The final hit? Anorexia and addiction
Getting clean is much easier said than done. The term, usually used with reference to coming off drugs or alcohol, could also be used to describe recovery from an Eating Disorder – a process of leaving something so damaging behind, despite feeling as though you have nothing left without it. Although Anorexia is an illness, the behaviours that contribute to it are undoubtedly addictive, and so after years of living with such self-inflicted rules and restrictions, recovery is definitely similar in many ways to breaking any other form of addiction, be that alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food… Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Eating Disorder are continuously debated over in terms of whether or not they count as addictions, as that would obviously influence the course of treatment and even medication that would best suit the patient. Historically, the term ‘addiction’ was only used with regards to psychoactive substances, which possibly explains why many would not even entertain the idea of an Eating Disorder being addictive, but the illness comes under a long list of behavioural addictions and can be explained simply as an unconventional way of coping with life, stress, trauma etc – just as does alcohol addiction, drug addiction etc. Opinion will always be split, but seeing Anorexia as an addiction will allow me to write about where I stand at this moment in terms of recovery – so keep that in mind if you will.
First, a quote from ‘Trainspotting’:
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: This was to be my final hit, but let’s be clear about this. There’s final hits and final hits. What kind was this to be?
Determination and doubt in equal measure, it’s never a good look when you take into account the power of addiction, but then when you are acutely aware that it is realistic to expect a relapse, how can you look upon it with 100% positivity? It isn’t a matter of having doubts creep up on you – they are there all along because it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. There is always a part of you that wants, even feels the need to cling on. Despite knowing all the risks to your health, even seeing those risks, being broke, seeing your life change around your addiction, being aware of the selfishness of it all, watching just how much you are worrying and hurting your loved ones – whatever it is you are addicted to is your safety blanket, it keeps you safe, it is what you need to make it through to the next day, week, month… You can want to ‘choose life’ as much as you want, but letting go of something that has become habit, that is central to your every waking thought and action, that is like trying to climb a mountain with something clutching at your ankles and dragging you back.
Looking at me now though, I would not say that I was still ill, but I am certainly far from recovered in terms of weight, thoughts around food and quite often becoming frustrated at myself for not allowing myself to just let go and eat what I want. I’ve been worse, much worse, but I still have to be checked up on, pursuaded to eat more, worried about and gazed at by poor 16 year olds in clubs who want to be that thin, unaware of the consequences. I describe myself as floating around in the space between illness and wellness, and damn it’s far too easy to become complacent with that.
Last week I found out that I have a short contract working at the BBC and also have been offered a place to start my MA Journalism in September. Amazingly, finally, things seem to be falling into place for me – I know this is the route I want to take and it just feels so ‘right’. Eating Disorder-wise though, I feel a little like Renton, I want one final hit before I launch myself into (hopefully) the path to success. I keep finding myself looking in the mirror wishing that certain bits could go that bit smaller, just so I could feel the way it feels to be that empty and small, concave and fragile. I don’t know if that description would seem appealing at all to anyone who has not felt it, but surely it must be worth something if I continue to be drawn in by it. Temptation, like addiction, is a powerful force. I admit that even after all the help and support I have recieved, I find it difficult not to just give in to Anorexia, say no to food and see the weight slowly dropping off. It almost feels romantic, it’s charms, they suck you in.
But then they spit you out in hospital. Another 3, 6, 9 months? I have to slap my face, realise the madness behind my thoughts. If I let go now I’ll no doubt be in hospital by christmas, have to pull out of my studies and have to waste yet another eternity with my life on hold. I’ve got a taste of a hit now, do I really need to go the full whammy? I’d be likely to lose a hell of a lot more this time round when I think about what is at stake. This is where I choose between life and existance.
I choose LIFE.
(I hope)Tagged in: addiction, anorexia, bulimia, health, mental health, recovery
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