I was interviewed for an newspaper article at the end of last week. The journalist was looking for people who have been ill with an ED as an adult. I guess that idea may have stemmed from the notion that some people still think an ED means young skinny girls refusing their meals. In the Finnish media and public discourse EDs have been surprisingly well-covered in recent times. Some celebrities have even shared their own battles with this illness. What is important though is the way the illness is talked about. I am very particular about that.
Today I noticed how god-damn particular indeed, when the journalist sent back what she had written about me (based on me speaking at her for an hour – a mighty task to undertake for any writer). I had so much to correct! The headline claimed I had lost 22 years of my life to anorexia. Uh-oh! For one, I haven’t had that particular diagnosis since my teens, but also, I refuse to be a victim to this illness. It’s true I have suffered from this illness and it’s true that I have lost some days, months, maybe years partly to it, but I sure as hell don’t wanna think I lost 22 years. I am so much more than this shitty beast that I battle with on the regular.
So that was really important to me, to talk about my illness and my recovery, so that I am the conqueror, and that hope exists in my life. Knowledge, that I shall beat this. If I am gonna be in the press talking about myself I want to be there for a reason. Or reasons. I also want to avoid certain things. Here’s a list: Reasons – to inform people about this illness and the complex nature of it. To help loved ones identify and support a person who is ill. To tell the ‘wider audience’ how this illness totally sucks and I totally didn’t choose it or enjoy it. By avoiding: talking about numbers, kilos dropped/gained, ED behaviours in detail…in general, not disclosing things that would produce unhealthy thoughts and comparisons in the minds of those who are ill. Or give anyone ideas of how they should ‘best’ be ill.
So, like, I had a lot of suggestions for this article…What good is it, to talk about something in an exploitative, disorder-producing manner? No good! So think my many and varied comments and demands for correction were legit. It’s my story and I want it told in the right way. Disclaimer: the journalist was very nice and didn’t ‘exploit’ me, but perhaps some others in certain tabloids might try to produce ‘flashier’ content by writing about the gory details of someone’s personal life or illness.
I also must admit that because I am so particular about speaking about this in the correct way, I started writing a book. The idea was soon lost somewhere in the daily goings on of my life, recovery, keeping well, applying for higher education, trying to find employment, kissing boys (well, just the one) and enjoying life. There’ll be a time and a place for an extended take on my life at some point I am sure. Until then, this blog.