Anorexic Awareness: Wow, It’s My Body

I am so sorry for not posting much lately. This summer’s been crazy, as in, crazy good, so I didn’t really have much time to think about the other part of my life which has been going pretty well, thank you very much.

But as fate has it, I got a toothache at the worst possible time, two weeks after I left Ukraine and the comfortable availability of my regular dentist. So I went to a local clinic and basically they told me to suck it up, stop grinding my teeth (which, for the record, I don’t ever do), and take Ibuprofen. Welcome to Spanish healthcare, people. A day later I am still in massive pain and it hurts like a bloody toothache – and I find myself thinking, I know what my toothaches are like even though I haven’t had one in a while.

Which sort of led me to think about the point I’m about to relay to you, dear reader(s).

Having anorexia nervosa is a weirdly ambiguous experience. At least, it was for me. While I became absolutely unaware about the fact that I looked like a bipedal dried mackerel in a skirt, I have become strangely sensitive to other things about my body that I had never paid close attention to.

I’ll explain, so bear with me for a moment. 

As a child and teenager, I hardly ever paid attention to the signals my body was sending me. When I was at school, for example, I ignored hunger, and made it through the entire school day without even thinking about food. If I strained a muscle, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Blisters on my delicate feet were a bit of an annoyance, but nothing I couldn’t handle and shove into the back of my mind. These little things like my own heartbeat and breathing and that small achy zit by the corner of my mouth were secondary to the experience of living my life.

Anorexia teaches you things. It teaches you to be hyperaware of the internal monologue your body is constantly going through. It makes you aware of things like calories and fats and proteins but it also makes you aware of the fact that your stomach is growling, your heart is beating a bit too fast, your feet might be a little too uncomfortable in your new shoes. When I walk down the street now, my attention is split between Spotify pounding away in my ears and what my body is telling me about my internal state. It’s almost like my peripheral nervous system has become louder, bypassing the natural silencer that is my spinal cord and speaking directly to my brain.

Oh, my ankle feels sore. I guess I shouldn’t wear these tomorrow.

IMG_1379 2Oh, I think I’m a bit peckish. I guess I should grab something to munch on.

Things like these that I have always ignored have been pushed to the forefront of my mind. I don’t know if it’s necessarily bad, because this awareness has made me more conscious of my own fragility. I have become more cautious about my health. I now (reluctantly) book doctors’ appointments instead of ignoring the small twinge that could be the harbinger of something more unpleasant.

Not to say that I have become a hypochondriac. Just more mindful of what my body was trying to convey. It’s like I have a built-in translator between my synapses and my conscious mind.

It’s weird.

But it’s a useful thing.

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