Meeting with Diana , and her Mother Ann
DIANA, ANN AND DAVID EPSTON
DE: I’ve been talking to Diana and Ann and its the 27th day of August. And we were just reviewing Diana’s experience of her mum and dad’s anti-anorexic way of being and talking. I’ll just catch the tape up with us. You were saying that, in general, what was most important to you was that they had a way of disagreeing with you – speaking something other than the way of Anorexia – in a way that also allowed them to hear you and acknowledge that you were speaking. And for you that was important. And what were we talking about then? Oh, at first when your mum and dad started intruding this way of talking and thinking, it, in fact, offended you.
DE: Can you tell us what was the nature of that offence?
DT: At first, I thought that they were against ME.
DE: Did you feel that they were abandoning you?
DE: At that time, did Anorexia have a way of telling you that your mum and dad were doing?
DE: What did Anorexia tell you your mum and dad were doing by standing up for Anti-Anorexia?
AT: It said that they don’t really want me. They didn’t love me.
DE: I am just guessing here. Did it then tell you that the only way to ensure their love was to get worse?
DE: I remember you mentioning that a few times in the early days. You even asked me if we would be interested in you if you weren’t’ a captive of Anorexia? I think we all just went – ‘Whew! We’d really like to talk to you! – We assure you we won’t abandon you.’ Do you remember that conversation? I am thinking back to that and I recall being shocked by that!
DT: I think I vaguely remember that.
DE: Do you have many memories of that time or is it just like a nightmare?
DT: It’s not like a nightmare; its really vague.
DE: Do you have a hard time keeping the days apart? When do you feel you started getting your mind back? For me, I couldn’t believe meeting you in the hospital . . .there was YOU.
DE: A person I guess who was always there. In fact you were the very person your mum and dad had told me so much about.
DT: Yah, it was in hospital.
AT: You got to the point where I think you knew really that you were in real deep trouble and you needed more help.
DT: I knew I needed help but I didn’t really want it.
DE: Yah, but at least you knew you needed it!
AT: It was a real shock when the doctor actually gave us a time to go to hospital. What! (laughter) Hospital! (laughter)
DE: What would you put your self-discovery down to? Would you consider that you rediscovered yourself or found yourself? You found your direction again or got a new direction for your life?
DT: (confidently) A New direction!
DE: Really. Do you figure you have caught up to all the time it took away from you?
DT: I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
DE: Isn’t it exciting to think about that?
DT: Yah but sometimes its a bit scary. And I think having It with me for so long, I missed out on so much.
DE: Is that a matter for grief that you lost so much?
DT: Yah, sometimes.
DE: It is also a matter for some zealousness, in a sense, that you’ve been on the bench for a quite a long time and that you want to get back into the game and make use of your time?
DT: Yah. I really want to do something. I don’t know what it is yet. I just know I want to do something.
DE: Has this experience led you to believe that your life is important? You have a life’s work or …? That there is something important about you?
DT: Not really that.
DE: Is it a mixture of apprehension and excitement that you look to your future with?
DT: Yep . . .I want to help other people too.
DE: Yes…do you feel you know something that other people may not know and you do not want this to happen to them?
DE: If you kind of met yourself – I don’t know how many years ago it was ….3 years when Anorexia started to …
DT: Yah five.
DE: ….inch its way into your life, and then there were some things that happened that obviously opened the door of it ….some calamities….what would you tell the person who you were then? What warnings would you give? What would you say or do?
DT: I don’t really think there is anything you can do or that I could do to stop IT. But just being there for people really is the most important thing.
DE: How significant was it for you when Jenny (another League member) just went out and gave you a hug. You met her twice didn’t you? Do you remember her?
DT: I remember her well.
DE: She has emigrated to Australia, I suppose, trying to catch up on her life.
DT: Yah, I am really anxious to start doing things.
AT: You are saying – I want to go and meet somebody …I want to go to the city….I want to go to school (laughing).
DE: When do you see yourself re-entering a school life?
DT: Mum said the school counsellor was supposed to ring up yesterday. And I got my job back too.
DE: Congratulations! That;’s a credit to you because I’m telling you that Anorexia and its starvation isn’t any good for your mind. It’s not a recommended thing to do for thinking.
DT: No (laughing).
DE: I was amazed that at that time and under those circumstances, you were able to ..
DE: When did you get your delightful sense of humour back?
DE: I don’t remember you enjoying anything then …even smiling when I first met you.
DT: I think I got it back from Judith really.
DE: Did she bring it out in you?
