Posts Tagged ‘Isolation’

A belated online thank you…

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

For the past few weeks, I’ve had a dodgy internet connection. It has upset me more than the fact that I am living out of a suitcase and am not sure, at the moment, where I am meant to call “home”. It means that I want to tweet something – and can’t. And that I want to join in the conversation – but am stopped at the last minute by a “lost internet connection” box.

I have found it quite upsetting.

My online community has become as important to me, over the past year, as my “real life” friends. I have wanted, desperately, for them to share the next stage of my journey as they have been so important in me getting this far –

This post started out as a pulling apart of some of those fears that a sense of disconnection brings but it got railroaded by an overwhelming desire to say a big thank you to all the people who have been so wonderful and supportive of me online. After going round and round the real life / virtual life debate, I have given up trying to work out whether a line exists and analysing the risks of throwing it all out there – because my world is far richer if I extend the parameters and I, far stronger, thanks to the people I’ve met online.

So, this is a shout out to the people who stop by and visit my blog, and the comments that offer me a new perspective, and keep me moving forwards, and make me realise that I’m not trying to make sense of this on my own.

It’s a huge thank you to a wonderful Twitter community that has reminded me of how generous and caring and loving humans are; that has put up with the ups and downs of my tweeting, and helped me to find a sense of humour, and kept me inundated with a stream of fascinating and beautiful and inspiring stuff –

Isolation is one of the most devastating effects of an eating disorder. We need human connections, I think, like we need food and sleep and water and air. I’ve been getting back in touch with the world over the past few years and growing in leaps and bounds, but I’ve been surprised to find that the connections are as powerful and the relationships, as rewarding, when they start off online. I didn’t realise this when I started my blog. I didn’t realise quite how much I’d learn from people online, nor how important those connections would become –

They’ve grown my world and helped to change my life.

Thank you.


p.s. I’ve brought a netbook and a spare wifi card. :)

The “I don’t care” voice

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I am starting a new job on Wednesday. It’s the first time I’ve gone into a new job without the eating disorder to lean on. It was, I am beginning to recognise, a big part of my defence against the world and so I feel rather exposed venturing out on my own. If it all goes wrong, I will have nothing to make me feel better and nothing else to blame.

It is a little hard to acknowledge these thoughts.

I’ve been digging around rather uncomfortably to see if I can find out what they mean…only I already know the answer. They mean that I have to stop pretending that I don’t care.

Available to Life

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I bumped into a friend on Clapham High Street last night. Mid flat-hunting panic, when it felt like the city might swallow me and I was feeling scarily alone, she walked past and invited me to come along for dinner.

I hesitated (because I had planned my supper already) and scrabbled around for an excuse (because they were going for pizza, and I haven’t faced that challenge yet); and then realised that it was more important – given the loneliness – that I was fully available to life.

Existential Depression? Another Piece of the Puzzle

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I have been trying, for years, to make sense of my illness. To gain some sort of understanding of why and where it all began. It has been like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle when you’re not quite sure what the end image is, nor when the next piece will come.

Most of them have emerged during my recovery. It was hard, before then, to see beyond the food. Now, I follow the clashes, and the discussion and the flashes of insight; and the puzzle is coming steadily along.

I no longer expect it to be completed.

Anorexia. And Bulimia. And Stalemate.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

My diagnosis was anorexia bulimia.

I stopped eating. Lost lots of weight. Started throwing up what I did eat. And then added in some hardcore bingeing for good measure.

I am more aware, now, of the different diagnostic criteria, and how they’re all subtyped and divided. I don’t think they were so defined, when I started out, so I mistakenly assumed I was unique…

Or I simply wasn’t prepared to listen.

And so, instead, I seemed to inhabit a lonely kind of middle land, where the one – cancelled the other one – out. I am not anorexic because I binge and purge – and I am not just bulimic, because if you take away the bingeing and purging, there’s certainly no other eating going on under there.

Neither behaviour would admit to the other – and the denial certainly wasn’t challenged by me.

OMG I Feel That Too

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Recently, I started following an account on twitter called ‘OMG I do this too’. A couple of times a day, I therefore receive a tweet which reads something like: “Do you ever get a really good idea, but when you explain it to someone, it sounds terrible so you don’t end up doing it?” or “Do you feel cell phone vibrations, even when you don’t have your phone with you?”*

Most of these tweets bring a huge smile to my face. “YES!” I want to shout: “I do do that too”; and “YES! That is exactly like me”… and I’m not the only one?

In that 140 characters of connection, there is an instant click to other people and the warm reassurance that I am not on my own.

The Hug

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I was walking back through the park and there were a couple, hugging, on the path in front of me.

His head was bowed on her shoulder; her hands were clasping his back, so tightly that I could sense the strength; and I wanted, as I side-stepped around them, to scream.

This is what the eating disorder stole from me.

