In recent days I have been particularly aware of certain imprints of my brain (don’t you just love when untrained scientists like myself use terminology they may not fully understand the meaning of) making certain thoughts, feelings and mild panic reactions appear in situations that are just fine and do not require much panic at all. I have very strongly identified an issue here. The issue, and I have touched upon in before, is force. Being forced to, either to do something undesirable to oneself, or being forced to abstain from doing something that would bring one joy. Y’all think I’m talking about food don’t you. I’m not even. But I could be. Of course being forced to abstain or take part in activity leaves bad memories, and with EDs food-related activity is one explicit example. I often fear I will be forced to eat and my body always fears I’ll be forced to abstain. These fears result in doom. Doom is undesirable and terrible. It does not aid my recovery.
Yet, recently, I have noted there is another very strong fear regarding being forced. I am very much my own person and I like to move around freely, accomplishing my daily tasks with efficiency and self-directedness. When I feel my freedom is compromised, the doom hits again. When I feel I am forced to take part in things I do not want to take part in or forced to waste my time on activities I do not enjoy, I get hella anxious hella fast. I also fear that taking part in these activities will take away some of the precious time that I need to spend on taking care of my well-being, which currently takes up a big part of my day. Let me tell you the things I do for my recovery: ED clinic, psych. clinic, peer support groups 2-3 times a week, weekly therapist session, writing this blog, writing some other thoughts down for a Finnish written thing I may do someday, physio, swimming for my poor back, daily walks, various doctors’ appointments, playing music and singing (really therapeutic!), making sure I eat right (including making my own food a lot of the time), studying psychology at Open Uni, attending expert by experience events….there are many things I do now! And I want to do them. No-one is forcing me, I am just a fairly fast and efficient person who wants to help themselves when they can. But. I am constantly afraid of being forced to stop all the things I am doing. That some person, or some mystical higher power will demand me to stop. That I’ll be forced to do so and be put back inside the box I lived so miserably in for such a long time.
Sometimes I feel guilty for focusing on myself so much. My parents are very happy that I do a lot to help myself and it’s not like I spend huge amounts of time with them anyway (adult humans generally tend not to). I am not as symbiotic with my friends as some other people are, so I guess they do not expect me to see them every day also. But I am not sure if I am a very good girlfriend. I do so many things for myself, because I have to. I really have to, because my health is so important to me now that I have understood that I deserve to live, and that living can be good. I wonder what I can contribute to a relationship with this mindset, and conclude that perhaps not hugely. But RuPaul, the Queen of the Universe, is again right. I need to get better first, I can’t be good for anyone else before that. I won’t force myself to dedicate myself to my man when I don’t want to. I also really don’t think he wants that either. Still, it’s a fear, partly based on previous experiences of being forced to be something I really haven’t wanted to be, in some other relationships (friend, family, romantic – spin the wheel but all options apply!).
There’s an ‘awesome’ double negative effect at play when one is ill with an ED. The illness forces you to do some things. The rest of the universe forces you to do some others. When you’re ill, you are more susceptible to the universe’s demands also, as you are weaker. There is an invisible gorilla on your back and you have little energy to tell the world to shove it with their expectations. And so you are cornered, then scooped inside a box so small you slowly run out of air.
Well, almost. This ain’t no ghost writer so clearly I didn’t run out of air. And with recovery, and even with strong and often panic-inducing memories of being forced, I am starting to not comply so much. It comes with starting to appreciate myself as the unique little butterbean that I am. I am allowed to exist as myself. Can’t no-one make a solid argument against it. Poor arguments I will blow down like a paper house. For I am Pihla, the amazing illness terminator of 2018. Cannot be forced to be anything but herself, #fierce.