Sunday, 8 August 2010

My Beautiful Affliction

It has been an evening of reflection tonight and in rereading old writings I have been gratified with much catharcism. I felt a need to share this again, reinforce that hope.
There is truly not a day that passes me by now that I don't thank my guiding spirits for my salvation, my epiphany and my chance to live life the way I do now. I live without regrets or remorse - these lessons have made me who I am and I would never appreciate all the beauty in the world quite to the extent I do without these tests, not least just in my experience of having an eating disorder.


My Beautiful Affliction.

It started with cheese. 25g of fat for just 100g of Edam cheese! What was the point? I could eat so much more for so much less, so cheese went first.
Except it didn't really start with cheese did it? It was never really about food was it? Food just became my means of communication; my body became an outward display of how I was feeling inside. After all – what was the point in a healthy body when its mind was slowly dying?
This was to become a question that would haunt me throughout my illness and recovery.

Your cards all lie in taunting piles,
So you strike a deal with the joker,
But she'll only want to steal your diamonds,
Whilst she claims to teach you poker.


I find it hard to pinpoint dates and ages when it comes to recollecting my experience of anorexia nervosa. My perception of reality became so distorted that I cannot recall huge chunks of time, but the mental and emotional turmoil that I experienced became something that has left a deep imprint - a scar on my soul.

I became so afraid of messing up my life that I believed I'd rather not live it. I was unwilling to fail and unable to take risks. I was terrified of failure and too weak to accept it as a possibility. I felt I was too narcissistic and selfish to believe it was something I could do. I believed it to be beneath me - and I disgusted myself for thinking like that. What gave me the right? I "couldn't" fail because it was unacceptable and I hated myself for being so self obsessed and so pathetic. I felt I was too weak to run a risk and too self righteous to accept less than perfection for a life.
And so was born my escapism – "anorexia", my beautiful affliction, my safety and purity, my purpose, my identity. My excuse?

My excuse; my reason to avoid life because I could choose to play with dying instead. I chose to dance with death because I wanted to touch it and to taste it almost as if that if I could get close to it then maybe I could be convinced that it is life that I'd choose and its life that I wanted.

Anorexia I knew, it was safety, it was secure - where as life was unpredictable and unexpected. I needed security and structure. It fulfilled all these needs when life could not be orderly and in control all the time - or so I thought.

With all its walls and boundaries it gave me a shelter, somewhere to be safe, something to hide in. Hide from life.
Anorexia provided me with a justice system – a world that offered me security had to be paid for fairly, I believed that the struggling I faced was a small price to pay for the safety that my "illness" gave me. Suffering, at the time, seemed like the wrong word, for I believed it to be a choice and that the pain served as a good constant reminder for my own weaknesses, I deserved to experience pain for taking the easy way out.

Hate & Heart

Her magic tricks deceive you,
She knows every game and cheat,
Her hand will play inside your heart,
She's the queen - she can't be beat.

Beneath this deep seated self hatred, at the very core of my being was fear - a terrifying fear of being alone, not being loved or being rejected. This was an immense childlike insecurity, a longing an ache – a need to be loved and looked after.

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

A need for perfection - I must please everyone, be the best because if I'm perfect and the best everyone will love me, nobody will reject me, nobody will leave me. If I am perfect then I must be loved.

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

They say I am a caring person and they smile. Compassion! The answer is compassion - I must be the best. I work so hard, I am so focused, I listen and empathise, care and comfort and it doesn't matter at what cost because I must love as many people as I can, I must be perfect, be the best friend and carer I can be because that is what will help me on the road to perfection. I focus all my energies into ensuring everyone else is okay and try to become selfless, I have bettered myself but now I don't know how to care for myself and am now emotionally stunted. So not yet perfect so what next?

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

They say how proud they are of my A* and they smile. Academics! The answer is academics - I must be the best. I work so hard, I am so focused, I drive and drive myself and it doesn't matter at what cost because I must achieve as highly as I can, I must be perfect, get the highest grades I am capable because that is what will help me on the road to perfection. I get the highest grades, I have bettered myself but am now exhausted and unable to continue studies... so not yet perfect so what next? .

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

They say how disciplined I am and they smile. Control! The answer is control - I must be the best. I work so hard, I am so focused, I organise, schedule and be regimented in as much as I can and it doesn't matter at what cost because I must be as orderly as I can be, I must be perfect, be as organised as I possibly can be because that is what will help me on the road to perfection. I am so orderly, I have bettered myself but now control has become obsession and normality becomes questionable... so not yet perfect so what next?

