Gained and Lost

Ever since I can remember, I admired the skinny girls.

The popular ones, the pretty ones, the skinny ones.

I was the jock. I wasn’t exactly “skinny”.

My eating disorder was there, just not as bad.

I hid behind my sweats, my jersey, my hoodies.

I’d get dizzy running bases in the infield. Socks tucked into my softball pants.

With each shot I blocked, my vision turned black as I committed to diving with my goalie gloves.

Voted “Most Unforgettable”. I still envied the popular skinnies.

I look at them now, the years of partying around their thighs and waist.

The years of starving becoming more obvious for me.

“You don’t look too sick yet, but you’re getting there.”

I wonder what happened to them and their body.

I wonder if they ask the same about me.

Did You Hear The One About The Enthusiast With Her Therapist & Nutritionist

I try to think of quirky titles, this one is kind of obnoxious, but it works.

Many things lately have changed. During my last doctor appointment she had decided I needed to get back into therapy and knew that if she didn’t make the appointment it wasn’t going to get done and I wasn’t going to go. So, I went on Fall Break, met some hot ass guys, saw a picture of myself where my legs looked like toothpicks, I was appalled and thrilled and the same time.

So, since I’ve quit seeing C, I had a new appointment last week with a new therapist, SS. That was stressful as hell. I had to leave class early, I told my professor so she didn’t think I was just leaving mid lecture. With each passing minute I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Watching my watch get closer and closer to me having to leave. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry, throw up, or pass out. My legs beneath me weak, my breathing shallow, and my hands shaking. I got up, collected my things and left class to begin the drive to the clinic. I arrived, and sat in my car for about ten minutes. Wondering if it was still possible to cancel my appointment.

As I sat there, filling out the new paperwork, I watched people, heard my own heartbeat over everything else. I felt like I was on high alert. Everyone who walked in, the chain attaching the pen to the clipboard sounded miraculously loud in the deafening silence. Finally I heard a door open that was out of sight and heard my name. My shaking hands collected my keys as my trembling legs collected me. I followed SS to her office as she gestured me to have a seat, and so began the perfunctory new patient routine. “So, who referred you?” “Dr. M” “Ok, why don’t you tell me why she referred you and why you think you’re here. They may be different.” “Umm, I’m not sure, I guess… Uh…*shrugs shoulders*.” “Ok, well where are you from?” “Around here.” “Oh, so you went to the high school?” “Yeah.” “How was high school for you?”  This went on for quite a while…. we talked about the sports I played, what I’m doing in college,  she asked about my parents, my home life growing up (which is ridiculously uncomfortable for me, I hate talking about my family).

Finally, “Alright, so, I’m still not quite understanding why Dr. M referred you here.”  “I guess I struggle with an eating disorder.” There it was, out on the table… “Well, you look healthy.”  I always take that as “You’re too fat to have an eating disorder…”  Oh well. The majority of my appointment was me shrugging and responding with “I don’t know.” or “I’m not sure.”

She seemed shocked that I didn’t have a boyfriend… Sweetheart, you already got my life story about my home life. You are not getting my screwed up track record with all the guys…. So, I shrugged and said, “Too self conscious, insecure, and not too many guys want to run 5 miles with me.”

“Running is your happy place huh? It’s like your prozac so you don’t have to take any right? But why do you run? Is it because you don’t think you deserve food? Do you really enjoy running? Or is it punishment?”

Well, that was a thrilling day.

The next day was Friday, I went out of town to go do a run. That was fun, besides my killer leg cramp that exploded mid run. My damn leg just doesn’t want to cooperate and quit locking up.

Today, I met with a nutritionist. I knew her from my chiropractor office, she knew me from our short little conversations. To everyone they always seem so shocked that I am not the peppy, happy girl everyone sees. We talked for quite a while, about how I have no self confidence, I wish I was XX lbs, I play these stupid games, throw up, etc, she understood. I mentioned not eating more that XXX calories, but knowing I have to run X miles, or throwing up daily, or going XX days without eating…. She kind of hit me with something I would hit my kids at work with, you give them an “option” so the individual feels like they have a say, but in reality they are playing into what you want.

Ex: “Susie, you either sit down and start your homework, or you can sit out from computer time.” They either do what they don’t want to do, but you want them to, or they don’t get what they want.

So, it went something like, “I think we should meet up again. I have a better idea of where to start with you and goals.”  “Oh hell. Sounds scary, ok… when, what, where?” “I was thinking we could go on a walk, not run, but just a walk tomorrow. This will involve food.” “Well, I’m not sure, I mean I don’t know.” “You pick the time and place tomorrow, because in all honesty I wasn’t sure if you were going to show up today. You either meet up with me tomorrow and we will walk, or you have to eat XXX calories and keep them down.”  Now I know she won’t be there to be the purging police, but out of respect I can at least show up tomorrow, especially if she understands and is willing to help.

