Are we breeding a disordered nation?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

I would sing in front of a theatre full of people, bungee jump, audition in front of a panel, but put a plate with fish and chips in front of me and I will be left quaking, unable to face the meal. It makes me angry to think about it, I do not like to appear weak, but that is the reality of my life and recently, I've been realising more and more how it is becoming easier to live with an eating disorder in today's society. It is no longer totally abnormal to ask a waiter whether oil is used whilst cooking my meal, to refuse a coffee if they don't have skimmed milk, to live off a no carb diet. I hear people make statements that leave me to reply "you sound like me". Friends saying "oh god, I really can't eat that", telling me they're cutting out dairy, carbs, gluten. Asking me about my diet. The last one is the worst. Although I am in a far better place than I was (I mean, I actually eat, so that's a plus), I wouldn't recommend my diet to others. It's a work in progress, I hope that one day I will be able to eat without omitting certain foods and sticking only to my safe foods. All over Instagram, Twitter, magazines and newspapers we are bombarded by images of 'healthy' meals, people discussing their fasts, images of rippling abs and tight, toned asses. I don't omit myself from the craze. I spam Instagram with photos of myself in gym gear and #fitfam hashtags. I am proud of my stronger body, but I also recognise that I do not lead a totally balanced life. My relationship to food, my body and exercise is still disordered and is disconcertingly entangled with my stress levels, moods and feelings of self worth. I wonder, is this the same for the thousands who make similar posts? They do not all receive the support I do, they do not see a weekly therapist and have their weight monitored. I recognise that not all of them need to, but I do think that when missing a day at the gym leads to you being engulfed with guilt, or you count calories obsessively and feel appalled by the idea of eating certain things, this is not a 'healthy lifestyle'. This is disordered.

I recently read about someone who was struggling with binges on a certain food group being advised to simply cut the group out entirely for a week. Now, I do not claim to be an expert, but given the amount of dietetic work I've done, plus the nutritional research and therapy I've had, I know enough to be aware that if someone is struggling with bingeing on something it is in general because their body is crying out for something it is missing. Cutting it out won't help rectify this issue, in fact, making it even more of a 'banned food' is likely to make the issue worse. I was really upset to read the advice that was being preached, having had the opposite information drilled into me by dieticians, doctors and other medical professionals. Half of me wanted to rip into the person posting and tell them to go to someone medically certified for such advice. I could be wrong in my assertions, but I didn't think they'd be told the same. Instead, I clicked 'unfollow'. It saddened me that people would post such things without thinking of the consequences and effect their words could have. You have thousands of people reading your words, you are in a position of responsibility. I try hard to remind those who get an insight into my life, whether it be via social media or face to face, that my lifestyle is a work in progress. I'm working towards balance. I try not to preach. Lifting weights works for me and is beneficial, for others it may not. My therapist and I were discussing how easy it is for me these days to just appear to be one of the many 'super healthy' people running around. Holy shit, that's terrifying. If people's goal 'healthy' lifestyles are similar to that of someone working to recover from severe anorexia, then something is rotten (in the state of Denmark 😂). Don't get me wrong, I love healthy eating and believe in the power of exercise, but I also believe and have great admiration for those who keep it balanced. Who recognise that the slice of cake won't mean the end of the world. Who don't deny themselves a much needed rest. I always joke to my friends that I'd LOVE to be the girl who goes out on a date and orders a massive steak (I don't actually like steak, but shhh), I've been told theirs nothing sexier. I've pushed myself, it's true. I've eaten 8 course meals. I drink again, but I've noticed my ordering a salad with dressing on the side is once again becoming a trait people admire. I'm not saying the whole world is becoming anorexic, but I am urging people to be mindful of their relationships to food, exercise and their bodies. Eating disorders are not caused by society alone (read previous posts for my ramblings on the topic), but society does play a part. My fear is that we are putting extreme diets under the caption "healthy eating". We are listing "bad foods and good foods" in a way that is disordered. We are starting to guilt trip ourselves for a day of rest. We are forgetting to listen to our bodies. Work out, eat healthily and post about it on Instagram, I will, but also try and keep some balance. Be aware that social media is not always totally honest and that those posting are not always totally in the know. Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it. If you feel you are going to the gym because you feel you have to, not because you actually want to, try a new kind of workout or talk to someone about your guilt. I genuinely love the exercise I do these days, they're hard, but I don't drag myself there or see it as a punishment. I do struggle with feelings of guilt when I don't go though, and this is something I need to work on. Eat healthily for you and in a balanced manner. Don't choose the fad diets and cut out entire food groups without proper medical advice. And guys, don't emulate the lifestyle of someone recovering from anorexia, I will be in a good enough place one day to say "hell yeah, I'm balanced and brilliant", but if your intake and thoughts are similar to mine, there's something not right! I can tell you that now. Orthorexia is becoming a more and more prevalent issue in society and I think we need to be aware of it. The rabbit hole of crazy is not a fun place to fall. Be healthy, be happy. Don't be overtaken. Oh, and hug more. Do you know how many great chemicals hugging releases?! My goal: a life filled with balance and spooning. The dream.

