I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Yes, it exposes my vulnerability. I am merely human. I have bad days and good days. This letter is to the so-called friend I’ve kept as consul for most of my life.
Dear Anorexia and all the other secondary mental illnesses
I always seem to put this post off. I usually come out with all these things I have to say to you at the wrong times. Like when I am having a bath.
Okay, I sought you out. I did.
I begged you to be my friend and you eventually became the only friend I had. I didn’t want to lose everything. So, despite how I felt or how much pain I was in when I hurt myself, I did it. We had a strong bond. Bonds are not easily broken. Not even now, when I don’t want to be friends any more.
I thought you might be a bit more understanding if you understood what you took from me and what I allowed you to take.
You took most of my life experiences and made me put on a pair of your glasses so that I could only see life through your perspective.I didn’t have strong vision to begin with so I accepted your gift and I still wear them every now and then. I don’t know why you want me to hurt myself,
Life: everything I have ever seen and experienced has been through a filter of your making. You have had the final decision before I get to see anything, so I can then process it and carry on.
You encouraged me to self harm in so many other ways Drugs, cutting, taking chances, impulsive behaviour, getting into trouble. I don’t know if friends should really do that but I only had you. What did I know
You are jealous. I became your reflection..
I had no life in me for many years. I was merely a toy- puppet of yours. Attached to strings to dance to your cacophonous melody. Sometimes I still feel you, hear you. Pulling me up. Making me go in a direction I don’t want to go in.
Every interest I had, be it watching a movie or reading or going to a rave and dancing or talking to people to try and make friends- you stole that from me.
I allowed it. I only see now, how awesome I can be without you. Fucking cool bananas.
You told me I was peculiar , not like other people, special, different.
You did a remarkable job of making me think that nobody understood the words, I spoke so I stopped talking. I let your talk for me- everyday, every living moment. Every tick of the clock. Your voice. Sounds so soft to others- barely audible- Invisible. To me it sounds more like a constant shriek in my mind, I feel anything but invisible – I feel I take up too much space.
Figure that one out? I can’t.
I lost my family. People thought I had an ego and thought that I was up my own fucking arse.
I only wanted to like myself.
I just wanted to feel good about myself. I thought you could help. If I was attractive to others people would get me and see all my awesome qualities and my true personality. You couldn’t stop at that.
You needed to coerce me into changing one small thing , then another small thing. You helped chip away everything that made me ME until I was lost and abandoned in the dark.
A vacant spot in a vast pool of darkness.A world of black and white. If people tried to talk to me you turned up the white noise. I sat there motionless.
Every person who spoke to me or who tried to be a friend to me -you would whisper they were lying to us, they don’t like us.
be on your guard.
You taught me that. I was and I am still on guard.
You know what?
Fuck this ..I’m not wallowing in the past.
What I really want you to know is I don’t want you in my life at all.
I was wrong and made a mistake.
I know better now.
I have a choice – it is my choice who will be in my life. Yes, you are powerful enough to try and come between everyone I love. I won’t let you.
You want to be friends with my daughter.
NEVER WILL I ALLOW THAT.
I know your true face. There is nothing behind that mask. I rip it off and before I can see the true you you dissolve right before my eyes. You need me more than I need you,mate.
You still try to convince me that our friendship is a blessing – that you give me strength to live.
I’m pretty convinced if I could find the cord that links me to you, I would be brave enough to cut it and I would finally start breathing properly again. I would learn how to breathe again. I would succeed.
How many times am I going to have to evict you from my mind?
Why don’t you get it?
I’m done with trying to kill myself.
You have taught me one thing – I am not at your mercy to live or die. You don’t get to choose because : I. won’t. let. you.
You crept back into my life last year.
So cunning, so sly……
Look at you smirking -so sure, so smug.
Like a snake, you slithered and curled around my whole body. I remember the familiarity of your touch -cold. Cold means thin. This means I’m winning. Your charm nearly disarmed me again.
