I.

First of all, you should know that I’m a horrible liar. And despite what the horoscopes might tell you about Scorpios, I’m terrible at being secretive and keeping things to myself. If I can’t lie and I can’t keep a secret to save my life, then what can I do? I’d like to say ‘not much’, but that would be a lie, too. And I can’t lie, I told you. I suck at lying.

What I can do is pretty phenomenal and extremely terrible. I can emotionally numb myself better than the best Novocaine with almost superhuman like-abilities. I can perceive-with crystalline accuracy- myself and the world around me rotating on this yet-to-be-discovered axis that amazingly revolves solely around myself. And I can diet. Oh, can I diet.

My first fiery tryst with dieting began as an attempt to gain acceptance, attention (. . . ?) from my peers at the all-important, very pretentious Academy of Notre Dame, where I had recently started seventh grade after graduating from an intimate and comfortable K through 6 elementary school (with a robust graduating class of 12 students). At the tender age of thirteen, I put myself on a strict diet, restricting my consumption of snacks, soda and other assorted types of junk food. I also started a daily exercise regimen, modeled closely after the one I had watched my father religiously follow. Unlike most diets you hear about nowadays, this one was a smashing success! My awkward adolescent pounds melted off as I streamlined myself into a coveted position of acceptance and attention amongst my peers. Well, perhaps acceptance is too strong of a word. In reality, the kids at school had stopped harping on me for the way I wore my hair or how I dressed different, and instead turned their fleeting attention to my recent dieting success. Unfortunately for me, with this phenomenal weight loss quickly came a dramatic change in my mood and health status. Once a bubbly, out-going kid, I was now reduced to a hollow shell of my former self. I was cold, cranky, and listless- but I was skinny. My family, with whom I had a fairly close-knit relationship with prior to developing what was soon to be diagnosed as anorexia nervosa, caught on to what I was doing to myself before I could even realize. It took me a myriad of doctor’s visits, counseling sessions with concerned therapists and dieticians, frantic calls to my family from clinicians, and three hospitalizations for myself to begin to realize that I might have a problem.

Now I could go into the nitty-gritty details about how I spent the next few years spent in vain attempting to wriggle myself free from the vice grip that anorexia had on me, those lost years when I struggled, feeling utterly alone and profoundly depressed, from the ages of thirteen to eighteen, but that might be a bit boring. I remember either feeling one of  two feelings from the ages of 15 to 18: cold or depressed. Sometimes both, but seldom anything else.  Anorexia had left me with an extreme feeling of apathy. I was physically and emotionally vacant for many years, and that was okay with me. I realized that when I was in my disease, nobody could hurt me but myself. At the same time, however, I was silently destroying any and all relationships that may have existed before the onset of my eating disorder.

Throughout  my high-school years at Notre Dame, I was in and out of hospitals and treatment until finally something clicked. My eyes, clouded by the false visions of perfection and accomplishment that were placed there by my disorder, were finally pried open when I was sent to an inpatient facility at a private mental hospital in New Hampshire for a month. It was like taking a sudden, cannonball-like jump into the crisp, cool pool that was reality. At seventeen, I was able to see and hear the lies anorexia was telling me for so long and stopped listening to them. I spent a better part of the following two years in a state of recovery, where I was able to hold a job I loved, engage myself in hobbies, rekindle my passions for art and science, start college, and most importantly, function like a seemingly normal young adult, free of obsessive thoughts about food and my body.

As with all good things that come to you in life, this miraculous state of recovery was not apparent to me until I had fallen out of it, after another bout of feeling ostracized by my peers at college and my first sexual experience, which was abrupt, shameful, and traumatic.

At the age of eighteen I found myself clinging to the comforting neck of a bottle of booze (which was also somewhat also modeled after my father’s behavior) in a desperate attempt to block myself from the overpowering feelings of self-loathing and disgust imparted upon myself as a result of the sexual trauma. Along with the recent love affair with alcohol came a reemergence of my faithful friend, anorexia. At a time when I felt completely alone and unloved by the world, I welcomed, with open arms, the comforting numbness and false sense of security and predictability that anorexia offered me.

Years came and went as I spent most of my early 20’s either riding the technicolor highs of recreational drug use or wallowing at the bottom of a bottle of rum all while restricting my food intake more than ever. Meaningless relationships with men also came and went. My sense of self was deeply buried beneath the sheets of men I casually drank and slept with. I had no close friends and my family was pretty fed up with the behaviors and actions that I had taken on as a result of my destructive lifestyle. Anorexia and substance abuse had the phenomenal ability to place a interpenetrate barrier between myself and anyone else in the world. I was safe from the ridicule of my peers, heartbreak, and loss of any kind as long as I was wrapped in the bone-crushingly tight embrace of my destructive behaviors. I grew complacent with this way of life. I could get out of bed, shake of the hangover, suppress my dwindling appetite with cigarettes, drown out the constant rumblings of my stomach out with loud classic rock, and carry on with school and work fairly well. It wasn’t ideal, but it was comfortable. It was predictable. It was safe.

