Since my last post landed on the same day of the week I’m aiming for a weekly Blogging Tuesday from now on. At the moment it’s the most reliable full day or afternoon off for me so I’m hoping to stick to this new routine. Feel free to shout at me if I don’t live up to it.
There’s such a scramble of topics and ideas circulating madly inside my head today that it’s been hard to focus on what I want to talk about. The reason why is because I have started reading a new book this afternoon – An Apple a Day by Emma Woolf. Naturally, reading about someone else’s personal experiences with eating disorders is ultimately going to instigate reflections on my own and it’s very hard to focus on one particular thing when you’re constantly thinking ‘Yes!’, ‘Me too!’ whilst remembering my own time line.
However the feeling I’m honing in on today is the sense of relief and elation whilst beginning Emma’s memoir. Let me explain: I’ve toyed with the notion of buying books on eating disorders for a while. I would go onto Amazon, have a browse, sometimes put choices into my basket and then decide against it. Why? Because I’d talk myself out of it.
Did I really want to spend my time reading other people’s harrowing experiences? I’ve done anorexia, got the t-shirt, I know what it is, I’m very familiar with what it feels like, I’m well aware of the behaviours involved – do I honestly need to relive all that again? Reading about others accounts in the more time consuming format of a book I imagined I’d feel the same anxieties, fear and restrictiveness they would be talking about because I could relate to it. And why would I do that to myself?
The rather silly, ironic thing about all this as well is that I am planning to write my own book about my personal experiences combined with information on some theories that helped me understand myself and my conditions when I studied counselling at college in 2012/3. If I felt a strong resistance to reading books on a similar topic, why would I expect to read anyone to read mine?
This brought in another factor – fear of jealousy. Say I do read them and I realise that they are better than anything I could ever write? What if their experiences were much more harrowing than mine leaving me looking feeble in comparison? Essentially I was thinking, what if they were better at eating disorders than me? Maybe I didn’t really have them at all? People might read it and think ‘Pah, what she went through wasn’t that bad’.
Funny how after all this time there is still residue from The Voice. The Voice that torments you whilst in the midst of an eating disorder – it can still rear its ugly head when given the slightest opportunity and tell you ‘You’re not good enough. You’re a failure’.
However I have decided to rise above the fear. Research and reading will surely only enhance what I plan to write and help me clarify what it is I want express.
I bought Portia de Rossi’s autobiographical book Unbearable Lightness last year and I instantly fell in love with it. It was one of the most comforting things I have ever read, I adore that book. I identified with so much of her story I felt I had found a common friend and I didn’t want her to stop talking to me. I think I’ll have to go back re-read it now.
Although my point is that today I have started Emma Woolf’s book and I could not feel more different than how I expected whilst debating pressing the click to purchase button on Amazon. Instead it’s almost overwhelming the small euphoria I feel knowing that right now my life is free of an eating disorder.
Today I didn’t wake up and instantly force myself to remember exactly every single piece of food I ate the day before. I didn’t count my calorie intake several times just to make sure I didn’t miss anything out. This wasn’t followed by a sense of despair of how I would get through the day making sure I stuck to my self appointed regimented amount of calories I allowed myself. Neither did I figure out how I could eat the least amount of calories so I could drink more alcohol.
On the other side of the coin I didn’t wake up then instantly wish I hadn’t because I remembered the binge I went on the night before. I didn’t wake up and try to recall everything I ate and groan when I realised I’d forgotten about that whole packet of biscuits or multiple chocolate bars on top of everything else I’d consumed. I didn’t wake up and hate myself. I didn’t wake up and dread the thought of showering cos I’d be faced with my naked body. I didn’t feel the need to compensate for my behaviour and starve myself.
Today I am happy. I am healthy. I am in an incredibly positive place with my life. Today I have had, and will have, the pleasure of my own company from the moment I woke up until I go to bed tonight and I am more than content being with my own thoughts.
Reading about others experiences of eating disorders I feel can be extremely beneficial, insightful and comforting. It’s not scary to read others accounts, it highlights the importance of recovery, that it can be achieved and sustained. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the trauma I went through and the incredible strength it took me to overcome eating disorders and the mental illness it brings again and again. It’s vital to remind yourself.
Today I am free. Freedom is wonderful