Speaking of her experiences of battling an eating disorder, Amie Enriquez's Lightweight at the Edinburgh Fringe tackles the subject from the personal perspective, through a fascinatingly inspiring insight into the effects of institutional treatment, and recovery against all odds.
Here, Amie has further discussed the piece, and what it means to her.
What is Lightweight all about, and what led you to write and share your journey? Lightweight is the true story about the year that I spent in a 28 day addiction treatment facility to recover from anorexia, and it follows the trial and tribulations that occurred before and during that time - from the impact of 9/11 on my eating disorder, to my parents’ mishandling of it, to the codependent relationships formed with other patients, and eventually - the path to recovery. I feel that the reason that I survived against all odds was so that I could share this story with others!
How does the show shine a light on the effect of eating disorders, and how do you hope audience members will feel once they've seen it? Lightweight is unique in that it takes the audience on a journey of eating disorder suffering and recovery from the perspective of being inside the treatment center. The audience is witnessing it all as it unfolds - the food obsession, the therapy sessions, the delusions as well as the realities. My wish is that audiences leave the show with a new knowledge or clarity on this disease, as well as hope and belief in happy endings.
How have the autobiographical elements of the piece influenced your own recovery, and how do you manage your own vulnerability and well being when presenting the show?
I knew that I could begin writing Lightweight once I had several years without any eating disorder relapses. In this case, I had been completely free of all disordered eating for 5 years before I had begun to work towards this show. It was important to create it from a place of health and clarity. Since I began presenting this show I have paid more attention to my mental and physical health than ever before! I want to give audiences the best version of my show and myself that I can possibly give, and in order to do that I have to fuel and nurture myself properly. Being healthy also allows me to be vulnerable without compromising my well being.
Why do you think dark humour on topics like mental health conditions often makes an impact, and resonates with others?
Please forgive me, I’m going to quote a Jimmy Buffett song here: “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”. That lyric has always resonated with me! I really believe in balancing the dark with the light. The only way to get comfortable with the uncomfortable is by adding some space to breathe, and I feel that humour does that quite well if it’s done respectfully.
What has been the most inspiring message anyone has given you?
When I was unsure of whether I should write my story, a very wonderful and wise soul said to me “Don’t you wish that when you were suffering, that when you were at your very worst and feeling hopeless, that you had someone who could show you what recovery truly looked like? If a healthy, vibrant person showed you that there is a life ready and waiting for you once you do the work? YOU can be that person now. You are the living proof that can inspire so many others”.
What advice would you give to someone similar to your past situation with eating disorders that may need support?
I would tell them to take the first step towards receiving professional help. Try it, and do not wait. You won’t want to, because having an eating disorder makes you feel 'in control' of your life. But you’re not in control. You are so far out of control, and you’ll see that some day. For now, get professional help. Know that recovery is not linear - it will take time and work but it is worth it! Listen to your doctor’s warnings about the toll the disease takes on your body. I wish that I had. And allow others to love you while you are re-learning how to love yourself. Love really does heal.
Thank you, so very much, to Amie for sharing such a meaningful story that could change lives for the better, and beautiful answers of equal measure. I am so glad that you are now able to do this.
Tickets to the show can be found here: