So, I decided that everyone needed to be taught some pretty important shit, because no-one was showing the slightest hint of intelligence beyond the base level required to breathe and have a heartbeat. You are having a bigger effect on someone that you realise. Sometimes it’s good, others, well, other times it can be downright shitty. This stops now.
When you say something to someone and they look really happy, enjoy it, you don’t have to ask them what they’re smiling at, even if it’s just with their eyes. You can if you want, I suppose, but be careful, you might bust their happy little bubble. Or they might share it, and you can enjoy a little of their happiness.
But if you say something and they look like they want to cry, it’s possible you’ve said something wrong. If they look like they want to cry while they kill you, or actually start crying, or just plain old haul off and thump you one, it’s probably guaranteed you’ve said something really dumb. Whether you meant to or not.
I’m proud to be a recovering anorexic. Even prouder to have survived it by myself, without help. But, to give you an idea of why I’m such a proud survivor, I weighed, at my smallest 6 stone. Which, in itself, isn’t that big a deal, until you realise that I had my growth spurt before I went all ‘starve myself and somehow become fabulous’. I was 13 when I stopped eating.
I am, and have been, for quite some time, 6 feet tall. So at 6 feet, I weighed 6 stone.
I’ll just let that sink in.
I didn’t have help, and I kept it hidden for years, before suddenly having a ‘good’ day, and realising that, no, I wasn’t a beautiful, svelte, gorgeous woman that everyone wanted. I was a skeletal, bony, boobless stick that scared small children. I realised because I had watched, over the course of an hour or so, the croissant for that week work it’s way around my large intestine. It was not pretty, and actually a little terrifying.
And there’s the rub about Anorexia, it doesn’t mean you suddenly stop all food intake. Yeah, go without any food at all for 3 years and see how long you A)stay standing, B) stay awake and C) can keep it hidden. It means you control your diet. Massively. You skip breakfast, you skip some lunch here and there, you pull the ‘I already ate at school mum, no dinner for me please’. And eventually, you can, by practice and reminding yourself that you’re a hideous lump, a disgusting blob that causes vomiting in passing people. That you’re going to save your local town because tourists will come and see ‘The Incredible Walking Whale.’ And nothing anyone tells you will help, if they even notice. Though, of course they won’t notice you, because no one wants to look at your fat, awful, revolting shape.
Feel good? Feel like you might be a bearable human being? No? No wonder. Pretty much every anorexic starts like that, but also as control. Some great trauma will descend, and it’s the only thing that makes sense. You can’t control the rest of the world, but you can damn well control what your body looks like.
Then there’s bulimia. Almost the same, but with gorging and purging, instead of withdrawal in the first place. And, no, models don’t tend to have such trauma. It’s only when they get older (past 20, dear lord, like ancient) that they feel the shaky floor of their world start to wobble, and feel that looking like a human, an albeit thin one, is utterly unacceptable. But maybe there’s more to them, I doubt it, but maybe one of them once had an original thought. Before it was pushed out by vast quantities of cocaine.
But it’s the little things that can make anorexia appear. Mine was at 13, dad pointed out that I ‘was looking kind of fat recently’. Really? To a 13 year old GIRL??! Yes. He didn’t think, and cue me eating no more than one bite of sandwich a day, maybe a cracker. One year later, and I was Skeletors little sister.
I once found a photo of myself that I hadn’t burnt from before my anorexia really hit home, on the back it says (used to, before that was burnt too) ‘Me, age 13 weight 11 stone.’ Need I remind you, 6 feet tall. Healthy weight for a 6 foot tall active girl.
But anorexia is spiteful, I would imagine bulimia is as well, but not having experienced it, I can’t say for sure. But I would think they’re just as cruel as each other. When you’re a ‘recovered’ anorexic, people seem to think that it’s all done and finished. No. That’s why I call myself a recovering anorexic. Because you are forever recovering. You will never get over it. And it’s not just the little voice telling you that you’re fat and probably shouldn’t eat that, whatever it is, or people will see, and they’ll see that you’re an enormous, greedy lummox that devours everything in her considerably widening path. And as if that’s not enough, your body rebels. It tries to fight back, the only way it can; it goes on the instant defensive. It fights the cold by holding as much fat as possible, for as long as possible, when that fails, because muscles have to eat something, it starts growing fur. Everywhere. So you end up with downy hair, all over, more obvious than normal. That hair stays, by the way, and it’s horrifically embarrassing. Then, when the body can’t keep itself warm at all anymore it uses its last ditch plan in an attempt to stay alive.
It eats your muscles.
Now, everyone knows about teenage girls developing anorexia or bulimia, but people forget about teenage boys, who are prone to it as well. Not as avidly as girls, but getting closer. Then there’s the children under 12 developing it. In terrifying numbers. This needs to stop.
Both these diseases, and I call them that because that’s what they are, they strike you down, they change you, and they can kill you, go hand in hand with a little known disorder. And it’s surprisingly common.
Body Dismorphic Disorder.
It prevents your brain from seeing the body you actually have, creating an image different from truth in your brain. BDB doesn’t cause Anorexia or Bulimia, but it has a bloody big hand in it. And thoughtless people, media and morons give it that extra shove.
The media portrays ‘real’ women as no more than a size 10, if that, then gives us ‘perfect’ women that are, at best, size 4, that’s not a woman. It’s a pole. A sexless stick. There’s a reason periods stop when you’re too thin, it’s because being that small is not natural. They portray ‘real’ men as ripped, toned adonis’. That’s not right either. Don’t get me wrong, I like perving over the Squash, but there’s a line. The media portray ‘perfect’ men as huge, bulging muscle-bound beef-cakes. Also wrong, people shouldn’t look like angry pink clouds.
On ‘good days’ I saw a gorgeous shape, a tall, statuesque beauty. On ‘bad days’ I saw a fat, shapeless horror. The kind of thing used as the baddie in a 50’s alien B-movie.
There were mostly bad days.
If what I’ve said has upset you, because you think I’m being horribly honest, tough. If what I’ve said upsets you because it seems too close to your thoughts, you are not alone. I promise. You’re not a freak, you’re probably nowhere near as fat as you think. Worse case scenario, go see your GP, tell them how you feel. They’ll be honest with you. They have nothing to gain by lying.
But if I’ve upset you because you’re watching someone go through it, please, don’t stand by and watch. They need your help, more than you know, and only they can tell you. Just be there, be a friend.
Above all, don’t judge. Please.
We’ve all had a big enough serving of that.