Anorexic is not an adjective

This week, I saw something that frustrated me.

It frustrated me to the point of ‘borderline rage’, the kind that hasn’t consumed me for a long time, and the impulsivity that accompanies this. In this case, the impulsive act didn’t cause much corporeal damage – I posted a long, deeply personal post via Facebook. The outcome was that I felt more hurt than I had to begin with, and guilty, and sad, and nostalgic for Ana, and everything that I left behind when I recovered. Anyway.

The topic which frustrated me is a topic which has been in the media so much lately, too much. It is a topic dear to my heart, too dear. It is a topic that is being promoted, and that disgusts me. And yes, despite being weight restored, despite fulfilling the psychiatric definition of “recovered”, the anorexic behaviours, thought patterns, distortions, obsessions and compulsions still consume me.

Anorexic is not an adjective. And it is one used as such too often, by people who don’t understand, “celebrities” like the Kardashians, who have the reach to make real change, but are instead the ones blocking the way. It doesn’t matter who you are: you do not get to joke about an illness you have never experienced, an illness which takes more lives than any other. In fact, the more famous you are, the greater your capacity to create change by not stigmatising the illness any more than it already has been. I’m not one to “keep up” with these particular ladies, but what they said amongst themselves hurt me. It hurt me because they joked over an illness that nearly killed me. It hurt me because they joked over the mental illness with the highest mortality rate of them all.

Anorexic is not an adjective. Anorexic is being hypothermic in summer, and collapsing from exhaustion every night. It’s losing your childhood, your womanhood, your friends, and laughter, and smiles. It’s looking at your reflection and counting bones from your clavicles to your hips but believing you still need to lose weight. It’s yellow skin and a gaunt face and sunken eyes and hair that falls out as you stroke it. It’s wearing children’s clothes because nothing else will fit. It’s being controlled by numbers and calories and food and weight and exercise and a voice in your head that compels you to behave in certain ways, all whilst maintaining a facade of control that you yourself still believe to be true – even as this control spirals away like the soup you’ve been pouring down the drain. It’s hiding beneath baggy clothes, and a web of lies so intricate that a single breath could cause the whole system to come crashing down. It’s eating a single cracker, and punishing yourself for days and days or crying over a carrot that you’re being forced to eat. It’s narrowly avoiding hospital admission by convincing yourself and your doctor that you’re fine, that everything is fine, that nothing is wrong, despite the fainting, the collapsing, the low blood pressure and the anaemias, and the messed up hormone counts and missed periods and reversal of puberty that you brought upon yourself. Being anorexic means having a life cemented in obsessionality and despair and anxiety over the smallest changes to a rigid routine. 

Being anorexic means never being quite enough: not thin enough, good enough, smart enough. Just never enough. Being anorexic means giving up your life, physically, emotionally and mentally; and for some, even literally.

Anorexic is not an adjective. So please, don’t use it like one.

 

4 thoughts on “Anorexic is not an adjective”

    1. i think it comes from a lack of understanding. the only way we will ever get to a better place is by speaking up and speaking out, and doing it as loud as we dare x

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  1. One thing I will disagree with is the idea that people “do not have the right to joke” about it; We quite literally have the right to joke about all topics (in the West, anyways).

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    1. hey amanda, i won’t disagree with you – but it is very, very hurtful when people joke about eating disorders. and i find that a lot of the time, these are the same people who are ignorant to the very real psychological physical and emotional consequences of suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia. you’re correct; people do have the right to joke. my point is that they shouldn’t in the first place. people make jokes about all sorts of physical and mental illnesses, but for some reason, jokes about eating disorders are “not as bad”. for example, a child would be scolded for joking about dying from cancer, (or at least i definitely would have been!) but perhaps parents would laugh along with that child if they were to joke about losing a dangerous amount of weight, or bullying “the ano”… jokes are great. jokes are largely how i cope with suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder. but the difference is, I have experienced these things firsthand. I know my limits, and I know the limits of those I share the jokes with. but i don’t think it is okay for eating disorders to be mocked, mimicked and ridiculed, and turned into jokes, when they are destructive, horrible, deadly disorders.

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