Now, this is a topic about which I have a LOT to say. It’s not pretty, or uplifting, or even very funny, even with the passing of time. It’s really shitty, in fact. However, today I felt the stirrings of some old insecurities, and with that came the urge to write.
Someone asked me if I was writing this blog in an attempt to “let go” of this history, and at the time I denied it, saying I simply wanted to share my story. But I’ve thought about it and I think what my friend said is probably true. I’m not over it. I can’t just pretend it never happened. Although maybe letting go is something I can share with you, in the same way.
By the way, this story isn’t going to be published in neat, chronologically-ordered chapters. It’s broken and messy and probably quite incoherent. I hope you don’t mind because I, too, am messy and broken and quite incoherent. Heh.
THIS POST MAY BE TRIGGERING TO THOSE WHO HAVE HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES. IF YOU DON’T THINK IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO READ IT, PLEASE DON’T.
I look at myself in the cracked reflection of my mirror and try to piece together each distorted shard into an unbroken whole. Who am I? Am I a fractal person, as the mirror shows? Or am I something more than that; still the person in the mirror no matter how distorted the image gets?
There’s something about the comfort of knowing yourself, recognising yourself in the mirror, that we as humans, crave. Now, it’s easy to see why, I mean, we woke up from the depths of history a short 3 million years ago – and we still aren’t much more than naked apes with a somewhat questionable moral compass. (Sorry, anthropology nerd over here.)
When you have anorexia, you lose the part of you that wants that security. You look in the mirror, and nothing is the same. It’s like looking into a cracked reflection, always.
Anorexia takes over your life. It becomes who you are. I was no longer Camilla. I was an anorexic.
For me, this mental illness consumed my entire being. It sucked every shard of personality out of me, burned it out along with every last calorie reserve I had. I was nothing more than a cog in an endless machine of crushing and grinding, body and soul.
I looked in the mirror and saw fat. Not actual, like, lumps of fat on my body or anything, because rationally I knew I was far too thin. But the machine clouded my vision. It was like the demon in my head took a big black marker and wrote fat, ugly, stupid, all over the mirror’s surface. When I looked into it, those words were all I could see. I let them consume me, become who I was.
I really did try. Not to get better, no, that was a long time coming. I tried to please the voice in my head, to try and go along with it. Maybe if I took the path of least resistance, it would leave me alone.
But succumbing to its wishes was the worst thing I could have done. I fed the demon, ironically, by not feeding myself.
Now before you judge me, and other individuals with anorexia, it’s not something you can just give up. Why do it in the first place, I hear you ask, if it sucks this much?
Because in the beginning, it works. Self-starvation is a type of addiction, like any other physical addiction. When you don’t eat, you don’t feel. And when you’re hurting, it’s an easy way out. A sticking plaster on the wound.*
*NB: I do NOT promote this as a way of coping. By literally making your body eat itself, the end result is either going to be death – or recovery and discovery of healthier ways to cope. Ones that actually help you process the emotions. I’ll talk more about this soon, I’m sure.
It’s a high, the starvation feeling. A buzz. I-didn’t-eat-and-I-am-invincible. Look at me, surviving, thriving, working so hard, and not having to eat. Look at all the other people, who need food to survive.
Weak. Ha. I am so much stronger than they are.
Until it’s 4pm and you are desperate to go to sleep because the day has tired you out so much and you can’t think and your head hurts and you failed a class test even though you studied and everyone’s mad at you but you don’t know why and nothing matters anyway and you wish you could just disappear and people are asking you what’s wrong but you just – don’t know. You don’t know anything, anymore. Maybe you’ll do a hundred sit-ups. That might help.
There’s no easy way out. All you can do, in the end, is let it consume you, or begin to fight back.
When I decided to start fighting back, my whole life changed. Not in an instant, not in an epiphany kind of way, but slowly. Surely.
To end on a slightly positive note, here’s a link to one of the most positive-reinforcement songs I know. Never look back and never give up! 🙂