In what seemed like mere seconds,your entire body had coiled itself around my neck -suffocating me. I nearly lost my mind for you again. A couple more months and I could have been back in the hospital.
I’m not some new friend of yours that has to be emaciated to believe I have earned your undying friendship. Today, I live in a body and a mind I have created.
To try and cast you out. Of course you weren’t going anywhere. How naive I still can be after all these years.
Why would you go somewhere else when you have everything you need in me.
I am healthy.
You tell me I’m fat.
I’m not fat.
I eat and you tell me to pinch my skin, you tell me to loathe it. You yell at me , telling me to grip my bones.
You tell me the bones have been lost in my womanly body.
How dare I grow up?
How dare I start having periods again?
How dare I have a child?
How dare I put her first ?
How dare I empower myself……
Now,you listen to me. You can make me cry- you know you can.
You know that every living moment I know you are with me, in me.
You won’t even let me be touched and loved by my own husband.
I flinch when he touches me because you have convinced me that my body is wrong.
It has taken four years to get to the place where I am with my husband. You don’t want me to enjoy being loved.
You don’t like affection.
Affection means a chance to be loved.
Your kind of love is like boiling water and third degree burns – plastic melting and merging with my skin -never letting go ;forever scarred and deformed.
All this to make sure you have me forever. You feed on my thoughts.
Why won’t you let me watch a fucking movie with my partner without making me aware of my body?
You are sick. Contagious. A reoccurring infection.
I don’t want to be sick. I know I can’t just get rid of you. For a time I was able to shut you out and started living.
Oh, what a jealous friend you have been. You plotted and planned – ready for your comeback .
Always had to be the one who has to take the lead part.
You can’t have the lead part in my life any more. My life is my stage. I am a producer,editor, stagehand, actor, writer, graphics producer , costume designer, light technician . Your dear friend has been made redundant.
See ,The terms and conditions of our contract?
See this lighter in my hand? Flame jumps from container to paper – it can’t lick up the paper quick enough.
I’m the one who says what goes in the script and what doesn’t
No, I know you don’t like this. You are laughing in my face. What was that?
I have no confidence,
I’m needy, lazy, a failure.
You are right,I’m not fucking perfect. How many times have I nearly died doing your bidding?
I want to be happy.
No, not your idea of happiness.
I want to forget about being aware of how you want me to feel about my body. I want to enjoy each moment away from the knowledge that my body is just there.
Today, I respect my body. You don’t need a mask to cover up the fact you have no idea what that word means.
I had so many things I had in my head …. to say to you…
I feel you still don’t get it.
I know I eat.
I have to eat . Don’t put the guilt trip on me if I feel hungry.
Yes,I do. I love food. There are so many more types of food I want to try and I am still afraid to try . I am learning though.
Every book or film or conversation I have ever had was drowned out by your voice or because I couldn’t stand to hear your voice again , I drugged myself, tried to take my life
– oh so many times.
Yet, I still stand..
You won’t go because you love a challenge. you enjoy the struggle.
How boring would it be for me to just give up.
Oh don’t get me wrong, love.
I have nearly died for you and you happily appeared to allow it. We both know you became my friend because you knew I would fight you.
Still now, twenty odd years later I fight you.
No – you can’t have increasingly lower digits. I have set the bar for what weight I can live with. I’m not going to stop eating if I go over that weight threshold. – I will cope. I will get back to my safe weight.
You hate the fact I exercise to keep fit and on track-to focus -to keep me rational – I have found out the secret you have hidden from me for so long.
I’m not going to binge or take laxatives again. It fucking hurts. 100 laxatives a day for how many years. I’m not buying into that abuse any longer.
You are having so much fun with me at this moment. Forever toying…..
The scales have gone up. I should know I’ve only been there with you over 50 fucking times today on that scale. Willing that 1.5 kilo of weight to go down.
I am not having fun.
