The Claws of Anorexia Have Lost their Grip on me Forever
DATE: 27TH JULY, 2001
This time, six weeks ago, you had me tightly gripped inside your lying, deceiving web of rules.
Now I am a new person. I am Michele and I am in control of my life. I am hope fully no longer listening to the harsh rules of anorexia.
I am glad to be free but sometimes I wish I still had the security of your rules. But as I wrote that sentence, I realised that it was anorexia who made me write it.
The social changes are obvious. I actually was looking forward to the weekend. Something that I haven’t said in ages- because weekends were a time of insecurity. Mum and Dad would watch what I ate and would constantly be pressuring me to eat.
I am still haunted by you and I know that you still lurk. But I have put you in your place.
Whenever I wish you could grab hold of me, I think of what you would take away from me again: freedom and how you would replace that with unhappiness.
I remember how I used to be so unhappy. Now I am positive and each day is no longer a struggle.
Life is filled with opportunities. Life must be cherished and enjoyed and should not be spent worrying about the ideal image.
My ideal image was non-existent. I knew it had to be think and that fat was intolerable, but, thinking about it now, when would I have reached that ideal? I did not have a mental picture. It was just something that anorexia decided for me. And something that I had to follow.
Food is no longer much of an issue at social occasions. Dinner is no longer the battle it used to be fighting, crying, what I called torture.
I realise how ignorant I became. But I had certain rules and understandings laid out for me by anorexia. But no one else understood or could accept them.
They saw me inflicting pain on myself and those close to me.
People cared about me. They want me to get better and leave anorexia behind. I have so much support that I can’t believe I ever fell into the life of an ‘anorexic’.
Food tastes nice. It can’t kill you and it is essential to the survival of the human race. It is not all fattening.
When you accuse me of being fat, I often listen, punishing myself. But I can tell when it is you speaking. I know when I am being tricked.
Essentially I am again a whole new person. I smile more and try to act happy. But again sometimes it is just an act as I fight an inner battle, a war, choosing to listen to Michelle or anorexia.
Anorexia wishes that my counselling would stop because without it, I would be in hospital at the moment. I would have fallen complete victim to anorexia.
Part of my wonders how my life would be right now if things had not started to change. Some of me is envious. Maybe I would have reached the ideal body weight. But there would have been no end to how thin I would have gone. Anorexia would have just set me more goals.
But then I have to be happy. Because I have escaped. Maybe not completely and I’m not all there yet but I am fighting.
You had me on a string – it was a was a weakened, frayed piece of rope and the only thing that kept me alive was your promises. But they too were lies. Instead of being so tightly bound at the end, the rope is now loosening. I am no longer teetering on the edge of a rocky cliff with just that rope with you at the end. The other side is no longer a hell, where you smile at me and try to push me off the rocks into a turbulent, icy sea. The other side is a freshly mown green meadow where daisies and daffodils will soon grow. The grass i already there and all I need to do is plant the flowers, give them love and energy and attention and they will grow. The meadow is where I want to be. The meadow is where I will soon be.
There will be bumps in this long stretch of road but I have already turned the corner and am on my way home again. I’m nearly there but the journey is long and hard. I am not quite at my house where I can slam the door, lock it and bolt the windows to rid you from my life.
But the curtains are drawn and that is enough to block out some fo the noise of your cries.
far off in the sunshine,
are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them. But I can look up
and see their beauty,
Believe in them
And try to follow
Where they lead.
The anorexic Rules:
- To exercise- 50 star jumps, 100 steps morning and night.
- Criticise myself as a form of self-punishment
- Mirrors are designed for me to evaluate my appearance
- Leave crusts off bread- reduce size and portion.
- I must have a flat stomach.
- Fat is evil and so are foods containing large amounts of fat.
- These rules are the only thing I must think about, the consequences of breaking them are only worse punishments.
- These rules must be adhered to.
- The only time I can rest is in my sleep and even then anorexia can often wake me
- My job is to clean and tidy. I prepare and admire but not eat food. Eating is a luxury and is savoured but only in small amounts.
