Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

All Time Low

Sometimes song lyrics filter into our awareness and hook into something that we feel or think.
I guess I'm not alone in this experience as I know it's something that has, in itself, been sung about in the "strumming my pain with his fingers" song... Y'know the one... (Frustratingly, I can only think of The Fugees - with their irritating 'one time' spin on it- though I first knew the original version by __________fill in the blank_____).
THAT song tells of someone's shock and disbelief at hearing a young boy singing their "whole life with his words". The narrator (do songs HAVE narrators?) feels that his or her secret pain has been exposed, as though the boy has opened up her letters and "read each one aloud".
Interesting that the song expresses a sense of the agony that can come from being 'known' in an intimate way, of being revealed. The narrator prays that the boy will finish, suggesting that it is absolutely unbearable.
I wonder if the agony was in being known or in being faced with his/her own pain.
Perhaps a mixture.

I digress. I actually wanted to write about the very opposite reaction to the one I've just discussed.

I wasn't listening to the radio I had on as I was driving today but somehow the words of a song I've never heard, pushed their way into my head.
As lyrics sometimes do (and despite the fact I'm not completely sold on the song as a whole) they made something in me feel a little bit heard and understood and realised.
It's odd how a part of you can suddenly and unexpectedly be given a voice through a medium which has no knowledge of your existence, let alone experience.
I guess it's a testimony to the human condition and to the fact that in ways we don't necessarily ever get to experience wholly, we are never quite alone.


Praying won't do it
Hating won't do it
Drinking won't do it
Fighting won't knock you out
Of my head

Hiding won't hide it
Smiling won't hide it
Like I ain't tried it
Everyone's tried it now
And failed somehow

So when you gonna let me
When you gonna let me out - Out

And if you know
How do you get up from an all time low
I'm in pieces
Seems like peace is
The only thing I'll never know
How do you get up
Get up

‘Cos driving won't do it
Flying won't do it
Denying won't do it
Crying won't drown it out


Not really a song of hope or anything, but there may be something ever so slightly comforting in hearing another pose the questions that you have so often asked in the dead of night.



Friday, 20 August 2010

Disappearing Acts

Sharp, scagged fingernails of feeling trace swirling spirals through the inner fog. I feel the nails drag and pierce as they move across old, unseen wounds and I stare, in search of clarity, or discovery. But even as I look, the lines begin to blur and bulge, just like the clean cut of an aeroplane's path across the blue.
And it blurs and spreads into unfeeling mist.

I so often have the sensation of not being able to see something as soon as I look at it directly.
I remember in the early 1990s when 3 dimensional optical illusion posters were all the rage. Teenagers' bedroom walls would be covered with large bits of glossy paper covered in very repetitive, computer generated, patterns made up of tiny strokes of colour.
The pattern (called a Stereogram) was cleverly designed so that it contained an image which could only be seen when focused on in a particular way. Sort of modern man's answer to impressionism. Van Gogh meets Mac.

I used to find that in order to see the hidden images, I had to train my eyes to be looking beyond the poster; I almost had to DEfocus on the image.
The minute I mastered the 'defocusing' technique (actually known as 'parallel viewing'), the hidden delights of the poster were revealed. However, the minute I tried to sustain the image and look at it more clearly, it would disintegrate into a million, seemingly random, coloured particles again.

That's me in therapy.

I so often have the sense that, in order to glimpse something through the fog of dissociation and disintegration, I have to be glancing at it from an unusual angle. A sidelong look from the very outer edge of a very defocused eye.
The minute I try to keep what I've glimpsed, it slides into the mist of unfeeling and 'unremembering'.

That happened a few times in therapy today.

What also happened is very hard to write about.
I suppose because it requires a greater degree of honesty, explanation (and therefore energy) and recall than I feel able to muster.
Even as I type, it's somehow on the very tip of my memory but I can't quite catch it.

Whatever. As I left the little house in the woods, I hit my steering wheel enough to bruise the heel of my palm.
I wanted to shout.
In the room I had wanted to put my fingers in my ears. I spent the entire session with my hands on front of my face.
I didn't want to be seen.

We now have a two week therapy break.
That too has slipped into the unfeeling fog.

What hasn't is the fact that I have put on weight and I have eaten bits of chocolate almost all day long.
It would be nigh on impossible for me to explain the horror I feel at submitting to the cravings when I haven't done my exercise and I weigh more than I have for quite a while.

