Friday, February 15, 2013

EDAW '13 - Anorexia's Ricochets

“From the outside looking in, it’simpossible to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s impossible toexplain…”

Fear, frustration, anger, agony…the list goes on. 

Anorexiacan draw out a thousand emotions for the person trapped inside the illness, amillion things they can’t explain to anybody, no matter how hard they try. Butit’s not just the person suffering who feels these things.

Despite being a private, secretive, guarded mental illness... 

anorexia’s ricochets hit every single personaround the sufferer....

No one issafe from the destructive emotions which run alongside an eating disorder. Ittears apart lives, friendships, families and relationships; anorexia has nomercy in who she takes down on her mission to make the sufferer disappear.

It’s near impossible to clear the fog around why someonedevelops anorexia, why they live with it and why they can’t see what it’s doingto them physically and mentally. It’s agonising for someone with anorexia toexplain why and (I’m told) the frustration in trying to understand why your daughter,friend, sister or aunty has spiralled into self-destruct mode, and then, whenshe speaks up, why she doesn’t change what’s killing her, is as equallyagonising.  

The battlefield in explaining and understanding is EXACTLY what anorexia wants. It keepsthe sufferer alone, isolated, feeling frustrated, worthless and guilty. Theexact feelings the illness feeds from.

“Why can’t I make them understand, I don’tunderstand, I’m not good enough to explain, I can’t show them I’m trapped, I’mstuck in here, I’m rubbish, I’m hurting them, I’m a horrible person and I can’tstop. I’m out of control, I need control.”…and so it spirals.  

As a teenager, student, a professional journalist, an adult,I was scared to tell them how serious the ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I don’t eat that’thoughts were. After all, I appeared fine and healthy on the outside.

I couldn’t say the words ‘I have anorexia’ when I wasformally diagnosed and I couldn’t explain to my heartbroken friends why Icontinued to disappear in front of their eyes or to my family, why I ‘couldn’tjust eat’ once I was ‘in recovery’.  Forme, the desperation in trying to get everybody to understand kept my trapped mein my illness and continues to halt my progress in recovery.

But in this desperation to explain, as well as the all-consuming habits and thoughts anorexia brings, I suppose I became blind and ignorant to how I was affecting those around me. And I still am, in some ways.

For those reading this WITH anorexia, I hope it highlights how your illness might be impacting on the people who helplessly watched you disappear or who are trying to support you in recovery. And for the friends, family and colleagues of someone battling anorexia, I hope some of the words of the people around me provide a ‘me too’ moment, which gives you hope that the fog isn’t permanent,and it WILL slowly lift. Mine is lifting day by day. 

I’ve been overwhelmed with how honest, varied and howsimilar some of the experiences of the people around me have been…This video containsjust SOME of the things they’ve shared, and are just SOME of the people around me, I wish I could have spoken to everybody that's close to me. (They know who they are)  But I hope this helps raises awareness of whatit’s like for the people around someone fighting anorexia…This was the hardest thing I've ever produced and written.... 

NOTES: I've blurred the images of friends and family and this video contains a mixture of images from BEFORE anorexia took control, during my illness (but not *triggering* or lowest weight pictures) and more recent 'recovery' pictures. I wanted to use a variety and mix them up. 


Emma Cooper said...

Wow, this brought me to tears. Thank you for having the courage to share. And you WILL beat it #POW!

Anonymous said...

#speechless. Seriously.

LindyB said...

I've had this illness since I was 10. And I've never before seen anything that so powerfully shows (me) the impact of it on those around. It does ricochet ... and the danger is that we become numb to it, no longer realising that anyone else cares or worries.
Thank you so much for contributing to EDAW13.

Sarah Robertson said...

I agree Lindy - I am still so unaware in so many ways about how my illness STILL impacts on the people around me. It's like I stop and think for too long (like when making this video/writing this blog) I become confused and caught up by the guilt of still living with parts of my ED, which to all these people, I should have over-come by now.

If only it were that easy, right?

We can only keep reminding ourselves of what is ED and what is US and keep fighting/

Don't let your illness keep you frozen and numb....

Stay strong, Sarah xx

LindyB said...

Thanks, Sarah. Sometimes it's hard to know whether the fight not to get worse, which can seem all-consuming, counts as a proper fight against the illness. The things I've read and seen during this EDAW have certainly given me a lot to think about! xx