Sunday, 26 January 2014

'How Long Has This Been Going On?'

It was never entirely a secret - my eating disorder that is. My family was certainly more than aware from an early age - some close people in my life knew it was there and others merely suspected. Later in my career I would reference a "past" issue with several journalists I worked with, but never without suggesting it was all over now - a downright lie. As I have mentioned before, the issue truly came to a head when a small group of adult, long-time sufferers got together to formally approach the media and the Minister to beg for help for the fact they were still struggling decades into their battle. As I worked in the communications world in the health ministry at that time, this issue struck many uncomfortable chords - as the part of me where the denial part of me existed bought into the patient-blaming kind of language and behaviour that often represented step one of "managing" such an issue. And of course I identified to the core the depth of their pain - the longing to be "well", the debilitating shame, the cycle of failed promises to loved ones to "fix" it, combined with a deeply ingrained resistance to experience any consequences of what that fix might entail - the rising of those numbers on the scale that would represent a failure of control - beating down that voice that insisted that everything was conditional - prepared to confront it but not prepared to give up the illusion that the end result would be un-caging some monstrous hunger that would lead to the opposite of the compliment-inspiring state of thinness that our society remains obsessed with. Always seeking some magical approach that would - without any serious work on my part - slay the beast but allow me to maintain the status quo where my body was concerned. So while others slaved at the gym, ate and then bemoaned whatever calorie rich snack they had just consumed, made resentful remarks about how I stayed less than obese - I was scouting for bathrooms that would grant me enough privacy to rid myself of everything I consumed when I could hold out no longer - when the deprivation had run its course. Literally, and as the saying goes, having my cake and eating it too - and promptly getting rid of it. While I don't mean to detract from anyone's unique story, my point is the longer the abnormal becomes normal - the tougher to beat - not impossible - but certainly the odds are not good. So it is no real surprise that in my case - I should find myself where I am today - trying to make peace with this monster - letting it know you may have won but you didn't take my soul...the part of me you couldn't beat is still breathing - faintly - slowly - still here.


  1. As always, you write so powerfully - it is one of your many, many gifts, and one which I am profoundly grateful you are willing to share. And no - the beast did not take your soul - that is clear in your deep capacity for love. Your soul shines... it always has. xo

  2. It's almost eerie that you posted that when you did Michelle, because I just (like an hour ago when I was out walking my dog) mailed a letter to you and Karen (addressed to Karen because I don't have your address - hope that's okay) and in it I mentioned a friend of mine who has been bulimic for 37 years, had treatment, and nearly broke my heart recently when she told me that it's still driving her life. I've never known anyone to have to work so hard for peace of mind, and to be so alone at it. There is so much that is so profoundly wrong here. I too, am grateful that you are sharing so eloquently. Stacy

    1. Oh Stacy...I am so very sorry to hear about your friend and you are correct in saying something is so profoundly wrong about all this. I fear we are a representative of a much larger group suffering in relative silence and great pain. It has been difficult to overcome the shame enough to share...but I feel like there is a purpose if only to send my love to you and your friend and to tell her in a clear and honest are not alone. Am thrilled about the letter as I have so wanted to connect more directly. Xoxo