A Whimsical Musing

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

I don't know you, 
But I recognise that hollowed look in your eyes 
Even if I were unable to see your devastated body sitting below that head full of torment, I would know. 
There's a painful fragility in your face 
You exude terror 
Life seems over whelming. 
I get it. 
I feel it too. 
Some days, I wish I were as close to disappearing again.  
I look down and examine the flesh that covers my bones with disdain. 
So I know. 
Not exactly. 
No one can ever know exactly, and that's important. 
I know some. 
I want to hold out my hands, now warm and take yours. 
I want to tell you 'it gets better' 
I'm sure you hear that a lot.
You probably think they're wrong. 
But better doesn't mean perfect. 
You will still have days you feel out of control. 
You will wish you had your protruding bones as medals of dedication. 
But those days will lessen.
You will have times you laugh so hard your belly hurts. 
Where you eat and enjoy.
An unexpected smile will catch you off guard. 
You will be desirable again. 
You will feel lust again. 
It won't always go your way. 
And navigating your way through all these emotions is one hell of a journey. 
But, my friend, embrace the adventure. 
Spin through the confusion and learn to dance in the midst of it. 
Appreciate the mess, for without it, where would we be? 
It won't always feel safe.
I still struggle everyday and I don't know whether this will change. 
I can't make any promises. 
But at least I am fighting. 
I'm done with taking the punches. 
I'm weaving my dreams into something real. 
And it's not perfect. 
But it's beautiful. 
Join me sometimes, 
But please don't wait to 'feel ready'. 
I'll tell you a secret, you never will. 
Just dive. 
And start to swim. 