DO NOT EXCEED BOUNDARIES!!
- I must compared myself and food intake to others and must eat less than them
- Social occasions with food can’t be enjoyed
- Eat less than my sister Jenny at meal times
- Leave some type of scraps behind at every meal
- Follow all routines vigourously
DO NOT ALTER FOCUS-
THESE ARE THE RULES OF LIFE!!!!!!!!
At first when I set out on this unknown journey unaware of the consequences, I thought I would start with a little dieting to improve my image. I thought people would like me better and my appearance would attract nice comments and attention. When I reached my first goal, I decided I was not thin enough and that I could try harder. I could prove myself and at the same time be in control.
I thought you would give me better friendships and new-found popularity. But this only egged me on more. You are like my own cheer leading squad as at each victory you yell support and cheers. However y you just set me new goals so that I can prove to myself and others just how much am capable of. You start a diary of obsessive habits regarding food- ways to prepare low-fat food and the calorie contents of all the things I eat.
You lead me to believe that I eat the same as other people and that I should eat less. However, other people do not face this psychological battle. Each bit of weight lost makes me feel happy as if we are proving that we are a team, destined for undefeated winning.
This was my thing, something I had complete control over. Now I am unsure as the voices by which you speak your thoughts of weight loss. I have over-tidy habits and I feel at home in the kitchen preparing all the meals. I feel unsafe eating fatty foods that I am forced to eat.
I hate my parents when they torment me into eating more than I am comfortable eating. I am mortified as my father has informed me that we are supposed to have a Sunday roast. I know it will be disastrous and I will feel like dying as I stare at the fatty food on my plate. I am scared to go to my friend’s birthday party as she and the other people will not be understanding of my struggles. I will hear them whispering in what I hope is a jealous manner. I want to boast about my new weight. I still do not feel thin and I think I am imperfect.
When will this stop? When will I feel worthy of a life? This is not the ideal happiness I thought lay at the end of this path.
Your promised happiness. I thought it would be fun and desirable to be ‘anorexic’. It seemed a hard goal I was unlikely to reach. Even now I do not think I am anorexic b because I am not light enough. Now I am nearly there and I feel inwardly happy, yet unhappy at the same time.
You are the focus of my life. I can not live without you and you cannot live without destroying me. I was supposed to be in control. Now I think of nothing but food and how attractive it is. Maybe I could have a little of that I tell myself. But you tell me that to have some of that would be sinful- a waste of all my efforts. I am secretly happy for what you have done for me but now I have a split personality- the girl striving to be thin and the one you want me to be. Then there is the unhappy side- which is to depressing to go into. As I sit here writing this I think how I could instead be burning calories. I do not know about the pizza at the birthday party, it is another hard decision- who will win- you or me.
NOW THE OTHER SIDE:
It is you that deceives me into thinking I am fat. How come very few people a re seriously concerned about my weight loss. Unless you know about my hate of food- you would not pick me out in the street as being anorexic. That I think is your goal for me.
Meal times are dreaded and nearly all food is fattening. When dad makes me take more food, I look at my sister’s smaller plate and loathe him- why must I take more? Why turn this meal into a ‘pig’s meal’? That is what you speak over and over to me. Fine then, I will have to cut back. I compare my food intake to others- yet they do not do that to me.
I love my parents and feel guilty for destroying our family. Other times I wish they would just let me be a silent sufferer, inflicting pain on myself.
Now I am always cold and if I did not have you to confide in, this whole thing would fall apart- no one else cares about my triumphs and food victories(weight loss). There are good and bad foods. I have spent hours studying calorie charts and the Weight Watcher’s point guide. I feel as if I could go on forever, another sign of how important you are. Half of me wants to get rid of you- reluctantly though- and the other half enjoys your company. I wish it was not so hard. Letting loose is the hardest thing. Two voices- you are well in lead in this race. I must step out and look at myself. This is a nightmare- destroying my youth, childhood, freedom to live and enjoy and cherish life.
