An Artsy Video: “The Trauma of Being Normal”

Image: Amy Goh

This video was created after my recovery about a time when I was deep into my disordered thinking. I wanted to control every facet of my being in order to become the ideal person my family wanted me to be. What I didn’t know was that I was also selling my soul in the process.

I had this goal to fit a mold of what, a lady should be. If I could fit into that mold, I thought my family would accept me. However, this act of mine required me to sacrifice my joy for living and my own desires and passions.

In a way, controlling my thoughts, diet and lifestyle were all part of the same toxic parcel. I was conscious that I was doing something intensely destructive, yet I also felt a thrill and exhilaration in this act. In a sense, I was defying myself and defying the expectations that formed a cage I could not escape from. I was near death, but I felt like I was defying the odds by being alive.

Recovery was about taking back my power. Saying,

This is what I want for me. This is what makes me feel whole, happy, passionate, alive.

Art in recovery

Creating has been the route to health, to constructing an identity for myself  so that when I had weight restored, I would be able to wear it with confidence. Drawing, in a sense, was my route to health and long preceded my physical recovery. I could construct a mythology about myself I could return to. The motifs in my art- destruction, creation, rebirth- were a way for me to embrace the grotesque-ness I saw within myself, and to somehow emerge from it stubbornly triumphant.

The restrictive mindset is an intensely dangerous one, because it is driven by a self-destructive will, a demon that wants to destroy you under some cause it tells you is noble. But it is honestly also self-annihilation. Recovery is about recreating a new self from the ashes of the half-zombied-life that is your disease. To decide, yes, I choose life, in all its messy, gritty glory.

Because life is too precious to miss out on. We are more than the expectations cast upon us by ourselves and others.