Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Proving you're a Real Anorexic.

Few things make me sadder than people posting pictures showing their bones or a lot of photos with NG tubes. Not just because it can be triggering, but because I've been there. It sucks. And it sucks even more when you know people are doing it to try reassure themselves that they're ill enough. When they're trying to prove that they're a Real Anorexic.

The first time I ever had a feeding tube fitted, I was sort of obsessed with it. Straight after having it inserted, I went to look in the mirror to see if I could see it down the back of my mouth (I couldn't). Honestly, I was obsessed with the idea of them far before I first had one fitted. When it came to it, though, I panicked and begged them not to fit it, and I tried at any chance I could to pull it out- although you could lazily stick an arm across me and I was so physically weak that I'd be unable to move- but I admired its symbolism. Or rather, the symbolism I'd attached to it. When they held me down to insert that tube up my nose, I'd elevated myself to the rank of Real Anorexic. I had an identity. I had a badge of honour. I had proof of my suffering. I had recognition of my hell. I had a place.

Way before I was ever diagnosed, I was fully aware of my eating disorder. At the same time as knowing, myself, that I was ill (and of pretty much everyone else knowing it too), I always felt inferior to Real Anorexics who had those two words- anorexia nervosa- on their medical notes. They'd been force fed. They'd had hospital admissions, They were visible. So I'd attached a certain symbolism to the diagnosis too, although that faded when once I'd got it, because there was nothing to see with it. The goalposts to being a Real Anorexic changed. You can't really take photos of your medical notes.

But you can take photos of yourself with a feeding tube. Or in a wheelchair, because you're too weak to move and can't afford the calorie expenditure. Or with a feeding tube, in a wheelchair. And you just know that I did that.

A long time has passed since that, and a lot more feeding tubes have been inserted and angrily pulled out, in the meantime. But the obsession ended after that first tube, when I realised that the reality of being force fed was far worse than I could have imagined. That's if I'd ever thought of what it meant, apart from the status of Real Anorexic. It's just not nice physically, and don't even get me started on what it does to you mentally. It's a constant violation.

So I cringe whenever I see somebody taking pictures with NG tubes, or prominently displaying their jutting bones on photos. Listen to me: you have nothing to prove. And if you've never had an NG and you don't think your bones jut out as much as they ought to: you have nothing to prove. If you don't have a diagnosis and don't feel Real enough: you have nothing to prove. If you've just got the diagnosis and don't feel like you're ill enough: you have nothing to prove.

It's a clever illness, because it feeds on you never feeling enough. Don't help it along.

1 comment:

  1. Anorexia is a depressing illness, I have always been saddened by seeing and hearing of people who cannot see themselves as they really are... It breaks my heart and I am with you in wishing people who have the illness would just stop posting pictures... as you are right, they have nothing to prove xox