The levels of desperation and despair are way beyond anything words could contain.

I have replied to comments on my last post if you feel like having a look.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Anorexia's Footsteps



A small, blue child stands in the grey playground; back turned from her playmates; tiny hands pressed tight against her eyes as she chants numbers in a voice higher than it is loud.

Behind her, a group of dishevelled children move with silent, exaggerated care; the thrill of tension bursting from concentrated rosebud lips and then, delicious screams as the blue child swings round, sudden and bellowing and the clenched stealth and stillness break, pouring a cool white rush of pure delight over each small face, even as they fight to keep the tension in their form.

Grandmother's Footsteps.

The aim of the game was for the players to manage to creep up behind the person who is 'it' without being seen to be moving. 'It' could turn around at any point and the other players would have to instantly freeze. Those who were still moving when 'it' turned around were immediately sent back to the starting line.

Why am I writing about an old playground favourite?
You may well ask.

And quite simply, it is what came to mind when a despairing loved one asked me how on earth it got to this point.

Perhaps Anorexia's approach is different for an adolescent or college student, perhaps it walks with a different gait, I can't really speak for others. I can barely even trace its steps towards me, but I know that it approached from behind and I know that each time I turn to look at it, it freezes, closes its eyes and holds its breath. I have somehow become aware that by staring at it, it can disappear. It's an ugly, shapeshifting beast that easily poses as the smallest giggling schoolgirl until you turn away, reassured.



For a 31 year old woman, Anorexia began as a wonderfully refreshing experience of exercising after giving up smoking. It's steps were light, triumphant and exciting. Continuing to feel healthy, my body began to tone up and I lost a few pounds.

It doesn't hurt to cut out a few foods in the name of being healthy, right?

Less bread, less cheese, less meat, less pasta.

Next time I checked behind me, Anorexia was a few steps closer and although a part of me knew it, another part didn't really believe it would be interested in me. I was too old for that sort of thing. I was too 'sensible', too grounded, too self aware.

I turned my back.
No red meat. Only a few mouthfuls of pasta or rice. No bread. No cheese.

I swung round. Anorexia froze. I couldn't tell if it had moved or not.

No meat. No carbs. No dairy.

Low calorie fish, salad leaves, fruit and water.

And where once I thought 6 stone would never be possible, now I dream of 5 and a half.
And Anorexia is playing. Oh definitely. It's creeping now and it's not bothering to freeze and I'm not bothering to turn my back.
Its steps, so quiet and so disguised at the start, are heavy and quite careless.
I can't stop them in their tracks by turning around. I can't make the fearless freeze.

Now my mind is full of the footprints and although I know tracks can be covered over, I'm not sure how and so the game has become a dance. My shapeshifting partner, both a close friend and a worst enemy, simultaneously giving and stealing life. One day its steps bring elation, the next, bottomless despair. One day I dance with fluid grace, the next with lead-soled boots.

One thing I do know is that in reality, Anorexia Nervosa is about as much of a game as Russian Roulette.It has a higher incidence of death than any other mental illness and has clamied countless lives over the years.

Its power is frightening and once it's in the game, many end up playing for their lives.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

It's About Time...

... that I quit being a chicken and actually wrote something that someone might read (as opposed to small, scrawled phrases in old notebooks; and tense, over-inked lines etching some sort of representation of the way a part of me might be feeling).

So. An update, then.

The holiday.
I won't say too much. Best not to.
I flew back 5 days early.
Panic I guess.

I've had to sit very tight.
I'm desperate at having put on 5 pounds.
It feels as though I am have gone into an extreme place of desperation.

The cave within which I dwell is a dark and lonely place to be.
Unless you have had an eating disorder, I don't think you could ever understand the waves of complete hysteria lapping at my hunched body.
I am terrified.

I realise this post is profoundly lacking in anything positive but in all honesty, right now, I am desperate enough to take drastic measures.

You can't hear me but if you could, you'd hear my insides gasping and retching and groaning with the horror of having to eat and not exercise.
My stomach is swollen, bloated, distended.
I haven't had my period, AGAIN.
I am in constant pain on my right hand side (my liver I suspect) - so much so that it gets hard to stand up straight.
Despite the fact that it's not particularly warm, I wake up every night absolutely drenched in sweat. Night sweats? I'm thinking this MUST be to do with my oestrogen levels? My hormones? Does my body think that amenorrhea means the menopause?

Nobody knows.