Dragonfly, Gatsby And love and strength to those struggling

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

I've dipped my toes in the pool of death and come close to slipping in. I've watched the waters ripple beneath me and considered that actually, they may be soothing in comparison to the burning abuse my head liked to throw at me. I've taken my body to the brink and starved it into such emaciation that even lying in bed was painful. I feel slightly as if I've robbed myself of 5 years of life, I shuffled through, avoiding the blurred edges, reality seemed distant. I've been rushed to a&e in the middle of the night, I've spent months on hospital wards, I've spent more hours than I care to consider crying over what I saw as my fat and ugly self. Now I see the same in those I have met upon my journey. I see wonderful young men and women, who I've not only cried over a muller corner in front of, but also laughed hysterically along side. Those who have so much to give to this World, who are vivacious and bright, but who are held back by anorexia and I cannot help but question, why? I've fought hard to get to where I am, I've been dragged through by those who love me. Still though I am riddled with self doubt. Outwardly and to those who only perhaps know me from a far, through social media or just as acquaintances, I am a confident young woman. Some times I am. It's true. And I'm happy to admit that. There's a dangerous trend in society to not embrace and be proud of the aspects of ourselves that are good, we are more than happy to slag ourselves off, but outwardly saying "I'm quite happy with what I've achieved?!" GOD FORBID. Truthfully, I only feel this pride around 5% of the time. A lot of the time, I am still consumed by self doubt and criticism. I get anxious before parties. I second guess my actions. I drive those close to me insane if I'm interested in a guy or considering auditioning for something with my go to response to them saying "just go for it you fucking idiot"..."but, I can't". "WHY?!" They will say. (Sam feels particular despair over this). "Because they will probably think I'm weird and laugh at me". Fear of rejection I suppose. Fear of not being enough. The assumption that I cannot actually be attractive. Now, these are not characteristics I will only attribute to those who have at some stage struggled with anorexia or another eating disorder. I suspect they are emotions most people struggle with, but from what I've observed, the feeling of not being enough is something that is particularly prominent in those with anorexia. It's a great irony really, as society often views it as an illness of vain silly girls, when in reality, no one who felt good about themselves and believed they were wonderful would starve themselves to near death. It takes a lot of negative energy and bad thoughts to get into such a state, I'm telling you. We are often good at covering that, I know I was always very good at smiling and saying it was all fine. Before I admitted there was a problem, whenever I was questioned I'd simply say the weight was "falling off me". Those close to me knew there was something very wrong, but even my own mother said it was difficult to know what to do as I became so distant that she herself thought perhaps I was embarrassed of her. This couldn't have been further from the truth. I was prickly because I was ashamed of myself. I was distant because I was consumed by self hatred and the driving desire to lose more weight. My heart hurts to see those I've known back in hospital, hurting themselves, so very unwell. It makes me sad for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that I know the mental trauma their brains are dishing out. I know they are engulfed by beliefs that they don't matter, that they're ugly, that no one likes them, that it would be better if they just disappeared. I don't understand it. Why do we feel like this? What drives us to yearn to disappear. Why is it we choose this medium of torture? It's all important. No one really knows. Anorexia and eating disorders are in reality, quite unknown entities. We know that starvation makes us crazier, but there's not really any direct idea of how to treat it. There are lots of different strands of thought. Anorexia is still the biggest killer among mental illness. This terrifies me. I laugh at the crazy things I've done over the past few years, but I'm lucky to be able to laugh. It is for this reason that I've chosen "Charlottes Helix" as the beneficiary for my trust "The Dragonfly Foundations" first event. Charlottes Helix is working to crack the DNA code of anorexia in the hope that a further understanding will help us understand and be better placed to treat and prevent eating disorders. Through this all I've tried to understand. I've met doctors, models, social workers, mothers, brothers, a whole host of people from all walks of life with eating disorders. Those who appear to have everything going for them, who are intelligent, compassionate, beautiful, sometimes all of the above, and they are riddled with self hatred and slowly and painfully committing suicide. It's a mystery to me. This research could change some of that. And it's vital. There is currently no government funding so our donation will really make a difference. As well as this, id really like Dragonflies first event to be a fucking great celebration of life. Expect a good party. So, what's the deal? I'm not asking you to just hand over your money. I'm asking you to grab a ticket, get dressed so you look ready for a 20s cocktail party and head to our speakeasy to dance and drink all in aid of a fantastic cause. We have a brilliant 8 piece band and DJ due to our exciting collaboration with Itchy Feet to bring the night together.!house-band/c1ak8

It's a no brainer really, a great party AND its all for a great cause. Tickets are now on sale, for our initial release price of £35. This is soon to go up to £40, so get in there quick using the link below. Can't wait to see you there. Let's have a great night and do a great thing 

Maya xxx

Ticket Link: 

The Blame Game

Sunday, 5 July 2015

For many people struggling with an eating disorder, the culture of blame surrounding their illness is something they and their loved ones will be all too familiar with. We blame ourselves, our families blame themselves, our friends blame themselves, we blame the thin-is-in culture, we blame that kid at school who called us fat. Anyone and anything that could've had an effect gets the finger pointed. But how much of the development of an eating disorder can actually be hung on these factors and how much of it is down to genetics? 

