I am quite aware of the feelings of anger, frustration, embarrassment and worry that can occupy the minds of people who watch someone they care about struggle with something so seemingly straightforward.
I am also quite aware of the wanting to distance yourself from that person because it is hard to ignore the frail frame of their body, along with the weakness in their smile.
Looking back on the time that I was really struggling, I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me. I would have found it incredibly difficult to not blow up in anger and tell me to stop being so stupid. I would have felt absolutely drained being in my company, always trying to find a conversation or something to do that wouldn’t draw attention to the elephant in the room.
Luckily for me, I had people more than willing to be around me in such a state and who seemed to know exactly what I needed before I knew it for myself. I didn’t realise the magnitude of what these people did for me until I began reflecting back on things when I was in a much better place. These people were just there, there to put a smile on my face, there to make me feel included, there to make me feel special and just there to spend time with me.
This would have been no easy feat. As I mentioned earlier, the frustration of the situation and the drain of being around someone who is clearly not themselves, can take its toll. That is what shows the true strength of a person, being able to see the situation for what it is and rise above any personal feelings for the better of someone else. These people just wanted to be there for me, whenever I was willing to let them in and for that, I am so incredibly thankful.
I can’t believe I am about to quote Brad Pitt, one, because I don’t think I will ever forgive him for breaking Jennifer Aniston’s heart and two, because the quote relates to him and Angelina Jolie’s relationship, which we all know is no longer. But, there is something he once said about Angelina Jolie that I don’t think I could put in better words. Although this quote will be in terms of husband and wife, I encourage you to see how this can apply in any situation, a friend, a sister, a son, the moral behind the story would suit any form of relationship.
“My girl got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, her personal life, her failures and children. She lost 30 pounds and weighted about 90 pounds. She got very skinny and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs. She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the mornings and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of a break up. Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. I lost hope and thought we’ll get separated soon…But then I decided to act. After all I’ve got the MOST Beautiful Woman on earth. She is the idol of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her. I began to shower her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised and pleased her every minute. I gave her a lot of gifts and just lived for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends. You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became better. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she CAN love that much. And then I realized one thing: the woman is the reflection of her man. If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.” – Brad Pitt
For me, there was not one single person who decided to act, there were many and the simple actions that they made did wonders. A text message to say ‘hi’ and see what was happening, taking a real interest in what I had to say in a conversation, taking me out of the boarding house for the day to go shopping or sit in the park, sending a bunch of flowers, bringing homework in the same room as where I was working to just sit with me, coming in to accompany me whilst I watch my weeknight ritual ‘Neighbours’ (for some people that is quite a sacrifice of time). I was involved in a local water skiing group at the time and the people there were fantastic by working with me on my skiing specifically and encouraging me in that aspect rather than focusing on the fact that I was never going to get any better unless I got stronger.
None of these actions were over the top, none of them were forced, none of them were obvious, probably a lot of them were not realising they were deciding to ‘act’ in any way. But to me, these simple things made a lot of difference. It was by surrounding me with that extra bit of company, love, encouragement, laughter and fun that over time enabled me to realise for myself that I wanted to overcome this eating disorder and needed to seek professional help in order to do so.
With the Christmas period dawning on us, we are provided with the perfect opportunity to act. Don’t underestimate the impact of buying a thoughtful gift rather than an expensive one, taking up the seat next to someone with a smile and having a chat about everyday things, grabbing the tea towel if they are doing the dishes or of sitting down in the lounge and join in on whatever they may be watching. Often, there is no need to address the elephant in the room, just be there…the rest will happen with time.
Have a lovely day x