This time a year ago...

Thursday, 6 November 2014

I'm sorry, I'm a musical theatre student these days and couldn't resist...

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Questionable from Marilyn Monroe

It's a funny thing to consider where I was this time last year. Not really funny haha, because, well, I was bloody miserable, but more…funny, bizarre. I suspect it's even more bizarre for those I am currently lucky enough to be surrounded by here at Drama School in Cambridge, especially when I make the rather odd jokes about anorexia that have become part of my daily norm and that most who know me very well and have had to deal with my peculiar ways for years, are used to. Referring to 'Gone Girl' recently, I quipped "although I did read it when I was in the crazy house and slightly preoccupied with doing star jumps and step ups in my room, so maybe that why I didn't get all the hype, I wasn't really able to focus. The girl I was speaking to looked to me in slight horror and then sort of…patter me. I looked at her hand confused, then, suddenly understanding why she was feeling sorry for me, was overcome with embarrassment. This was not what I had intended in the slightest, but I could not hold her pity against her, because, I guess that it all sounds pretty extreme if you're hearing about it for the first time. I forget about how my openness is not typical. It was probably one of the biggest initial struggles I had when starting at Drama School, how to handle anorexia, to tell or not to tell….that was the question. I 'came out'. It became kinda necessary. My teachers all knew and had been marvellous about it from the beginning, and when it became apparent that with all the dancing and general energy output was becoming a little tough for me, as was the short amount of time allotted for meals (it still takes me a long time to eat and digestion is slow, so I often feel a bit ill or in pain after food), we came to an agreement to manage things better, with a slightly reduced timetable. Now, Maya who wants to push herself to the limit finds this very difficult to tolerate, especially as I'm now not meant to do the vigorous morning workouts that everyone else does. (Crazy part of brain has very strong views about this, but I just have to keep the part telling me I'm lazy/slobbish/fat in it's corner). I also don't do all the dance lessons, which makes even the sanest corner of my brain sad, as dancing again was incredibly fun and made me smile. The understanding from my teachers though and a practical solution quickly being reached was a God send. I'm just determined to show them that i'm worth the effort. Anorexia is still definitely my roommate here at uni and this definitely holds me back, but I had a wonderful realisation a few days ago (hence the wicked reference above)…I am the happiest I can remember being. At this point, I considered my mood last year, as well as where I was. All of these epiphanies happened around halloween, which was handy, as I could really chart what I was doing…
Last year I was carving pumpkins at Vincent Square, I had no leave. I remember going into pumpkin carving and really struggling with being in the group. I'd promised that i'd try and go to groups and I actually quite liked the idea of pumpkin carving, but the fact that it meant I was not exercising really messed with my head. I remember squatting on the ground, not sitting, sitting was NOT ok. If I sat, I really would be lazy. I had to squat so as to reach the pumpkin. I stayed for most of the group, but rushed my pumpkin towards the end and then left, so as to get back to my room and return to my rigorous regime. But before leaving, in homage to my natural love of glitter…I made my pumpkin pretty.
Although it was fun, I do remember feeling like a toddler again, doing arts and crafts. Later that night we decided to watch a whole load of horror films. We had a few to choose from. This was probably the only reason I don't totally regret the illness…the friends I made during my hospitalisations, as well as the loyalty all of my friends showed. Anyway, I said id come back to watch the films a bit later. I went back to my room to resume my exercises. Upon returning to everyone else, like a little baby, I fell asleep on 'my beanbag' in the corner. I'd truly exhausted myself.

This year was different. I felt far closer to 'Maya' and my activities were more what one would expect. Namely…we got dressed up, got very drunk and went out. This has been a regular routine of our weekends here. The weeks are pretty intense, all day, everyday. Unlike similar rigour exhorted during a school day though, I find myself looking forward to Monday mornings (I cannot believe I just said that). I actually enjoy my classes and that's a bloody fantastic feeling. Im in the right place, right now, for me. Anyway, because of all the work we put in during the week, by the time the weekend rocks up, many of us are ready and raring to get out of our black 'work clothes', into something hotter, and get on the tequila shots. Then dance A LOT. Not in the way we are being trained (although we are plotting to at some point break out our 'Saturdays-Disco Love number as a flash mob), but in a far less structured way. Halloween had been planned for a long old time. Sometimes I do feel a little old, being only 22 this is a novel, yet not fun experience. I got this impression a little on halloween, the vast majority of people in the club we all began at seemed to be 18 (or at least their fake IDs claimed them to be…). I was already feeling a little self conscious and fat, and considered leaving and going home as soon as we got to the club from pre-drinks. Instead, I met a friend who is a third year at Cambridge and went to a club round the corner, then, met up with the rest of the uni lot that night and went home together, filling each other in on aspects of our nights. This, for me, was a pretty good solution and I had a great night. I just really don't wanna be that kid thats like "omg, I'm too old and mature for this stuff", because, thats really not how I feel. I think it was more a case of "omg, I'm older than everyone here", and the knowledge that the same would not be true in all clubs was too tempting for me! 
So, that's where I am. I'm doing my best. I'm still receiving treatment. I'm feeling far more positive. It's still really hard lots of the time and my brain is still sadly riddled with anorexia, but having the distraction of something I love is, thus far, the best combat method i've come across. I love the discipline required, as well as the creativity, and although I cannot quite do it all at the moment, what I can do is amazing. Hopefully soon I will be strong enough to dance again.

On an exciting end note…guess who has a logo:

Annoyingly, none of the theatres we contacted about tickets for patients have come back. Im really disappointed and let down by the lack of response, especially coming from the industry I hope to work in someday. Instead, we are currently examining other possibilities for trips for patients around Christmas. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated (something: warm, safe for fragile people, that won't burn many calories, that isn't food focused…not asking much?!) We're also planning pampering presents to deliver to our old ward for the patients in this christmas, as a couple of us know how rubbish being in over the holidays is. More news to come, i'm exhausted, but was awoken by the fire alarm in my building and decided to finish this post when I couldn't get back to sleep (I'm a real student…see!) Anyway, I should try to get back to sleep, but I couldn't wait to share the pretty logo!
Much love, 
Maya xxxxx


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