Ok, so I admit that I flicked through the book twice and put it back on the shelf before actually buying it. It wasn’t that it looked terrible, it was just that I wasn’t convinced that I needed to read yet another memoir. How wrong I was!
Mark Lukach’s memoir, “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward,” (Harper Wave, New York, 2017) is not only compelling but it describes human emotions and the complexity of relationships in a beautiful yet brutally honest way. To me it is more than a book, it is my lightbulb moment, evoking an uncomfortable reevaluation of the illness that I suffered from over twenty years ago – Anorexia.
And yes it is an illness, sadly with often catastrophic effects. And yes, if you are lucky enough to “recover” from it as I was, you erase it from your memory. And I say, “recover,” because I am not sure that you ever completely do. I still refuse to eat, pasta, crisps and roast potatoes to name a few, because I simply don’t like them. Or is it that Anorexia still has some control over me, sending out panic signals at the mere thought of having to put them in my mouth?And eating in public, around people who don’t know about, or understand, my past is more than challenging, the never ending cakes at staff meetings and pot luck lunches at work…
So here’s the thing,
Anorexia is devious and selfish,
it creeps up on you and takes hold of you, and whilst everyone else sees, you refuse to acknowledge it’s existence. How could you possibly be ill, everyone just needs to look at what you are achieving? During much of my illness, I was working full time in a management position, running a family house and bringing up my son. I had so much energy despite eating so little. I was unstoppable and driven. I have never had so much energy, but that wasn’t really me, that was Anorexia.
I still don’t know why or when I started to become ill or when I took back control of my life and started on my road to recovery, despite the interminable hour long sessions spent with a Psychologist. Though well intentioned, these sessions were not helpful for me, although they may help others. They only lead me to distrust, to question others intentions and to accuse those I loved dearly of being somehow responsible for my inner unacknowledged unhappiness and therefore Anorexia. Not true, I was ill, no-one was to blame, it was just something that happened. Oh yes, and the sessions with my Psychologist taught me how to lie. To say blatantly to his face that yes I could see how thin and unhealthy I was when he stood me in front of a mirror, whilst inside I was yelling “Fat!” I stopped visiting the Psychologist after the joint session that I had with my husband, the only hour in our thirty years as a couple that nearly resulted in extinguishing our love for each other…
And this is my lightbulb moment.
Until I read Mark Lukach’s book, I never even considered how it was for those who loved me unconditionally. Now I understand how hard it must have been for my Mum and Dad to watch their daughter fading away in front of them, unable to reach out to pull her back. How it must have hurt my mum, who herself suffered from Anorexia as a child, to see history repeat itself. Did it make her relive her past? We have never really talked about it, maybe it is too painful for both of us. Hopefully history will not repeat itself again and that I will never have to go through seeing either of my two children suffer Anorexia.
How hard it was for my Gran,’ my lifeline when things got really bad and I did not speak to my parents for nearly two years, to be so upbeat and chat with me for hours on the phone whilst she watched Anorexia’s destructive path again.
How hard it must have been for my husband who supported me through four years of Anorexia. How strong he had to be to keep me motivated to live, to deal with family questions and well intended suggestions, to make excuses and explanations to those who didn’t understand. But most of all how hard it must have been for him to deal with his emotions alone. I know now, more than ever, how he and always will be my knight in shining armour.
To all of these people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and apologize that I have never thanked you for loving me through it all before.
Until my “lightbulb moment,” I have never stopped to consider how Anorexia effected you, how it changed your lives. It was all about me and that’s the selfish part of Anorexia…
Maybe one day I will write my own memoir, Anorexia?
And that’s what a good book should do, inspire.
Thank you Mark Lukach for sharing your own life experiences and inspiring me to be a better person, to appreciate just how much I am and always have been surrounded by, unconditional love.