Introducing Catherine. Catherine is 16. She often gives away food. Upon being confronted by her concerned and disgruntled friends and family, Catherine explains that she is fine as she is. In fact, she is doing God's work. Catherine is Catholic. Her diet quickly becomes more and more restricted. Quickly all she is surviving on are the meagre amounts of bread and water she accepts at communion. She explains that she cannot eat more and that her ability to eat so little comes as a gift from God. In fact, it also makes her feel closer to God. Catherine loses the use of her legs in her 20s. She is so weak and in so much pain, she begs god for relief and to be allowed to eat. She is still not able. At the age of 33, after 17 years of starvation and in agony, Catherine dies. So, who is Catherine? She may sound familiar, her story is one that many would've heard in the media or in connection to a loved one with am eating disorder, although her reasoning is not one we often hear today. This is the story of Saint Catherine of Siena, who died in 1380. 

A young woman starving herself, denying she had an issue, eventually desperate to be relieved of her torment but unable to find a way out. Sound familiar? I would argue That environmentally, Catherine and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I do not practice any religion, unlike Catherine, I live in a culture where being thin is regarded as beautiful (in popular culture at least), I have access to education and a whole host of opportunities. Our surroundings could not be more different, yet our symptoms undeniably similar. I whittled my diet down to a ridiculously limited and tiny amount. I denied it being an issue. Starvation gave me a sense of controls and serenity. I oscillated from being high as a kite from the endorphins of starvation and able to run miles in a slightly manic way, to sheer exhaustion where my entire body ached so much I felt unable to walk. Our symptoms can be connected in so many ways, parallels of madness and distress drawn, so what does this mean? Well, in my opinion it gives heed to the notion that anorexia is not just a sociocultural illness, rather, there's a lot more going on. Anorexia has appeared time and time again in different cultures and times. Granted it is more prevalent in some, but surely we cannot blame culture alone? The answer, genes my friend, DNA. There is progressively more and more research charting the biological in the development of anorexia, to identify the genes that pre-dispose some to the illness and hopefully help combat anorexia. This could mean innovations in medication (at present, there is no proven medication for anorexia), it could also help with prevention. If the genes were identified early on, a closer eye could be kept on those who were predisposed to the illness. You may be asking whether I am trying to argue that environment has nothing to do with the development of an eating disorder? No, that's not it at all, what I'm suggesting is that it's not simply one or the other. As professor Janet Treasure so aptly put it "the genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger". There's a reason that when my friends diet or are hungry, they become irritable, lethargic and prickly, yet when I am underfed, I become slightly more euphoric and in my own little dream world. The buzz those pre-disposed get to an eating disorder is addictive, where as most people experience discomfort. I'm not saying it's all sunshine and roses when I'm starving, hell no, what I'm saying is that my experience is different and something that I'm naturally more drawn too. I find all of this new research and information incredibly interesting and actually quite comforting. Since the beginning of my illness, I've felt immeasurable guilt, I'd hate the fact that I couldn't "just eat". Indeed, even those close to me would ask why I just couldn't. I felt stupid, concerned people thought I just wanted attention, that I was choosing this, when all I really wanted was to be lift alone to shrink away and starve. The guilt I felt as my parents, brother, friends, boyfriend, cried over my rapid deterioration was a pain beyond that of my protruding bones and clawing stomach and I didn't understand. If it really were as shallow and self indulgent as just wanting to look like a model (as is often suggested), then why couldn't I just give up this ridiculous notion and eat?! The theory and solid proof that, like any other illness, my DNA plays a huge part in it, helps alleviate some of the guilt. My hope is that as more and more research is done and we gain a better understanding of the disease, we will be better able to combat anorexia's claws and some of the 'stupid girls who won't eat' stigma will be gone. For all those who do feel that way, I challenge you to sit ten minutes with someone in the throws of anorexia as they try to eat. My friends and family will vividly describe my tears, physical shaking, sobbing and clear horror over meagre amounts of food. Never did they see a casual 'ah, no thanks, I'm watching my weight'. Being forced to eat was a torture for me. I feel proud to speak of such experiences in the past tense. Things are not perfect, but I have made huge strides away from that shadow girl. Only today, upon seeing a old and long time friend and being told I look good again, I was once again struck by my change in outlook. My brain did not go into total overdrive telling me he meant fat, he actually admitted to worrying that's how I'd react, but instead, I was happy to be closer to my normal self. Able to chat away, eat with friends, travel to visit and generally just have the ability to be myself again. Thea poignantly told me the other day, as she sat and cried after seeing my show, that she was "just so proud and happy". She said she was happy to not get a feeling of utter terror when she received a call from an unknown number these days that it was someone calling to tell her my heart had given up. That is the truth of what anorexia does. I do not plan to be like saint Catherine of Siena, I plan to continue living and enjoying my charmed and rather ridiculous life, filled with acting, musical theatre, tequila (Sam Burnard), cocktails and champagne (Thea), cheerleading, fitness, baking and the all important FOOD. I also plan to help others do the same. I'm meeting one of my fellow dragonfly girls over lunch tomorrow to plan and discuss, but as things stand, we have some updates:

