A Journey Through and Beyond Anorexia
By Mandy Allison
Key Themes: autobiography, poetry, anorexia, empowerment
ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
In ‘Dying to Live’ Mandy Allison provides an in-depth look at the many faces of Anorexia. She explores possible triggers and contributing factors from the Cultural to the Existential.
As a Service User and trained Therapist Mandy considers her own journey through the illness over the last twenty-five years and describes her steps towards creating and embracing a more fulfilling life. She also describes the impact the illness has had on her ability to be a parent to her son.
Mandy offers accounts of the various treatments she has received for her Anorexia highlighting the potential within them for benefit and harm. Through her narrative she aims to give a voice to that which the system seeks to silence.
This book is a valuable resource for Service Users, Carers and Service Providers.
About the Author
Mandy Allison was born in 1973 and lives in London with her son Lucas
She is both a survivor of the Mental Health System and a trained Therapist. She suffered from Anorexia for twenty five years and has formed her own path towards recovery.
Mandy is passionate about the rights of Service users and believes that poor treatment within the Mental Health System as well as the discrimination still existing within society needs to be exposed. She uses her past experiences and her writing as a way to do this.
Mandy writes both Poetry and Prose.
This book was and is also partly a personal challenge. I am aware that I am seen by many professionals involved with my treatment as ‘chronic’ and that, as I have had anorexia nervosa for so long, many around me have little faith that I can move beyond this illness to a better quality of life.
They may be right, but there is a part of me that refuses to believe this, a part of me that feels the human spirit is stronger, capable of great things and immense courage. I hope I can prove their prognosis is inaccurate.
It is important to highlight, in view of this, that some parts of this book were written in actual time and as things have become clearer and my understanding has grown, these reflections have also been incorporated.
This method of writing has had an impact on the structure. In wanting to be true to my experience I cannot offer a simply linear narrative. This may give a somewhat uneven feel but, as with any major transition in one’s life, events and feelings do not follow a neat pattern and having to live within contradiction and paradox is, I feel, an essential part of being human.
Furthermore, as I was writing this book I became increasingly aware that it did not fit into any one genre; it is not simply a record of my own recovery, it is not a straight forward autobiography and it is not a theoretical/academic text although it contains elements of each of these at different points.
The reason for this stems from the fact that part of my journey has been about integrating the different parts of my persona: the professional and personal, the mother, the child, the healthy and the dysfunctional, the service user and the service provider. This book is in essence a dialogue between those different parts.
Through allowing this dialogue within myself to occur I have come to a greater understanding myself and my relationship with the illness anorexia nervosa. Furthermore knowing how utterly lonely, isolating and complex this illness is I want to share my own revelations in the hope that they may be of use to others, those with the illness or those caring for sufferers.
As I have come to a greater understanding of this illness I am more able to see why certain aspects of treatment have or have not enabled me to manage my condition, therefore I will offer a reflection on the different forms of treatment I have received throughout my illness. Fortunately during each treatment I have kept copious notes as to how I felt and what was happening at the time. I hope to offer some insight as to how it feels to be on the receiving end of various forms of treatment.
I want to stress at the start that this not a triumphalist account of one woman’s battle and victory over anorexia nervosa. The illness is far too cunning and devious for me to ignore the power it still has in my life and the damage it could cause. There is no ‘post-anorexia’ in the sense of ‘my life after the illness’. Yes, my life has definitely altered over the years and has altered greatly since I began writing this book, but I reach no definitive ending. This account is simply a journey into my mental landscape through which I aim to unravel the complexities surrounding anorexia nervosa and show how I have come to manage my relationship with it.
As I have said, due to the nature of this illness and all it encompasses my writing does not and cannot lend itself to a tidy processed narrative. I see this illness as a spider’s web with all parts interconnecting and dependent on each other. Many aspects of the illness occur in different guises and will manifest in various sections.
It occurs to me as I write this that part of my desire to put my experiences in some form of order is a form of self-protection; protection against getting re-ensnared in the illness, in its dangerous, life-limiting web.
The reader may question why I feel that I am in a position to write about this illness. Ultimately I feel that my real qualification is that I have lived it. The anorexia has developed along with my personality and I cannot remember how my life felt without it. The anorexia has been one of the defining relationships in my life: my parent, my child, my best friend, my enemy, my lover, my abuser, my saviour and my destroyer.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 21 May, 2009.