DT: I actually got two post cards from her because she went overseas.
DE: Do you feel that anorexia has much of a hold over you now?
DT: Sometimes it does.
AT: Parts of days …not days, just parts of days.
DT: Though it seems when I have those times I get really, really upset and cry and cry and cry. But then after that, it’s okay. I can just go back to the way I was before.
DE: Really….that is an amazing sign!
DE: That’s a real sign of victory in a sense that you can take a loss and it doesn’t wreck your day. And IT doesn’t talk you into ‘all is lost’. Or you are back to square one or whatever.
DE: Does IT try to tell you that …all these accomplishments …all this anti-Anorexia is for nothing because you are not perfect. That you don’t do it perfectly or something?
DT: (thoughtfully) Mmmh.
AT: And I have been trying to accept that it is okay for you to be upset. Sometimes I got ‘Ooooh’ I get a bit panicky, sometimes I am trying to remember it is okay for Diana to get upset.
DE: Do you consider that there were any ‘silver linings’ to this ‘dark cloud;’? Is there anything good that is coming out of this for you in terms of your life and your relationships with your mum and your dad, sisters and brothers?
DT: I am really close to Christopher (aged ?) now because I have spent so much time at home.
DE: What about Emma (aged ?)
DT: Sometimes I think she gets a bit scared of me because of what I’ve done over the last while. I think when I ask her questions and stuff, she is afraid of what to say.
DE: Do you think it will be awhile before she feels safe with Diana?
DE: Do you recall that when Anorexia was getting you, it was also getting her through you?
DE: Well, that quite often happens! Do you remember your neighbour who Anorexia killed. And how it got her to starve her children?
DT: Yah. I remember mum wouldn’t actually let me talk to Emma at all about food. I couldn’t say anything to her.
DE: Do you think that was a good idea or a bad idea?
DT: (emphatically) I think that was a GOOD idea! (laughter all round).
DE: You are really funny!Do you know the best way to tell people are Anti-Anorexia? They can laugh. I have met people who haven’t laughed for 7 or 8 years. And when they start, it actually hurts! They haven’t used those muscles.
DT: Yah, it does….it hurts. It does. And with the eating too because you don’t chew your food. And your jaw got SO SORE! They really hurt.
DE: I often ask – ‘does it hurt your face?’ And they go ”Yah…is that why it hurts?”‘ So I then ask them – ‘Can your recall the last time you laughed?’ And they will often say – ‘It was about 7 years ago!’ And they might even cry thinking about the fact that they hadn’t even realized that they hadn’t laughed for so long. To be derived of laughter and joy is one of the cruelest tortures…
DE: That can it be inflicted on anybody. I know this is a hard question and I don’t expect you to have simple answers. What would you put your comeback down to? I know there were lots of things. Any ideas that you think were more important than others?
DT: I remember the first weekend I stayed in hospital. I think mum was there. I think it was on a Sunday. I was standing at the window and I saw these people early in the morning.The sun was just coming up and it was golden and stuff and I thought that I want to be out there. I want to be like them …I want to be out there.
DE: Did you seek another life apart from Anorexia?
DT: Yah. I have always thought of that day.
DE: Would you consider that a turning point for you in a sense?
DT: Yah I guess…well, I just always remember it. I also remember having the tube put down me on that Monday.
DE: What was significant about that in terms of your Anti-Anorexia? How did that figure in it? I’m just trying to work it out.
DT: All I was thinking was getting it out.
DE: Did that give you something to fight against?
DE: Was that like an intrusion?
DE: Did this get you to think to yourself – ‘This is what Anorexia is leading me into?’ How did that lead to your rejection of Anorexia? What meaning did it have for you in terms of Anti-Anorexia?
DT: Just having no choice in the matter because no matter whether I wanted it or not, the tube was doing down for the time.
DE: Was that an awareness that once again your life wasn’t your own?
DE: Whey didn’t you blame it on the hospital and not on Anorexia? Why didn’t you say to yourself – ‘These bastards are wrecking the promises Anorexia has promised me? I can’t wait to get out of here so I can get back to anorexia?’ Why didn’t it go that way because it does with many people?
AT: I think it started off that way a bit, didn’t it?
AT: Then it changed.
DE: How did it change?
DT: I just wanted to get back to seeing my friends and how they were ‘normal’. Just wanting to be ‘normal’ again.
DE: Anorexia probably told you that through it you would be ‘super-normal’ … you’d be better than the best. Somehow or other you no longer believed in it because you now wanted to go back to a life it told you, I guess, was a bad life…an inadequate life…a not good enough life? I know it’s hard but it happened and it is so visible. I’ve got a theory or a guess. Who am I to know? Did it matter to you that your mum and dad got their lives going again?
DT: Yah that was important.
DE: Why was that important that your mum and dad got out of despair and got into – what should we say – recovery? What would you say Ann?
AT: It was so important to find someone who believed in us and you were very helpful in that. Believing that we had the capability. That we were not totally useless human beings who were not capable of resolving this problem.
DE: Diana, did you experience me in the beginning as a person who believed in your mum and dad?
DE: Was that agreeable or disagreeable to you? And what did Anorexia think of me?
DT: Just another person that was against me.
DE: From my point of view when we recently meet in the hospital, somehow or other you knew I wasn’t against you. How did that happen? I would like to understand that. This had never happened to me before for people to think I wasn’t on their side. Perhaps we never really met even though we were in the same room. Anorexia wouldn’t let you listen to me!
DT: Yep..yep. I think it was because mum and dad speak really highly of you and they trusted you and stuff so I thought – if they can trust him, I can trust him too.
DE: Do you remember how your mum was treated at the hospital? What was your experience of that?
DT: She cried every single time. She’d come down and she’d be upset. I didn’t want her to go. I hated them going. I just dreaded every time we had to go because we had to go every week.
DE: Can I ask – did anorexia tell you it was all your fault?
DT: Yah (despondently). It was my fault they were going there.
DE: How did you see the practices at the other hospital as so helpful because you got out of there in record time? I can put it down to your mum and dad because they were so stalwart and staunch….
DT: I just don’t like being restricted. And they put a lot of restrictions on me. And some of them are really, really unnecessary. And I just did not like it.
DE: Do you have any concerns about going back there?
DT: Sometimes yah.
DE: Is that a worry for you?
DT: Only sometimes.
DE: Was there anything – even small things – you got from Lorraine or the League?
DT: There was that one fax about how Lorraine was in hospital. And how she did it and it was almost exactly the same for me. I just kept reading it over and over again.
DE: Who has most enjoyed the return of your good humour?
AT: All of us I think.
DT: I don’t know.
AT: I was sitting there last night watching TV and this face comes in front of me with this big smile (laughter). ‘This is just to show you mum I’m smiling!’
DE: I always like to ask these sort of questions. Ann, what was it like when you first realized her sense of humour and her joy were back?
AT: (deeply) It’s great!
DE: Do you remember when it was?
AT: I think when the time I really realized it and got quite hopeful was when she rang one night and said – ‘I want to do something really anti-anorexic!’ (laughter all round). ‘What should I do?’
DE: What did you come up with?
AT: Well, we ended up that there was this banana cake on the bench and she ate it (laughter)
DT: Just about that small (showing me with her fingers).
AT: You were worried no one else would know. And you thought what would be the point. But after you got off the phone, you decided you would do it anyway, didn’t you? (laughter)
DT: Mum knew …she knew.
DE: The spell of Anorexia is pretty formidable …very compelling and it took you to the edge of life and death. And if I am any judge, you have sort of cracked it. I am not saying IT is not there. And I am not saying IT can’t speak to you. But I am pretty sure IT is going to have a hard time talking you out of what you know, what you believe and what is there about you as a person. And can you imagine what it is like for me when I met you but I knew that you were YOU and I knew then I would be meeting you like I am meeting you today. And that you will have all this ability and capacity. It’s like putting a bean seed in from last year and you have this vision how much fruit one plant will bear….even more than you can eat yourself. There will be enough to give a lot away to your friends. So bountiful! You know it will happen and you are just waiting for it to happen. To be quite honest, I wouldn’t have expected you to be where you obviously are now so fast. The only thing I have to go on is that it has to do with your mum and your dad and it has to do with you.
AT: You wrote me out something, didn’t you? You heard a song.
DT: Celine Dion.
DE: What’s the song? Can I get the lyrics?
DT: Yep (enthusiastically)
AT: It was about having eyes to see when you couldn’t see….ears to listen when you couldn’t hear…
DE: Is that what your mum and dad were able to do?
DT: Yah, I wrote it up, as ‘Mum’s Song’.
DE: Is that a real treasure for you Ann?
AT: Yes it is because you wonder so much if you are doing the right thing.
DE: I never had any doubt in you!
DT: The chorus is ‘I’m everything I am because you love me!’
DE: Gee I hope you keep that somewhere.
AT: She typed it out and decorated it for me. I’ve got the tape and I play it every now and then. It’s my song’.
