When I took my Honours Journalism, I was taught this great way to help your thoughts flow. Today they call it mind-mapping. I’ve used it for story ideas, but in this case I used it for my Bulimia. From the example below, I chose to expand on desires, fears, social aspects, rut, happiness. The sub with the most circles around it was the “rut” so I’m sharing the main one and this sub. Comments are welcome. To me going back and looking at these notes really opens my eyes. If I were to fill one out today, it would be so different, but I understand the emotions I was feeling then.
I was 18 years old in 1980 when my bulimia began. I might have stated it in an earlier blog, but how it came to be was that I was told by my mother, after my sister had lost several pounds through Weight Watchers, that she and I were the only ones left that were fat in the family. I had been fit until I was 16 when we moved away from a place I had finally rooted myself. The move was devastating. The new school had no sports, was dull and the lockers were all painted with camouflage to hide the graffiti. My passtime became watching soap operas while eating a bag of crackers smothered with butter and peanut butter. Then upon attaining a job at MacDonald’s I added Big Macs and fries to my nutritional diet. Within two months I had gain 35 lbs. I befriended a girl in school, who, word had it, had been quite large, but she was absolutely beautiful and thin and I met her. One day she told me her secret about having her ice cream and eating it too, but not gaining any weight. You can guess how this one went. So I attempted this a few times without success until I remembered my CPR course. Heimlich maneuver. Once that was perfected, I started to lose weight and within four months I had reached my original weight of 130 lbs. Alas, it did not stop there. A couple of years later I was moved yet again. A year later my younger sister was sent off to live with my older sister, so I was an only child for the first time in my life. Expectations ran high in my family. I was at university, and met great friends who kept me very busy, along with my writing my children’s book and my studies. Suddenly I found myself not purging, but eating well, and back into sports, and suddenly I was 110 lbs. My parents were frustrated and frightened. They had found out about my bulimia, which at this time had commenced two years before. I was now 20. They threatened to throw me out if I didn’t gain weight. There was a strange side of me that I remember well that made me happy that they were angry. I was always trying to be the “good girl” and really was not noticed much. There were four girls in our family and I was number three. I never really felt as though I belonged. (I still don’t). But in this case I was getting attention. Negative attention, but attention nevertheless. And I kept thinking for all the times they made me angry, made me feel ashamed or not good enough (like when my mother said I was a failure graduating from university without a profession), I was doing it back to them. Making them wonder why their child was doing this? Maybe, just maybe, they thought what it was that they did to drive me to this behaviour? I ignored their comments and as per my usual, I simply went into my room and hid. Anyone out there have a similar experience? And how did you deal with it?
I’m a hoarder sometimes. Recently, due to a financial break-down and loss of pretty well all of my material possessions, I’ve had to significantly downsize and ‘purge’ myself of files, paperwork, books, furniture, belongings. It was difficult in some instances, particularly parting with certain objects that had sentimental value, but once done, it was like a cleansing. While foraging through the myriad of boxes, I put aside the literature that was most important. Files of this and that of my children growing up, boxes of the manuscripts I wrote, and the letters I have saved (never threw any out) since I was 11 years old. I like going back through them now and again. I even have notes that were passed around in class when I was in high school. These and all my personal pictures were treasures I kept, the autographed books from Arthur Miller, Tom Wolfe, Leo Buscaglia (and tons of letters from Leo too!), signed pictures from Clint Eastwood, Dick Van Dyke, Cher, James Stewart, etc. and a small inventory of furniture to house me in this small apartment. One bunk bed, one television that my nephew sat on for me because it was a great price, coffee table, cot, dining room table, two bookshelves, two dressers, some shoes, some clothes, some videos. My only weakness is technology. I have to myself (but share in my complex) three laptops, two desktops, two printers, an iPad, a digital microscope, and a few other small digital toys. But that’s it. One small truck load. While going through my stuff, I came across some literature dating back close to the time I began my bulimia. Well, it was actually 6 years after I began, but to me, that is still ‘early’ seeing as I had it for 30 years! Anyway, so I thought I would share some of the historic literature here. Just a note, I will be covering one part that I found in a letter to a friend that was never delivered. In it I wrote …”I became somewhat anorexic at this time. At 5’9″ I weighed 110 pounds. The only difference is that I knew I was skinny, whereas most anorexics never feel that way. It was driving my parents nuts and I lavished in their anger.” I want to expand on this, as I had not thought of it much until I found this letter. So attached to start is a letter from Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Illinois. I had read an article (included) and written to them and they responded (included) – Letters From Michael Reese Hopital 1986. Both documents are attached in that link in .pdf. The year? 1986. 25 years ago. If you have any comments, please submit them. I will be posting a couple more “back in time” ‘s. Please share your thoughts.