When I talked about the memory problems I’ve suffered due to ECT, no one believed me. Well that’s not entirely accurate – 1 person believed me, R but she’s related to job searching and participation requirements for my disability pension, not my mental ILL-health directly, and my friend, well you’ll think I’m just saying this for effect but I genuinely don’t remember what her stance on the situation was. But my parents, my case manager, my doctors all insisted it was a normal response that would alleviate with time, that I was overthinking and that I “remembered the important things”. It didn’t matter that I reminded them I’d had ECT treatments PRIOR to the offending round and it wasn’t like this. It didn’t matter that I told them I KNEW with every ounce of my being that this wasn’t within the realm of normal or that it wasn’t improving or going to improve with time. I knew something was seriously wrong, and I don’t know if others were in denial, or afraid of culpability/covering themselves, thought I was uneducated or just dramatic. But of all the things I have forgotten, and still am forgetting I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of a NO DOUBT problem falling on a crowd of deaf ears.
Even when my Case Manager conducted a memory and cognitive test on me I honestly believe it was done with the intent of easing my concerns rather than assessing me. But it was an assessment. And I failed that assessment. I failed that assessment enough that my Case Manager is now set to consult with workers on the aged care team who have experience with dementia. We have to be taught how to use some sort of computer program (pseudo-educational) to assist with trying to bring my results up. I have to be retested I don’t remember when, to see if it’s improved.
But the point of this post isn’t strictly for me to vent about my memory. What I realised while I was out smoking, before I just HAD to open this page and write is that misunderstanding and marginalisation of KNOWING something and being constantly told you’re wrong is also what happens with me and my eating disorder.
I know that I NEED to lose weight. I know that it’s the only thing that will keep me alive. I’m told I’m wrong.
At BMI 17 and heavily B/P the doctors and nurses and MH staff and support staff and family and society tell me I need to recover, that it’s dangerous and my weight might be stable and high for me but it’s not healthy and it’s risky and it’s just food and numbers.
At BMI 13 and heavily B/P they see emaciation and an irregular heart rate sitting at 28 and jumping dangerously high just by standing. They see low potassium and a mass of other electrolytes. Critically low blood pressure and blood sugar. Whatever else. They see dying that they have to fix. They see disorder that I have to fix.
Those problems they see, I’m totally asymptomatic. I’m not in denial, they just don’t matter to me OR my body because I’m doing what I have to. What I KNOW is right. The risk of one or a combination of those things killing me is real, and at that weight, or the BMI 12 I need to be it’s even imminent. I KNOW that. But what I also KNOW is that the risk of my death by suicide due to my depression is far more real, more painful and more imminent – especially at BMI 17. I’m not being dramatic. It’s real both in psychology and biology. At a low weight my MIND is more focused and satisfied by living in a world of numbers and achieved or achievable goals. Simplicity. And a far lower level of self loathing. Not because I’m classic AN with body dysmorphia and see an overweight girl in the mirror. But because of these goals, the feeling of changing, of taking forward steps in a direction I NEED to go and because of my (I’ll admit disordered) obsession with numbers, purity, deprivation and societal rejection. Physiologically a deprived BRAIN is slower, thinks less, processes less, doubts less. This is science. And when your internal environment is brutal and dangerous and full of blood and hate, this is a welcome reprieve. A LIFESAVING reprieve.
Do they understand yet. Do you understand yet. There is no healthy wonderland when your reality is turmoil. There is only SURVIVAL. And this I KNOW.