Today i had my first hydrotherapy session! I’ve waited so long for this. It took MONTHS to get to the top of the physiotherapy wait list at the hospital and then months more to climb the hydrotherapy list.
As a result of years of anorexia as well as the bulimia (I’m primarily anorexic) my bones are like honeycomb and I have stress fractures in both femurs (the longest strongest bone in the body.. so that’s scary.) I’ve spent a lot of time bedridden, gotten too weak to sit or stand. My muscles wasted away.
Now begins the rebuilding process that i’ve started with walking. I have a long way to go – and it’s not going to be easy – but I’m so excited!
As I’ve mentioned but not really gone into, I used to be a dancer. Specifically I was a ballet dancer. I branched out into different dance types but I loved the ballet best.
When I was three years old, the Kindergarten teachers discovered that I was deaf, because I didn’t respond to them when I couldn’t see their faces. A side effect of being deaf was lousy balance – I could barely stand upright – and this lead to physiotherapy, and gymnastics – which I hated. So we tried ballet…
I think I was born dancing. I don’t think I ever really walked as a child. I didn’t act out things like being a mummy to my baby doll, I made it a dance. I leapt instead of ran. Dance was part of me from as early as I know. I took to Ballet like a duck to water.
Many years later, I was accepted into a full time dance school attached to our state ballet company. I was fourteen. I was actually five years below the minimum level they accepted at audition – because I’d dropped out for a few years after a bad experience with a teacher who thought deaf people shouldn’t dance. (I proved her wrong, but it hurt me still.)
I was so scared! On the first day I realised just how deep I’d gotten myself in here – the other girls could do things I’d never even heard of. I was terrible compared to them!! I didn’t even know why they’d accepted me!
I could have let that discourage me, but I wasn’t like that. I was determined. I set out to ‘catch up’ and seeing those girls (and the girls in the higher classes and in the company itself) were my inspiration. I strove to do what they could. I just strove – I practised every waking moment, and pretty much all night in bed I did exercises to be stronger and more limber. All my breaks were spent practising.
It didn’t help that the couple of years I was at that school, I was the “yucky girl”. They were horrible toffee-nosed bullies. I was deaf, shy, came from the wrong side of the tracks, I wasn’t affluent or rich like they were. All my fees were paid by scholarships and sponsorships – even my dance shoes, travel, practice clothes. Mum refused to fund it. In fact, she drew back even more with just clothing me, supplying me with basics, like underwear and socks, shoes, uniform, books, etc. I was literally in rags, my school uniform (for the scholastic part in the afternoon) was the spare from the emergency cupboard, normally reserved for waterfight casualties and about four sizes too big.
So yeah, I was the ‘yucky girl’ and they were so horrible to me. A class of twenty five girls, maybe one boy, becomes pretty much one tight knit cliche. So when you are the odd one out, you are very much the ODD one out.
If you can’t join em, beat em. And I did. I went from the worst dancer they’d ever had to one of the best. And I’m dang proud of it too.
I went on to our state university dance course to prepare for a career as a performer. Unfortunately that’s where I also fell down the rabbit hole and became far too sick to dance anymore – dance was torn from my life.
It left a massive hole – and I think it nearly killed me.
Suddenly my major coping strategy and the one thing that had kept me surviving all this – was gone. Was lost. No longer was I going to ‘get out of this abusive situation because I’m going to be a dancer and free one day’. No longer was all the hurt danced out, no longer did I pour my fear and rage and brokenness into dancing.
I turned to anorexia.
As with dancing, I gave it my all.
And it took all I gave it and more.
Bulimia didn’t follow for a number of years – but I gave that my all too. And like a parasite, the more it took, the more it wanted. Anorexia and Bulimia devoured me from the inside out. They obliterated the person who I once was, the dancer to be, they turned me into a monster, a creature to be pitied, who lived in hospital wards strapped down and locked up because she couldn’t be trusted to even mingle with the ‘normal’ psych patients. Because she was dying and they had given up on her.
Somehow after all these years, I turned it around. I’m alive, I’m actually alive.
And now to repair the damage.
It breaks my heart that my once strong, limber body is such a mess, a wreck, so weak, so pathetically weak.
But as I’ve started walking, I’ve felt muscles I’d forgotten working. I’ve felt my body starting to move, almost dance rather than walk. I’ve felt close to taking off and flying, I’ve felt SO GOOD.
There is still frustration over the weakness, the weak core, the inability to do anything strenuous that would splinter my bones, and just HOW FAR I have to go.
That’s where hydrotherapy comes in. And it’s awesome. Warm water, gentle exercise… that exhausts you because you don’t realise how hard you are working when you are in that water!
Feeling so much stronger and fitter, being able to move my body in preparation for LIVING in this body – feels so good. It’s not worth it to let anorexia and bulimia rob me of this ever again.
Can you remember a time when what your body could do was more important to you than what it looked like? Can you remember ever feeling fit and strong, and do you miss that?
Have you rediscovered this, and how?