You know “the grass is always greener…”? It’s a common enough expression.
But when you think about it, it doesn’t make sense.
WHY green when it’s actually red?
The grass outside my window is no more green than Bob’s my uncle.
I can hear your confusion and I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering where the hell this is going… A puzzle. You’re frowning. Figuring out the point.
My point is this: that every time you look at that park, or that garden… you’re thinking that the grass is green. You’re SEEING it with your own eyes. ACTUALLY SEEING it.
So you believe it, right? You can see the grass is green so you believe it. Perhaps you’d even swear to it.
But you are, quite simply, wrong.
It’s not green.
You’re still frowning… or your lip has turned up slightly at the very edge…
What will it take to convince you that grass, as a natural product of this beautiful earth, is bright red ?
Stop and think. Just for a few seconds. What would it take?
Because that’s what everyone else sees.
Everyone else knows it’s red.
Have they just been agreeing with you?!
Going along with you… Not daring to challenge your view.
That’d be why you still believe it’s green.
I know and understand that you THINK this is madness. I know you SEE green… But it’s red.
FACT: Everyone else knows and sees red. You alone see it as that bright green colour.
Stay with me. I’m trying to make sense (despite all evidence to the contrary).
It can be argued that a certain degree of body dysmorphia is part of the human condition.
However, whilst for many of us the distortions in our perceptions are not significant enough to cause distress, it’s very difficult to gauge just how accurate our perceptions are, particularly when they involve our appearance. Hence, a person may grow up with a mole on their cheek and barely see it, whilst another with the same mark, may grow up feeling ACUTELY aware, paranoid even, that it’s all anybody notices. Certainly it may be all THEY themselves notice.
Although each case is different, Anorexia and Bulimia often incur constantly shifting distortions in the sufferers perceptions of their body. the extent of this may depend on the individual’s mood, the amount that they’ve had to drink, the whispering voice of their illness, or how full / empty they feel at any given moment. It doesn’t appear to matter whether the ill person is a tortured artist or a brilliant scientist, the degree to which they are susceptible to absolutely absurd thoughts about food and the body’s relationship to it, remains the same.
For example, as a level headed and rational being, I know that I CAN’T be big in any way because the measurements, weights, body mass I am faced with are completely accurate. The ratio is too low for my body to be fat; too low for my body to be healthy. The figures are scattered on the green grassy earth.
As a sufferer though, I look in the mirror and that grass is DEFINITELY RED. I can SEE it. DAMN IT! IT’S THERE IN FRONT OF MY EYES
AND YOU’RE STILL… STILL trying to tell me it’s green!
I’m fine! There’s nothing wrong with me! I look normal… healthy.
Some days, my arms look chubby… and my thighs often look massive towards the end of each day… but generally, I look perfectly normal.
Arguing with an Anorexic can be hugely upsetting, incredibly perplexing and downright frustrating. You see one thing, they see another.
Families in particular will suffer the agony of watching their loved one deny the truth; a blank refusal to hear the other side of the story. It’s painful to be stonewalled or to have your words hurled back at you. Few can identify with the desperation and helplessness experienced by screaming at a skeleton whose rock solid belief is that they are ‘fat’ or ‘fine’. Not everyone can trace the ridges of the bone along the clavicle of a loved one who refuses to eat because they think they’ve got plenty of fat still to lose.
My message is convoluted. It’s a poor attempt to somehow explain the complex illusion / delusion experienced by the victim of an Eating Disorder like Anorexia.
I know many, many women who dislike parts of their body, or at least, are dissatisfied with particular aspects of their appearance. When someone develops an ED, that dissatisfaction, becomes a rigidly held belief which apparently robs them of a realistic view of themselves. Much like joining an extremist party or cult, Anorexia transforms the mind in such a way that makes reasoning with them, impossible and unrealistic.
Hopeless as this sounds, my final message is to anyone who is having to watch a loved one starve .
Don’t give up.
It can be heartbreaking and it’s often a long, tiring path, but if there’s one thing that will help to save them, it’s a quiet, pervasive message that it’s the ILLNESS that’s lying to them and not the rest of you. If you’re met with a brick wall, don’t employ a bulldozer. You’ll flatten the person rather than the illness.
Remember the quiet echo of the drip that splashes against a stone surface. Gentle but unswerving, the message will sink in, and though they may always see a tinge of red, at least they will accept that, mostly, grass is green