We are half way through Eating Disorders week both here and in the USA, so this seemed an appropriate time to share with you all, my new project titled ‘Jiggsy’.
“You have lost your twenties; do you really want to lose your thirties too?” This question was posed to me as I approached my 30th birthday.
I had spent ten years dipping in and out of numerous therapists and treatment centres looking for the one thing that would ‘cure’ me. The nugget, the rainbow, the key to make me commit to getting better. I regurgitated my childhood more times than I had hot dinners (true story) and every time I went through the motions, explaining the reasons why I couldn’t do the most basic of things; feed myself. I drew on events that happened in my life for inspiration each time I felt I needed to punish myself. Unable to use my voice to communicate my pain, I merely tried to show how much I was hurting by becoming weak and fragile.
My story is not unlike millions of others who are battling to fight the toxic, demonic voices that torture them every minute of every day. I have experienced both the treatment offered on the UK’s free national health service and in the private sector. I have felt not ‘sick’ enough to warrant medical intervention, and I have come away from treatment determined to get ‘sicker’ just to prove that I am ill enough.
There have been times when I wanted to scream and shout, when I wanted to tell my family, friends and therapist all the dark secrets and lies that I hid from them. There were also some crazy moments when my behaviour was so extreme that they now make me laugh. I discovered that throwing a hot bowl of Weetabix against the wall was not a great idea – it sticks like wallpaper!
My journey towards finding a sense of peace in myself has been long. My first glimmer of hope came as soon as I walked through the doors of a treatment centre in the US, when I finally felt a sense of huge relief and belonging. The disconnect I had felt all my life immediately evaporated, and although I was totally terrified about what was to come, I finally felt safe; like I had come home. I spent six months in the centre, and although it was tough, it ultimately saved my life. With endless love, firm boundaries and a safe environment to contain my emotions, I was given the tools to keep me well, and the power of choice back.
I have been back four years now and I’m enjoying my life in a way I never thought possible. Whilst I would not want to protest my complete freedom from anorexia, I totally believe FULL recovery is possible – I have witnessed it first-hand.
I have always hoped that one day my experience would one day enable me to give back in some sort of capacity. During the past year, I decided to make it my mission to create a safe place that would give the sufferer a feeling of connection that I longed for when I was ill. A place where everyone, (the sufferer, the sufferer’s family/carers and friends) whose lives have been touched by an eating disorder, regardless of gender, age, social or financial status, can unite and feel a little less alone. An eating disorder does not discriminate, it doesn’t give a damn who it lures into its twisted way of thinking, and I vehemently believe that someone’s need for help should not be determined by a number on the scales.
I’m despairing at the lack of support for those caring with someone with an eating disorder. It’s no easy feat trying to keep someone you love alive when they are set on slowly killing themselves. Now on the other side, I too have felt powerless trying to help someone who can’t or doesn’t want to nurture their healthy self.
My inspiration for ‘Jiggsy’ came from my own personal desire to feel a sense of connection when I was living with my eating disorder. I desperately wanted feel as though I fitted in and belonged somewhere, other than in the confines of my anorexia. In my darkest moments, I searched everywhere for honest, raw accounts of what it is like to live with an eating disorder – something that would give me the tiniest bit of hope and found very little.
So Jiggsy is where YOU get to share your stories, your images, your thoughts, your fears, your secrets, your joy, your pain of living with your eating disorder. Jiggsy is a safe place to express what you feel is too difficult or too dark with anyone else.
To those of you who have already embarked on your journey of recovery, share your strength and spirit. Use it to encourage those who are not quite there yet; those who are too afraid of what the other side may feel like.
If you are caring for someone with an eating disorder or suspect that someone you know may be in its clutches, then Jiggsy is your place to ask for help and understand from others. Your voices are CRUCIAL in the fight against this life-threatening illness.
And if you are not sure where you are, share your piece of the puzzle to help yourself, and in turn help someone else feel that little less alone. If you have even the tiniest bit inside of you wanting to be well, then exhaust it, fake it at first, do whatever it takes to get you there. You might not know it now, but you will learn some valuable lessons from your suffering. Do not let it be in vain, get well, use your unique experience to help others who may walk your path. Use Jiggsy to help create one awesome big Jiggsaw.
There is no right or wrong contribution. Do not filter your words or edit your pictures, drawing or photo. Be honest, be brutal, be sad and be funny – your story can be as short or as long as you like, and your choice of image to illustrate your words is up to you. In fact, we encourage that you make your own. It can represent a feeling or a moment in time, from either the past, present or the future.
You can keep up to date with everything Jiggsy is up to on, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; just search for ‘jiggsysplace’.
Jiggsy will also be launching its website soon where your piece of the puzzle will be showcased on the ‘Jiggsaw’.
Your piece will be featured on all major social media platforms and the website. Your piece can be totally anonymous if you prefer. This is the beauty of Jiggsy – it gives you total freedom to express your inner demons in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Tell us what you are too afraid, too embarrassed or too ashamed to share with your nearest and dearest, even your therapist. Your contribution is worthy regardless of whether you choose to be identified.
To submit your piece of the puzzle email it to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
I can’t wait to see your piece of the Jiggsaw!