Reflect on what you are blessed with 

I admit, I am blessed to be able to say my family are my best friends. I have been unexplainably fortunate to have them stand by me and support me through every stage in my life.

 

Sadly, in truth I haven’t treated my family with as much love as they deserve.

 

*deep breathe* Here it goes...

In my worst moments and illogical mood swings I would lash out verbally and aggressively and bully them all much like the bullish voice I heard in my head. The guilt my anorexia made me feel would leak out of my body and evolve into anger which I would then fire at my family in a toxic manner. 

 

Naturally I struggle to express myself verbally, which is most probably why I dance (to express myself through movement) and is most probably one of the reasons why I became ill. I found it too hard to tell others that I was hurting inside, so instead I tried to show them the pain I felt by suffering. My anorexia was my (no power over) attempt to communicate my unhappiness, almost my call for help, and it quickly became my coping mechanism to deal with what I was feeling.

 

Still now, I sometimes unintentionally take things out on my family, which I hate to admit. For instance, the mugging I experienced last week initially made me turn angry and icy against my family. I felt ‘I needed to deal with it’, ‘I needed to be strong’, and it wasn’t until my older sister reassured me that it’s okay to ask for help, that I could realise that my family are always there for me.

 

I suppose I still struggle to communicate in verbal words how I feel, so I try to switch my relationships off in hopes to avoid arguments... but this often just makes things worse. 

 

I guess what I am trying to say with this message is, that I am still learning and I am still accepting that I don’t have to deal with things alone (as I know all that does is equate to violent outbursts when things get too much). This message is also to encourage others to love and lean on their family, your family is your strongest support team and that’s important to remember. But my main point I want to make is to my family themselves, as they are magic to me and I truly want to thank them for everything.

 

However, despite the fact that I am still learning to be more open and grateful for my family, I have two tips that I am doing everyday in hopes to improve my ability to communicate and lean on my family when I need help... and I want to share them both with you too. 

 

Tip number 1: Write it down and then read it out.

 

As I’ve expressed already, I struggle to be verbal with my emotions. Instead I prefer performing them in my dancing, describing them in poems or writing them down on paper. Therefore when I feel a strong emotion like hurt, guilt or anger which I struggle to communicate naturally to my family I will write it down and then read it aloud to them. It makes things much easier and it also encourages me to seek them for help. Whether it is either just the word, ‘hurt’ or the reason, ‘I am hurt because ...*’ it has certainly helped me to turn to my family in a more peaceful manner, rather then lashing out at them after the emotions built up. So tip one is simple, write it down and read it out. Remember whatever you do don’t just write it down and brush it away, you will only be kicking yourself in the foot.

 

Tip number 2: Ask other people how they feel more.

 

Often mental health sufferers can become isolated, withdrawn and shut-off. I know first hand that my anorexia made me become incredibly selfish. I thought only about myself and my guilt, and in moments getting ‘rid’ of the guilt or getting the ‘praise’ felt like the most important thing in the world... it was my life in a nutshell. I stopped thinking about my family, unless it was negatively and I started to lose trust in them and began to believe they were all ‘against me’. Sadly all this did was make me become even more consumed with my separate life. When I began recovery, I began to have more time for others as less of my time was consumed with anorexia. Although still now I can fall into my old habits, which is why I consciously concentrate on giving time for others, being considerate daily about others and asking others how they are, how the feel, what their day was like and any other personal topic that springs to mind. This encourages a team atmosphere, a supportive and tight-knit relationship and will encourage you to be open to them as well as them feeling like they can also be open with you. 

 

I hope this helps.

 Photography by: Jim Dooley

Photography by: Jim Dooley

Margherita Barbieri