I’m not going to write about all the reasons why I was the least likely host site for Anorexia to burrow into. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that nobody could believe it, me included.

However, just ONE of the reasons why I am an unlikely candidate, is the fact that I have always been regarded as being “a block of sense”.

It’s true, I have suffered with lifelong anxiety, something which has only really been acknowledged in more recent years, but as a general rule, certain phobias aside, I really am an incredibly pragmatic, diplomatic, rational thinker.

I don’t mean that I can do all the lateral thinking puzzles that MENSA books torment people with. I don’t have an endless chain of resolved Rubik’s Cubes.  And I don’t sit down everyday to complete the Times Cryptic Crossword, just for kicks.2000px-Rubik's_cube.svg

No.

However, I DO have a high proportion of common sense and very level head.

I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, and again, you’ll have to trust me when I say that arrogance isn’t something that has been a strong feature of mine, but at the end of a long chat last week, a struggling friend looked at me quizzically and asked, “how did you get to be so wise?”.

At the time I shrugged it off, but later I heard it echo and I wondered… How come I have all this wisdom, and yet, can’t apply it to myself. How is it that I can see lights in other people’s tunnels, yet my own is the darkest shade of black? How can I have such insight into the pain carried by others, while I stumble in blind circles? Why can I feel what they feel, but not what I feel? How is it that people are consistently impressed with my intellect, my ‘wisdom’, when all the while,  my Anorexia is behind the scenes calling the shots.

It was my friend’s question that spurred me to write this post, because I want to illustrate something of the devious nature of an Eating Disorder. I’ve heard it suggested that sufferers of this illness choose to be thin in a ‘supermodel wannabe’ sense; that it’s vanity. I’m here to set the record straight. On the contrary, my illness makes me uglier, far less attractive.

I’m writing to explain that I CAN’T EXPLAIN how it is that my rational mind understands that I can’t be fat. It sees the figures on the scales at weekly weigh-ins at the unit. It hears the calculation of my (stupidly low) Body Mass Index, and yet, the Anorexia wraps itself round it all, and perverts it, twists it and denies it.

Lots of people ask the question, ‘do Anorexic’s see themselves as ‘fat’? It’s a massive (no pun intended) concern for those seeking understanding.

I know I’m not fat. Many seasoned Anorexics KNOW this on some level. I do however, feel that I look ‘normal’. I don’t see ‘underweight’. I don’t EXPERIENCE ‘thinness’.

So, I’m shocked beyond belief at a picture my dad takes of me.Picture altered to make background less recognisable.

I can’t recognise the scrawny person in it. She can’t be me. surely?

This is what I want to purvey. This is what I want to educate people about, because I think it’s the hardest aspect for those who watch, to understand. A person may have an IQ higher than the year they were born, but their perception of themselves can be as skewed as the government data on employment. Even with this photo, and the fact that I’ve lost weight since. I still cannot compute that I really look like that.

Such is the complete distortion of an otherwise rational mind. It’s one thing to know something in your rational mind, it’s another to experience it as ‘being real’. In this sense, I make the (somewhat controversial) assertion that Anorexia has an element which is akin to psychosis. This is where the illness becomes a mental health problem, rather than a ‘state of mind’.

 

 

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One Direction...

It’s taken me a good few years of severe illness to reach a peaceful understanding that recovery is more of a direction than an actual destination.
Perhaps there is something disheartening in the idea that recovery is not an actual, secure, concrete ‘place’. I sometimes feel frustration… that I just want to ‘get there’. It’s hard to learn that there is no concrete place to stop when you are so weary from the journey you’ve already made. It takes strength, stamina and guts to pull yourself up, to brace yourself and carry on into 2014. I am taking a deep breath and, to borrow the words of a psalm in the bible, setting my’face like flint’, gritting my teeth and carrying on. My hope is that if you have been struggling with something for a while, you can do the same. Take small steps, one at a time, in the right direction.