Dragonfly are currently supporting 2 charities: The Succeed Foundation and Charlotte's Helix. I've previously explained Succeed's fantastic work, but Charlotte's Helix is a far newer addition to Dragonflies support network, so I'm going to go into a little more depth. Charlottes Helix are trying to carry out more research in to the role of genes and DNA in eating disorders, basically everything I've been speaking about in this post. As well as fundraising (more info firer down), I also want to ask for assistance for Charlottes Helix from all those who read this who themselves are suffering or have suffered from anorexia at some point in their lives to send off a sample of their DNA to them. They're trying to reach 1000 samples, something that should be easily achievable. It's painless to do and could really help with groundbreaking research. The link is as follows, take some time and just do it if you can! 

Right, so now on to our fundraising plans for both of these amazing charities. We have 2 major plans this summer coming up that fall into this category. The first is (fingers crossed) a fun evening of food, drink, dancing and debouch, with all we can raise going to these 2 amazing charities, helping them to do their great work in preventing eating disorders. We're in the final planning stages of this, so I can't release TOO much info, but either the first or second weekend in September are ones to keep free, you don't want to miss out, we have wonderful things planned and all for a good cause too! 

The second plan is....a tough mudder. Yes, you have read that right. I am planning to get covered in mud, jump over barbed wire, get soaked and generally put myself through a whole array of hell that anyone who knows me will understand is going to be a sight to see. But hey, I'm just happy and proud that my bots is now strong enough to do it. It's not something I can really do alone (how would I get over the barbed wire without a boost?!) so calling anyone interested, strong and supportive (in good health guys), who is interested in being part of the dragonfly team, get in contact via Facebook or email: Your support really would be much appreciated. Sponsorship details will also soon follow, to all those not quite up to the challenge, but taken by the hilarious notion of the girl who loves glitter rolling around in mud! 

I may actually have further updates tomorrow following lunch with the lovely Beth, but for now, after a long ramble, keep your eyes peeled. As always, support would be greatly appreciated. Right now, I'm really really keen to recruit help from: 
A. Someone good with money- planning an event is REALLY bloody hard, especially one where you want to raise money for a charity, having someone on our team to act as treasurer would be greatly appreciated. You need to be trustworthy and know about money (not just how to spend it on pretty table decorations, quite the opposite in fact). If interested, Facebook or email is the one again. It really wouldn't take much time and being part of a charitable trust will look great to employers etc. 

B. People good at event organising. Again, it's hard work, I'm very lucky to have a fab support network as always, but those willing to muck in and help out would be again, appreciated. Please whack over an email or Facebook message me if you're interested. 

