This little girl is on the wall next to my bed. My Nanna made it when I was little. I love it. For years it was tucked away in the back of a cupboard, the copper dark and green, the gloss disappearing from the embossed nightgown. A couple of years ago it magically appeared in my Christmas gifts, all polished and shiny, lacquered and new – courtesy of my very thoughtful husband.
Anyone who knows me, or has read a few of my blog posts, will be aware I am not religious. I say this with neither pride nor shame. It simply is. I have developed my own unique sense of spirituality – there are little tidbits common to others, but on the whole it is me choosing to have faith in spiritual concepts.
There are many, many days when I have wished for undying faith in a God, and the shared sense of community usually prevalent in religious communities. There looks to be a lot of comfort in that kind of faith and support. When depression reaches out its spindly fingers, attempting to massage its way into your spirit, a faith in God must ease the loneliness.
I am not in the best of places at the moment. I am not in the worst of places either. But I can feel my soul being sapped and it is hard to untangle my thoughts. Days are exhausting and nights sleep deprived. Little bumps in the road leave me struggling to gain perspective. I am always glad when I choose to remember my very special rule – don’t make big decisions when feeling emotional.
I wonder if I’m starting to sound cryptic… Just in case… No. I am not suicidal. I want to get that out there so I don’t have the police knocking my door down to check on me. I am drifting back to wanting to just not be, but let me reassure readers, not wanting to be is not the same as choosing to end my being.
On a less dramatic level, I am in a period of relapse. I wasn’t going to share it here as I get tired of feeling like a failure. But as I know there are people reading who struggle with ED, perhaps there is comfort in knowing relapse happens. I hope it doesn’t happen to you.
I wrote the following in my private journal the other day. It’s raw and I have edited a little so it is hopefully not triggering.
I turned the final page and felt the familiar emotional paradox – contentment knowing the story in its entirety, and sadness leaving the world I’d inhabited.
But this time a third feeling – I was triggered. It was not the anticipated reaction, but the page closed and I relapsed. Just like that. Not into bulimia this time, but restriction.
It is six days since I finished the book and my sanity has fled. I’ve lost nearly four kilos. I know it’s idiotic. I know it’s unsustainable. And yet when it comes to making choices about how, what, when, where, if to eat – it’s not me in charge.
Inside the carapace I plastered around my heart, live two individuals. Let’s give them the cliché names – it’s easier to remember. Ana and Mia. Mia has been prevalent virtually all my life, but Ana sneaks out to play from time to time. Last Saturday Ana whipped on high heel boots and her favourite little black number, and burst through that shell with a song and a dance. Legs akimbo, arms in the air, and the confident shimmer of jazz hands.
When first I restricted, I stopped eating altogether. It’s not really rocket science to figure out it wasn’t going to last. Four weeks later I was living in a mental health unit. This time Ana’s here without her friends depression, anxiety and self-harm. She feels in control. She feels euphoric.
Intellectual Simone knows rapid weight loss is muscle mass and fluids – not fat. And every period of restriction is followed by binging. I know it’s not sustainable. But I’m not in charge here. Ana is. And she’s partying hard. She’s learned a thing or two in the past 18 months.
Yesterday at work I spent two hours eating a banana. Two hours. My entire life I’ve eaten like a starving woman fending off rabid dogs for the last vestige of crumbs on the floor. And yesterday I spent two hours eating a banana. It was the first food I’d eaten all day. And I felt great.
This is the high that comes with restriction. I can do what I want – you can’t make me get better. You can’t make me eat. And I will prove to you I am in control. I will prove to myself I am in control. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman and I can roar.
And I can starve.
There’s a little voice inside saying, “You fucking idiot. It’s not gonna last and you know it.”
And Ana’s staring down at me saying, “I don’t care.”