Somewhere in between graduating college in Biology and attempting to have a life. This is my story of my running, working, relationships, school, friends and support. My ups, downs, complete failures, and undenying truths along the way. Oh, did I mention I am recovering from an eating disorder in the midst of it all? Welcome to life in recovery…. it gets a little bumpy.
I am guilty, guilty of mentally falling into the cliché stereotyped expectations of eating disorder sufferers. Convinced I was healthy, I would never allow myself to utter the words “eating disorder”. Instead would defend my actions as “picky”, “already ate”, “healthy” or, “I’m just weird about food.”
Visualizing the emaciated, stick figure, thigh-gap possessing, rib showing, cheek bone protruding individuals as the ones with eating disorders. These are the girls I longed to become. Somehow my value and self-esteem would increase with the more visible ribs and thigh gap. On days when I felt like a failure I allowed my self-hatred and ED behaviors be fueled by “thinspiration” posts. Sure that by restricting and running I could accomplish slowly shrinking.
In my mind, not being tiny and itty bitty was viewed as a failure, not a relief. I consistently lived feeling as though I was a screw up and could do nothing right- this was no different. “You can’t do anything right,” it would scream, “you can’t even have an eating disorder the right way.” This just fed my self-hatred and loathing.
Living life 100 mph I never allowed myself to slow down or stop for long. Being deep in my eating disorder was just a strict version of what I considered a life. I refused to consume more than 300 calories a day. I popped laxatives and diet pills like tic tacs; because of this I would shake and tremble, sometimes having to stop midway up the stair case before continuing to class. My bag got progressively heavier, my legs weak and intestines gurgling.
The laxatives served two purposes; one was to rid my system of whatever was in it, the second was a deterrent to keep me from eating. With nothing in my system there was nothing to flush, but with one bite could keep me running to the bathroom during class.
During this time I also had two gym memberships, giving me access to three gyms actually (well four, if you count the one at work). I started running in temperatures ranging as low as 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Going to the rec in the morning, then using the gym on campus between classes, running after class but just before work. This was life, it was consumed by when I could get my next run in. I felt like a junkie, waiting for my next fix.
The foods I allowed myself to consume was slim to none. On a good day I would grab an apple and cup of black coffee. After my run it would be time for a refill on coffee to help the shakes subside. My jello legs would then find their way to class where I continued on my coffee to keep me warm and focused.
I would skip sleeping to run, sometimes on the treadmill until 11 pm, to be up to run at 5 am, I would skip class to run, skip study sessions, and would rather spend time at the gym than studying.
If I felt truly hungry when I got home I allowed myself one egg white, tomato and spinach, and would smother it with sriracha, maybe even an onion if I was feeling generous.
Still, I deemed myself “healthy”. I was able to run, I still went to class, I wasn’t XX lbs. I knew my actions weren’t healthy, but still considered myself to be in great health. I also knew I was unable to stop my actions and behaviors by myself.
I had my gallbladder taken out because of issues with stomach acid, ripped my entire IT band, fell at work from not eating and had a hairline fracture of my sacrum and coccyx, and hadn’t seen my period in who know how long. Yet the only thing that matters to me was that my weight never plummeted, so therefore I was never sick.
My ED wasn’t serious. I wasn’t hospitalized, never passed out and got hurt, wasn’t itty bitty or fragile. I didn’t need treatment, I wasn’t “sick”, just struggling. Treatment wasn’t necessary, I was fine, I didn’t DESERVEtreatment, or recovery.
Recovery was for those who had hit rock bottom, were nothing but a hollow shell of a person and a skeleton, were on a feeding tube and weren’t able to walk, let alone run. Recovery was for those much worse than me. I didn’t want or need help or sympathy, I had it under control. My body was involuntarily throwing up food, but that was because of my own actions and decisions, why should anyone care?
I was never super sick, never deathly ill or fragile. My recovery mindset is based on my views of my eating disorder. My ED was never THAT bad, therefore, recovery is more important to those super sick. I’m undeserving of recovery because there are others out there who are more sick and need it more than me. I never took my ED seriously, thinking I am invincible, unworthy and undeserving. It seemed more like a security blanket than a life of slavery.
Apparently how worthy and deserving of recovery I am is based solely on my weight and nothing else….?
I do hope that at some point I will be able to look back and call bullshit on my “healthy” ED lies and reconsider my undeserving mindset. I don’t want to look back and tell people I was fine, healthy. I want to own it for whatever it may be, disordered or not. Sometimes, when I am daydreaming, I picture a recovered self, telling my story. What would I say? “I wasn’t sick or bad or anything though….”