Finding Melissa’s Next Steps

I have not been sleeping for the past few weeks. Like the Duracell bunny, I have been zooming around, crashing every now and then for a couple of days….and then re-charging myself with a burst of creativity and whizzing off again.

I am making some big changes in my life right now. I have suddenly found myself filled with ideas and excitement and action, punctuated with ice cold drafts of doubt, which I seem to be working through. It’s meant that Finding Melissa has taken a back seat, and that I’m going to make some alterations which I’m in the process of figuring out. I’m not great at separating out the parts of my life: I come as one jumbled mess where one part impacts on the other; and my newly discovered gut instinct is currently in control….

So, this post is the one I keep mentioning whenever I am asked about the structure of my blog; and, it’s a little bit of forward planning, so that I know what’s coming next. It’s also an opportunity to see if anyone’s got any better ideas, or can relate to where I’m at…

Back to the Beginning

My eating disorder has been framed by major dentistry. A pretty impressive piece of orthodontic wear provided the perfect excuse to stop eating at 12; and an operation last year marked the point where the bulimia had to end. It also inspired Finding Melissa.

In 2008, my gum collapsed. I’d been trying, for a few years, to figure out how to extract myself from the daily hell of chronic bulimia, and it provided the rather unpleasant spur that I needed. The thought of losing all my teeth filled me with horror; and, in order for them to perform the operation that would prevent my gum from deteriorating, I needed to have a healthy mouth.

In April 2009, with a nicotine and stomach-acid free mouth, I underwent a gum graft. It was a pretty nasty procedure, and they gave me some sedatives to try and take the edge off my awareness and the pain. If you’re at a low weight, you have to be careful of what they give you.

That weekend, I ended up in A and E three times.

It was different to my previous experiences of walking the fine life-death line. There were flashing lights and the heart monitor kept alarming and I had started to see – once the bulimia had stopped – that there were things in life that I wanted to enjoy.

Whilst I lay in resusc., terrified that I might not make it through the night, I made a promise to myself. I gave myself permission to gain weight, and I decided that I was going to give myself a proper attempt at life.

In order to do that, I wanted to transfer the eating disorder away from me and create a space that it could exist within – without me – so that I could try and make myself well. Finding Melissa was the space.

Letting go of the edge

Finding Melissa has transformed – and possibly saved – my life. It has been the buoy that held me up whilst I let go of the eating disorder; the something positive that takes the sting out of how much I have lost. I have, however, been scared, recently, that it might be keeping me back; that I have transferred my eating disorder from a physical identity to an online one, and haven’t quite stepped out of the shadow yet…

My head has been filled with images of letting go – and holding hands – and taking the first tentative steps, without crutches –

I am scared and a little bit sad; but I think it’s time for the structure to change a little, so that I can move on.

Re-structuring…

I was not a blog reader before Finding Melissa and it was not intended to be my story or chronologically based. It was meant, instead, to be snapshots of an eating disorder; pieces that explored some of my experiences but made independent sense. I didn’t explain this very well at the time and I have confused the situation further by slipping into more of a personal blog.

Ooops.

This means that a lot of the earlier static stuff was overlooked (whilst I dithered around pressing publish); and it is hard – once you’re in – to work out what’s going on. So, over the next few weeks I’m going to re-structure Finding Melissa so that it is a blog within a website; a mixture of static pages that aren’t time bound; and the more chronological ‘story’ bit running along the side.

There are a few subjects I still want to cover which I’ll slot into the webby part; and, as my journey is only just beginning, I’ll be adding to the blog section – it just might feel a bit different to how it has been before.

The Next Door

Finding Melissa has been a huge learning curve for me and has opened my world in so many unexpected ways. It has unleashed a passion for the blogosphere and twitter and online connections that I want to see if I can extend; and has helped me to start finding out who I am. I don’t know what will come next; and I’m scared as hell and as excited as a child – but I want to get the transition right.

Any ideas or feedback on all of this would be hugely welcome as your comments have been a huge part of my journey and helped me to take the next steps in my life.