So guess we will see….

Body Checking The Body Shaming of Self

It started out as a quick glance, we all do it. The peak passing a window, seeing your reflection at a mirror. Everybody knows logically, that when you starve, many aspects of your body are influenced and impacted. Vitals, weight, chemically and of course effects the brain. So what happens when your body goes into starvation mode, and when you look in the mirror all you see is a distorted image staring back? Even when someone weighs more than you, or the same, and yet you see yourself massive compared to them.

Occasionally though, I will have that momentary glimpse of truth that opens my eyes to the size of my body. Having somebody I love grab me and measure my thighs in front of me, a picture of my legs, looking frail, the collar bone joining with my shoulder. Once, before chemistry lab, I was standing in front of a glass cabinet, finishing my coffee, as I looked up I saw some frail legs, ankles together, knees knocking, and a large sweater engulfed the rest of the body. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. Having no concept of my personal size, portion sizes, or the correct way I perceive my body, This was a quick eye opening moment, that hit me, for all of a few seconds.

It has become obsessive and a daily, if not hourly thing, for not only me, but many of you as well. I have become so focused and obsessed with body checking. In the morning when I wake up, after going to the bathroom, after I get dressed, after I eat. I check my legs in the reflection on the glass doors as I walk across campus.

Snap

It isn’t only me that I am checking out though. I am checking out other girls as well. The questions and observations are haunting, “Do their legs tough when they walk?” “Are their ribs visible?” “Look at their long arms.” “I bet they don’t eat THAT.” I don’t only body check myself, but the others, and it starts a vicious cycle. I am well aware that it isn’t the mirror itself, but how I perceive myself. I know logically, that my body has not dropped x lbs in the past few hours due to what I eat or not eat. Still though, part of me believes that it will impact my stomach or midsection, and what I consume will stick directly to those fat cells encompassing my body.

Comparison and body checking has ruined me. It is a destructive thought pattern and mindset that is constantly flooding not only my thoughts, but my emotions and impacts my actions as well. The panic mode I go into when I see and add the calories of what I consume just sends my anxiety through the roof. I was so intrigued to find this article though, that brake down the chemicals (Tryptophan and Serotonin) of the brain in response to starvation as well as eating.

Capture

Being a biology major this was so fascinating to me to realize that with the receptors being added (to achieve the same effect of somebody who drinks a lot of caffeine) when there is a flood of the chemical it is way too much for the body to handle. So the chemical and physical effect from eating and the heightened anxiety is true.

Either way, the body checking needs to stop. Whether the mirror needs to be covered, or I need to change my mindset and stop comparing myself. Something needs to be done for the body checking. It is body shaming of self to the extreme, which will have nothing but negative outcomes in the long run. The way that we perceive ourselves vs. How other people see us, is shockingly different. While I still am trying to come to accept this, it is a fact. We, especially those that struggle with an eating disorder, are much harder critics on ourselves. Stop being a bully to yourself.

Benefits of Starving and Why You Don’t Have a “Chemical Imbalance”. TETYANA ⋅ JUNE 12, 2012 http://www.scienceofeds.org/2012/06/12/anorexic-brain-neurocircuits-behaviour/

Body checking. Eating Disorders Glossary. http://glossary.feast-ed.org/2-eating-disorders-symptoms-and-behaviors/body-checking

Would I be her in 30 some odd years?

Fall Break, a week of beaches, drinks, meals, bathing suits, comparing, body checking, purging, and of course, working out.

I had already worked out, the haunting thought of working out and purging consumed me. At aound 10:30 at night the only thing I could think of were the amount of calories in that rum I had taken in. I put my shoes on, grabbed my iPod, and headed down the 13 floors down to the gym.

The gym was empty, every machine was free for my choosing, the tv off, the room silent…. with one exception. There, on the front treadmill, was a lady, probably mid to late 50s, working out. “What compels somebody to workout at 10:30 at night?” I wondered to myself while stepping onto the treadmill.

During my run I was so fixated on myself, whoever decided that the entire wall in front of the treadmills should be mirrors should be punched square in the jaw. I watched as my thighs jiggled and touched, watched as my chubby cheeks bounced with every step, saw my gut splosh back and forth with my strides. My entire run was a just a body check from hell; admiring my protruding collarbone, watching my arms, like sticks, swing along my side. Even watching my jiggling thighs I was disgusted, but yet impressed and prideful at the fact my hands were able to fit around them so easily. Sickened by my flabbing stomach, but excited that my ribs were protruding more than the flab.

