Tag Archive: Help


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.

Nice one.

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.

red-grass-

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 STILLSTILL 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

water on stone

“Rebel against your own state of mind…”

The background noise penetrates my concentrated, musical rhythm of ‘knit one, knit one below, knit one, knit one below’…

A glance at the TV brings an advert into sharp focus; a sleek grey car wheeling across a dramatic rural landscape. It seems obvious that it was a car ad but really, it might just asRebel well be the Scottish tourist board (or another bloody Party Political broadcast – Please no more!)

It’s not important. What matters is the fact that I’m having to count my stitches again because one sentence has lodged itself in my mind. It’s vying for my attention, playing on a continuous loop which forces me to stop counting and think properly about how this one sentence resonates deep within me, and how relevant it is in the context of my recovery and, perhaps, recovery in general.

My state of mind is founded on a determination to recover.

But it’s complicated.

‘Complicated’ because I swing between an absolute conviction that I WILL beat Anorexia and that I CAN and AM; and the absolute desperation that highlights the impossibility of it all, the futility of trying and the agony of succeeding at weight gain. (Yes, the presence of absolutes is noted).

The twisted paradoxes that lie like fatal, open jaws, are manifold and make the journey towards recovery all the more perilous for those who crawl along the path.

I want to eat, but I don’t want to gain weight.

I want to gain weight, but I can’t let myself eat.

I pick up my food, but I can’t put it in my mouth.

I drool over supper that I scrape off my plate

I eat all my meals, but I can’t keep them in

I cut off my nose…

Irony after irony. Stacked up, an impossible pylon to climb up or climb down.

I’m losing my thread (which won’t come as as surprise). The point is, in order to recover, I have to rebel against my state of mind.

Anorexia has become a default setting, a default state of mind. It is no longer possible for me to remember when I didn’t much care what I ate, when life wasn’t just about food, or no food. Even when I am absolutely convinced that I am going to crack it, determined that I can do it, the resolve can evaporate before I can pull the top off the yoghurt.

Rebel against your state of mind.

This six word commands a practise that might help in the battle towards restoring some of the balance that the eating disorder has stolen. Rebelling against your state of mind means a battle, a defiance, a disobedience.

Making peace with my state of mind will be about as successful as Chamberlain’s approach to Hitler. Appeasement is not an option.

I realise this post is a slightly bizarre conglomerate of thoughts and metaphor. Out of the habit of writing, I am at once struck by how much Iies unexpressed, and how tangled and tangential, my thoughts.

A peacemaker would beg forgiveness but in a spirit of rebellion, I post this anyway and pretend I don’t care.

I’m not talking about mashed up romantic ‘my-partner-your-partner’ kind of love. That’s all well and good (says terminally single she). I’m talking about a different kind of love; a love that I believe we all have a capacity for, were even designed for. It’s a love that transcends all our cognitive understanding, our hypotheses, theologies and ideologies. It bypasses our intellect, supersedes multiple intelligences and burns through the layers of tired, grey matter. It’s a love which, although at its most visible in the natural world, isn’t tangible or describable. It can be found in every ‘in between’. In between the Redwoods’ leaves, the freesias’ flowers,  the sea and the horizon, the Oaks’  branches, mountain passes… It’s in every shade of beauty. It’s that which we feel when we glimpse a bigger world and a small, silent surge of power waves through us.

In recovery, we need to begin to acknowledge that we are not the world. We are a tiny but vital part of something much, much bigger. AA talk about the importance of connecting with a ‘Higher Power’. I don’t know a whole lot about the 12 step recovery method, but I do know that it has worked for literally tens of thousands, so if you are one of those who is reading this whilst thinking that it would never work for you, please, take a moment to wonder why you would be such an impossible case.

In any type of recovery, I think it is essential to find this deeper love, and even if you don’t feel it, to know that it is there. It exists. It is a possibility.

Paul Brandt sings a song about addiction and about how ‘love will find you’. I call it ‘God’. Call it whatever, there is a love that will follow you down the deepest pit, the darkest tunnel, the weariest and most broken depth of human experience.  Folded up tightly within that love, is a hope that things could get better. Doesn’t matter ‘how’, just that it is possible.  If you are feeling that you’re in that unreachable place, where despair and darkness seem the only things ahead, listen to the words of this song and hold on… There is hope, even if you can’t see it or feel it. KNOW that it is there and you will be found by love.

Hold on. Love will find you.

…Maybe there IS. Maybe there isn’t.Allowing for Possibility

Either way, if we don’t allow ourselves to entertain the possibility that there COULD be a different way of living life, and there MIGHT be a different way of thinking about things, we will never know.

I’m not the hippy type. I promise.

I don’t hug trees, I don’t take herbal hayfever tablets, I ‘m not a vegetarian, I’m not a member of Greenpeace, I don’t do yoga, I don’t wear clothing woven in South America and I’ve never tried Arnica.

But (there had to be, right?) BUT, I do believe that we get into certain patterns of thinking. Even scientists report that there are certain ‘neural pathways’ in the brain, which is a technical way of saying that our thoughts get used to travelling along particular alleyways, leading to familiar places, default settings, if you like. Humans are creatures of habit, brains follow suit.

What are the implications of all this for those of us in recovery?

A friend recently told me that, although they’d like to believe in something bigger, they just COULDN’T and I sympathised because I, of all people, understand doubt, unbelief and wanting something more than myself. Later, I returned to our conversation in my mind and came to the realisation that the word ‘couldn’t’ would probably act as a barrier in her mind.

To be truly open to something, like the possibility of recovery, is to allow it to rattle round our minds without any thing as concrete as ‘words’ attached to it. Just as if you are rolling a ball round a clean floor; no mud, no dust, nothing to stick to it…

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s in this act of ‘allowing’, that hope filters in… unseen… unheard and then… suddenly:  there.

Opening up old wardrobe doors. No thoughts. No can’ts, cans, couldn’t, wouldn’t, must, should or shouldn’ts.  Just opening something up.

It has to be worth a try.

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