Body Image and Blindness

I preface this entry by apologizing for the messed up format. WordPress and my screen reader are not working very well together, so I will need to edit this in the near future.

 

“All of us are travelers lost,

our tickets arranged at cost

unknown buteyond  our means.

This odd itinerary of scenes

– enigmatic, strange, unreal –

leaves us unsure how to feel.

No postmortem journey is rife

with more mystery than life.

Tremulous skeins of destiny

flutter so ethereally

around me – but then I feel

its embrace is that of steel.

On the road that I taken,

one day, walking, I awaken,

amazed to see where I have come,

where I’m going, where I’m from.

 

This is not the path I thought.

This is not the place I sought.

This is not the dream I bought,

just a fever of fate I’ve caught.

 

I’ll change highways in a while,

at the crossroads, one more mile.

My path is lit by my own fire.

I’m going only where I desire.

 

On the road that I have taken,

one day, walking, I awaken.

One Day, walking, I awaken,

on the road that I have taken.”

Dark Rivers of the Heart: The Book of Counted Sorrows by Dean Koontz

 

This week is

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

This year’s theme is It’s Time to Talk About It”, so let’s do just that!

Before you read my rambles, please visit this beautiful blogger’s

Valid thoughts on this year’s theme

 

I also encourage you to visit this well-written entry which discusses blindness and body image.

 

On Blindness and the Body

As an aside before I ramble, let’s be mindful eating disorders of all types, not just anorexia or bulimia, do not discriminate against age, gender, ability, race, socioeconomic status or any other factors. I have noticed struggles with body image aren’t as openly discussed in some blindness circles, and often I have even received comments from professionals who are baffled I could have an eating disorder because I am blind. Another reality is eating disorders go much deeper than the food, weight or rituals which are symptoms of unique struggles which vary from person to person.

 

We mark our life events, whether happy or sad by memorable dates and seasons. For me the beginning of March, especially when it coincides with the start of Lent evokes a mixed bag of memories. During a hospitalization, I distinctly recall the shame and guilt I felt related to the stark clash between the deathly grip of which I clung to the eating disorder while trying to grasp onto my Catholic faith which brought me solace as a child. While anorexia ravaged my body, mind and soul, I began to see glimpses of the contradiction I attempted to live, but so many years ago, for whatever reason I was caught in its whirlpool and have not quite fully escaped.

I remember the humiliation I felt after receiving medical clearance to attend an Ash Wednesday Mass in the hospitals chapel with the caveat my ever-present IV pole and feeding tube were primed and ready for the public event. I lived in shame then, and today these feelings were magnified even more.

For anyone who has gone through the anxiety-producing process of a medical check-up with a weigh-in, I can easily say this is like a whole different layer of hell. Some people dread root canals, well I dread medical check-ups at the eating disorder clinic.

After an emotionally draining, mentally exhausting morning in which the reality of either getting fully on board with recovery or simply self-destructing slapped me squarely in the face, I feel mixed about what to even write. Do I write about how defeated I felt after meeting a sweet teenager who was there for an intake and when she began to ask me questions about how long I had an eating disorder, and the relief I felt once she was called back before I could even attempt to formulate an answer? I was ashamed in that moment because I am so thankful and blessed to realize I am further along than I was so long ago, but I am not yet where I want to be. It’s as if there are steps forward and then an unexpected quantum leap back. What follows are just realizations I have learned today, and for me writing helps solidify ideas, so prayerfully I keep them in mind.

I remind us to never forget everyone’s recovery journey is unique, and while it may be a circuitous route, one size does not fit all, so we are not in this marathon alone, rather we can help each other win this race. Rather than attempt to project into the future with its unknowns or look to the past with its relapses, and mixed starts and stops, what matters is today, this next moment, or even the next meal.

The final icing on the cake, (it’s interesting how many literary references revolve around food), was when I allowed a harmless comment about my dam BMI by a medical staff to worm its way into my disordered brain and gnaw at my emotions and resolve. It flung me into an emotional funk which include turning up the volume of the proverbial thoughts that quickly whisper beneath the surface of supposed “normalcy” somehow reappeared with a vengeance accompanied by the twisted, warped, illogical justifications for just not trying because right now I do not feel strong enough to fight against myself. I do not feel equipped to take on this renewed round in my head about where to go from here. But this is not where I am left.

What I am realizing is I must look past how I feel. I must choose to try again. To put to rest what I know is not true even if this requires enlisting support from friends, and for anyone who can relate, you are not alone in this battle.

As shitty as this day has felt, I am realizing no matter what our struggle or vice may be, it is always there lurking in the background, and whether we are ready to confront it or not, even if we keep busy, keep working or avoiding it, it sure somehow, someway will make itself known.

During this Liturgical season, I pray especially for those in recovery we remember Lent is not just about giving up something; it’s about deeper prayer with Jesus and a sacrifice could be making a renewed effort to follow a meal plan, keep appointments with your treatment team despite the thoughts or feelings ultimately is the whole purpose of Lent.

Lent is about detaching more from this world and drawing closer to our source of strength.

Until next time,

Be blessed and stay well, Anjelina

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