I am a woman not a child. My spirit is not a newborn. You can’t corrupt it like you did all those years ago.
I get periods. There is a lot of ‘I don’t want’ that comes with the power to create life.
Fluid retention is one of them. You want me to think that these laws of a woman’s body don’t apply to me. Your arrogance never fails to catch me off guard.
You want me to think I have lost control…….
I see all this and I hate you with every thought, every emotion, everything.
Yet, you still won’ t go away
You may be having fun but I’m not having fun and I don’t want to play.
You have brought many foes to my door- snuck them in. Bipolar ,a so-called personality disorder, the list goes on and on. All free loaders.
Remember when I was at the height of my career? You wouldn’t let me become more successful. It wasn’t your definition of success so you took it from me.
Remember when I tried to better myself and go to college?
You fucked with my head then too.
Yes, I got my degree, eventually. I nearly died getting it.
I nearly died getting my daughter back too.
You like the fighters. The ones that put up a struggle. The more I struggled the more obstacles you put in my way- one of your finest tricks was the abusive relationship act.
I finally see you are indeed a one trick pony.
Well done, a round of applause.
You are not the master of my mind any more.
You are a bully- deranged.
YOU CAN’T HAVE ME!
I’m getting married and you can’t stop that. Yes, I know I’m vulnerable because I need to fit into my wedding dress.
I am going to have another child and I won’t let you stop me. I am going to nourish life, nurture it like I should have done the first time.
I will be free of the medication I take to stop you from having the upper hand all the time . I don’t think you have realised,
the fight you have with me, does not just end with me alone any more. You continue to take me on -you are now taking me and my family on.
You are a threat to my life- no not a pathetic one,but one full of joy and love and respect. You hate it. I don’t know why you won’t allow me to love.
Where did you come from ? and what made you so malicious?
I can’t be your therapist and provider.
Yes, we are back to fighting again;
I don’t need tarot cards to know the ending to this.
Yes, I am.
You are strong, I will give you that but I have had four years of some kind of freedom from you –
You ,dear friend, let your guard down .
Thank you, because you gave me another reason to live and want to be alive. The devil I know or the glimpses of joy I have found in living ?
I will continue to rise as the queen of my mind and your whole kingdom built on flimsy lies is going to come toppling down.
If you are going to throw a punch – don’t let your guard down.
Practice what you preach.
My word but moving house is super stressful.
I’m happy because I’m moving to new pastures.
Life has been a mind haunting experience over the past 2months.
My anorexia nervosa reared its ugly head because I needed some form of self medicating after stopping toxic self medicating.
I lost over 2-3 stone!
I love food.. I have recently been bingeing on food. My husband can’t stop me. After a binge,I’m verbally abusive to him, because I feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself.
I chew the foos and spit it out.
My weight has gone up to 8stone 10 from 8stone.
I’m angry because I rely on government money for my illnesses.
I’m trying to get better.
I have an assessment award review in 3weeks time and, well… I feel like I need to lose the wight I’ve gained to justify I’m ill.
I attempted a serious suicide overdose in , May 2020.
I was in a coma for 5days on life support and a further 5 days in critical ICU care.
I’ve done 4 serious suicide attempts in 2 years and 2months.
I tried to jump off a well known bridge.
I had 5 people hold me down so I couldn’t jump.
Now my gut instinct says try and kill myself.
I’m tired of my illnesses.
I wish I could have a job that covers my bills.
My daughter who is 9 years old has never been on holiday-not even in the U.K. because I can’t afford it.
I’m bricking it. I have a lot of paperwork to prove I’m ‘seriously* ill as my family and husband states.
I can’t move time ahead nor make the assessor re approve my extra income.
Not having control over my world is debilitating but i have to focus on my new life and have a plan B if I am not awarded PIP.
These voices in my head gossip it’s a constant source of bedlam.
They never stop,
They never leave.