First Frost

First Frost

As I drive to my place of cold

Morning sun streams

over frosted fields

Recovery is a wing

pierced by blades

of winter grass.

There Must Be More of This

imag0351_1_1_1.jpg

…. than I can currently see.

I hope that there is hope.

Don’t Look Back II

Don't Look Back II

But Lot was so afraid he couldn’t move. So the angels grabbed him by the hand, and they grabbed the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, and they led them out of the city. As soon as they were safely out of the city, one of the angels said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”  And then God rained fire onto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thick, black smoke filled the air like smoke from a fiery furnace. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

(Paraphrased Old Testament story – Taken from Genesis 19:25 ff )

Sometimes in life, you have to grit your teeth, set your face like flint and let the hot tears run cold down your cheeks.

running woman

You have to put blinkers on and RUN, ignoring every twinge of agony and crashing through every brittle hurdle of despair.

Scream if you have to, but whatever you do… DON’T LOOK BACK.

Don’t look at what you were, where you’ve come from or how you felt.

Just keep running like nobody has ever run before.

There’s a point in recovery, be it recovery from an addiction or recovery from an Eating Disorder, when to look back is fatal. Just like Lot’s wife, to look at what you’ve left behind will destroy you.
In the case of Anorexia, to stop pushing through the pain barriers, to allow yourself a tiny backward glance, is to begin to slow down. Casting that quick over-the-shoulder peek, may not feel like it, but it’s going to make your feet like lead, your path like treacle. And all of a sudden, it’s got you. Again.

You were going through hell and you should have kept on going.

Why go through halfway through hell and turn back?
That’s what looking behind you will do.

Coffee Critique…

image

This post was supposed to have text underneath saying:

“Sorry SOHO. It’s a no no..!”

…but somehow it got lost and you got the coffee without the critique!  This is the corrected version.

We Will Be Okay  - *but please read small print.

Delinquents defacing ugly walls may sometimes be the unheard prophets and poets of our time.
I snapped this in a quiet alleyway whilst walking a backstreet of ever-so-respectable Cheltenham town.

I needed to re-visit this picture today and know that this wall speaks a truth that only I can bring into being.

I’m not a fatalist. (Apologies to all those who I’ve disappointed) but I think it’s too easy to sit back and say that I have no control over what happens to me.

Truth is, fatalists make fatalism true. (No… I’ve not had a glass of wine, honest!)
What I mean is, if I don’t take the wheel, things will ‘just happen’; whereas if I choose to sit up, grab the tangled reigns and pull with all my might, I CAN change direction.
I’m not saying that I have the ultimate power… and I understand that those fighting addiction must admit that they can’t go it alone… BUT, as far as recovery is concerned, I must CHOOSE to turn around and fight the sickness that so cruelly creeps and seeps through my mind, rather than let it coat me in its treacle blanket until I melt away.

We WILL be okay. We WILL.
(small print below)
But we have to show some mettle. We have to CHOOSE to fight. We have to believe we will be okay because we’ll make damn sure of it.

Recovery doesn’t come to those in the passenger seat.

It’s a driving position.

So This Is Beauty...

The sense of wonder that we can tap into as we observe nature is so powerful it can stun us into moments that stand far from the ache of our life’s problems.
Today, let’s just try to take one moment out of our complex minds to carefully observe something in the outside world.
Start by looking closer than you’ve ever looked before. Take the camera on your phone and zoom in on something, carefully showing tiny details. If you don’t have that, just pretend your eyes have a ‘zoom’ and focus on something new.
As we move outside of ourselves, we are freed from all that hinders us.
Just for a moment.
Natural beauty is healing. I swear to it.

Feathered Hope

Feathered Hope

Emily Dickinson on Hope
(1st Verse)
Dickenson knew what it was to feel despair, yet she writes with such tenderness about hope. As an inpatient, I made this to hand on my wall.