DT: I am allowed to turn it up really loud!
DE: No restrictions on that! What were the words again?
DT: You had eyes when I couldn’t see; you had ears when I couldn’t hear…
AT: You always saw the best in me.
DE: What an anti-anorexic song that is!
DT: For all the times you stood by me…you lifted me when I couldn’t reach…
DE: Could you make a copy for me some time? I’d like to have it. Do you remember what Brett said about how if Anorexia had cracked the ‘rock’ of his mother and father, ‘I would have been gone”. Anorexia never could crack my relationship with my parents. Why I ask is that the League has become very concerned how anorexia dis-members’ people from your life. How would you consider that IT does that? You almost lost your Dad there for awhile, didn’t you?
DT: Mumhuh. It tells you that they don’t care and that makes you not do anything to keep in contact with them. Like friends and stuff, you don’t phone them up because they don’t like you. You don’t look right. You are not nice enough.
DE: What’s interesting now is that you seem to want to reconnect with the people in your life?
DE: Anorexia won’t like that because for it to operate most successfully, it has to isolate you. Does that make sense to you?
DT: Yah but I haven’t had the courage to ring anyone yet.
DE: If you were to phone someone, who would be the first person on your list to phone? Just in terms of your intentions.
DT: I’m not sure. I don’t really like the telephone very much.
DE: Not intimate enough?
AT: She’s got her 16th birthday coming up. We must have a party.
DE: What about an anti-Anorexia party?
AT: That would be good, wouldn’t it?
DE: What would be really great – I hope I’m not saying too much but I can’t help myself here….
DE: What about a party in which you told them what had happened because they may have had some thoughts that you didn’t like them or want their company. They might think that you thought you were better than them, when in fact you probably didn’t think you were good enough for them, You could have a reunion. Do you know what a reunion is?
DE: Others have told me that when they reunite, people have told them that they couldn’t be friends with them because they were not there.
DT: Yah, that’s what I was thinking about today. Because I thought no one cared even when I was really, really sick. Like no one cared even from our religious community. No one phoned up to found out how I was.
DE: I know that you experienced it that way but there is one thing that really happens is that people get scared and they feel so helpless and they don’t know what to do because if you left them to their own devices, they may have wanted to punish you. They get mad at you. Did you find that some adults got mad with you?
DT: Yah, I know. When other adults talked to me, they always sounded annoyed.
DE: What a lot of people think is that you are just being a ‘little bitch!’ That you are just doing it for attention.
DT: Yah, you are just doing it for the hell of it. Or I must be doing it because I got told to do it.
DE: I don’t think they know what you are up against really. For example that’s what we talked about in the beginning. I remember your Dad saying that he really hadn’t had a clue what you were up against. Did you feel that when your mum and dad were so overwhelmed by all the calamities that you couldn’t talk to them?
DE: My guess is – it’s just a guess so tell me if I’m wrong – that you were really upset for your mum.
DT: Mmmhuh. I really felt sometimes that she had no reason to live. It was all just so awful. It was too much to deal with.
DE: Did you fear for your mother’s life?
DT: Yah I did a lot. In fact, when I was little do you remember that I used to call out for you when I was lying in bed. I used to call out to her and hear her voice saying ‘ ‘What do you want, Diana?’ ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter’ because really I wanted to hear her voice to make sure she was still there.
DE: Well, what do you think of your mother now, especially the way she has developed as a person really through all this. I don’t think many people could have done what you did. When I say what you did, I am referring to standing up for your own life when you thought the hospital was asking you to sacrifice yourself.
DE: Did you know your mother did that?
DE: That you should have done that in a situation in which you were so vulnerable at that time was a titanic thing to do.
DT: Yah it was.
DE: Could you have believed your mother would do that. . . that she actually advocated for her own life and said – ‘I am not going to die for you?’ She said something to the effect that ‘if you are asking me to sacrifice myself for my daughter, I am not going to do it’.
AT: That was what I said to the doctor because he seemed to be suggesting that I should give up my life and what was important in my life. To give up my husband because he was suggesting almost all the time that I should divorce. If I said I was upset about something with Richard, he would say ‘does that mean you don’t want to have a marriage with him?’ Almost repeatedly. It was a refusal to actually listen to what you were saying. I would say something and he would then tell me what I really meant. It sounded like what you really mean is this … So what you are saying is never the right thing.
DT: What he thought you were saying.
DE: It’s getting late. I am sure there is so much more we could talk about but we have to stop there. Thanks so much for your assistance.