Their constant trolling,
There incessant banter
Sparks a hell-raising fire
Until I kick out from cracking up from all of their heckling.
I imagine a dark horse rescues me so I can canter away, breathe in the ocean air.
Keep up this distraction forever.
These voices make me pull at my hair, I see I have a few grey hairs now.
Droopy disproportionate boobs.
I fear the larger breast a whole 2 cup sizes bigger needs to be stabbed, squeezed, cleansed from the infected fat.
If only this would quell these voices in my homely self made asylum.
Perhaps my patients would snap back into reality
Snap out of their various maladies.
Even when my glass house shatters
These voices know I’ll glue back each piece bit by bit in an attempt to make myself better.
These voices know they can always come back.
The foods on me.
Feeding on the folds of my imperfect flaws.
That emotion I can only describe as fatness.
A feeling, a thought, a moment, an eternity, a sense of a loss of control.
It comes and it goes
It takes a second glance
Catches me off guard.
I have to take pictures to believe I am not hallucinating. Pictures lie.
They do and then a second glance and they don’t.
They do and they don’t.
They do and they don’t.
They do and they don’t.
This is what these voices chant.
That fatness comes
That fatness goes with a second glance.
Another thought pulls through for me
One second glance
One more chance to be lucid.
To survive another day
To survive another day
Only for these bastard critters to gorge on my mind.
Make all their fears mine.
These voices, they scream at me.
They yell at me.
They tell me to go away.
Often when I wish to disappear I dissociate
Have a rest
Go on autopilot.
Leave the carnival of freaks to cast me out.
I want to process what I hear, what I watch, what I read, what I see without them humming their filth in my head.
I want to be present
Tune into my world
where it truly matters.
I don’t want to miss connecting with my loved ones.
I have nothing left to say.
*inspired by a work exercise I had to do for my bibliotherapy course- WORD PROMPT -ANXIETY*
Loss of control
Increased numerical equation
Detract from the value of self-worth.
Aspirations snipped loose by an unearthly, scale driven puppet master
Reduces an entire psyche to a chemical embarrassment.
Good mood desires nourishment
the live to eat philosophy
A heavy burden the beast bears herded in
restricted to forage on cashing out a societal life policy.
A one manned island
to its hunger
haven’t had my graduation ceremony yet and with all that has happened this year, I totally forgot that I have finally finished my degree. My other half was going ballistic (in a good way) and looked at me and asked me why I looked so down. I guess either I am still in shock or I don’t think it is that big a deal compared to what other goals and shit I have had to focus on this year. So let me high 5 myself and reflect on how the path to get my degree became – the successful one.
Way back in 2007,I had just come out of the hospital with a BMI of 16. I enrolled at my local college in the U.K. to do my BA in acting performance.
I was with a lovely group of talented individuals and managed one term. I was quickly losing more weight again and my mental health went down. I could not maintain a low BMI. I either had to go lower or higher and I went lower. I managed to get merit (when they still called it that) for my classical acting. How amazing is that?
I wanted to engage with my group but I couldn’t shift the anorexia. I had become a sub-host to it.
Back in 2008, I decided to have another go at it. I had gained a normal amount of weight. I met a seemingly lovely man who swept me off my feet. He worked in the army and ended up going on tour for 3 months in Canada. I went to live in Barcelona with my Aunt for a few months and partied hard. Hit Ibiza with my cuz and when I came back to the U.K I was ready to piece my life back together.
The night I arrived back in the U.K. was the same night the army guy got back and he came straight to see me, bringing me little gifts back from his tour. I was so touched and couldn’t believe we had another chance to get to know this one another again and give him my heart. I invited him for a meal at my Nan’s house the following evening as he was rather ‘fatigued'(such an elegant way of putting it) from his flight.
The following day he texted me to tell me he was getting his car serviced and would see me later. Later turned into 6pm And 8pm and then 9pm. The curry was losing it’s cool. I rang him asking him why he hadn’t pitched up and he completely dissed me on the phone and told me he was with his family and I can’t make him choose his family over me! WTAF?