Always interested in any other helpful offers, so keep in touch. 

Thanks as always xxx

Projects we are supporting: (please send samples!!) and

Helping out may also result in being serenaded by a group of Godspell actors, or cheered on by a team of Cheerios. Who knows where it could lead you?! 

A Confession, Gushing Ramble of Love and Some Rogue Lord of the Rings Referencing…

Sunday, 10 May 2015

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.”
― Laurie Halse AndersonWintergirls

I really hate admitting when things aren’t quite perfect, when I’m feeling a little low, when I doubt my decisions. I’d much rather put on my shiny façade and float around as if everything’s ok. The problem with this method is that it’s not conducive to any sort of real happiness and it’s incredibly unhealthy. So, here is a confession: Today I feel like shit.

It’s been a little up and down this week, I’ve oscillated between feeling proud of my strength and embracing the changes I’ve made. I’ve been hyper aware of the positive effects these are bringing into my life and I’ve been happy about the choices this hard work has given me. Along side that though, I’ve also had the notion of being ‘too big’, of taking up too much room, of looking slightly grotesque, of being fat. It’s bizarre, I can look at myself in the dance studio mirrors one moment and go “yep, I’ve finally got some sort of an ass” and then the next be agonizing over some small curve I’m not quite happy with. I will let these feelings fester and grow and then, in general, I will crack. I had one such ‘crack’ this week, this resulted in my sobbing to poor old Sam for over an hour, shaking and every now and then struggling with breathing. ‘Ridiculous’, you must be thinking, to sob over something so trivial, to hyperventilate at the prospect of being fat, but anyone who has followed my writing or knows about anorexia to any extent will know that I did not starve myself to be thin. Starvation and emaciation represent many different things to someone with anorexia. The cage of bones that I built myself felt as if it were keeping all of the bad guys out for quite a while, trouble was, it was keeping the good out as well. I was numb, floating on the euphoria of starvation every now and again until I crashed and sunk into the deepest pits of misery. Anyway, I digress from my confession (avoiding difficult conversations such as: “Maya, have you eaten today?” is something I became incredibly adept at, old habits die hard!) So, back to feeling like shit. As I sat sobbing away to Sam and curled myself up into a little ball that represents quintessential crazy the World over I suddenly thought “Oh God, is this a relapse?!” Half of me was enthralled by the idea of shrinking away again and the other was absolutely horrified. The prospect of hospitals and devastation, of having to put a halt to my actor training, of bloody well having to abandon all my dragonfly plans and put up a sign saying “Sorry, my time is once again taken up by starving myself” seemed abhorrent. I was torn, as much as I’d have loved to get on the scales and see those iddy biddy numbers, the effort and shit it puts everyone through just did not seem worth it. Sam was quite rational with it all, he made me laugh, told me I am not fat and actually need to gain more weight and then also told me that I had to eat lunch. Then he sat with me as I did and ate some of the mozzarella from my salad when I announced I was full and he agreed I’d made a valiant effort. (Sam can eat mozzarella by the ball, its very odd). As we went back into our separate rehearsals, he turned to me and said “Anyway Maya, you can’t disappear again, I don’t know what I’d do without you!” With that simple statement, he hit the nail on the head of how I must get through the trickier days. On the days I’m not able to recognize my values as a single entity, I must recognize what I bring to other people’s lives and how they need me to keep on being strong. As much as I want to shake Sam some days with his constant drama off stage, I also love the fact that he trusts me to give him sound advice, just this morning I received a text that simply read “Fuck me, You were right” (Obviously I quipped that this is something he should just take to be a given). I’ve got a lot to do and give and being emaciated incapacitates all of this. I tried to kid myself otherwise for a long time, to convince all of the Health Care Professionals that I was basically wonder woman, that my brain still worked at full capacity even when starved and I could absolutely manage fine as I was. Utter bullshit. Even if my body could put up with the torture I put it through (it couldn’t), my brain sure couldn’t, I don’t know how I could have expected it to, the average brain needs somewhere in the region of 500cals a day to run, and that is if you are not stretching it and attempting and sort of mental gymnastics. There is a reason we get irrational and bizarre when we haven’t eaten enough. My body is getting stronger and although at times it feels wrong and I just want to shrink away again, the memory of what that really is needs to be hammered home. 
I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive group of friends who I can call upon for help, I can send an ‘SOS, my brain is fucking with me again’ type message and get phone calls, texts, dancing and tequila in return. I can get reminders of how much more fun I’m having in a heart-beat. I get a big hug and photos and I get a very firm “don’t you fucking dare start on that downward trajectory again”. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, because it’s important. Without my friends, I would be lost. I don’t always communicate that well and I know I have been guilty of running around London, Cambridge, wherever, trying to get a million things done and seriously neglecting my friendships. This is not ok in any shape or form. So, here is some gushing. It is the friends who stand by you even when you are behaving atrociously, when you stop being fun and are quite literally disappearing in front of their eyes that are the ones I hope to have with me for a life-time. Without them, I do not know where I’d be. The fact that even now, after having dealt with years of crazy, they can still be relied upon to rise to any cry for help is astonishing. I sent my SOS this week and got an array of different responses all of which I needed and appreciated.