I thought I was The Master of deception with my drinking (which had taken on the literal definition of closet-alcoholism: the bedroom closet of the room I occupied in my parents’ house was stuffed with empties to the point where I couldn’t fit clothes in there any longer) and I thought that no one paid a mind to my abnormal eating behaviors. In my warped rum-crazed, food-starved mind, I was (pardon the horrible food pun) getting my cake and eating it too – I had an okay job, school, a place to stay, AND my precious addictions to soothe me when I felt the least bit upset. In fact, I felt unstoppable being able to reign in the powerful effects that my alcoholism and anorexia had on me, or so I thought. In reality, my hands were noticeably discolored and grossly swollen to the point were I couldn’t get jewelry off of them, I couldn’t go a month without contracting a new cold or sinus infection, and having a normal bowel movement would have made me the happiest damn person in the world. This is the glamorous lifestyle I led when I was deeply involved with my disease. Which is ironic, because didn’t I start dieting to become thin and beautiful? Or was it to be popular? Or maybe attention-getting? Whatever the reason was, I wasn’t getting there if I continued to follow this path of self-imposed punishment and destruction.

At some point, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized this. I looked and felt miserable. As they say in AA, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I avoided having to confront this reality for so long, because getting better would involve me breaking the cycle of these behaviors. And breaking the cycle would mean that I had to do work. Hard work. Who wants to do that? Some stubborn part of me that was desperately clinging onto a thread of hope for a life was willing to work for recovery.

And work I did.

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On Coming Back to Life

I’m experiencing this weird phenomenon now; I’m not sure many other people can relate. It all started after I recently ‘got sick’ with a cold for the first time in years. The fevers, the aches, the seemingly never-ending stream of mucous that was flowing from my face all made me feel more alive than I have felt in a long, long while. This very normal, very animistic experience brought me to the realization that for the first time in over two years, I am no longer inhabiting a dying body.

Instead of living in a constant state of physical stagnation, my hair now is growing, my skin is supple, and my immune system is responding to foreign invaders. This is bringing about feelings of confusion. Of bizarre grief over the loss of the dying body, and of sadness thinking that I existed in the state, unaware of the severity of my illness, for so long. A new self-consciousness has emerged. That others around me doubtless witnessed this overt deadness, while I flitted about, in complete disbelief of it. At the time, I was in no mental state to comprehend this. (Had I been, I probably would have sought out medical attention sooner, but that is another story all together)

Mushroom growing in the Chernobyl exclusion zone 30 years post-explosion.

 

I am coming back to life in a way I have never experienced before. The feeling is very surreal and deeply disturbing.

 

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The Realities of Recovery

Title: What is recovery? Author: Jenny Higgs Note: This post originally appeared on Dream The Impossible and has been cross-posted with permission. A while ago I posted a blog entry entitled “What is anorexia?”. I thought it was about time to write an article from the other side. So what is recovery? It certainly sounds nice, like […]

via What is recovery? — Beating Eating Disorders

“A Grown-up approach to treating Anorexia” (article)

Adults with anorexia often have distinctive traits that lock them into a destructive relationship with food. Carrie Arnold discovers how those same traits could help them escape it.

Heather Purdin had run out of options. Aged 33, she had been suffering from anorexia nervosa for more than two decades and her weight had plummeted to that of a small child, an all-time low for her. Her case worker, out of frustration and desperation, suggested hospice care as a way to spend her remaining days in relative comfort. But for the first time in years, Heather was sure of one thing: she desperately wanted to live.

 
This article first appeared on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence.

This gives me hope.

Transformation Photos

 

. . . Where are the transformation photos of you out with your friends at the bar?

of the transformation photos moving into your new apartment?

or the transformation photos of you with your degree?

Title: Transformation Photos

Author: Meg

where are the transformation photos that show a change in vitals? or the transformation photos that show an increase in your bone density? or the transforma…

Source: Transformation Photos

What it really is.

Beating Eating Disorders

Author: Anonymous
Title: What it really is.

Disclaimer: This blog post may be triggering to some readers.

