. This gave me a goal. To lose as much weight as possible before then, so they wouldn't think I was in hospital for nothing.
Besides, they won't be successful in making me eat and give up my strict food rituals. I'm just going because it will be a break from life, and it will be fun, like a giant slumber party........
A life of duality is the resounding message for me. One persona for the public and then an anguished, anxious, competitive inner self. I wonder how can she recover from this destructive condition when she is full of self-denial, competitiveness and self-loathing?
What resonates with you?
Leave her a comment, she is reading! Tune in next Tuesday to see how things turn out for her.