Initial photo credit goes to Antti Viitala
I never “looked like I had an eating disorder” is something I hear from people a lot. But let me tell you, the vast majority of people I have met who have suffered with disordered eating and body image struggles were neither extremely thin or extremely fat. Many of the painful behaviors which people suffering with ED engage in (binge eating, purging, compulsive over exercising, obsessing and tracking every ounce of food that passes their lips, etc.) do not necessarily result in physically noticeable changes to their body. This does not mean that these (sometimes obsessive) thoughts and behaviors pertaining to their bodies, their eating and their exercise are not unhealthy and extremely painful and difficult to live with or live without. Trust me
Grief has been looking over my shoulder for a long time now.
At age 19 I suffered the loss of two people whom I loved dearly within seven months of each other. Lines from a diary I kept at the time describe how ‘I am full of emotions that I do not understand’; ‘my moods are very variable, one worse than the next’; ‘I sometimes wish I could die’; ‘I feel so lonely’; ‘I seem to be able to handle things for a while but after a certain amount of time I feel like exploding’. I felt as though I was being selfish having these strong emotions months after the bereavements. Writing gave me an outlet to express myself (as in the poem above) without having to burden others. I did not know it then but all those feelings were normal. Grief is a very individual experience and does not travel on any one particular course. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
The reason I have decided to write this now and not last year or next year, is because I feel strong emotionally and mentally now – and I credit this to being sober.
Post natal depression followed along with trying 4 to 5 different types of antidepressants to see which “worked” best, I decided in the fog of being a new-antidepressant-taking-mom with racing hormones, that it might be an even better idea if I drink alcohol to self-medicate.
Stephen asked me a couple of years ago would I be interested in doing a blog for his webpage to which I quickly replied “Jeez I can’t expose myself like that”…and then for a long time after I thought to myself, well why can’t I expose myself? For fear of being judged I shamefully admit.
What has changed? I have no idea but today, I feel compelled to write. To try portray mental health in such a way that perhaps my story might resonate some familiarity or understanding in someone else. That I might have the power to help someone, even just one person.
I have touched off mental health topics very lightly over the years but only through my own social media pages, Instagram mainly. I might stumble upon an inspiring quote or a funny statement which I can relate to on such a level that I almost feel it is my duty to share it with others, to reach out to others. Yet it has always been a difficult part of my life to look back on - to speak of something that at the time was just so awful, so bleak, a time in my life where I felt nothing would ever change for me.
If you’re an open-minded creative that thrives on ideas with a lust for things of beauty but have an insatiable thirst for perfection and innovation, but your mental state flutters and wobbles like a plastic bag caught in a tree, then there might be a hint of useful here for you.