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

They say that today I am beautiful and they smile. Beauty! The answer is beauty - I must be the best. I work so hard, I am so focused, I starve and starve myself and it doesn't matter at what cost because I must be the thinnest I can be, I must be perfect, be the lowest weight I can possibly get myself to because that is what will help me on the road to perfection. I take myself below that emaciated BMI mark, I have bettered myself but now am anorexic and normal life becomes a strain... so not yet perfect so what next?

Just please love me and please don't leave me.

Shrinking Thinking

She'll take your dreams and shuffle them,
And drive spades into your skin,
So you'll raise your bet and gamble harder,
But it's too late you can never win.

Many clinical and psychological assessments of anorexia nervosa patients' show that typically sufferers have an unnatural obsession with their body image and symptoms of a body dimorphic disorder. How an anorectic looks is of utmost importance to her, but for me it wasn't about beauty. This was about both protecting and destroying myself at the same time but never about beauty. It was for pain, for suffering; I never wanted to be beautiful – I wanted to be as ugly as I felt, for the outside to reflect the inside.

Studies show that typically anorectics have a target weight where they wish to look satisfyingly thin - which then subsequently gets out of control, but for me I never wanted to reach a target weight where I was comfortably thin – I never would be satisfied and I knew that from the start. I wanted to be so thin that I looked like I was dying – maybe I wanted the world to see that on the inside I was dying?

My intention was never to kill myself, because to me this represented giving in – I deserved to suffer for being such a pathetic person, I wanted to live feeling pain – to pay a price for living a life that I felt I wasn't worthy of.

In my head I felt as though my mind was eating my body from the inside outwards. A mound of rotting flesh on the inside working its way outward – disgusting, disfigured and grotesque – it was how I felt. That was what I believed I was and as these thoughts grew, I continued to shrink.

Waking Up

She'll bruise and break you with her club,
And convince you that it's fair,
You'll plead and beg for game over,
But you were always playing solitaire...

I was one of the fortunate few who are given an epiphany. In the depths of my illness I had lost all real sense of what was normal and what wasn't and therefore it was going to take something huge to snap me out of this world. I no longer even knew what I was aiming for – I just wasn't eating. My rituals had become so ingrained that I couldn't ever envisage living without them and I certainly wasn't going to break them of my own accord.

I was very lucky to be paired with a wonderful therapist, months, years of intensive introspective work and finding a voice to speak about my fears and a trust in her that she would not give up on me and not being able to manipulate her the way I had done with so many others before that tried to penetrate my iron bubble.

There is something very powerful in empathy and sharing in experiences with others. As I got thinner and thinner and panic and chaos broke out all around me, that made something inside of me snap. It wasn't people telling me that I was going to die if I didn't stop that changed my mind, this was something that had to come from me. It was lead in the depths of things I realised I had hit my lowest point and I had a choice here – learn to live, or die. Dying wasn't an option; I was many things, but I wasn't a quitter. I finally opened my eyes and looked around me, at people that were genuinely ill, with genuine problems and realised that I did have so much to live for. I COULD change this where many really couldn't. There was still hope for me and I wasn't prepared to be ignorant to that. I wanted to live for those that couldn't and give back. I began to try and see from the point of view of my loved ones those unable to understand why I wanted to destroy myself as I was doing, unable to see why I saw myself like I did – what my perception was.

Interlude: Perception Reflection

Anorexia- where a girl is given the choice to become inhuman, escaping body (and therefore mind) to become something beautiful and better, to escape the hate of herself. She knows that they only way she can ever become good enough is to be weightless and free.

An anorectic lives in her own beautiful bubble, always on task and always aspiring to new targets and experiences a giddy sense of elation when she reaches them. Self satisfaction brought with each new challenge - there will never be an end - new targets can always be formed. She's tired and weak but she knows it's worth it - she will be beautiful and perfect. An anorectic knows she is in control...


Anorexia- where the sufferer is torn between the love of become inhuman, escaping body (and therefore mind) to become something beautiful, to escape the hate of herself and the self destruction she is inflicting. The sufferer is driven to believing that they only way she can ever become good enough is to be thin enough but there is never a limit.

An anorectic is trapped by her own obsessions constantly striving for her own goals to only push them higher when she reaches them. Self satisfaction becomes impossible as she finds herself never being able to achieve what she wants, exhausted mentally from the constant drive and her body weak from the torture and destruction it's been subjected to. An anorectic believes that she is safe inside her "illness" because she finds that it's the only way she can control what's going on in her mind.

Life is about perception. I believe that it isn't so much the things that happen to us that affect us, but more the way in which we choose to deal with them. Maybe I couldn't learn to like myself but I could learn to accept myself.

