10 August 2010

The lies of Proana

My mind feels as if it were split in two by anorexia. Part of me is pulled toward eating less and losing weight. The pursuit of thinness feels so strong, ready to pull me under. But is it really being thin that I want? I don't think so.

People say I am too thin now; losing more pounds feels rather pointless and yet . . . I look at pictures of those who are young and thin; fake photos to draw me in and trap me. I will never look like that. It is a lie. I won't tiptoe between raindrops nor walk across snow-covered fields with nary a footprint.

The Lies of Proana

Il Faut Souffrir Pour Etre Belle
  (One must suffer to be beautiful)
Welcome to the world of fantasy
Where slender young women
float through life
untouched by the ravages
of their starving bodies
wasted minds.

Did I ever believe any of this? Do I still? Is my mind torn in two? As I struggle to eat, both believing I need to lose weight and then seeing the truth, I wonder whose mind is it, anyway? Who is in control here and am I that easily manipulated? Or am I sometimes drawn toward this fantasy world because I find it too hard to escape the reality of anorexia? I wonder ...

It is so easy to believe the lies of proana. The women pictured look flawless — smooth, delicate skin, slender bodies and glossy smooth hair. Who could resist the allure of these images?
Proana says all you have to do is not eat. Of course, not every one of these websites actually say you must starve to achieve this imaginary life. Starvation is sometimes just a whisper behind the positive posts of eating less and exercising more; of ways to avoid food and how much better you will feel the less you eat. 

Some proana sites go further, trying to make starvation sound virtuous; a state to aspire to:

 "Starvation is fulfilling. 
Colors become brighter, sounds sharper, 
odors so much more savory . . ."

LIES! I wish I could reach through the website where I found that and shake the person, yelling You are starving, that's why things seem different and strange. Starving!!! Lies which help perpetuate the downward spiral of so many women. More fulfilling??? I remember in some of my worse restrictive times I would suddenly get an urge to snatch food from someone eating in front of me. The smells and imagined taste almost were too much. And yet part of me was (is?) susceptible to this and it scares me.

The other, healthier part of me wants to break free of anorexia forever. I am tired. Tired of counting calories. Tired of worrying about every single bite I put in my mouth. Tired of fighting with my mind all the time. I struggle to maintain some semblance of a normal life and at each turn, crouching in every corner is anorexia.

Tired of thinking about a life without my husband, a life without love and joy.

The anxiety is the worse. I wake up afraid of everything. Having sex with my husband. Food. Getting out of bed. The fear that I will amount to nothing. Eating. Not eating. Facing the day. Taking a shower and deciding what clothes to wear. Completing assignments.

Nothing is untouched by anxiety. Nothing.

The other day my husband told me he was leaving unless I made a real effort toward recovery. I thought I was. I was thinking about what I needed to do, writing about it, trying to work through the fear of eating and gaining weight.

I felt I was making an effort. I was thinking about it; doesn't that count for something? Of course, I also was talking about not gaining anymore weight and possibly losing more. I feel fine, I said. Why can't I stay the way I am? Why can't I just accept I have anorexia and live with it. I could give up treatment and let things happen,

What did I expect? For David to say, sure that's fine, being under one hundred pounds is perfectly okay by me?

I'm such an idiot sometimes. I cried more that night than ever before . . .  I promised to do better and I do truly want recovery. It's just so hard and I'm not as strong as people seem to think.

Last night, I told my doctor I want one of two things — either anorexia to kill me or to be free. Anorexia nervosa purgatory just isn't working for me.

Then I had an — epiphany? A revelation? Maybe a word from God, I don't know. I suddenly thought, What if I just stopped worrying and started eating like a normal person? What would happen? Would I literally explode? Would it kill me? Or would I start becoming the person I was, only better? 

I think of the past and dream of the future, thinking of the possibility of a rich and normal life . . . 


