Monday, 23 March 2015

Stereotype

I was reading an article in the Sunday Times magazine yesterday
It was an exert from a book called The time in between: A memoir of hunger and hope
Written by Nancy Tucker
Who developed anorexia when she was a teenager
The pieces started off with Nancy talking about her need or desire to be perfect
In school
Her work
Her appearance
Her body
I guess the stereotype for an anorectic is a middle class white girl
Privileged 
Prone to perfectionism
A good girl
Although that's not entirely true
The stereotype persists
Nancy developed anorexia at the tender age of twelve
And was locked in a battle of wills either parents for the next few years
She was hospitalised
Dropped out of school
Her whole world became about avoiding eating
She just wanted to be thin
But of course anorexia becomes something else entirely
A prison 
A locked box that is nigh impossible to break out of

When Nancy was 15
She stopped eating completely
A single morsel didn't pass her lips for 93 days
She came to the realisation that she was going to die if something didn't change
She wanted to recover like 'the homeless want three inches of snow'
But she she knew she needed to
If she wanted to live
Slowly Nancy began to recover
She regained weight
And got her life back
She describes recovery as 'an up and down, hop-skip-jump progression and once you reach the finish line the referee will inform you that in fact - surprise! There is no finish. There is only a bumbling, stumbling, getting back up and crumbling now. There is only today'.

This article was a fascinating read
I could identify with some parts
Some parts I couldn't 
I don't fit neatly in to the diagnosis of anorexia
I was never the 'good girl'
The high achiever
The perfectionist
I was always pushing the boundaries
Seeing how far I could go
I guess in the early years of my illness
I was strictly anorectic 
But even then it wasn't straight forward
I was addicted to drugs
And so wasn't aware of my ED for the first few years
And over time
I developed bulimia alongside it
Complicating things further

Bulimia is the antithesis of anorexia
As I always say
If anorexia is cold and silent and aloof
The bulimia is loud and brash and on your face
Anorexia is all about denial 
Restriction 
Punishment
Bulimia is all about indulging
Over indulging
Trying to flip that hole in the soul
Then purging the body of the excess
They are opposites
But on the same spectrum
Both serve the same purpose
To numb
To escape 
To hurt
And they do that job well

I guess I am a mixture of anorexia and bulimia
I swing between the two
And could display behaviours of either on a given day 
Take yesterday
I didn't eat anything for about 20 hours
But this morning
It's only 11am
And I've already eaten crisps and chocolate 
Like I say
It's one extreme or the other

Recovery is a tentative word at the moment
I'm as well as I can be
I haven't used in two weeks 
But my meds are still a bit all over the place
This week I am thinking of giving my meds to a family member to dole out to me every day
Just while I get back on track
As for my ED
As I said 
I think this is as good as it gets for me right now
My weight is stable
But the purging persists
Some days I might purge once
Some days it could be five times
But this is a vast improvement 
I think back to 18 months ago
I was out of control
Smoking 30 cigarettes a day
And spending €100 euro on them
That left me with about €90 for the week
And that went on binge food
This is also part of the reason I used to shoplift
Some thing I haven't done in a long time now thankfully
I spent my days binging and purging
I had a path worn from my kitchen to my bathroom
Endlessly marching the March of an active bulimic
Ovet working the toilet
To the point of breaking it on two occasions 
I was a mess

I am now just a year in to my recovery
My mood has improved dramatically
My anxiety is under control for the most part
My health is infinitely better
Both mentally and physically
My quality of life is so much better
And now my addiction recovery has started
It's sad that it took a relapse for me to finally see I needed help
But
It takes what it takes
Now I feel like I am on the right path
I feel motivated and positive and hopeful
I feel like I have a shot at having a good life
A sober life
Today is Day 3 of my challenge 
I'm hoping to get to a meeting tonight
And I'm feeling nervous already 
All I can go is my best 
That is enough

I say my doctor this morning
He drug tested me
And my urine is now negative for everything
That feels good 
Now I know the drugs have left my body
And I can concentrate on getting on with the rest of my life

I was wondering about you
Do you fit the stereotype for anorexia or bulimia?
What do you identify as ED wise?
Do you think the stereotype for anorexia is accurate?
I'd love to know what you think......

4 comments:

  1. Hey Ruby

    I don't think I fit the sterotype. I'm from white working class peeps, I imagine that's why anorexia wasn't even considered. I have other health issues too, which were by passed. It wasn't until I was into my 30s that I was treated as an OP for my AN. For me though the treatment didn't help my an, because each week I would purposefully keep my weight low, like it was a competition, silly I know. Although it was nice to go and speak to someone about other stuff. Also suffered with bingeing, although not purging, then fasting. I'm trying to get my head around this last bout of weight loss. In the process of building myself up again. I think this last time was about boredom, and habit, its what I know to do. I need to change, I have a little support. I think I see where I want to be, and where I am now and its such a huge gap, that at times its easier to stay as I am. I can't stay where I am, I need change.

    You might find in the next few weeks you experience a dip in going to the meetings, speak gently to yourself, encourage yourself to go it really will pay off in the end. Take care, em x

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  2. Hey Em, I guess the stereotype is just that
    A stereotype
    Probably most of us don't fit in to it

    I hope you are doing ok
    And continue to build yourself up
    Weight loss takes so much out of us
    Be as kind to yourself as you can

    Thank you
    I know there will be highs and lows over the next while
    And unfortunately circumstances intervened today and I didn't get to my meeting
    However back on track tomorrow
    Baby steps all the way x

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  3. Hi Ruby, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've been around. I call myself an anorexic bulimic. Like you, some days I'll restrict, other days I'll eat "normal" but then find myself hovered over the toilet with my finger down my throat.
    I don't fall in the stereotype of either. I am a perfectionist and unfortunately, I always see myself that way.
    I'm very happy to hear that your body is now free of the drugs. I hope this comment finds you well. Loves and hugs.
    xoxo

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  4. I don't fit that stereotype. In many ways I was a bit neglected. And I wasn't a perfectionist at all. I can see I needed more love than was available at that time. Started off restricting, recovered, started bingeing. Stopped that, started over exercising...in other words ... same shit, different bucket.

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Thank you for leaving some love x