Why oh why oh why?

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, highly esteemed non-gender-specific others.  Hello and welcome, as they say, to my all-new blog.  I haven’t blogged in ages so please pardon the rust and creaks while normal service is resumed.

I recently took part in a telly programme about the way we view food and our bodies and the drama that goes on beneath.  (By which i mean the emotional connection with food and eating, not trapped wind.)  It’s mostly about overweight and underweight people doing a diet swap to show them how bonkers their eating behaviour is, but the strand running through in which i’m taking part is about eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

My reasons for becoming involved with this are numerous.  One factor is pretty selfish really: i’ve been bulimic for years and years and want to get better (a semi-treatment programme is involved in the making of the series) and i feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of myths surrounding eating disorders, especially normal-weight bulimia, as well as insufficient help for the latter.

Why the hell would i want to go on the telly and say to the nation, “Hello!  I’m bulimic!”?  Well, in my view, people need to know about this disorder; yeah, the telly programme’s for entertainment, but it’s also about giving the information and the brutal facts… and the more understanding there is developed around anything, the less discrimination and more help there will be.  This is an illness that thrives on secrecy and shame.  Chip away at the need for secrecy and shame and, i hope, more people who have an eating disorder will be able to step forward and ask for the help they so badly need.

It’ll potentially be advantageous for many, if people come to understand eating disorders a little better.

Unlike anorexia and binge-eating, bulimia is pretty much invisible.  To look at me on the street you wouldn’t think anything was wrong.  You’d see the cheerful, friendly, apparently capable exterior of a thirty-something woman with a full-time job and a partner and several very good mates, doing a postgraduate degree, into music, reading, writing, art, politics, small press and plenty more… and apparently coping with it all.

But actually, there’s nothing beneath, no “down time”, no Real Life.  I merely exist.  When it comes to something very ordinary and every day for most people – food and eating – there are some seriously disordered thoughts, behaviours and quite frankly misery that have been there for as long as i can remember, taking up ALL my time and energy, taking over my life, wearing me down… and, let’s be honest, killing me.

Why don’t i “just stop”?  A good question.  It’s a compulsion, i suppose; it’s something that honestly feels out of my control.  I realise how ridiculous this sounds: i’m the one putting the food in my face and then throwing it up.  But when it happens, it feels like i’m on auto-pilot, just a passenger or observer and not in control of my actions.  That’s honestly just how it feels.  Afterwards the shame, misery, hopelessness and self-disgust are overwhelming.  Why do i do this?  How do i stop? Will i ever be ‘normal’?

I’ve had years and years of treatment, both in-patient and out-patient, a brief stint in daycare which didn’t help, yet nothing has brought it to an end.  What’s wrong with me?  What am i doing wrong or not doing right?  I blame myself, because you do, don’t you?  It must be because i’m stupid, weak, pathetic.  So i’m back to living this way and because i’m no longer underweight i’m cast aside, no doubt due to the lack of money put into the NHS, slung out as a lost cause.  I mean, maybe i am.  That’s what it feels like.

There are days, i’ll admit, when i just want to be locked up again, because at least then i wouldn’t be able to do the mad things i do.  But what i REALLY want is to get better and live my life fully; not to merely exist.

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Published in: on 30/10/2010 at 12:16 pm  Comments (3)