It's scary that's it's been over six months since I last wrote here. I'm back at university. I'm failing. I don't want to talk about it. I'm still reading 'Fasting girls'. I find it quite heavy going compared to these memoirs. Below are the quotes I can relate to the most within 'Unbearable Lightnness', but since I got a bit carried away with discussing them I will summarise what I thought of the book first:
Surprisingly good. Due to Portia being a model, actress and celebrity, I feared that this memoir would come across as being a book written for the sake of writing a book, purely to make the person even more well-known. If this was the case it worked; I had never heard of Portia De Rossi before now. However I do not think this was the case here. Her writing came across as refreshingly sincere and there was no material that appeared to be there merely to provide extra padding. If it wasn't for the fact that her everyday work would appear on TV screens and she had to dodge the paparazzi, Portia appears to be a 'normal' person. By normal I guess I mean that she has the same fears and worries as everyone else, and stardom hasn't gone to her head. She also dedicates adequate space to describing the binge eating side of the disorder/another disorder, which can often occur alongside, pre or post-AN, but does not get as much attention paid to it in the literature.
I think the only downside is that it could be triggering to those currently suffering from or vulnerable to developing an eating disorder as she describes her exercise in quite a lot of detail (relatively), plus precise numbers are used to describe her food intake and weight changes. However I personally do not have a problem with this. I found the exercise description and feelings/the compulsion as something I could relate to which like binge eating, other books appear to skim over.
P8 ‘When it’s quiet in my head like this, that’s when the voice doesn’t need to tell me how pathetic I am. I know it in the deepest part of me. When it’s quiet like this, that’s when I truly hate myself.’
People seem to think that the voice will get quieter if I ignore it. They think that will be a sign that I'm getting 'better'. But actually Portia is right in saying that when the voice gets quieter and goes silent; that is when it doesn't feel the need to shout any more. If I do start making progress, or let any therapist in to my thoughts, it shouts, throws things around my brain, trashing everything, it gets louder and louder until the SCREAMS of agony make me petrified. I lash out with the anger of the raging inside me, but also in fear. The pain is beyond any physical pain I could imagine, way beyond the pain of cutting through the layers of skin in my arm until I can see bubbles and bubbles of fatty tissue and can look deep inside the hole. It is like when Voldemort's diary is stabbed with a Basilisk fang in Harry Potter (this reference has completely ruined the serious nature of this description, but it does provide quite accurate imagery if you've read/watched it). It screams because it can feel people trying to kill it. That's where my rage comes from. That's the way it felt when I was 13, and that's the way it still feels now. You can't see it, but at the times when I can no longer keep it from piercing my mind through to everyone else's reality, it's using my lungs to scream and my limbs and force to punch and throw my body at walls like a rag-doll. Added to that racket is my own terror. It is as though someone has grabbed you, they have a knife and you're fighting for your life. I try to kill them. I try to smash this monster's skull against the wall until it breaks and the source of this pain, that brain, is crushed and lifeless. That is my head. That monster is me.
Hence the following statement I believe also to be true:
P279 ‘Gaining weight is a critical time. The anorexic mind doesn’t just magically go away when weight is gained – it gets more active. Anorexia becomes bigger and stronger as it struggles to hold on, as it fights for its life.’
I'm too tired to discuss the rest of the quotes, but they're probably pretty self-explanatory so I'll just type them down:
P241 ‘I sometimes saw a teenage girl with no breasts and no curves that would turn her into a woman with desires and complicate her perfect, sterile life.’
P278 ‘I was diagnosed with lupus. I had osteoporosis and was showing signs of cirrhosis of the liver. My potassium and electrolyte balance were at critical levels, threatening the function of my organs. I no longer felt lazy, like I was giving up because it was too hard, I felt defeated. I felt as though I simply didn’t have a choice.’
P280 ‘Recovery feels like shit.’ (The process that is, she is referring to, not the end product)
P281 ‘Being diagnosed with Lupus was like a pardon; it granted me the freedom to give up... I could no longer starve or I’d die. Therefore, it was essential to eat. So I did. I ate everything in sight... The floodgate had opened.’
P281 ‘Just because I’d stopped starving didn’t mean I didn’t still have an eating disorder. My eating disorder felt the same to me. It took up the same amount of space in my head... It was still there. It was the other side of the same coin... I went from 82 pounds to 168 pounds in ten months.’
P283 ‘Despite the fact that I thought anything other than anorexia was a second-class eating disorder not worthy of attention, when I was being treated by Carolyn I was severely bulimic. I was grossly overeating. The pendulum had swung the other way, and I was sicker than I had ever been in my life.’
P284 ‘I knew that I should work out again to combat the amount of food I put into my body, but because being fat caused me to be depressed, I didn’t have the energy. That’s the feeling of pulling away from anorexia. The anxiety of feeling fat turns into depression about being fat, and the lethargy and apathy that depression brings make it impossible to get off the sofa.’
P287 ‘I never wanted to think about food and weight ever again. For me, that’s the definition of recovered.’