Writing through an eating disorder

Rediscovering my creativity

Type your teaser/intro here

Writing through an eating disorder is not easy. It’s something people expect you to do because “writing is a good distraction” or because it’s “cathartic”. The truth is that when your life has been so horrendously narrowed you lose touch with your ability to be creative and interesting and you realise that all your thoughts get  stuck somewhere between the front of your skull and the back so that everything congeals in a mess that never gets tidied. Only through very strict discipline have I managed to continue my daily 140 characters of descriptive writing. Very often I have found myself dissatisfied and scraping the barrel in an attempt to write something original and fresh about the unchanging view from the hospital window.

It would be easy to believe that eight months in hospital would have left me with an absolute plethora of written material, or at least material waiting to be put down on to paper. Unfortunately it has left me instead with a drought. I am only just now beginning to work my way back into what was once an enormous component of my life. I know that my experiences over the last year have aged me and given my outlook on life the re-boot that it needed and now I am finally feeling the urge to ink these changes out of me.

So where do I begin my recovery?

First and foremost is getting over what would seem to many a very stupid obstacle but is, for me, a fairly massive stumbling block: Sitting down at the computer. I find it very difficult to permit myself to relax and give up on being active and so the idea of being stationary in front of a screen for even half an hour is not a comfortable one. I am in the process of retraining myself to focus my attention on a seated occupation and I can tell you it is not easy.

Secondly, I have to find my narrative voice. I entered my eating disorder as a child and have emerged from it an adult, not necessarily biologically but indisputably all the same – I have grown up.

Thirdly, I have to accept that stories I had planned before I got ill are not going to unroll in the way I predicted. In my Movella “Glass Girl” I was inadvertently writing my own biography, becoming more and more like its heroine as I wrote her and I now realise that the ending I intended for her simply doesn’t solve any of her problems. If “Glass Girl” is going to recount my life then it needs to dare to swerve from the supposedly happy ending I had intended for it. I know now that, while being ‘happy’ the events I had plotted simply leave too many open wounds neglected and if it is ever going to be truthful or cathartic, she must go through a similar process of realisation to my own. Things in her life need fixing and a win at a gymnastics competition won’t cut it.

Fourthly, I have to be patient with myself. I’m out of practice at writing and metaphors aren’t going to spring out of me as readily as they did in the peak of my mental fitness.

Finally, I want to use what I’ve suffered with to reach out to others through my writing. If what I write with this new voice can help even one person struggling with similarly disabling illnesses then I will be pleased, not least because it would prove that the horrific year I have put myself and my family through has been worth something.

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