Seeing Beauty from the Beast

Perhaps I will never understand why I went to the extremes that I went to in my pursuit of perfection (of happiness?), why I felt that I had to hit a real bottom before I could even consider going up. Is it because there is something so alluring about dying? The concept is so seductive yet so poisonous at the same time. I seemed to need a world of fantasy to live in - reality and I didn't seem to agree with each other. The "real world" was the wrong kind of world for me – it felt too chaotic, too risky. So what I did instead was choose a world of lies; however beautifully disguised they were still just sugar-coated lies.

There wouldn't ever be a way of expressing into words the process I had to go through to get to the point I am now – there wouldn't ever be a way of giving it justice. In it's most simple form I learned to accept that this is who I am and I need to stop trying to conform to things around me, stop holding on to what I don't have, the dissatisfaction I have about myself - this is who I am and I can't change the real essence of who I am no matter how hard I try- this IS who I am. I decided to stop trying to be something else, stop trying to mould myself and stop blaming my surroundings.

One morning, I was just struck by a thought that crossed my mind as I looked into the mirror. For the first time in my existence I looked in the mirror and thought "today I look beautiful". It was nothing to do with my weight, my choice of outfit, my hairstyle or make-up, nothing at all to do with my physical appearance- it was because I look happy - I am happy. In some ways I feel that I have been blessed to have such an insight into myself and into life at such a young age. When I first started to get better I felt like my whole life had been turned upside down and inside out – but it felt wonderful – it feels wonderful - because it was me that turned it upside down and inside out! It was my choice and in my control - real control. Something I'd never been able to admit, been to afraid to admit, was that I'd never been in control – and it was my safety methods and boundaries that were controlling me. Of course I feel a definite sadness for the loss of a part of my life to being ill but that has given me even more of a determination to make up for that time. I'm going to take everything from life, soak these experiences, just live.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Bare Necessities

I don't think you have to talk to me for more than three seconds to realise that I sleep, eat, breathe, live fashion. There are few greater pleasures in life than in wrapping luxurious fabrics around skin, adoring, decorating the form and transforming oneself into a walking work of art.

That said however, I feel when I write that I want to be at one with myself, to be natural, with my soul and therefore to do it completely in the buff.
The nude, naked, in my birthday suit.

na·ked   /ˈneɪkɪd/ [ney-kid]

1. being without clothing or covering; nude: naked children swimming in the lake.
2. without adequate clothing: a naked little beggar.
3. bare of any covering, overlying matter, vegetation, foliage, or the like: naked fields.
4. bare, stripped, or destitute (usually fol. by of ): The trees were suddenly naked of leaves.
5. without the customary covering, container, or protection: a naked sword; a naked flame.
6. without carpets, hangings, or furnishings, as rooms or walls.
7. (of the eye, sight, etc.) unassisted by a microscope, telescope, or other instrument: visible to the naked eye.
8. defenseless; unprotected; exposed: naked to invaders.
9. plain; simple; unadorned: the naked realities of the matter.

I'm not entirely sure what first gave me the impulse to do it, I was most likely caught off guard getting ready for bed or something but I've found that since I don't feel I can write with heart and soul unless I do it completely unclothed. There's something about needing to feel completely at peace with myself and I am at times completely scathing of my body and feel important when wishing to communicate and share with others that I am completely at ease myself so as to deliver my message wholly and with only pure intent.

Completely natural. We were all born naked and it often baffles me that there is such scandal about being nude. Facebook recently made me take down the photographs I had done at Christmas time that were (very tasteful might I add) art nudes and actually not revealing any of my "anatomy". I can understand the restrictions on vulgarity but surely if we as a society were much more accepting of the natural state there would not be so much controversy and therefore those that feel the need to use it for impure intent.

Just imagine walking out of the house and walking down the local high street, popping into a shop and buying a drink but completely starkers. Think about how you'd really feel, what would you feel conscious about? I can almost accurately guess that it would be what others would think, how you'd be judged, looked at ... what it is about clothes that make this any different? They are just a material (in both senses) shield.

I had to giggle at a story my neighbour was telling me earlier about a friend of hers who likes to take all of his clothes off at parties and walk around with a towel on his arm carrying a tray of drinks - just for the shock factor. But why is being naked shocking?

I honestly feel that the world be a much better place if we had more freedom to roam around completely unveiled at times, I won't be giving up my naked writing anytime soon anyway - and if it makes you feel slightly uncomfortable knowing I just wrote this to you completely leafless perhaps question why...?