Unmaking My Eating Disorder

Probably my most personal, self-reflective, simultaneously analytical article to date. It was a challenging story to write – a mini memoir of tough times – but it allowed me to step back and examine not just who I am, but why I am.

I’m proud of the result, ‘Unmaking My Eating Disorder’, which you can read here.

Issue 16 of Psychology Tomorrow Magazine focuses on the theme of ‘childhood’. As I write in the introduction to my article:

“It would be extraordinary for a grown woman to spontaneously ration herself to 300 calories a day or vomit after every meal. Odds are that the skeletons pacing your average ‘Eating Disorders Ward’ have not had a short-term relationship with celery and self-loathing… There’s a process – one that often begins in childhood.”

Featured art: 'Child Innerside' by Boeeuen Choo

Featured art: ‘Child Innerside’ by Boeeuen Choo

Every kid faces certain psychological challenges that, to a lesser or greater extent, shape the adolescent and adult s/he becomes. I had a pretty great childhood, yet there was a confluence of certain internal and external factors that affected me deeply and, in part, led to and maintained my eating disorder.

Tricky terrain, this, and I’m still in the process of navigating it.

But while tackling these complex, painful issues is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted, I have a feeling it will also be the most worthwhile.

Eschewing the Skeleton Crew

In late 2014, working hard at uni and in therapy, I decided to combine my scholarly feminist research with a good deal of self-scrutiny. What came out of it was this: a feature article (and personal manifesto) entitled Eschewing the Skeleton Crew.

Yep, this is me with my birthday cake, age 7. Background art by Maria Tort.

Yep, this is me with my birthday cake, age 7. Background art by Maria Tort.

It’s pretty confronting but hey, that’s the ugly truth of eating disorders. For example:

As a 22-year-old who has spent irrecoverable hours slumped over splattered, rancid toilet bowls, I would do anything I could to prevent others from experiencing such virulent self-loathing. That’s what this is about. An eating disorder is a severe, disabling, sometimes fatal mental illness. It’s also a choice. I want to explain what it is that you, your daughter, your best friend, your mentor stands to lose by nibbling the occasional lettuce leaf, downing the bottle of ipecac.

Among other valuables, your self.

I wanted to share my experiences and insights so that others struggling with anorexia and bulimia might not feel so alone, and so that people who don’t know much about eating disorders could become aware of their complex, devastating realities. I also wanted to offer hope.

In searching for feminist media outlets that might publish the article, I came across Bluestockings Magazine. A student-run publication based at Brown University (USA), Bluestockings affirms marginalised voices and examines contemporary women’s issues within larger historical and socio-political frameworks. In other words, it’s incredible.

Bluestockings Magazine banner

The editorial team picked up my feature and the rest is history.

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