Food is not thy enemy but thy humble friend.
Food is not apparent to harm one but to nourish.
Yet my mind greatly deceives me. Why must this be?
The less complicated answer: Anorexia Nervosa.
Before you pry your eyes any further. If you are or know of anyone experiencing the effects and difficulties of Anorexia Nervosa, please seek assistance immediately. Acceptance of help is by no means a failure. It presents one’s courage to fight with every ounce of energy for the life that one is gorgeously worthy of. There is a life that exists without the presence of the gruelling testaments of Anorexia. A beautiful one.
For the past several months food has been limited in my daily rigmarole. Not consuming the adequate amount that my body requires or deserves, in order to function. I do not confess this as an act to be emulated. Nor do I condone this behaviour. Rather it is me being transparent on my journey to optimal health and the wrath of Anorexia.
Admittedly, since I have known, I have possessed an adoration for breakfast foods. So much as to the extent that only breakfast foods would be consumed for the three meals throughout the day. Why not have breakfast for dinner? What a marvellous excuse for more granola, muesli, oats, pancakes, waffles…the list is endless. The inner foodie within me does exist, she simply has to re-emerge and rise from the ashes that she has been crumpled into.
However, despite this adoration, one day I (well, Anorexia), decided that I did not require breakfast as I had stepped remarkably outside of my routine for that morning which prevented me from eating my breakfast at the “normal arranged” time. (I insert quotation marks as it expresses the stringent and controlling rules that I must adhere to as a dedicated follower of the dictator, Anorexia Nervosa). Since this day several months ago, my breakfast became either pitiful or non existent. Once this began, my mind began instructing me that lunch and snacks were by no means necessary. The spiral down the dark, deceptive rabbit warren had become stimulated once again.
Challenge accepted Anorexia.
Do you truly think I am that weak to fall prey to eating the two meals? I can abide by your rules and regulations. Simply observe me and you will see how strong I am; a conqueror and worthy companion to you.
Seconds, minutes, days, weeks and months prevailed accompanied by immense hunger pains, starvation, dehydration, weakened and feeble body, limited to no energy to exert, exhaustion, a shrinking brain and a diminishing physical appearance and soul.
All is perfectly fine though Anorexia, because you said this is what I should adhere to for complete happiness! Correct?
Why am I not completely content?
Why has my joy been evaporated into thin air like a puff of unworthy smoke?
Why do I look emaciated yet feel as gargantuan as a house?
Why do I feel repugnant and repulse myself when I look disgracefully into the mirror?
Why do I discover difficulty socialising and venturing outside the confinement of the house?
Why is it that all I wish to accomplish is to venture home to New Zealand as opposed to remaining overseas to explore?
Oh why Anorexia do you tease me like some fool? Why must you threaten me with your cruel, ingraining words?! Your litany is persistent and vociferous, yet it soothes me; tranquility in knowing you are with me, part of me, guiding and protecting me from any harm. How gloriously alive I feel with you as my companion!
No food. No liquids. No energy. No escape. No truth. No sound mind. No soul. No life.
I hear myself, my true self, screech at the top of her fragile lungs to ward off Anorexia, the inner demon, dichotomy and treacherous ally.
Why must you cause me harm? Can I not eat and not endure any negativity associated with the act of eating?
But I can eat, drink, socialise and be content! I do not have to listen to every word which awfully drips out of your wretched mouth. I will eat breakfast tomorrow Anorexia! You delightfully observe me.
A restless night tossing, turning and dreaming of what to eat for breakfast. My mind becomes a turbulent swell of an analytical entourage of unforeseen circumstances.
What shall I eat? What time shall I eat it? Who will be with me? Can I do so independently?
I awake to a placemat at the breakfast table as well as a spoon and bowl on top prepared, so to entice me to eat. Thoughts begin to spiral, my heart beat increases and my palms begin to sweat profusely. Anorexia appears diligently, laughing at me as I have failed at my attempt.
“I knew you could not do so. Look at you, you weak, vulnerable, hideous and odious woman. What makes you worthy of eating this food? Why would you, it is only going to make you large, even more unattractive and insipid to the human eye. Then whom will like you or even wish to socialise with you? You will be embarrassing those others and yourself. Do you want all of this to ensue? We cannot have this now can we darling?”.
Anorexia was correct. I had failed. I did not require this meal. I was not worthy.
For weeks following I dreamt the same dreams. Thought the same thoughts. Analysed the same concepts. Failed to eat breakfast and to stand up against Anorexia. My persistent Master.
If I could explain how my delicate mind functions, causing me to behave in certain ways I would eagerly. Yet, I can not express such, not even with having lived with Anorexia Nervosa for fifteen years. How powerful the mind is. A force to be reckoned with.