I Hate to Weight said...

oh, angela. sending big hugs and warmest thoughts your way. take such gentle care of yourself.

is there any way you can stay off the pro=ana sites? it sounds so, well, lonely.

i wonder what you are doing about care these days? i pray you are in good hands and eating some.

you are wonderful and kind and so very smart. you are wonderful and kind and so very smart. you deserve the best care.

and you are so courageous in what you write. you are in my prayers.

lifeafteranorexia said...

I can identify with your post so much. I remember having many of those same feelings and anxieties when my recovery was first beginning. It's a very tricky time when you're not sure which voice to listen to.

I also agree that it's best to stay away from the proana sites. You're right, they're full of lies. I made the mistake of frequenting them in the past and nothing good came of it. In fact, nothing came of it except me feeling inadequate. I thought I would never be good enough to do anything. I thought I'd never look the way I was supposed to.

That's so poisonous. You are beautiful and anorexia is ugly. It's not tragically beautiful or painfully artistic or any of those things the proana sites want us to believe.

It's just plain dangerous. Unhealthy. And flirting with disaster.

And eating like a normal person will not kill you. It will *heal* you. It is what was intended for us to live. For everything to live.

Best of luck to you, sweetie.

Eating Alone said...

You really need to stay off them. Or maybe get a picture of what Ana really does to a person, their brains literaly loose volume, their hair falls out, the bones rot from the inside out. They are not able to think clearly or about anything, there muscles eat themselves to try and live. Their internal organs eat themselves.

This is a horribale hidious thing. It is not glamorous or lovely. It not something to show you've made it. Eating when it hurts to eat, eating when your mind screams at you not to that is the true challenge. That is what makeing it is.

brokenwords said...

Most of the pro-ana sites are very young girls who just don't know better. I was never lured into the whole pro-ana thing... I felt sorry for those girls. My anorexia was never about looking thin, it was how I felt - so looking super thin wasn't really a full part of my disorder. I was ashamed of my emaciated body and knew full well that the only people that think an emaciated body is beautiful are anorexics. When people would say to me, "You are so thin!" it wasn't a compliment.

I agree - you have to let go of the pro-ana. Block yourself from those sites if you have to. It's all baby steps to walking away from anorexia. Blocking such sites, getting rid of your scale (if you have one) etc.

I think living with an anorexic spouse is indeed so hard on the other spouse. It's like living with a third party. We don't choose to be anorexic, but we do choose whether or not we take steps towards recovery. We have to let go of the disease, sometimes in pieces (letting go of pro-ana, scales, calorie counting, etc.)

I'm currently weight restored, and it hasn't killed me. I'm still not full recovered because some of the behaviors are still alive. But it does slowly (very slowly) get easier to be a normal weight. That was never who I was - anorexia is a thing I have, not a thing I am. It didn't make me beautiful or pure or holy or any of that. It just made me sick. And it strained all the relationships in my life - some never recovered. You still have a chance here. Take it. Let go of the anorexia in small ways and big ways. It is possible. You just have to sit through the bad feelings, and let them wash over you, but then like the tide, they do eventually wash back out.

Inside the Mind of a... said...

babe, i'm sorry you're going through this. I wish i could offer you encouragement without being a complete hypocrite but honestly i can't...

but try. at least try.

you can do this. i know anxiety and ed go hand in hand. they silently feed off each other. they enable each other.

i can identify directly w/you....i wish proana sites didn't exist bc it IS SO Hard to stay off of them...

Angela said...

Your mind IS split in two, but that can be a good thing. There is a part of you, even if it is a whisper, that wants recovery. You don't deserve to live in Ana purgatory. Yesterday, my therapist told me that I was afraid of my own power, and that is true. I'm afraid that if I gain weight, people will expect too much of me, or that I will fail. Do you think that fits for you at all? I know everyone else has told you to stay away from the pro-ana sites. When I was at my sickest, I visited them also. You are right, they are nothing but lies. I also stay away from fashion magazines and triggering t.v shows. I love the last line of this post. It shows that you have hope. Keep believing in all of the possibilities! Sending hugs<3 Let's keep fighting!