Drawing the story of an eating disorder

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve been thinking since my last post. That is, for more than two months. I don’t usually think about things this long. Thus, you should expect some profound results.

Writing about the eating disorder that has accompanied my life for the past eleven years is different to all the other writing I do. I’m not an expert on anything in the world, but eating disorders. Eleven years of reading ALL the words ever written on weight management, eight years of therapy, five years of studying psychology, two months as a patient in a psychiatric unit specialized on eating disorders – I know my shit about anorexia, bulimia and co.

I’m one of the few lucky people that can honestly say: I got that monster under control.

monster You never really heal from an eating disorder. If you had it this long, it becomes part of who you are. However, as with any impulsive, scary, selfish, aggressive side of human nature, you can learn how to deal with that side so that it doesn’t hurt you or anybody else. I learned how to do that and I’m as grateful for that as one can be, because – believe it or not, I find it quite incredible myself – my eating disorder had become a life and death matter. Yes, something as silly as wanting to be thin can kill you. Not as easily as drug addiction, not as irrevocably as severe alcoholism, but just as progressively and inevitably if not taken seriously.

The thing is – that shit doesn’t matter to the affected. For most of my life I would have rather been dead than accept the fact that I will never fit a certain size jeans again. Much rather dead, actually. To people who don’t have an eating disorder (and even to most of those who do) this might seem ridiculously superficial. However, what do you say when I rephrase: I hated every single thing about myself so much that I didn’t find it worthy of life if it didn’t at least appear in an attractive body. Different story, eh?

But even if you’re nowhere close to killing yourself, or ripping a vessel, or having a heart attack, or rupturing your esophagus, living with an untreated eating disorder is torturous. The lies, the pain, the disgust, the isolation, the bitterness. I remember entire years of my life as colorless, and the cities I lived in as places of concrete and frowns.

Guess what, you people out there who are still in the pit: Life doesn’t have to be like that. There’s a high chance that you can still be you – in fact, you might find there’s more to you than you thought – and be glad to live in whatever body. I mean, you can be glad to live. In whatever body. Therapists might have told you that it’s hard work to get there. I guess it really is from their perspective, but it’s also really not from mine and probably yours as the affected. How can I explain what I mean by that? Probably best by telling my own story.

And that’s what I’m going to do. I decided to quit this blog for now and work on cartoons that tell the story of my eating disorder. Two and a half years ago, I put myself into a psychiatry, because I had decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself, while I still had no idea how to go on living. There, I discovered that the pictures I scribbled down with a ballpoint pen often turned out to be a better way to explain myself than talking to people. Since then, I always wanted to create some kind of resource that would help other eating disordered understand my way of getting better. But I didn’t trust my recovery until recently, and therefore didn’t feel sure I should be telling people ‘This is how I got better’. What if it wasn’t going to last? However, I just started trusting that it will last, so it makes sense to start drawing.

Since I like the sense of obligation that comes with publishing my creative outlets on the regular, I will create another blog where the process of making that cartoon (graphic novel???) will be documented. I would like to be a bit more anonymous about it than I was here, so if you want to keep on following me, please let me know via e-mail (sarahhahnya@googlemail.com) and I’ll send you the link to my new blog (obviously, it would be great if you then wouldn’t start screaming that link out of your window along with my name). This is just so I feel more free in what I say, not because I think anybody should be ashamed or suffer any kind of discrimination for being open about their history of mental illness. But I’m also just human, and I don’t want to risk biasing my story, because I’m subconsciously scared of what people might make of it.

So bye bye systemconscienceme (for now) ! Off to new projects!offtonewprojects


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