You will soon destroy my academic records. You have ruined my social life. You make me angry but I don’t want to retaliate. I am in your command now and must follow orders until we/you have won.
This is a cold harsh struggle. A dream where I am trapped behind closed glass doors viewing/living a nightmare. I rest at night and you cans till wake me up and touch me with your horrible deceiving ways. It is a hill with a downward descent. It is too hard to climb again. Especially with Sunday roasts and pizza looming around the corner
Where did it go wrong? Trapped into self-destruction. You are doing this and I am the victim. I have no choice. Or do I?
The other side says:
I am a soldier,
trapped in this nightmare.
You are my commander,
and I must follow orders.
That is my way of life.
And these are dismal thoughts.
22nd December 2001
It seems so long ago that I initially encountered you, but in reality it has only been months.
I have come so far, at first taking baby steps in my recovery, and then progressing to giant steps. I don’t know which were more terrifying &endash; the small but significant thing such as having snacks between meals, or the big things, like eating chocolate. They have all played a huge role in my recovery. Even though the big things were frightening, I have always had my devoted supportive and loving “team”, whose commitment and will to make me better have helped push me along and boost my spirits in the “tough times”.
In some ways you have taught me more than some people learn in a lifetime. I have learned that perfection does not have to be strived for and that a B would be just as acceptable as an A. However, I know that there is no better thrill than the overwhelming joy of success. I often wonder because I did not succeed in Anorexia’s ultimate goal (death through starvation), am I a failure? But I guess recovering from that is success.
I would have never believed that I would put on 14kg to reach a healthy weight a few months ago. I would have been angered at the suggestion and it would only have me more determined to lose weight.
I am learning to love and accept myself for the way I am. I do not have to have my body image as a way to control my life, or as a solution to my problems. I don’t need every person in my life to love me &endash; I just want to be accepted by some of them.
I have learned the importance of true friends. These are the ones that stick with you even through a crisis like this, which many others my age would be unable to comprehend and deal with. I value and respect these friends and I don’t have to hide behind a barrier of protection, cunningly concealing the real me.
A few moths ago, when things were really bad and the scenario of me even putting on weight seemed impossible, my Dad told me that he would “make me better”. It was the same with the guidance counsellor, Alison Horspool who on our meeting she informed me that she “would help me to beat the war against Anorexia”. I think that I needed to be told those words to reassure the part of my mind that wanted to overcome Anorexia that it was possible and could be achieved.
I still hear an occasional voice telling me that I’m fat and that things don’t have to be this way. I know though that I could never give up what I have now (a life) to succumb to Anorexia. The voices are like the gentle, almost silent buzzing of my radio when the volume is turned down, but the power still turned on. Thus, meaning that if they get too loud, they can always be turned down.
I can not thank my family enough and I admire my 11 year old sister for always being there, whilst not interfering. She would always make me feel happier, and it is great to have the energy to chase after her if she annoys me! My parents have continued to support me and I can not imagine what they had to go through with me. Mum once said how she had been prepared to go through the usual teenager stuff such as dating, parties, piercings, etc., but never an illness like Anorexia.
When I did my speech in front of a bored-looking 600 3rd Formers, I just hoped that I could touch at least 1 person in the crowd. That, maybe, they would talk to me or realise the importance of getting help early to prevent Anorexia’s destruction.
I now believe that if someone doesn’t accept me as I am, then they are obviously not the sort of friend I would want. I don’t have to change. The light at the end of the tunnel is now the room that I stand in, it’s a bright room, filled with glory and happiness and I think that I am ready to close the door and shut out the blackness that I call Anorexia. Once a friend and foe, she is now my only enemy. Despised and hated by many, she has a sad life, feeding off others misery.
Everyday is special and serves as a reminder that we are all different but we are all loved by at least one person. I often wonder why this happened to me, but I am now a stronger person and, while there will be struggles in my later life, I feel as if I can face any challenge.