This is a very personal post and I have never written about this subject so openly.
For some reason, I remembered some of my teen idols. I was so in love with a French dancing figure skating pair, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, especially with their performance of “Esmeralda” and “Time to Say Goodbye” in the early 2000’s. Watching them skate again today, brought many memories of my early, young, fragile age, so I decided to go on with my orange-reddish hairstyle 🙂
Another recent idol has been Yulia Lipnitskaya, a young Russian figure skater, who, at the age of only 15 won the gold medal (well deserved!). I was wondering what she might be up to today, 4 years later, and found out that she’s retired from sport, due to severe anorexia.
I couldn’t believe it. It made me so so sad. She is far from lonely case. I dedicated my whole life to classical ballet, up to the age of 21. For years I was suffering from eating disorders. It started as I was getting ready for Ballet Nationals and my teacher made some crude remarks about my weight. At the age of 16, I wanted to do my best to “fit in”, succeed, meet the standards, regardless of how inhumane or devastating they were. I forced my body to do things most people couldn’t even imagine was possible. I pushed it beyond every limit and won the second place, dancing with a torn calf muscle. I could go on not eating for days, or bring every single meal out whenever I wanted. Still, no signs of fatigue or lost strength or physical ability. I had complete control over it. It was my absolute slave.
I made my best friend my slave. And as most things I was up to, I succeeded 100%.
It all got worse at about the same time, when I was almost expelled from school for anonymously publishing an article about certain practices and behaviours at our school. What I’d written was nothing but truth, but the reaction I got from my teacher was awful. I was excluded, humiliated, yelled at so that the entire school could hear and after that I learned to keep quiet, swallow all the injustices and simply pretend everything was fine. Pretend I was okay. Suppress all the emotions, desires, hopes. Just work, work, work. At the age of 16 my wings were broken. Crushed. I thought it was my fault. Everybody was pointing at me, confirming it was my fault. People watching me go down the road of slowly getting more and more exhausted, bystanders not knowing what to do, friends disappearing.
Eating disorders are lethal. They are one of the most damaging addictions. Vicious things, lurking in the back, taking over your life slowly, while you are fooling yourself believing you are in control.
I was so sad to read about Yulia. Such talents, such beautiful souls carried away by this disease. Many professionals are claiming, one cannot escape this circle. That the victim will always stay trapped in the cold hands of anorexia or bulimia. I say they are wrong.
I managed to recover myself. It happened as everyone else gave up. Doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, all sort of professionals. They gave up because they failed to ask me one single question:
What are your best hopes?
All of them were focused on ways how the disease was messing up with my life, or worse, how it’s become my life. None of them bothered to ask me about my other sides, my passions or hopes, probably because they assumed I had none. I believed that too. But it was not true. It was only that my wings were broken, but that doesn’t have to mean that I would not be able to grow new ones. Being kept in an environment where everybody was constantly reminding me that I have “screwed up”, “will not make it again” and “can’t do it myself” has been more damaging than the wounds I cut myself.
So at one point, after years of suffering, I decided that I won’t let my 16-year old down. I’ll never hide again and will never bow, even if and when my mouth will get me in trouble. I’ll never stand people for having the wrong energy, because I learned to be protective of myself and of people around me. People who are affected by eating disorders have several wonderful traits – they take it all on them, which makes them very pleasant company. They are incredibly talented, intelligent and resilient. But they simply don’t know that yet or don’t believe it. Eating disorders are a way of withdrawing, distracting from pain, focusing the punishment onto yourself, even when someone else is guilty. But in the cold light of dawn, eating disorders are a waste of your time. And a terrible waste of your potential.
Again, I was so sad to read the news about Yulia. And I know many girls like her, even some boys. I used to be one. And I can also show you that you, YOU ALONE, can manage to spread your wings again, fly, or grow whatever you need in order to lead the life you want. Yes, you can, without medication, painful questions and all sort of experts, who will pretend they care and will pretend they know better than you. No-one knows better than you.
Connect with me, if this sounds appealing and you might benefit from my experience. I was extremely lucky, that a couple of years after recovering, I accidentally bumped into Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which was exactly how I managed to restore my best version. The version that will never shut up and will never ever bend again. So naturally, I became a SFBT therapist and am now trying to make a difference with the approach and care, I needed, but was simply not there. With all my love and all my passion, both of which at some point I thought will never be on the menu of my feelings again. So I got lucky, but not because faith had it, but because I looked out for it.
With so much love to all the Yulias,