Aren’t I a force to be reckoned with also? My mind is mine. No others. Don’t I have control over MY OWN mind?
My control within is in the form of a switch; a different one is housed within me each recovery. A switch that is ignited to lead me to health and peace. A switch that I turn on by my own volition and is untouchable by Anorexia. This switch is my charm. My entry into the world that I am entitled and worthy to reside. Whereby food is not a restriction, but a joy of life.
What was the switch this time, you may ask?
Looking at my reflection in the mirror one afternoon, I saw a twenty three year old female with sunken in eyes, brittle, dry hair and skin, a child like body, elastic skin covering her prominent, knobbly bones, eyes without a sparkle and a young woman whom is unemployed, living at home, not socialising, is living in routine and fear of change, has no qualifications, no boyfriend, no motivation to continue and poor health. I observed others her age surpassing her. Graduating. Immersing themselves in purposeful employment. Travelling. Getting married. Having children. Flatting. Frequenting social outings and enjoying life. I did not intentionally mean to compare my life to others. I simply had become exhausted of living the same day each day. As if I am on repeat or on a treadmill not being granted access off. These comparisons of observation, allowed me to realise that life was rapidly passing me by, my youth was waiting. I needed more in my life. I needed to make a change for the better NOW!
I saw someone that was not me. Where was the authentic Maddie?
I cast my soulless eyes towards the mirror for one more hesitant glance. As they traced the frame of my aesthetic, they discovered a connection with themselves.
Eyes peering upon eyes.
My eyes upon my true eyes. There I am!
The switch flipped. The key is a congruent fit to unlock my potential in the world.
There stood a young woman with conviction, tenacity, wisdom, maturity, insight, potential, worth and a light to be shone; to not be evaporated by Anorexia.
She is deserving of food, fluid, happiness, employment, friends and family, a caring and loving partner, a soulful spirit and of life.
But most of all, she was prepared to conquer her fears and challenge herself to be victorious against Anorexia; beginning with the final meal to her food repertoire. Breakfast.
Thoughts. Tossing and turning. Dreams. Analysing. Repeat.
The time for breakfast arrived all too rapidly. Yet today was the day. The sun was gloriously shining, the birds joyously chirping and the Spring breeze floating calmly throughout the air. An ideal environment to revel in the nourishment of food to commence one’s day.
The smoothie stood in front of her. Looking intensely at her. Awaiting her to consume its contents. They were not the only eyes festered on her. Anorexia had encroached, gliding around her like an ethereal phantom, whispering it’s litany once more.
Her hand carefully caressed the smoothie cup and from there her entrenched muscle memory sparked. The liquid entered her mouth and travelled down into her empty, pleading stomach. The flavours tingled her taste buds allowing her to voraciously consume more. The last drop is slurped with immense delight; filling her with happiness and a satisfaction that had not been experienced for some time.
She stood in silence and listened to the flurry of thoughts.
Where are you now Anorexia? Are you not able to confront me? Why don’t you congratulate me or would that be too arduous for you?
You are a coward. I am not afraid to admit this for you are no longer my Master and I, no longer your precious victim.
This is my life. My next chapter. I decide what transpires next. I write my own beautiful book. My life. I decide.
To many, not eating appears somewhat peculiar, as eating is considered a normal part of one’s daily activities; it is a means to satisfy one’s hunger to provide energy and sustenance to endure one’s day. An act that many do not analyse or even think about, simply enjoying the tastes of different foods. However, with Anorexia Nervosa eating is made difficult with the constant detrimental self talk and admissions directed by Anorexia.
I must admit that I felt foolish for having accomplished breakfast; a minute feat in the scheme of all. Especially when there are numerous others in this world experiencing more terrible circumstances than I. Although, I realised that we all must not reduce our accomplishments, no matter if they are large or small, as each of us is to be welcomingly acknowledged, as each step taken, backwards or forwards, amount to moulding us into the individuals that we are.
Life is worth living in every way. Seek your own happiness. Discover what makes your soul sing, your heart warm and your eyes illuminated.
This next chapter of my life is going to be wonderful and I know that yours will be similarly! ❤️
Love, hugs and thoughts always,
P.S. I could not have accepted and completed this challenge without the presence of my sister, Libby (as well as a comforting, calming cup of green tea!), who kindly and most enthusiastically documented the moment through taking multiple photos. If you require the support of others, please ask as I have discovered others are generously willing to support you by sitting by your side, eating and conversing with you and to inform you that all will be fine. I am beyond grateful for my sister Libby and support network. Who are you grateful for and blessed to have walking with you on your journey? 💛💛💛