Being so far gone into my own deep thoughts and body checking mentality I had forgotten about the lady who, at this point, had moved to the stationary bike. With my middle finger and ring finger clasped to my collarbone I continued to run. My collarbone clearly visible and exposed through my large t-shirt, my sports bra laid across the bone, not touching the surrounding skin. I was more aware now though, that during my run and body checking mode, this lady was watching, quietly from a far. This whole time she had been watching the pinching, scrutinizing, judging, and self hatred that had been unfolding on the treadmill.

Checking my watch, it was past eleven by now, the lady was still hard in her work out. My thought went back to the, “I wonder what motivates her to be in the gym at 11 at night working out.” Then, I began to wonder. Was her workout motivated by self hatred too? Did she struggle with an eating disorder? Would I be her in 30 some odd years?- Not able to enjoy my own vacation because of the extreme dissatisfaction I have towards myself.

Heart-to-Heart Coming Inside the Bubble

It is very difficult to watch other people care so much and be so concerned when I am so extremely apathetic. “Why?” she asked, coffee in hand, walking a trail that led around the park. “I don’t know. I wish I cared, I wish I gave a damn. It is so frustrating to see others be concerned, but yet just not care. You can only care about me for so long until you say, ‘Well, screw it, you don’t even care’.”

We stopped at the park for a bit, every now and then I would pipe up with a sarcastic comment to try and lighten the tone of such a dreary topic. “Well if I were in your shoes,” she began, “…your feet would be a lot warmer right now.” I interjected. “This time last year you were eating Clif bars, eggs, bananas.” I reflected on the truth behind what she was saying.

Throughout our walk/talk/coffee sipping, my walls slowly began to come down. Starting off with snarky comments: “You keep deflecting my question.” “Well, what is it? Just go for the throat, my doctor already told me my complexion looks so shitty from the anorexia and starving myself, so it can’t be more brutal than that.”

To the more truthful: “I just hate myself. I hate my body. I don’t think I am sick enough. I’m not in the hospital, passing out, etc.”

When finally the walls came down: “I wish I saw myself how others do, I just see fat. Thighs, a gut, muffin tops. I hate my body. I like being able to see ribs, collar bones, it excites me.”

She sat there and listened. Trying to talk me into eating. She began to cry, “I don’t want to go to your funeral. I love you and care about you.”  “My heart and everything is fine, it’s not going to happen.” “And that is the attitude that is going to kill you.”

I began to pace a little as we talked, she tried more to not cry, I attempted to deflect some more. We even briefly hit on the lax I have been taking, she pleaded for me to stop taking those.  I was on a bench walking around and around a table, circling the table to avoid eye contact. She talked about trying to eat and keep one thing down a day. I opened up a little more about my dysmorphia, “I just don’t see it! I look in the mirror and hate it.” “Sweetie! You are a twig! You are tiny!”

During one of my laps around the table I stopped and looked at her. She reached toward me, I backed away and was ready to start lap number 2,864 (bit of an exaggeration) around the table on the bench. “Come back here.” “No, you are gonna get in my damn bubble.” “Yeah, I am, deal with it, I’m barely going to touch you.” I took a step forward. With her hands she grabbed my right thigh, her thumbs and middle fingers met together with ease. I flinched. She let go of my leg and returned her fingers to where they had just been, only without my leg in the middle. Showing me the circumference that was made, waiting for some reaction. “You moved your fingers.” “Honey, no I didn’t. We will remeasure if you want.” “No.”

We continued talking about covering my mirror, she asked if I had any clothes that still fit, told me about the people at work who had made comments about how much weight I had lost. After lap 3,071 I had a seat on the table I had been pacing and circling like a shark waiting for its prey. She had a seat next to me and grabbed my leg again, this time my calf. I pulled away again. She talked about tactics like going on a drive, going on a walk, something to do after I eat to try and not fixate on what I had done. She motioned to my large sweatshirt I had on and gestured to my mid section and hips, “You try and cover all of this, but there is nothing there.” I looked at her and pinched my side where my muffin tops were cozily nestled on top of my leggings. She too grabbed it, “This?! This is skin! There is nothing there. You work out so much that you need to give yourself a break, because whatever you eat, you are going to burn right off.”

The Nurse and I Have a Rapport

I went to the doctor today. Not the one from the other day, my general doctor.

She was the one who scheduled me for surgery, had me referred to a cardiologist, and ordered a plethora of blood work.

Today my best friend came with me. I originally had an appointment set up next month, with fall break coming up and us going to Florida, the bestie was concerned for me. I called yesterday and told them that I have an appointment in November, but if anything happened Dr. M wanted me to come in. My leg cramps have just gotten more frequent and pretty bad, the receptionist asked what was up, to which I responded, “I’m having some pretty intense leg cramps.”

So anyway, today I went to the doctor. It was the same doctor, same nurse as months ago.

“We’re gonna stop right here at the scale.”

“No, please.”

She stopped, looked at me and said, “You?”

I looked at her, her hand touching my forearm, “Me.”

