Connection

Why is it, that I can’t turn off my phone without feeling guilty? Why do I feel like I need to be contactable every second of the day? How can a device that’s supposed to connect me with others, instead make me feel so detached?

I understand the marvel of the technological era, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love my phone and social media etc., but today I’m just really done with all of it. Right now, my phone and this whole online world makes me feel so trapped.

The last couple of days have been shittier than usual. I’ve barely eaten, and what I do I’m forced to throw right back up, my depression is consuming me, my anxiety is through the roof and I’ve been more suicidal than ever before. I can’t function, I’m failing miserably at painting on a smile so my housemates think that I’m fine, I’ve missed 4/6 of my uni contact hours this week and I genuinely feel like I’m drowning. Everything is getting to me, I cried yesterday because my last yoghurt was out of date, like it’s actually ridiculous.

I don’t want to talk to anybody. I know that’s probably the worst thing I could possibly do when I’m feeling so low, but the thought of interacting with other people and trying to maintain this image of how they view me, especially when I don’t feel like myself at all, just seems like an impossible task. It’s not that I don’t love my friends and family, I just don’t want to talk right now. I just feel so guilty.

I’ve received a few messages today that were important, but honestly, that doesn’t even matter right now, I just don’t care about anything. I think I’ve just gotten to the point where I feel so horrific that I can’t bare the thought of human interaction, I just want to curl into a little ball and hide in bed.

I turned my phone off this afternoon, and honestly I don’t even miss it. It’s like a sigh of relief, and I feel a lot freer not having to check a device every 5 minutes. But I also feel really really guilty for the messages I haven’t replied to yet. They’re all my friends and I know that ultimately, they’re not going to hate me for not replying for a while. I guess with everything going around my head right now, the last thing I want to do is burden them. I know eventually I’ll feel better, and a good night’s sleep will probably help, but for now, I’m unbearably overwhelmed and I wish I could stop living.

H x

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Vampire fiction and anorexia: a rant.

I’m almost half way through my second semester of my final year at uni, but today a comment from one of my seminar tutors really set me off. I’m taking a class on the Victorian Gothic, and this week we were studying Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Stevenson’s Olalla. As you may or may not be aware, both of these texts focus upon the figure of the female vampire, and this is primarily what was discussed in the seminar.

My seminar tutor suggested that the behaviour of the vampire within this fiction could possibly be a metaphorical representation of eating disorder behaviours, particularly anorexia. I froze.

I’m sure there’s a somewhat reasonable analytical background to this analogy but it initially struck me as an unnecessarily uninformed suggestion, and to be quite honest, I was both upset and angry.

I came home, and decided to do a bit of research on the matter, which was probably a really bad idea because I found it particularly triggering. However, one article really stuck with me was *see below*…
http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/~beast/publications/vamp_paper/psychoanalysis.html

The text discusses the “vampire’s relationship to food and feeding”, alongside a psychoanalytical description of eating disorders. Whilst I agree that the eating patterns and diet of a vampire are unusual and therefore interesting, the vampire remains a supernatural being, much like a werewolf or a ghost, and thus, not human. Vampires are categorically characterised by their undeniable beauty, as an enigma of immortal perfection. To therefore suggest this as equivalent to the anorexic figure is sickening, glamourizing and romanticising a condition that is both entirely debilitating, and possibly fatal. To create a parallel between the immorality of a monster, and the vulnerability of the weakening anorexic figure is, therefore, incredibly insulting. Without seeming to realise it, this theorist suggests that the monstrosity of mental health and eating disorders are immortal and therefore inescapable, as a hideous transformations of the self into some unsalvageable and abhorrent creature.

To the author of that article:
Like yeah, kudos to you, I’m genuinely really happy (and definitely jealous) of the fact that you clearly have absolutely no personal experience with eating disorders or their effects. I know that, because if you had, there’s no way you would write or publish such ridiculous interpretations. Vampire fiction, particularly the Victorian texts I’ve studied recently, demonstrate both societal and religious subtexts, written before our generation, and therefore, are unable to predict or explore 21st century problems. I’m not suggesting that eating disorders didn’t exist before this time, purely because they were almost entirely ignored, but instead, that vampire fiction is entirely that; about a supernatural being with a thirst for blood, NOT a mentally ill individual with the inability to sufficiently nourish themselves.

With particular reference to the above article, I think the worst part by far was the conclusion. This critic suggests that: ‘the vampire and the anorexic share not only the same psychic background to their behaviour but arrive at the same conclusion – the destruction of the body.’
This is an entirely uneducated and incorrect conclusion. The vampire is a figure, which stereotypically experiences a bite of some kind, and thus ensues the transformation into an immortal figure. To therefore suggest that a mental disorder is similarly contagious is ludicrous; an eating disorder is a mental illness, not a bug that can be caught. It’s something deep-rooted within the sensibility of the sufferer, a disease which eventually robs the victim of their ability to enjoy and value life.

