Iron Maiden

I’ve been reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and discovering some interesting things about society’s perpetuation of women as objects. What I have understood, so far, is that women are only as worthwhile as their ability to adhere to societal standards. This is: THIN and BEAUTIFUL and MADE-UP and COMPLACENT… We are only as powerful as we look.

Unfortunately, this is not how the world is supposed to work. And, in some ways, I don’t think it works that way everywhere, but this concept attaches itself to young impressionable minds and it festers and grows like a cancer, destroying their self-esteem and hope and faith in themselves.

I wanted to be thin to be invisible, not to be as society wanted me. I had wanted to hide in my locker in junior high. I had wanted to fade into the background… Yet, I wanted someone to ask me how I was.

Eating disorders are their own creature a
nd vary with reasons between each person. I still think, to this day, that if I weigh 150 pounds or more, I am more susceptible to being victimized. Too big and too slow to fight back. A lower weight was reinforced after I was victimized by another man in college (a fellow student who played soccer on the intramural team). I never reported it. I was smart enough to keep zipping my pants every time he let go of my hands. Then, I weighed even less and was purging multiple times a day. I shut down a bathroom with my purging. YES! That happens. Food, excessive amounts, clogs toilets and makes them overflow.

I thought if I was just thinner, I would not have been as attractive. I thought that I would be stronger. I did yoga every morning, walked while reading, organized my days into 15-minute intervals, and tried to only eat “good” and “safe” foods. I still threw them up afterward.

I am currently in recovery, but still struggling. My weight is the highest it has ever been—thanks to medicines and depression and other health conditions—and it scares me. I cannot help but wonder if I will be considered easy bait.

 

Many other women engage in these behaviors to fit societal ideals. They think they will be accepted if they are thin. This is true. I experienced it. I was considered more worthwhile when I was thin; I was considered disciplined and level-headed. I was successful. I pretended to be jovial and fun-loving and was complacent to society’s expectations of me; underneath, I loathed myself because I knew I would never quite be good enough. I was trapped in the Iron Maiden, steadily suffocating on my diseases and societal norms.

So, how does one challenge this?

Flower in A Wishing Well
Be A Flower in a Wishing Well

First, I need to learn to love myself and make goals for myself that are not dictated by photoshopped magazines. I need to find reasons to love myself. I need to remind myself that I am worthwhile and not defined by my disease or my need for treatment. I need to learn balance: balance between my needs and what the world needs of me.

 

Bipolar Mania Relapse

Bipolar I strikes again and the joy comes crashing down.

 

So, my negativity stole my soul. Then, I got sick and decided to stop two of my meds just because I really wanted grapefruit and was tired of feeling blah. I also felt that I could handle it.

Six days later: my hand is throbbing from 10 hours of crochet in one day, my room is reorganized to the max, my closet is reorganized, I’ve developed a new recipe for a fruit and nut based dessert, and have had very little sleep. Let’s also add my penchant for just seeing what will happen and trying to make money by completing surveys.

I conceded that I was manic and while my brain and whole self argued that this is the best I have felt in about 6 years and the most intelligent I have felt since undergraduate college; however, I do not have the skills to bring it under control. So, I called the docs for meds and help in bringing myself down.

It sucked. It still sucks.

One of my biggest frustrations about meds is that they slow me down. While this keeps me from spending money, having sex with random strangers, engaging in business ventures, and deciding to completely change my life… It also limits my creativity and ability to function at such high levels. I read some books about it and many suffer, but use the highs to get things done and still have the capacity to maintain their lives. Okay. I know Fitzgerald drank himself to death, Plath and Sexton committed suicide, Van Gogh cut off his ear… And many more were institutionalized for long periods. I don’t want any of that, but I miss the capacity of keeping going.

When I was in college, I could write a story in a day, a report in an afternoon, I had my life scheduled in 15-minute increments and got so much accomplished. I worked two jobs, went to school, volunteered, and was involved with multiple groups on campus. I was awesome. Then depression struck and I was powerless and the meds that tampered my depression, also tampered my energy and that was the end.

I know things will get better, but people really don’t know what it is like. I was on top. Now, I am struggling to just keep going. Discovering and admitting that I am manic always sends me crashing and it is a feeling of compacted despair.