not even me

just had a #revelation
re why i relentlessly pursue things that compromise my mental abilities, despite the fact my sense of self-worth hinges on a belief that i am good at thinking, and the associated latent belief that i should test the limits of my abilities through learning, analysis, critique and communication of thus formed knowledge.
ie the problem is not whether i am stupid or not, or like finding out just how good i am at thinking or what my scores are or whatever. despite what i constantly hear myself saying out loud, the truth, which somehow slipped from my grasp over the course of a decade, is that i couldn’t give less of a shit about quantifying innate ability and that actually i loathe that impulse and can’t help but associate it with fascism, even in the ‘seemingly innocuous’ manifestations of corporate grad scheme candidate checks and so on.
the problem is that knowledge brings misery, because the world is horrible

and i don’t like thinking about the world because it chills my blood and makes me distrust absolutely every single thing in my life and tear down each thing to the tiniest pieces of meaning that i can manage

because the imagined mass of the unknown unknowns fills me with legitimate paranoia
and seeing as i was conditioned to think of myself as a brain in a vat by my dear parents and all the very expensive very prestigious pedagogical institutions they put me through
i don’t really value anything else about myself, so i have nothing to turn to, no other strategy to cope with the fact that everything is crazy and terrifying
so i pursue an eating disorder i don’t even feel that attached to anymore to fuck myself over and over and over because it is comforting

and it helps me feel less like i am completely totally alone in the world and always have been
which in a way is of course the truth that so many people before me have wrestled with and still had to die at the end of it

but just because billions of ‘real’ men have had to cope with the human condition and some of them had a pretty good theoretical stab at it
doesn’t mean that i don’t want to also have a go, or rather that i feel compelled and driven to look at the things that i don’t understand and that scare me and try to understand them
none of this means i will change any of my behaviours any time soon or that anything will be different

but i thought i would write it out while i have this brief window of not struggling to form sentences and not being ashamed to actively think about my life and even have the impulse to share it with a friend without worrying that i am taking up precious time. /rant
and as an optimistic addendum, i think that as time passed – throwing me at random intervals back and forth to that point when i was 16 and i reached for something better and then got crushed with all the misogyny and immigration and autism ignorance and false assumptions of malice – as time passed, things happened and i started being better (if not always good) at other stuff, like caring about other people and trying to make them like themselves a bit more, which sometimes worked and sometimes gave me a sense of self-worth, and warm feelings of wholeness that i was naturally not afraid of and therefore had no desire to disintegrate into another one of my conspiracies. Because the world is horrible and terrifying and no one is immune from wanting to wrap themselves into something warm and wholesome, not even me.

Quora

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Rudolf Nureyev. 1938-1993.

It was a long and unhappy process. 

From the age of 16 until well into my 20s, I ‘fought’ hunger head on. I would restrict as low as I could go, sometimes going for days on nothing but water, juice, coffee and diet coke. I turned my passion for long distance running into a private, tortured ritual. I thought I could out-starve, out-run, out-drug my hunger for good, if only I tried more, pushed harder, felt more pain. My formative years, the entire timeline of what I consider my adolescence is shot through with memories of alienated starvation, surrounded by plentitude, choice and advertising.

I starved, binged and purged my way through final exams at school, three years at art college, and then two years of my English degree. I became a drug addict, a liar and a thief. I also became deeply traumatised and unhappy. The inability to switch off not just the need to eat but also the desire for food, community and joy became a source of shame and horror, like some sort of monstrosity i constantly tried – and failed – to hide from others. It cracked my self-esteem and fractured my personality. For a decade, I got lost in a sort of cognitive time-warp, obsessed with when it all went wrong – the moment I stopped being the good restrictive anorexic and became a bulimic or binge/purge AN subtype mess. I was hospitalised, I got into debt, I lost friends and pushed away everyone who tried to love me or ‘make me fat’. I tried to end it after a month long binge cycle once, on the morning of my nineteenth birthday. It never occurred to me that to beat hunger, eating was necessary.

***

In my final year of University and the few years that followed, I went through a period of partial remission. I graduated, I found real friends, I learned new skills and achieved independence. I am deeply in love with my best friend, an achievement that flies in the face of all the abuse I subjected myself to, all the lies I told myself every day about my essential malice, narcissism and greed.

Today, I restrict only. According to clinical guidelines, I have anorexia nervosa, restrictive subtype, moderate severity. I have my ‘bodycheck’ blog, where I post pictures of my bones that I struggle to process with my hazed, dissociated, dysmorphia-inflected eyes. I found a way to enter a hostile cease-fire with hunger, eating just enough to keep it from making me completely crazy. For over ten years, I fantasized about this moment, the ability to clasp my hands around my thighs and have the fingers meet. To see that number on the scale. To look at a plate of food and say, ‘fuck it’. I am also terrified of what this might mean. I am starting to think my life might end just as it is beginning, just as the tables have turned. It takes more willpower to eat than to reject eating, to want to wake up than wish I die in my sleep. I hope I can recover, but I don’t know how. I hope your life won’t repeat my story. It all really is too short. Eat.