That kind of hug – and that kind of union – is what it stopped me from enjoying; and has put so far away that the distance feels too vast to bridge.

On Rejection

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There was something going around twitter last week about rejection.

I can’t get it out of my mind.

It has struck a sensitive chord that I am almost too scared to write about; and, because the chord is exposed, a wall’s gone up and now I can’t see what’s going on behind.

According to this article, rejection is like a physical pain. Whether you care about who’s rejecting you or they’re hidden behind a computer screen, the hurt is the same –

A twisting in the gut and a bowing of the shoulders and a sinking of the head and the unbearable feeling of shame. Or that’s the imprint that remains for me.

A few weeks ago, I had my own little example.


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I am just beginning to realise how institutionalised I had become. I am finding the ‘normal’ world a scary place. It speaks a language that I don’t really understand. I am comfortable in terms of CPAs and meal plans; supervision, bloods and BMIs. I know where I am with meds, and ward rounds, and care co-ordinators, and agency staff at the weekend –

It’s the stuff that everyone else talks about that I find harder to get the hang of.


Monday, March 1st, 2010

I am turning 30 on the 6th March.

The occasion is bittersweet.

It has, as birthdays tend to do, sent my mind racing up and down the timeline. Somewhat tragically, the memories don’t hang on the parties or the celebration, but on the particular phase of my eating disorder that each year has become bound up with.

20 through to 25 are pretty much blanks.

Interestingly, the last pre-Eating Disorder party is one of the most poignant, maybe because I hadn’t stopped taking photos at that point or because it feels, sometimes, like I have been frozen in time…

A Terrible Mistake

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I have made a terrible mistake.

I chose an eating disorder, over my friends.

It hurts like hell and I didn’t realise what I was doing until I woke up, one day, and understood what I had thrown away –

Damaged Goods

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Esme Lennox has got me thinking about madness.

We may not be able to lock people up as easily as we could 60 years ago, but the debate around power and freedom and what happens when you’re declared “unstable” still has currency.

I can kind of relate to Esme’s vanishing act.

It is hard to feel like a half person. When the discussion’s going on around – and about – you; you’re not always sure that you’re there and you’re certainly not sure that your contribution would count.

There’s something about mental illness that disempowers you in a way that no other illness can –

The Echo

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

In a horrible echo of how things used to be, I have spent the afternoon trawling the shops, only to return home, empty handed, because what I am looking for can’t be found on a supermarket shelf.

I am finding Christmas quite hard.

In the long unstructured gaps, when people are together or spending time with their other halves, the years that I spent rejecting companionship have come full circle; and, whilst I’m slowly getting back in touch with the world, the gaping hole that the eating disorder has left behind has been highlighted by the holiday season.

Saturday Nights

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Now that I’ve made some space for a life, I am enjoying the Saturday night experience.

After the loneliness of an eating disorder, you don’t take anything for granted: a night in with friends may be commonplace – but after years of me and my food, even the mundane is strangely precious; even the smallest of pleasures is noted as an achievement –

Because Saturday nights still feel like a novelty – and friends are proving far better company than food.

The Scream

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

I can tell you this now.

It’s the loneliness that will get you.

Not the hunger, or the worrying, or the rituals, or the paranoia.

Not even the fear of getting fat.

It’s the loneliness that’s the real killer.

The longer you’re ill, the worse it is.

It makes sense really; time is a precious commodity and there’s only so much waiting for recovery that people can take. Life may stop for you – but it keeps on going for the rest of the world.

The irony is that you want to be left alone for the first bit. You want people not to ask and not to worry and not to expect anything.

Don’t worry. They’ll stop.


Social Re-integration

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I’m going to be practical here.

I think I’ve dwelt on the ache of isolation enough; I’m starting to depress myself.

It’s not an easy ride; but I’m beginning to see a way out. I’m beginning to see where the cracks in the glass door between me and the rest of the world are.

The first step – recognising the loneliness – was the most painful. And now I’ve taken my head out of the sand: it’s plain sailing from here onwards – with an eye out for pitfalls, of course.

Lesson 1: Don’t expect the world to come to you. It’s easy to get caught up in the misery of loneliness: this will make it worse. Accept it, take a bit of responsibility (you did start the brick wall) – but don’t get hung up on your mistakes (the eating disorder’s probably punished you more than enough already).

Lesson 2: Try and fix it. It’s tiring and a little scary and potentially disheartening – but take the initiative. Start with a smile – they do smile back – and go from there.

Lesson 3: Learn a little patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s the small connections that lead to the big ones in the end.

“Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd or end, some sound, some sight.”

To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

As I said, you’ve got to take the initiative.

All Alone

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

“’We perished, each alone.’” – Virigina Woolf

Maybe isolation is so scary because it’s the closest that we get to death – while we’re still alive. Maybe it’s so horrific and terrifying because it’s the delicate difference between life – with other people – and death – when we’re on our own.