While yes, living with an eating disorder does sometimes feel like you’re trying to conceal and control a monstrous voice within yourself, this condition in no way makes the sufferer themselves abhorrent, or in any way similar to the brutality or behaviours of vampirism. Fundamentally, vampires are figures of legend, folk-lore and horror stories. I focus here on story, fiction, myth. Eating disorders on the other hand, are very very real.

H x

I promise it’s not just vanity *ED trigger warning*

I feel like I just need to talk. Whether this will turn out to be a huge rambling mess or something a little more coherent, I have no idea, but I just need to talk.

As you may or may not know, I’ve struggled with my mental health for quite a while, and my ED has officially been added to the list. I’m not here to glamourize it either, because it’s honestly so fucking shit.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been so obsessed with looking and feeling skinny. I’ve never had a BMI above the ideal range, but I’ve never felt ideal.
Throughout my late teen years, it really started to become a problem. I felt so out of control of everything that was going on in my life, and eating, or not eating, gave me something to focus on. Controlling what I could/ couldn’t eat made me feel like I’d taken some power back, and it was just an escapist mechanism that I’d use when things were particularly shitty.
This went on for a few years, but started to spiral during my second year of uni. I felt lost and confused and just so so shit. I began to experience severe suicidal thoughts and urges, and I began to self harm. My eating deteriorated, but I tried to hide it, because I was so terrified of the reactions and the worry it would cause for my friends and family. My weight started to decrease, but I still wasn’t happy with my reflection in the mirror. I’d achieve the targets I’d set for myself, but it was never ever good enough. I’m now the clothing size I wanted to be, but I’ve never been more miserable.

Right now, I’m in my third year, and this eating thing is worse than ever. I’m still partly in denial that it’s even a thing, because it’s terrifying, but my doctor is finally aware of it, and hopefully she can help. Currently, I’ve dropped a dress size, and I’m eating a meal/ under 500 calories per day. But what’s really ridiculous, it that typing that out doesn’t feel ridiculous, 500 calories seems to me like far too much, when in reality, I know it’s far too little.
I think that’s probably the most frustrating thing: I know it’s illogical and ridiculous and I know nobody really cares about the number on the scales, but I can’t stop. As much as I try and convince myself that it’s just this thing I do to help me cope, I haven’t eaten 3 meals/day for months and the thought repulses me. I feel completely sick if my stomach is anything other than empty, and the thought of eating too much or gaining weight genuinely terrifies me. At first I thought this was just a weird little coping quirk that I could just turn off when I wanted to or when things got better. But I can’t. Things haven’t got better, and I can’t just turn all these thoughts off, because trust me, I’ve tried.

It really fucking sucks to feel completely at the mercy of your own mind, like you have absolutely no control over your own actions. It’s also pretty shit to completely despise the skin you have to walk around in.

I know the recovery process is going to be difficult, and right now, I’m not even excited for the prospect of the end result, because it doesn’t seem worth it, nothing does. I’m so done with all the noise in my head, and I really wish it would just quieten down for a little while.

H x

The unknown: post-graduation fear

I keep finding myself caught in moments of creative inspirations, one of which is occurring right now. Usually, I’m on some kind of public transport, and have these weird little waves of ideas, but right now, I’m stuck in my third year uni room, with an indefinite future ahead of me.

*background info* I’ve been in the process of organising a volunteering placement overseas with a charity, for a whole year, following my graduation. This process lasted over 6 months, 2 applications, 3 references, 7 interviews, and too many emails to count. I put a lot of things in my life on hold, but to cut a long story short, I was rejected from this organisation yesterday. They provided very little explanation and so this goal I’ve been working towards for so long was gone, just like that.

For almost 2 years, my post-graduation plan was to take this year out with the charity and take some time out of studying, before returning home to study for a PGCE, and later become a teacher. I’ve never been 100% sure that teaching is where I want to go, so this year out was supposed to give me a break to work out what I really wanted.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that yeah rejection happens and it’s expected, but that doesn’t make it any less shitty. It’s soul-destroying to work so hard for something, to then have it taken away so quickly. As a third year, to suddenly find out that I’ve got no clue what I’ll be doing after graduation is fucking terrifying.

Now February is upon us, and I’ve never felt more uncertain of my direction. With dissertation deadlines, essays, presentations, readings and exams to prepare for, I’m not exactly stress-free at the moment. I’m so overwhelmed and lost.

So I’m trying to write. Not necessarily for my course or to be productive, but for me. I’m trying to journal more, and I want to take this myriad of notes on my phone and turn them into something a little more coherent. I guess I’m just really struggling to make sense of everything right now, but writing gives me clarity and an escape. Hopefully, through words, I’ll be able to find some sort of path out of this mess.

H x