Poor old Thea has had to deal with many moans and they just keep on coming (this morning was one of my best Doors, waist to boob ratio-the struggle is real), but at the point I was feeling really quite rubbish, I spoke to the person I trust more than anyone in this World. We exchanged nothing profound, we spoke about summer plans, work and boys. To many this may seem to be pretty inane conversation, but to me, it meant the World. It was a sign of things getting back to being ‘ok’. I am no longer calling Thea to sob over a conviction that I had a bigger slice of cake than everyone else in hospital, or to tell her of a depressing blood test result. We have the normal conversations we’ve shared for well over a decade and we laugh over the details of our debauchery. It has been a long time since we’ve been able to do this and it’s helped me realize that I’ve wasted a LOT of time, I’ve been sad, scared, freezing and angry for a very long time and on the days where progress seems too much, it’s my friend’s who remind me that I’ve got a LOT of life to catch up on. So, I guess this post is a couple of things, it is both a confession of imperfection and a thank you to those I love and who have loved me through it all, an apology for being a little shit a lot of the time and a reminder to those who are struggling themselves that you should ask for help. It’s not easy, some days I feel as if I’m fighting an army of 1000 orcs (having a bit of a Lord of the Rings geek fest atm, go with it), but the most important thing to do on these days is to ask for help, don’t let your brain run away with you. I’ve learned people really appreciate it if you confide, I always felt as if I were a burden, but it worries people more if you don’t communicate, people can sense misery, especially those who know you well. SOS when it’s needed, after all, where would Frodo have been without all those pals around him?! (Yep, that just happened…). Here’s to a summer of travel, drama (both on and off stage), parties, training, dragonfly and the usual frolics, no more summers on an EDU. Thanks, but no thanks, I’d far rather go live up to the nick name of ‘trouble’ (thanks Alex Vent) that I was graced with before all this began!