“It’s part of your diagnosis, so Dr. M is going to want you to be weighed.”

I handed my stuff to the best friend, and stepped backwards. The nurse glued to the number, her eyes glued to the floor. You would think by now though the nurse would know better, she sets the damn pad of paper with my vitals and weight down right next to me. Next came the blood pressure and routine “Have your medications changed? Why are you here? Okay, Dr. M will be in shortly.”

I flipped through the magazine, bitching under my breath about my weight, my legs. Nichole would pipe in with a “You dont want to be XX pounds, plus you lift weights.” “But my body is so goddamn resilient, I am fine, even if I do get blood work it is all going to come back normal.”

Dr. M came in, looked at Nichole, than me. She asked the question that we all already knew the answer to, “So, anything new since last time you were here?” Well, I got a magical unicorn… Became a lion tamer.. What the fuck were my options? “I’ve been having pretty bad leg cramps.”

“That could be a number of things. How is the throwing up?” (My doctor is very blunt, so with Nichole in the room, I hinted that she could just go for it.)

“Well, I’m not sure which one is my favorite. The involuntary throwing up of the stomach bile, or my legs locking up.”

“Neither of those are good. We talked about you going back to counseling for your anorexia, have you gone?”

Nicole was sitting there watching this.

“Yeah, for a bit. She left, and I haven’t been back.”

“How often are you throwing up?”

“Induced or not?”

“Both.”

“Depends on if I attempted to eat, how far I ran… could be 0 to 4 times a day.”

“How far are you running?”

“About 7 miles.”

“Do you want me to set you up with someone from the clinic to help? I can’t push you into treatment, or hold your hand but I really think you need to go. You are getting into a bad place. Your esophagus is going to rip, your electrolytes are going to cause a heart issue. People die from anorexia.”

“I guess. I probably wouldn’t go otherwise.I am sitting at a fine XXX lbs though, I am fine, my blood work is going to be good.”

“That’s what I was thinking. I don’t say all of this to be mean, I am worried. Plenty of people get into electrolyte issues. Plenty of people have a stable weight, then die with anorexia. I am not a specialist, but I am pretty sure that you are getting into a bad place. Back to the questions, are you feverish or chilly?”

“I am freezing right now.”

“Are you suffering with diarrhea or constipation?”

Nichole is looking at me, this had been the cue she was waiting for. If I didn’t tell the doctor she sure was planning on it, “Yeah, huh?…”

Dr. M looks at her, she knows there is something. “What?”

“Well, besides the laxatives, I guess not.”

“Oh geez, you’re taking those too now? I’m going to put in for kidney function, blood sugar, electrolyte work. Vitamin D is a major concern, I also want magnesium check.”

“I was low in vitamin D last time.”

“Are you taking any supplements for that?”

“Oh, no.”

Guys, I can guarantee right now that my blood work is going to come back completely normal, my body is so resilient and stubborn. If one more goddamn person brings up Karen Carpenter to me, I am going to flip my shit.

The Weight of Being Weighed

You probably won’t believe it. What happened today. As if the haunting thought of being weighed isn’t scary enough, being almost carried to the scale just about did me in.

As I sit here, I am in so much pain from eating.

A whopping half of a tomato and part of a cucumber sit with some feta cheese, and the three of them are planning on how to kill my innards.

So, today. Let me just say, I live in a very small town. It is probably frowned upon to call someone with the title “Dr.” in front of their name an asshole, but it happened, and I will probably continue to do it.  Back to the part where I live in a small town. I have known him since I was quite little, he is a family friend. So anyway, today the nutritionist came in. We were talking, she took some vitals and said, “Ok, we need to update your chart. I have to fill in the weight section.” “Um, hell no you’re not going to get me on the scale.” “But I have to put some number in.” “Tough, then put some random number in. Dr. Guy, she is not getting my ass on the scale.”

Dr. Guy: “You are getting tinier and tinier every time I see you.”

—–It continued on like this for about ten minutes. ——

“I’m going to put xxx, even though I know you’re under that.”

“I seriously doubt it.”

“Then let me weigh you.”

“No!”

At this point, the nutritionist comes over and attempts to pick me up. I shit you not guys! I was enjoying my coffee, she wanted an estimate, and she came over to where I was sitting. I latch my leg under the table, and with the hand that isn’t holding onto my coffee, I cling to the table for dear life.

What the hell is wrong with people. I do not want to be weighed, you are not getting my ass on there. I seriously doubt I am under xxx. This was such a pain in the ass. It should not be such a huge ordeal to weigh me, but it is. I don’t want to know because I will just feel like a fat lard.

I texted my best friend about this because it was a very triggering morning, “Yeah xxx is probably an over estimate, I’d say more like xxx-10..tops.”

“You aren’t helping. Thanks a heap.”