If he had explained that he wanted to be with his family then I would of got it.-The lovely army guy broke my heart. He didn’t want to be with me. I internalised all this as my fault. I had put on weight, I had been homeless and had recently found somewhere in the U.K. to live and I thought I wasn’t good enough. I remember walking my Nan from my new home to the bus stop and I broke down. I didn’t know how much I liked this guy until I felt my heart tearing. Each sob caused another tear and another.
In 2009 I was finally in a better place and I was ready for another attempt to get a degree in the arts arena. I started a two Foundation Degree with 24 students. By week two that had whittled down to 7 students. Again a totally different bunch of lovely people. I fucked up. I stopped taking my meds. I was trying so hard to fit in but I guess I felt a bit intimidated by all the talented actors and talent. I didn’t know then that they were all just as frightened of failing as me. At first I was coping and I managed to go out get wasted and silly and form friendships. Standard uni stuff. One night a girl on my course rang me and told me to come out. She said the night was on her. I got dressed and put on my party face even though at that time I was taking 100 laxatives a day.
When people asked me out I would say ‘Awesome. I will be there’ I had a bad habit and once I had taken those tablets I was ill. I mean of course, I had the shits. Haha. Never thought I would be typing this but the moment before I purged I had stomach cramps that pushed and pulled and stabbed at me from the inside. I couldn’t walk from the spasms. SO that night I gave a big fuck you to Anorexia and went out to have some fun and bond with some friends.
My taxi pulled up at ‘the only reputable club’ in that locality and I saw my college friend wave at me and she was laughing and she gave me £50 and told me to come with her. It was a bit. Well, I was sober and everyone else was hammered. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t in the zone yet. I went to the bathroom and then I went to look for the pack and I couldn’t find them anywhere.
My mobile battery died and I turned around to the first person I saw to ask that person if I could use their mobile. I happened to bump into the person who went on to degrade and disrespect me in the most colourful and inventive ways. I couldn’t find anyone so we went back to mine and drank until………… I passed out mid-sentence.
This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He was lovely at first but really full-on. I tried to back away. My friends told me he looked creepy.Leave him alone.
A guy from uni came up to me and told me that creepy ex was well and truly creepy and to stay away. Did I listen? no, I let my insecurities get the better of me. I melted into his world. At first it was flattering that someone would want to be around me so much. I didn’t think I was going to get in a relationship with him. I was trying to make friends and I had my eyes on someone else.
Out of respect to my daughter, I won’t go into a diatribe of events. He tried to take my soul. When he couldn’t have all of me he came up with a cunning plan to try and take my life away from me. Our daughter. During this time I could feel Anorexia clawing it’s way back inside. Cold, damp and merciless. I couldn’t allow it home again. I reached out to a couple I know and went on to meet my future husband to be. Before you judge- I have had my karma. I nearly lost my daughter as you may know from previous posts. I had time on my hands. Instead of being a full-time Mom to my daughter, I was a 10 hour per week Mom instead.
I decided while I battled it out in the court arena with social services and my creepy ex I would resume my studies. This time not in a mainstream uni but an online one. I worked my toosh off and today I can say I am a graduate. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner and my family.
DON’T JUDGE -if you can help it. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned. This piece of paper means so much more than the letters printed on it. It is a symbol – a tangible piece that reminds me of how I got to this place where I am today. I’m a bride to be with a gorgeous daughter who will be four in October. I’m working with mental health charities and I am a stable weight- super healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink mostly water ( with the odd cocktail of course) , I exersise. I am a success. I am proud of me. No one can take that from me. I won’t let them. Always be ready to learn a bit more. I may have officially finished learning but I will not let that stop me from learning in other ways. I treat every experience in my life as a learning curve. Always look for the silver lining no matter how bleak.