Posts Tagged ‘talking’

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I started writing a post about Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I stopped because I am not sure, yet, what I’d like to say.

That, of all psychiatric disorders, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate. That the mortality rates for Bulimia and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) are equally terrifying.

That part of the complexity of eating disorders lies in the fact that no experience is exactly the same. That there are resonances and similarities, but each person’s experience is unique.

That I am deeply worried by the closures of units that I keep hearing about, especially those that I have known. That I am also scared by the growing number of sufferers and, particularly, of younger – and older – and male sufferers.

That it is as important to focus on awareness of recovery as it is to focus on awareness of being ill.

I don’t know.

All of these – and nothing. A large part of my life has been stolen by an eating disorder and I do not want to give it anymore time –

No. This is not quite true. Part of the taking back is choosing to give it time. It’s just that the time is spent in a different way.

I have had a rough few months. I try and skim over it because it is easier that way. Because there is less room, now, between me and my blog, and it is therefore much harder to hide. Because the time has been golden, too, and it’s hard to reconcile the magic and the struggle. Because even with 18 years of experience and a good whack of intensive treatment, an eating disorder can still ambush, ensnare and baffle. Can re-emerge, when you think you’re on the straight and narrow; or slip in when the routines that you’ve built to keep it out get perturbed –

And so this is my message.

Not that an eating disorder haunts forever – but that it is a difficult battle to win.

That it needs to be talked about for these reasons. Because it is a difficult battle to win and a difficult experience to talk about; and because the complexity of eating disorders means that they are difficult to understand. Because we’re not winning yet and we need to work together. Because recovery is very possible, and it’s important to tell that story as well.

There’s lots of stuff going on this week. beat have released a much needed report on the use of images in the reporting of eating disorders; there’s a busy schedule of online and offline events; Men Get Eating Disorders Too have launched a new membership scheme; we’ve got a cool Facebook page focusing on the positives of recovery –

And I’m using the time to touch base with myself and think a little bit about how I’m going to move things forward in the coming months. How I can make sure that I win my battle, and continue enjoying the amazing things that recovery can bring.

A note on my terrible comments policy -

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Because I have one of the worst replying-to-comment policies on the internet, I just wanted to write a quick post on comments. And on the fact that they mean a huge amount to me, contrary to what my haphazard responses would suggest.

A few months ago, one of my favourite bloggers wrote a post that really made me think. Actually, it jarred a little uncomfortably – and then it made me think. About conversation, and comments, and what the interaction between writer and readers means.

When I started Finding Melissa, it was just me and my illness. I was so cut off and introspective that I couldn’t see beyond the narrow parameters of my existence, or imagine that some of my experiences might be shared. The comments here, and the wider community of Twitter, have transformed my outlook on the world. They have bridged the gap and added a context that has broken through the isolation. They have been the unexpected answer when I was used to talking to myself.

And so, sometimes, I don’t know what to say. And sometimes I forget just how much hinges on dialogue. And sometimes I’m just inexcusably disorganised –

But when I don’t say anything, it infers that I don’t appreciate the courage that comes from sharing an opinion, and it conceals the gratitude I feel for people bothering to stop by and think about my blog.

So, I leave it for a few days; and then, like in real life, I worry that I’ve missed the opportunity and it would be a little funny to say something, now… Which means that things are unsaid.

I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule for comments replies on blogs – but I think it’s important to say thank you and to acknowledge the other side of the conversation, and I haven’t done this very well.

So, a huge thank you for sharing your experiences and letting me know that you’re out there. Thank you for reading – and then thinking about – what I write. Thanks you for coming back even though it might feel like you’re writing into a vacuum. Thank you for giving me ideas, and support, and encouragement, and making me smile -

I guess the subject’s been weighing on my mind as I don’t want to be someone who forgets the conversation, particularly when it has spread into and enriched my whole life. 

Thank you. xx

In which I remember how hard it is to speak….

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I went out, at the weekend, with some people I hadn’t met before.

It was a beautifully hot day and my friends had brought a picnic so we sat, on the Heath, with the other picnic-makers, and I fell asleep in the sun. The conversation rose – and fell – around me; and I drifted in – and out – of what was being said. At some point, one of the guys (a chef, I think), produced a box of homemade cookies and handed them around. A joke was made, to his girlfriend, about how hard it must be to live with a great cook; and she replied, that it didn’t matter, because he’d taught her how to be sick.

The comment winded me.

Things That Don’t Help

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I have always been against lists saying what you should – or shouldn’t – say to someone with an eating disorder. Mine was manipulative enough, without trying to control what other people said.

I have been careful, as I’ve moved through my recovery, to ensure that I take responsibility for my behaviour (whilst appreciating that it was an illness); and that blame is left behind (because it doesn’t do anyone that much good).

Today I was reminded, in an email, of how harmful it can be when your treatment team say the wrong thing.

This confuses my line.

I can understand it when ‘normal people’ muddle along and put their foot in it; but people that are meant to be trained? I thought that the few negative experiences I’d had were unusual, or because eating disorders were newer, at the time, and professionals still had a lot to learn.


1. Weight gain can be hard to handle, even though it seems (to an outsider) to be a positive thing


Thursday, January 28th, 2010

On those rare occasions when the barriers are down and it feels okay to move beyond what is normally said, then it suddenly emerges that we’re all just working with half versions of the truth; and, most of the time, we’re making up what goes in the gaps.

And, when we pause, unexpectedly, to find out whether what we’re thinking they’re thinking, is even close to what’s really going through their minds; and find ourselves, so often, on entirely different pages, then it’s immediately clear that we’re all just trying to make sense of a fragmented assortment of feelings and experiences and thoughts, reflected and refracted in a thousand different ways –

(How not to do) Family Therapy

Friday, January 15th, 2010

I have stayed away from mentioning my family on this blog. This is, possibly, a lingering lesson from family therapy. There is little value in throwing around recriminations and blame and hurt. Family therapy’s a good tool but it comes with a few words of caution: get a good therapist; work together; and, remember that you can only ever change yourself.

The trick to effective family therapy is in the “family”. For some reason, it can be hard for the word – and the people – to stick. In the first few attempts, we fell at this crucial hurdle; and, what began as a group affair, quickly reverted back to the therapist and me.

This kind of defeats the object, although it’s relatively easy to see where it all went wrong…

Stories, Secrets and Stigma

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

If I do not tell my story; then it becomes my secret – which is never a good thing.

Because if my story becomes my secret; then I will have something to hide and there will be a danger in the waiting to be caught out.

And because I’m waiting to be caught out, my story – which is now my secret – will become my shame.

Unspeakable to spoken

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

There are strict rules of etiquette around what you do and what you don’t talk about; socially acceptable themes of conversation – and those that should be kept behind closed doors or under a stiff upper lip.

We’re scared of giving too much away, of putting ourselves in the firing line of judgement or criticism or idle chitchat – self-editing’s an easy habit to slip in to.

Most people aren’t that bad. Most people appreciate a little honesty. Most people are willing to listen –

- if you’re able to talk.



Monday, July 6th, 2009

You can’t beat a BT slogan: it is, most definitely, good to talk.

Being heard is equally important; being understood, a winning formula.

When you start putting things into words, you can deal with them.

When you start addressing difficult situations, you can talk through the confusion.

If you’re looking for a ‘get it off your chest’ space to say what you really think and feel – rather than what you should think and feel – then counselling’s great: but, a good counsellor is more than just a sympathetic ear; and, a good counselling section is as much about armchair detection and psychological sleuthing as it is about verbal venting.