"An enormously creative force"

On my way to see TNT and go to group, I was listening to a podcast from last year's DarwinFest at Arizona State University (2009 was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species").  The next talk on my playlist was by Nina Jablonski on the evolution of skin pigmentation.

Dr. Jablonski spent a portion of the talk discussing how UV radiation damages the skin, and the different responses animals have evolved.  She said that certain types of UV radiation were pretty much universally bad; they had no real positive effects on life.

And yet, Dr. Jablonski said, UV radiation was an "enormously creative force" in the evolution of life on Earth.  UV radiation created DNA mutations, which are the raw material of natural selection and evolution.  Without mutations, we'd all still be pond scum.

And all I could think was: this is such a great description and metaphor for eating disorders.  EDs are tremendously destructive.  I know some people say that they are grateful to their eating disorder, that it helped them cope with life when nothing else did. Although I understand and sympathize with the sentiment, it's not something in my own personal experience. 

That being said, here I am.  The destructiveness of my eating disorder has been a creative force.  It's resulted in two books and this blog.  More indirectly, it's led to my career as a writer.  It's brought me to where I am today.  As much as I whine about my life, as much as I hate it at times, I am where I am, and it's really not all that bad.  Okay, true, my current life is nowhere near the one that I thought I would be living.  At the same time, I'm working to accept that where I am is just freaking fine.

UV radiation is tremendously destructive, and yet from this destruction has sprung an amazing array of plants, animals, fungi, protists, and microbes. And so it goes with the eating disorder and my life.  Enormous destruction has led to enormous creativity.


Lisa said...

I was told in treatment to "love your eating disorder away" bc at some point it did do something for you. I like to think that what I've been through has made me who I am today.

Making the best out of our experiences is honestly a difficult way to live life, especially ours but it's courageous and you can do it!!

Susu Paris Chic said...

Life is what is it. For everyone of us our own life is the only one, so the best. Challenges come, and when we realize that we can get over them, that is when a small beam of soothing self-esteem can be born.

Your creativity can flow out today. Thank ED if needed - the awesome thing is that you are now radiating, just as you are, and have recovered back to life. The real one. With downs and many sweet ups.

Anonymous said...

you always manage to make me think. &feel the tiniest bit guilty for what i do. gahh. all my love to you.

Cammy said...

There is a fascinating book called 'In the Blink of an Eye' by Andrew Parker on how the evolution of eyesight was another hugely creative force in the evolution of new body forms that we saw in the Precambrian. Just fyi from your nerdfriend. :)

Great analogy, btw!

Angela Elain Gambrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Elain Gambrel said...

Unfortunately, for me my eating disorder also has brought good things with it, and not just the original things it helped with, such as self-soothing of anxiety and dealing with stress. I struggle with breaking away from the anorexic identity because it has opened some doors for my own freelance writing, plus the longer it's part of me, the more it feels as if *is* me. It also at times has fueled (pardon the pun) my creativity; I can't deny that. Don't get me wrong, I think that having anorexia has contributed to who I am and I wouldn't change anything looking back. I think there was some reason I needed to go through this experience; although perhaps that's just my tendency to look for meaning in everything.

However, Carrie, I think you are breaking away from the ED identity; I've read several of your science articles and they are informative and interesting - and not about eating disorders. You are growing as a writer and can imagine a point where you will be more "Carrie, the science writer" than "Carrie, the person who wrote about eating disorders." You also are taking part in mountain biking and other activities. In other words, you are building a life beyond eating disorders. All of this, of course, is just my opinion. :)

P.S. I think you would have been a science writer no matter what had happened. It seems to be such an integral part of who you are, part of your essence, if you will.

HikerRD said...

Great post, once again!
And great insight, Angela! It has struck me recently that it's a slippery slope using the blog for recovery. Specifically, does it help support change, and leaving EDz behind, or solidify one's ED identity, feeling a part of this EDz blogging community? Just a thought.

Having been diagnosed with a chronic, potentially progressive disease 8 years ago I must say that having a condition (MS for me) is certainly a wake up call to appreciate what does work in your body, and to do what you can to influence change.

K-pedia said...

I'm generally just stoked to be among those who survived the destructive force. I know what a blessing that is ;) Great post.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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