Melissa xx

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8 Responses to “Finding Melissa’s Next Steps”

  1. LittleFeet says:

    Wow! What a wonderful way to start and celebrate the new week. I look forward to reading more about your next steps.

  2. Evan says:

    Delighted to hear more of your story (I’m a fairly new reader).

    I like the sound of adding the website to the blog. It can be a very valuable resource. Looking forward to the new look.

  3. WG says:

    Howdy,

    I’ve been thinking, ruminating etc

    Blog within a website is a good idea – some thought needed on which is website and which is blog? Usually blog is chronological personal experience – but so much of what you write that is useful is personal experience.
    I had that problem with couched – I ended up just making and linking to a vast list of all posts which constituted “contents” – it didn’t work for me, but people found what they wanted.

    Most important thing is navigation otherwise it wont make sense. Would recommend having a top menu bar that clearly has “articles” and “blog” if you have the choice?

    Could also be talking out of ass. As always.

    WG.xx

  4. Melissa says:

    WG. This is just the kind of insight I need and I’m beginning to reach the same conclusion. All of the content (virtually) is personal; but a lot of it is not chronological, so am considering the chronological bits as blog and the posts exploring an experience as site, if that makes sense. At the moment, I am therefore adding in categories so that the themes are accessible but I think it will be a run with it and see type approach…

    If I could start over….

    But then I wouldn’t have learnt that which I have!

    This weekend the categories go live and we’ll see where it goes from there. It actually feels incredibly liberating considering part of it as a blog. I have always been overshadowed by the need to address a clear issue, rather than seeing what happens when I just stay with the moment and what I want to write. Might be terrible – but might lead to finding something else new…

    xx

  5. Melissa says:

    Evan and LittleFeet – I really really appreciate your comments here. I was quite nervous about putting this out there, so it means a lot to have support and encouragement going forwards. Huge huge thanks. ;)

  6. jes says:

    I realised today that having “found” myself, I now am needing to “welcome” myself; open my heart and embrace me.

    I’ve avoided allowing myself to settle down and enjoy my own company. I’ve barred feeling my own joy and prevented myself from developing.

    It’s really been good to read your blog and relate to parts of it. I find change a curious thing. I was saying today that I felt “at sea”, “giddy”. I’ve been so used to forced rigidity; obsession that renders me stuck. Now, my anchor has been raised and I am sailing- and I feel sick. It’s an adventure; I have a sense of exploration and intrepidation.

    Reading this blog about changes to “Finding Melissa” has reminded me of how I tend to want to control my future, have a clear image of what I am heading for. Instead, I now know that I have no idea what is to come. Minute on minute I don’t know. And so I am forced to let go of the anorexia that has held me bound to images and masks and have to welcome what I can gather from life.

    Perhaps you can relate to that. As you have previously touched on, one of the challenges that faces us is to stand back from perfection and idealism and to let life live; let our creativity arise naturally and express it.

    Best of luck with letting “Finding Melissa” evolve x

  7. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for commenting – I can completely relate to that. At the moment, I’m going against all the rules that I have made and just living. It is a bizarre experience. Exciting, liberating, heady, terrifying, sickening, uncontrolled.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I know that, for me, now that the anchor has been lifted (to steal your brilliant metaphor) it is impossible to drop again. I can’t go back and I don’t want to – but I need to learn how to stay upright. Interestingly, one of my friends today said that she saw me as a ship that was being buffeted about – but she also added the ship represented the real and recovering Issa, the final version launching into the world. I can’t explain it very well but I think she was right.

    I’m not going to steer the ship as such, but I’m going to steady it and let it go strongly. The change is scary, but not as terrifying as being stuck was.

    xx

  8. Claire says:

    I love the idea of website and blog.

    A website with articles that highlight all the latest thoughts and education on eating disorders would be fantastic and then a blog about how you are doing and how you personally apply the new insights into the world of eating disorders on a personal ‘real’ level.

    Finding Melissa is the most important thing, but sharing your journey is a fantastic resource for everyone touched by eating disorders.