Anorexia is not flaunted collarbones, and black and white thinspo on your computer screen. Anorexia is placing your entire worth as a person on a number dictated by a set of scales, and believing that others judge you by the same method. Anorexia is a voice in your head that constantly screams at you that you are too fat, too big, take up too much space; that you must shrink yourself in order to be acceptable. Anorexia is constantly comparing yourself to people, and always coming out worse. Anorexia is not happiness, or doing everything you planned to once you’d lost that little bit of weight. Anorexia is turning down invitations to restaurants and coffee shops and holidays and parties. It’s losing every friend you ever had as you isolate yourself from the…

View original post 817 more words

Sugar and Cereal; I like the taste of recovery

Excellent piece.

Beating Eating Disorders

Title: Sugar and Cereal; I like the taste of recovery
Author: Grace

Three teaspoons of sugar
a glass of orange juice and
a large bowl of cereal and not
one measuring cup or special
utensil used and the mirror is
only worth a short glance while
the warmth of the sunlight is
much more friendly.

Three teaspoons of sugar
a glass of orange juice and
a large bowl of cereal and
no one says anything but
lately the mirror has started
to become friendlier and the
reflection seems to be worth
more company.

Two teaspoons of sugar
a glass of orange juice and
a smaller bowl of cereal and
something is wrong when
there are ideas of how to
sneak pieces into napkins
or how to plan each meal.

One teaspoon of sugar
half a glass of orange juice
and a smaller bowl of cereal
and lately the mirror is

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Update: The Struggle.

I’m really starting to detest the overuse of the “Struggle” catchphrase. As in: So and So can’t access their wifi connection at Starbucks therefore, “The Struggle is real”. I’m sorry, folks, but if that is your idea of a struggle, then you are living one very charmed life that I am quite envious of.

But I’m not really sure about my current Struggles and the reality of them. My therapist, dietitian, and doctor (who is currently on medical leave–VERY poor timing) all want me to check into residential treatment for weight restoration. My weight is (apparently) the lowest it has ever been in my adult life.

Here is my Struggle: I don’t feel like I’m suffering any adverse affects as a result of my weight. I go to school, I go to work, I keep my finances in order, I have somewhat of a social life.

I suppose things could be better: I could have more energy, be less cold all of the time, and, oh yeah, eat a normal amount of food for an adult of my age and not feel guilty and loathsome about it. Maybe going out to restaurants once in a while would be nice, too. My sex drive back would be a plus, but who knows if that’s ever coming back.

But is it really worth all the physical and mental anguish to go through the weight gain process for the umpteenth time? I had ONE doctor’s appointment this past month where my weight was up and I flew off the handle. I self-injured, fantasized about dying, I was truly in the lowest of lows in my mind and I would prefer not to go through that again, thank you very much!

So I suppose my Struggle is real. In the back of my mind, whenever I get a chest pain or feel more tired than usual, the thought that I might be dying or having a heart attack is always there. Do I find comfort in those thoughts? I truly don’t think so. But I’m not scared enough to face the ultimate fear set before me: weight gain.

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When Food Was Feelings, pt. II

The following are journal entries from my first stay at Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, from April to June of 2010.

Looking back on these entries now, it is very clear to me now that I was putting myself through unnecessary pain and suffering by ruminating on these negative feelings I experienced during the treatment/re-feeding process. Fat  and sensations of fullness were the predominant ‘feelings’ I wrote about.  Food and the program were my enemies because they were ripping my one crowning achievement, impossible thinness, away from me. Or so I thought.

 

5/8/2010

Gaining weight is hard. I feel fat and uncomfortably slow.

My blood pressure wasn’t ‘good enough’ by CEDC standards to go on any sort of outing again.

This is frustrating; yet another reason my body is punishing me.

 

5/12/2010

Still feel fat and full. The idea of gaining weight is terrifying and makes me angry, sad, and fills me with self-loathing.

I don’t like myself. In fact, I’m probably the only person on this earth I hate the most. I’m comforted by the self-abuse . . . starvation, self-injury, over-working and running my ass into the ground.

These things keep me sane, they make me feel good. Sitting around on my ass here makes me feel like a lazy fucking pig.

 

In reality, I was already chock-full of self-loathing and other assorted negative self-talk, but those feeling were easily ‘numbed out’ by the incredible forces of anorexia, self-injury, and substance abuse. As I went through treatment and my self-injurious behaviors were ‘taken away from me’, the real feelings of self-hatred that I had harbored for so long violently resurfaced and was evidenced by my behavior at CEDC. I was prone to outbursts of anger and rage, sometimes destroying property and verbally abusing the staff there. My anger became the incredible, seemingly unstoppable force that began to dictate my life as I fought my way through a crude form of recovery for a few years.