Last night I was very nervous. I was reading my questionable quality poetry at an event of 50 people. Now, I have given presentations, talked, and performed poetry before in front of bigger audiences, but this was a very important occasion. I am always most nervous at situations that are of biggest importance to me. Like when I was waiting for an employer to phone me about a job I really really wanted (I got it btw, starting on Monday). Or when I am reading poetry written about a cause really important to me, in front of many people I love and have deep admiration for.
Last night was my own ED support association’s 20-year celebration party. When the association was established 20 years ago I was in hospital. My parents had met some other parents who, like them, faced an illness in their family they didn’t understand. It’s hard to understand why I child would fear food. Why an adult would. 20 years ago in Finland ED treatment was really just taking its baby steps. There was no support for loved ones, or beyond clinics/hospitals, for sufferers themselves. All peer support associations spring from a need. A need to get together, understand the problem or challenge shared, and support each other to work through it, the best any human can.
Last night many of the original (founding) members were there to share their stories. My parents were there too, and my closest childhood friend. It was wonderful to see how our association has grown from a small group of parents with no money, to an established and important source of support, with funding and two wonderful employees. We’ve done a lot, grown and developed new ways to support not just loved ones, but recently more and more, sufferers and those who are recovering. Our work is needed and important. Eating disorders can kill and they always cause suffering in a person who doesn’t deserve to suffer.
Our association is hope. Hope of recovery. What has recently been talked about in Finnish mental health circles as ‘recovery orientation’ has been ingrained in our philosophy from the start. Why wouldn’t it be! I know there is hope, and I want to pass the message on in my work with the association.
Anyway, back to me, as always (haha, what can I say, if you’re reading this, you ought to know I like to talk about myself). I was very nervous to perform my three poems in front of the audience at this event for reasons explained. It meant a lot. My association means a lot. I thought I would cry, but luckily the tears came after. Whilst I was reading my poems I cunningly avoided looking at the audience (that would’ve been it for the gates to open fo sure). I wanted to read about the difficulty of recovery, to illustrate why our association is needed. I wanted to read about life at recovery, when the battle is over, for those in the audience who are still en route (I am glad many of our current service users came along to the party). I wanted to read about our association, to describe why it’s been so important to me. I think I did okay, despite my nervousness. Several people came to thank me afterwards, which was the superest nice thing ever.
It was a wonderful party full of wonderful humans. I look forward to the next 20 years. I may not continue serving on the board or run peer support for that whole time, but I’ll surely keep an eye on the goings-on of this wonderful association.
What are we called you ask? We are called Etelän-SYLI ry (look out for English page on our website too) and we have an important place in this world.
Ps. You can read the poems I performed (in Finnish) here