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A journey of self-discovery and awareness

Pandora's Box

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This picture portrays WE’s self loathing once more, with severe laxative abuse and rampant bulimia. The red shoes symbolise their feeling of being a prostitute, along with the bare bottom bent over for those to come and use at their convenience. They are headed on a trail towards a box—a box that could unveil many secrets, but is it worth delving into the past? What’s contained inside looks toxic as it’s even blown the top off. There are mines and barbed wire to prevent them from getting to Pandora’s Box along with a heavy load to carry and a point at which there is no turning back. We also see a higher presence, someone looking over, along with a monkey and a rabbit. Could those be the little fighting spirits that carries WE through?

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How many times have you been told ‘don't go there’ or ‘leave it in the past’? Wise words indeed. However, whatever you are going through, it’s human nature to seek the source of your sufferings, family secrets or whatever is applicable to you. Even more so when you have therapists desperately trying to prise the box open. Will you ‘crack’, let it open and feel relief? Or in WE’s case continually go on to have hysterical conversions*?

This clearly was not working for WE, so other ways of self expression were sought which included art, journalling and movement—anything to get ‘it’ out. The bulimia was a ritualistic way of purging the vileness felt inside, yet WE found their own ‘cure’. The yo-yo of eating carbohydrate rich foods then purging it all out in a way to cleanse oneself stopped almost immediately when they cut out carbohydrates altogether. There were no more blood glucose ‘lows’ which led to feelings of hunger perpetuating the cycle of binging. It has been over twenty years since any carbohydrate has touched their lips and their blood results are likened to those of an olympian.

So what happened to the box? Nothing! We cannot change the past, we can only change our future. Going backwards is a futile exercise: we don’t see anything in nature going backwards, and our genetic makeup is continually spiralling upwards. Leave the boxes where they are, be grateful for everything you have in your life on a daily basis. Live in the present. Explore your senses, try out new smells, textures, movements. Do what feels good for you every day.

*Hysterical conversion disorders represent "functional" or unexplained neurological deficits such as paralysis or somatosensory losses that are not explained by organic lesions in the nervous system, but arise in the context of "psychogenic" stress or emotional conflicts. Functional neuro imaging has revealed selective decreases in the activity of frontal and subcortical circuits involved in motor control during hysterical paralysis, decreases in somatosensory cortices during hysterical anaesthesia, or decreases in visual cortex during hysterical blindness.

Laboratory for Behavioural Neurology and Imaging of Cognition, Clinic of Neurology, University University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. patrik.vuilleumier@medecine.unige.ch