Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Eating Disorder Machine

This ten week term has come and gone in the blink of an eye, and I now find myself publishing my last blog post assignment for this class.  While I do plan to continue writing,  I still consider this to be the end of one chapter and the start of something new.  I am so grateful for this experience; however, I am very much looking forward to having more freedom to pursue my own interests, goals, and posts with this blog. Thank you to all who have supported me throughout this journey.  I hope that you will continue to read as I dive headfirst into this blogging world on my own. But first things first... My last post of this chapter.

This weeks prompt asks me to reflect on a concept from this class that has interested me. Now, this might be a stretch, but I am going to make an attempt at creating a link between a principle of communication and some more personal-to-me issues related to the focuses of this blog. So bear with me, resign from judgement, and enjoy the ride..

The Classical Approach was one of the first things that we covered in this class, and so it sticks out in my mind. This method of communication embraces a rather cold and rigid attitude with respect to the person-hood of organizational participants. This method lacks character and personal attention as there is little concern held for the people preforming the work. Instead the focus is on profit: the action of preforming tasks and administrative activity, the structure of the system based on formal rules, and the science behind specific tasks and standardization.  In this practice, maximizing production is of the utmost importance. The end always justifies the means.  The 'machine metaphor' is a very appropriate representation of this approach.  There are three main components to this machine metaphor:  
  1. Specialization: each part (person) has a specific function   
  2. Standardization: replace-ability (workers are seen as "clogs" and are considered interchangeable) 
  3. Predictability: and abides by dehumanizing rules, which put more focus on the product than  
Restricting food consumption to under five hundred calories a day for the sole purpose of gaining control. Taking guilt to the gym to burn 1000 calories on the treadmill (10 grade incline. you bet) as punishment for indulging in that piece of birthday cake. Refusing to go out with friends because eating too much that day has left you feeling fat- unworthy of being around people and having a good time.  Eating a two pound bag of carrots for dinner leaves you feeling stuffed to the brim yet completely unsatisfied (but hey at least you got your weeks worth of fiber and minimal calories were consumed.)  I am no stranger to this so called machine mindset. The practices mentioned previously don`t make sense; yet they have been, somehow, justified far too frequently.

An Eating Disorder is a psychological disease. Many of the thoughts and beliefs held by sufferers are irrational. The behaviors are ridiculous. And, the justifications for these actions are unreasonable. But somehow, we have a way of rationalizing things in our head There is a certain degree of disconnect that exists between body and mind. You might feel physical pain, hunger, exhaustion but your mind does not respond to those feelings in a constructive manner. Your body is screaming at you to "STOP" but you power through, like a machine, focused on completing the task.... preforming the behavior regardless of how you feel. Attentiveness to the inner voice is silenced and replaced by an attitude focused on pushing your body to the limits. and attaining that illusion of control regardless of the penalty. The end always justifies the means.

As a sufferer of anorexia, my mind is often in control of my actions. It represents the leadership role in this hierarchical structure (of the machine metaphor)- the oversee-er, the selfish inconsiderate boss. My body is the machine itself- the poor helpless employee, the innocent bi-standard.  My body endures the pain of consequences, which are derived from the choking grip of my eating disorder. Most people look at me, and do not assume that I am a sufferer.  As I have slowly began the road to recovery, I no longer display many of the physical symptoms of anorexia. However; I am still struggling.

 In the thick of my eating disorder, I developed quite a skill for concealing my emotions so people could not see what I was feeling. This behavior is at the very heart of the machine metaphor. Push through, don't display symptoms of weakness, control your emotions, control your body- that is what my mind tells me. But the truth is, these practices do not promise victory. In fact, that is the eating disorder talking. It is this irrational voice that drives the machine.

An eating disorder strives on ignorance and total disregard for ones own needs and person-hood. The sufferer posses` a very rigid, judgmental,  and unyielding attitude towards his/herself, similar to the classical model`s approach to employees. There is little to no regard for emotions and how certain things make you feel. These behaviors are dehumanizing.. However; there is hope in all of this. Freedom comes with denial. Not denial of your own feelings and thoughts, but denial of the eating disorders voice. It starts with being able to recognize the difference between the two, and to distinguish rational from irrational. The ultimate power is in recognizing that these thoughts are not my own. The ultimate control is in putting the recognition to practice and denying to accept these terms.

Im sorry if this post has left your heart feeling heavy. That was not my intent. An eating disorder is a nasty disease, and I believe it is important that this knowledge be spread. However; I hope that if you read between the lines, you might see this as a message of hope. There is hope in standing up to the oppressive mindset. There is hope in accepting oneself as a unique person with so much potential. There is hope in letting go of self judgement and doubt.

My hope lies in recovery.