Tuesday, 14 December 2010

I'm not going to save the world of this.

I'm one of those people. I want to see other people happy, and I believe in treating people the way you wanted to be treated. That means, sometimes, giving people what you desperately wanted for yourself.

But I think I am more or less done with this personal campaign of mine. Haters will hate and stupid people will be stupid. A high IQ apparently does not protect against stupidity. Sadly, western society is screwed, and too many women who could have been great throw away themselves for the sakes of men.

See, here's the deal. This will probably be the only time ever I am going to write about this on here because it is my past and I don't believe in lingering in the past... especially if said past can always come back and in fact kill you.

I have a 10-year history of anorexia and bulimia, and I am as close to being fully recovered as anyone can ever be. But that, my dear people, is almost my entire secondary school career and almost my entire university career down the drain. Many former ED suffers go into ED counselling or some other form of anti-eating disorder thing. When I was ill, I thought it was because they didn't want to let go. Now I know it's because they really don't want others to go through it.

The problem is, Western society (continental less than American, British or South-African society) glorifies disordered eating. I have already written about this. Entire magazines devoted to teaching people 'self control' and 'how to burn more calories'. I am fully aware of the paradoxical obesity epidemic (or maybe the paradox is the other way round). I also have real respect for those who attempt - and manage- to turn around their unhealthy lifestyles using patience, common sense and actual healthy eating. I also have sympathy for those who suffer from very real eating disorders. My sympathy ends -and my campaigning begun- at those who have the full potential to be truly healthy, but continue to obsess about food and use ridiculous methods to attain unhealthy weight goals. Some of them call themselves 'pro-ana'; others  think this fasting thing of them is actually healthy. And they're stupid enough to think they won't have a problem or won't develop an eating disorder because they will never reach the weight limit for being anorexic. Newsflash: Most of the eating disordered people I know are not underweight. Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is potentially lethal too.

I myself was not underweight for half of the time. That didn't mean that my metabolism didn't come to a screeching halt above my actual, natural set point weight when I was fasting. I didn't look the part, but I was very ill. Somehow I did manage to land myself in the 'really underweight' range. Now THAT was a shitload of fun. Nothing fit, I was too weak to carry my own groceries up the stairs, I passed out during dermatology operations.

I sometimes still miss the perceived 'good' things about my anorexia. I miss the kick, and I miss the false sense of safety it gave me. But I am going to have to deal with that. I did the whole thing in reverse order, starting with bulimia and finishing off with anorexia. The price was high:
- My growth stopped. Well before I ever became underweight. I had a catch-up growth spurt in the first set of treatment, but I never reached my full growth potential. I don't regret not being 5'11, but if I entered the first bout of recovery 2 years later, I would be standing a rather average 5'8 tall.
- I only started ovulating at age 19.
- Loneliness. I have few friends, I have no boyfriend or life partner and I have not had one whilst in my cocoon.
- I would have been earning nice money right now, instead of still trying to get that licence to practice
- I had one good year of secondary school, I missed out on all the fun in the rest.
- I missed out on almost my entire student life.
- Eating disorders are expensive
- and actually, I do not have to explain that 10 years of suffering is not worth it.
- I have no idea what the state of my skeleton is like. I don't know what long-term complications may still wait for me.
- Even to this day, I have stomach problems.

I am just very lucky I still managed to finish my studies. Most people don't get that far, especially those with a chronic (duration >7.5 years) eating disorder (of the anoretic type). A friend of mine died. Several others are still stuck in limbo. Living with pure bulimia or compulsive overeating may leave you, on average, in a more functional place, but it can't be much less of a hell. After my first bout of therapy, I went off to university. Around my second year, I re-entered therapy. In the end, I never got the help I needed. Simply because I had been given up. Was working  towards learning to live with the anorexia, and restoring as much of a normal life as possible.

But I did get better. I essentially did it all by myself, without the support I really needed. That bit still hurts, and maybe that's why I want to help other people not go into the valley of hollow cheeks. I'm wildly jealous of those 16-year-old anorexics who get admitted, get the full work up and still bitch on about how hard it is. Oh, and then write stories in magazines about it. I did not have support, I was sent to group therapy for people with personality disorders where I was completely out of place due to lack of personality disorder. I had a GP who would request bloods for me if I asked her to. The few people around me were tired of my anorexia, and did not support my fight any more. I didn't have nutritional support.

And since I've been talking to some people about it, I've been telling this story because I know that so many people would be so much happier if they were normal around food and if they could accept that maybe, like the lovely Venus, they're real women with real curves. I tell the truth, because I really wished somebody would tell me the truth and help me back then. Preferably before the shit hit the fan... but nobody was bothered.

It's my past, and it was born in a very unhappy place. I was not just the girl who wanted to fit in. I was not one of these wannarexic girls, neither was I wan of those who really just have a personality disorder but want sympathy for their eating disorders. I was the real deal, and I had idiotic followers who wanted to be like me (as thin as me)... there are 170 of them who started following my old blog while I was desperately trying to get better.

But essentially, all I wanted was to be happy, ordinarily happy. This song still breaks my heart.

And yet, there are so many people, people around me who feed into this monster. A bunch of hypocrites, who will scrutinize me for every biscuit I turn down (because I don't want to eat biscuits right after dinner)... meanwhile they're going on and on about their crazy diets, their fasts, how fat they are... I hate 'you're so skinny' comments, by the way. 1) I'm naturally skinny, when I'm eating healthily my body ends up there and stays there and 2) you have no idea what it took to get up to my natural weight after being really underweight for years. Many of these people hold habits that are not extremely different from mine as an anorexic. The main difference is maybe somewhere between 5 and 20 BMI points, really. And maybe the fact that I never held the delusion that I was being particularly healthy in not eating. And maybe the thought pattern behind it.

So I have decided to choose the selfish, less mature stance on this over the mature one where I want everybody to be happy in themselves, since all my best efforts have simply been disregarded, and people just WANT to keep on to whatever false hope they're clinging on to. I mean, in the end, every day they spend fasting, or on some crazy diet, will only make them fatter in the end and it will only bring them further away from their crazy BMI 18,5 goal weights... because we all know the only way to lose a vast amount of weight is to preserve muscle mass... and fasting or crazy diets kill muscle mass. And kills your mind, your satiety mechanism, your metabolism... all those things you need to successfully lose a vast amount of weight.

My new stand on this will be: Whichever way you turn it; I win, so suck it up and enjoy being fat forever. I win in your terms, because I'm thin. I win in my terms because I get to have a healthy diet (yes, actually eat and remain thin) and a strong mind and body which have conquered the most lethal psychiatric disorder. Now if you don't mind, I'll go on and kick ass in real life.

Or attempt to go to sleep.

I thought up that entire piece over my very nutritious and fairly all right tasting pasta with tuna and nice veggies.

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