Friday, February 6, 2009

Blurred lines

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail completely out of the blue from a woman I met at a conference a number of years ago. She had e-mailed me, asking if I was interested in contributing a piece for a new book she and others were producing about a specific chronic illness which I had suffered from. After a few days of thinking about it, I decided to oblige with the request, thinking it might help someone.

I have not submitted my piece to her yet. However, I have done a lot of thinking and do have some handwritten material on nice yellow lined paper of a legal pad. What I'm having trouble with is remembering. Not the type of memory of not knowing what happened, but rather what was attributable to the chronic illness or the eating disorder.

The lines feel so blurry. How do I know whether my constant fatigue and foggy thinking was from insane high liver enzymes, anemia, or the eating disorder? Logically, I'm sure it was all attributable. However, for the purpose of this piece, I do not necessarily want to go into details of the eating disorder as that is not what the book is about. But then again, it feels phony too?

Another aspect is that at one point in my treatment for this chronic illness, I went off my medication for really stupid reasons. It didn't bode well for me, but it also gave a window of opportunity to try another medication which fortunately "cured" (and I use that lightly) the illness.

It's interesting how these types of matters can jumble all together. I even read through my old medical records to jargon my memory. That only helped with establishing a timeline but didn't help otherwise.


Blurred lines haven't ended there however. Recently, on facebook, other people have contacted me who know nothing about the eating disorder. I'm sure some high school friends suspected something, but it was certainly not something I spoke about in public. People who have met me later in my life really don't have an idea of the eating disorder, because I've simply hid it.

So now as the lines blur between what is private and personal, I struggle with what to do. Do I "out" myself? Do I make a new account? I should also note that this is exacerbated, because I found out one of my posts had a referring link to facebook. I checked the links and got my facebook page or some person whom I did not know. I still cannot figure out how that happened.

As I try to figure this out, I'm reminded that all blurry lines do is ask more questions than they answer, giving headaches and a glare of fuzziness.


Gaining Back My Life said...

That's a tough one. I often wish I would have created a pseudonym; having myself so 'out there' feels a little scary.

In terms of what you have written for the book, I think from a medical standpoint, it is crucal to add in the informaitoni about the eating disorder. Can you remain anonymous in the book?

On the other hand, if you do not feel safe revealing that much information about yourself, then don't. Trust me, I've learned the hard way!

MelissaS said...

can you ask the woman who contacted you? she might help me you craft your thoughts.

i understand the privacy issue and you have every right in the world to keep anything to yourself. still, maybe it would be okay to "out" yourself. having an eating disorder isn't shameful. it just makes life really hard.

Kara said...

Writing about eating disorders is hard because in my opinion it's really easy for others to see it as "glamourizing" or bragging about the disorder and they they were. You are a great writer and I'm sure whatever you write will be great, but be careful even i you have good intent.

kb said...


I used to want for everything to be clearly separated, but I think that actually makes it LESS honest, because lines do blur and twist and become difficult to separate.
As for "outing" yourself - I understand the difficulty in that decision. I think you have to do what feels "right" and to trust yourself. Although I haven't been open with my more recent relationships about the eating disorder, I'm open about the fact that I go to therapy and that my life isn't perfect.
And the private vs. public is a hot topic these days; again, I think that you have to decide what feels right to/for you.
- Kristina

Tiptoe said...

Thanks everyone. I probably should have said that my part of the book is about "coping with chronic illness "in college.

GBML, yes, I can be authored anyway I want from my understanding.
The ED I'm sure played a role, but how much from a medical point is really hard to say.

MelissaS, I probably could ask the woman who contacted me, but my feeling is just however you want to write it.
In regards to "outing" myself, you're right that is an element of shame for me in terms of the ED. It's one reason why I have kept it very private in real life. I know it's not shameful, I just have not gotten past the hurdle.

Kara, you're right about that. If I was to talk about the Ed in this piece, it would be in a very nonchalant way.

Kristina, I understand what you are saying. In life, things so blur. The ED, though a part of my life, has been very separate. I don't mind talking about other things in my life, even ones related to my future, but the ED has always been kind of off limits for me.
For some reason, I feel like if I was in a more stable place in recovery/recovered, then outing myself would be no big deal. It seems easier to talk about in a very past, distant tense versus the present one of uncertainty.

I'll have to think about this more.

saa said...

I am having the same problem with the "outing." Like you, I had a lot of high school people find me on facebook, I was going crazy trying to keep all my "internet outlets" separate. However, it is all ME and i can't just divide myself up into compartments, although god knows I have tried. I echo what KB said about the honesty factor. So I am struggling with this, too and I'm glad you brought it up. ..good to hear others ideas on the subject.

Also, In regards to Kara's comment, the idea of glamourizing E.D really worries me. How do ya'll avoid that? I can't tell if I ever do it, but it does concern, in art, and in daily life.

sarah said...

It's interesting, the concept of "outing" an eating disorder - especially because way back when I was in high school, people knew, but very few people (even college friends) knew how sick I was at my worst. I was having a conversation about this yesterday with a close friend of mine and the mention slipped out while we were talking about something else.

I digress. In terms of honesty, I guess that I've reached a point where I believe that the only way to really live is to live honestly. Is it possible to share too much? Yes. But I think in this instance it is related - it doesn't diminish the illness, nor does it glorify the disordered eating; it's telling your story and being true to yourself.

Tiptoe said...

Shawna, I'm glad I'm not the only one in the same predicament. Keeping so much separate is a hard thing and sometimes feels pointless after awhile.

In terms of not glamorizing ED, I try really hard to be a bit vague when it comes to sizes, my actual weight, amounts of foods, those types of things. I guess I like to think of it as being able to get my point, thought, feeling across without resorting to those measures. However, on the flip side, your words, your art, etc. are yours, and you can't control what others may feel.

Sarah, thanks for your story. In a few instances, I have "outed' myself with some close high school friends as well. Most reacted fine, but it was kind of like an open and close shut door policy.

There is no doubt that I think honesty is important. With the book piece, I may merely mention it but won't go into details. With facebook, I think my fear of outing myself is has that both my parents are wanting to join facebook.

Kyla said...

I think your blog helps a lot of people (like myself!), and I think that it would be wonderful if you could share your thoughts in book form. You're very articulate, smart, thoughtful, have never triggered me or glamorized your ED, and I think that's just the kind of person we need writing about EDs. Could you use a pseudonym if it makes you more comvortable?

Tiptoe said...

Awww Kyla, you make me blush. Thanks hon for the sweet accolades.