Protection in emptiness
Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder
Chapter 1 – Introduction
I’ve been talking with a couple of people recently about eating disorders, eating difficulties and weight. Also, a kind reader commented that it was of interest to read a previous post in which I discussed some of the ways in which eating / not eating was (and at times still is) a coping strategy for me – a harmful one, but nevertheless a way of coping with something even more terrible to me than the eating disorder itself. I’d been planning to write more on this at some point and these comments have encouraged me to post on this topic now.
There are a couple of points I wish to make clear in this introductory chapter and I would be very thankful if readers would visit here before reading any of the other chapters in this Series.
Firstly, I want to make it explicit that my intention in this post (indeed any post on this blog) is not to promote eating disorders, food restriction, purging or any of the actions or thought processes that form part of them. This post and this blog are not “pro-ana”, “pro-mia” or for “thinspiration”. These terms are painful to me to write because I know just a little of the raw emotions and suffering that go along with them, for those struggling and their loved ones. I hope that there is nothing in this post that would come across as promoting starvation. Though it is something we may use to try to cope, it does immense physiological and psychological harm to us and I really, really hope that readers suffering in this way are able to get regular, face to face, professional medical and psychological help and support. I know how hard it can be to access that, both because of how hard it is to ask for help and because there may be so little specialist treatment available, with such limited criteria to access it. This is really painful and it’s a topic I will write on during the course of this Series.
In these posts I discuss and share my personal past and current experiences and feelings. Almost certainly they are not the same as those of the next person who has/had eating difficulties (although some of the themes I’ll explore I have heard other people with eating disorders talk about as well). I think it is important not to be afraid to discuss the reality of eating disorders and how they affect someone across their life – that is, across all areas of their life and often across many years as well. I think part of not being afraid and being able to find a way to recover from disordered eating is acknowledging this impact and the factors which may have been involved in the disorder taking hold and continuing.
Part of this process, for me at least, involved admitting that not eating, purging and so on and the state I attained through these things, did serve a purpose. Perhaps that is horrible and shocking. Possibly it is no longer as horrible and shocking to me as it might otherwise be, because I have gone through years of difficulties with eating, weight and body shape myself and I have also known many people with severe eating disorders. However, I do know, and share the feeling in myself, that it is a very sensitive topic.
I hope that acknowledging the purpose and even “need” for something that the disorder gives in a sufferer’s life, is a way to begin to understand the person and what will help them best to heal and walk the path of recovery. I believe that unless we find another way of reaching what the eating disordered state provided, or an alternative means of living, it is completely impossible to break out of the disorder to continue to exist without it.
The second thing I want to make explicit at this stage is that by talking about a “need” for something the disorder gives, I do not wish to imply any blame on the sufferer (or anyone else) or that it is anyone’s fault or choice to be ill. I state vehemently that it is my belief that nobody with an eating disorder chooses to be ill or should be blamed for it. I believe we are incredibly hurt in a way even deeper and harder than the disorder itself shows.
It is cruelly true that whilst there is no choice or fault in the illness, great strength is needed in the sufferer to contemplate breaking out of it and reaching for another way of living.
I am not yet sure quite how long this Series will be and I am open to any questions or comments readers may have. I would love to hear from you. Especially as this is so sensitive a topic, I would really appreciate you asking any questions on things that are not clear or you sharing your own experience and thoughts, which likely will be very different from mine.
Please do leave messages or questions in the “Comments” section. Sometimes I am slow to respond to comments because I have poor internet access and I am very sorry for this. I am not deliberately ignoring you when it seems that I take a long time to approve a comment or reply. I do read all you say and I am very thankful that you take the time to visit this blog and to write. I hope that soon in the New Year I will be able to set up better internet access and thus reduce these delays.
As always, thank you for reading.
P.S. The title of this series was inspired by The Killers’ song “Dustland Fairytale”. I In the final chapter I will explain the meaning I intended behind the title.