Repairing Myself

Friday, 17 April 2015

Progress doesn’t always feel good, it doesn’t always feel as if you’re moving forward, in fact a lot of the time it feels as if you’re giving up on the thing that you are best at. It even feels as though you’re banishing your closest friend and loyal ally. But at those moments I stop, I take a breath and I think. I think about what my friends really look like. I think of all that I’m working for now and other talents I’m discovering. I think about how much I want to do in my life and remember that starvation and anorexia are not compatible with any of these desires. It’s bizarre really, because my brain can truly make me believe that if I just skip that meal, just lost that bit more weight, things would be better, I’d be happier, the World would be a better place. And I know it’s not true, I have clear evidence in front of me, behind me, surrounding me, but I still buy into it sometimes. It’s hard not to, brain chemistry is a funny thing. Through all of this though, I am stronger, I’m becoming proud of my gains (as anyone who follows me on instagram or facebook will know, sorry about that!) I’m seeing it as not only weight, but life, strength, experience, courage, all of these things. I’m trying to treat myself as I would my niece, allowing for mistakes, trips, struggles, comforting and indulging through moments of distress. I’m doing what I love and I’m fucking enjoying it. Exercise has once again become a joy. I’m not constantly bombarded by the demands of a drill sergeant, demanding I do more, I’m doing what I enjoy and what feels right. It’s making me proud of my physical strength, something that I know I cannot have if I do not eat. I’m dancing again, and although this in itself causes many problems (my perfectionist tendencies are still rampant and struggling with something I used to love it hard), but instead of beating myself up and fixating on it as I once would have, I’m trying to recognize that I’ve been too exhausted and weak to walk in recent memory, an imperfect leg extension is not the end of the World. I’m setting my own challenges that are conducive to health, as oppose to being self-destructive. I don’t feel so proud of my anorexic medals of honor any longer. I don’t feel desperate to wear my bones as prizes on my chest. I recognized a monumental change in myself recently when one of one of my newer, but so adored friend’s Sam told me I was looking hot. Instead of freaking out, crying on him and taking it to mean “you’re looking fat”, or just plastering a fake smile on my face and saying thank you, I gave a genuine grin of pleasure. I’m embracing being a girl (I should say woman, but I just feel weird saying that…cue Britney Spears). I’m posting shameless (I say shameless, but in reality I worry people are thinking ‘shut up you vain and vacuous idiot’ or ‘oh lord, Maya got FAT’) photos of my body in the moments I’m happy with it and proud of it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not all the time. A lot of the time I agonize over being too big, disgusting, you know the score.
BUT at these times, I try and surround myself with positive energy and remember the pride I felt in those photos and know that nothing’s changed since ten minutes ago. I’ve been dating again (anorexia numbs all desire, so getting that back has been a lot of fun).

I’m really trying not to let anorexia be an excuse, if people ask me to do something, I’m trying to not say “I’m anorexia, I can’t”, I went to an 8 course dinner the other day. All of my friends thought I was mad, hell, I thought I was mad, but instead of backing out I spoke to Thea (whose words of wisdom I value above any) and she told me I could. She’s loved me through it all, even when I’ve been totally unlovable, she tells me when I’m wrong, or being stupid, she laughed when I ran away to Barcelona and recognized my rebellion to be better than me passively allowing anorexia to win (she also told me I was a fucking idiot to run away from hospital), so when she told me I could, I believed her. And I did it and nothing bad happened, I didn’t wake up the next morning the elephantine woman, I was just the same, but proud. Thea was prouder.

“Another page turns on the calendar, April now, not March.
I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world...I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.

I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness...Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.

I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.

There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.

I am thawing.” –Laurie Anderson

I am no longer quite so cold, I am no longer numb, I am allowing myself to experience true happiness again, but also pain. I’m accepting that’s life, things go wrong, there are days that are shit, but you need them to recognize the moments of euphoria. A rejection or an imperfect audition is not a reason to starve myself, if anything, it’s a reason to keep going, you need strength to prove people wrong. Acting is probably the least straight forward, predictable path I could’ve chosen, I’m gonna have to get used to not succeeding, to someone else getting my part, but there will be times I get that one I really wanted. (I hope!) I still have a long way to go, Im not healed, far from, and although I feel I’ve gained enough, I’m told that’s anorexia’s opinion. I’m trying to trust those I love when they tell me I’m not yet healthy and I’ve got to keep on going, it’s hard, it’s a work in progress, but most the good things are.

(I've punctuated this post with photos of my progress and where things are now, i've had a few people contact me because of my lack of blogging, just to see if i'm ok etc and asking for an update, I will continue to blog, but to follow via instagram for annoying inspirational quotes, photos of what i'm up to etc just whack in @maya.pillay

Dragonfly info will also follow this shortly as thats a whole other bundle of excitement for me right now!)
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