Eating Disorders Impact Loved Ones, Not Just the Individual

I’ve been told, more times than I can count, that I need to “get mad at ED.”

The crazy thing is, I just can’t get mad at his impact on my life. It helped me cope, for years! Gave me something to cling to.

Would I go back in time and change it all? No, I’ve learned a lot.

Would I voluntarily go through it all again? Not Likely At All.

I am annoyed though. For the hell and havoc it put the people close to me through.

Unable to go out to eat with my best friend. Her standing outside the bathroom door while I puke on the cruise. Her concern for me and watching me day in and day out run and abuse her best friend. Watching me pick at the salad during our family dinners, or the look on her face when I make eye contact after I come out of the bathroom, ashamed of what I had just done. On our beach trips, when I would still get up and force myself to run, or would leave the hotel room at ten at night to go to the gym in an attempt to burn off what I had consumed.

To my brother, who no longer went on sushi dates with his sister because I was no longer able to keep it down. Fear of rice, cream cheese and by this point, foods in general. I never meant for this to get to you. You would ask me when we would go out, I would make up any excuse in the book. Please know, I was never avoiding you, I was avoiding food.

My dear sister, I hope you learn from my mistakes. Our 5k races were the highlight of our weekends. Do not run and work out because you “have to”, I want you to love and enjoy it. I hope and pray I never pushed you too hard or too far.

Mom, we had our ups and downs, many downs. You didn’t want me to go to treatment, I know this, you made it clear. ED became more important than you, or even life. I skipped Thanksgiving this year, and it meant a lot that you were understanding of it. Knowing I was in a good place, but didn’t want to put myself in that situation.

YOU, on the other hand, I’m not sure if I can ever forgive you. As long as I can remember you were my life, I was your princess. Grandma, you supported me when, at the age of 5, I wanted to be a vet. You believed in me at 13 when I wanted to become a lawyer. Thrilled, when I decided at 19 to pursue dentistry.

Then, practically disowned me at the age of 21, when I went into treatment. That was when I needed your love and support the most. We still haven’t talked and I’m not sure if our relationship will ever be the same. I think you hated ED more than I ever could. You were angry with my eating disorder and took it out on me.

To my professors, I never meant to worry you. Commenting on how I’m getting smaller, passing me on campus while I’m running, even though you just left the class of yours that I skipped- again. Some of you went so far to physically drive me to a restaurant for lunch just so you could watch me eat and help. I picked at the veggies. There was the time you offered me your lunch, “as long as you’ll actually eat it.” I declined your offer. Your support to keep me on track while doing school while in treatment. The shock some of you had when you realized I hadn’t dropped my classes, and was still scheduled to graduate on time. Yet, you guys believed in me and sing my praises to current students.

T, the times I was doing well, and the times that kicked my ass, you were there. You are so supportive, encouraging, and my biggest advocate. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not call you just crying, so unsure of myself and decisions. I fear you will think I’m too wishy-washy for recovery. ED has dug his claws into our relationship too many times. I visualize you doing the dance and cheers when things are good, and a disappointed lowering shake of the head when it’s bad. It is scary to question you own (well, seemingly own) thoughts and doubt your own capabilities.

You’ve seen the scars, the tears, the successes. We’ve gone on walks, gone to breakfast, lunch, given me reading material. ED still wants to fuck with you and I’m sorry.

There comes a time where you have to want recovery for yourself and your life- I’m there. I want a happy, fulfilling life, without an eating disorder. I’m scared to be given up on, lose faith in me. One day you will wake up and no longer care. ED will pipe up and blame my weight for the reason you left.

I can’t even write down the words, “I’m sorry” doesn’t cover it, and guilt doesn’t fully describe it.

When I take a step back, it hurts me to see how much ED has impacted you all.

That is what bothers me the most.

I was unable to hide it and protect you all from the ugly wrath of ED.

Left only to my imagination of the exhausting feelings you are left with after an encounter with my eating disorder and I. Being annoyed and hurt by my blatant snarky sass. Wanting to help while simultaneously wanting to throw your hands in the air in defeat. The uncertain feeling of helplessness. Wanting to help, to make it better, wishing it to go away for me. Yet, unable to do so. Knowing that through it all, it is left to me and my decision.

When your support and influence impact my next decision, I hope you feel a glimmer of hope, knowing I’m still under there.

 

Terrible Twenty-Twos

 

Overall, life is going great.

I can throw on the fake smile and explain to you how crazy it feels to have a career starting.

A career as a Biochemist.

Honestly, How fucking cool is that?

I can sit here and tell you about this guy. Not just the first date we went on, but two, within three days. How he makes me laugh, his gorgeous eyes and teeth.

I’ll go ahead and tell you how I love my apartment.

Candles,

Decorating,

Cleaning.

I’d even go so far as to take a picture of my fridge and all of the fresh produce in it and post it on social media, with the caption, “Not gonna lie, my fridge makes me happy.”

I can also sit here and tell you I ate under 800 calories today.

That the thought of buying laxatives and diet pills flooded my brain, more than once.

Feeling constantly torn and pulled in two completely opposite directions.

Thinking about higher calorie foods I need to                                                                                                       get, so I can get the calories in.

Then making a bet with myself                                                                                                                           I can go the rest of the week without eating.

It has gotten to the point where I just don’t want to talk about it.

It annoys me,

it annoys K,

it annoys T.

I am waiting for them to say the “Just fucking eat.”                                                                                                                 Cure all remedy.

Not to be mean, but just because they are out of things to say.

This is how I imagine a two year old would have a fit.

In this case, it is a recipe, of pure denial, mixed with shame, sprinkled with a dash of apathy.

But hey, I can act like a two year old, ignore it, get upset when it gets brought up.

Then, act like a twenty two year old and completely immerse myself into my work to avoid anything else.

It Is Okay To Be Triggered; Or Are You Jealous?

A close friend and I went out to eat for my birthday about a month ago. I had only been out of treatment for a week. As we prepared to order I was looking over the menu for something condensed, but yet, that hit all of my exchanges. I decided on a quinoa, kale, craisin, almond, salad with grilled chicken.

She got up there, decided to get half of a turkey club. No bacon. No mayo. No cheese.  I struggled through my lunch, desperately wanting to not eat, to only eat toast and turkey. I was so annoyed that someone that knew me so well would do this at lunch. I took it very personally, was irritated, and pretty triggered. She was part of the reason I went to treatment, telling me she was proud of my choice to go, to take care of myself, etc. Yet, here she was eating bread and turkey… half a starch, and maybe one protein.

I wanted nothing to do with my lunch anymore, I wanted to say something. Blow up. Let her know how ridiculous that was that she is barely eating anything and yet here I am having to eat all of this.

I didn’t say anything. I ate half of my lunch, (which was the norm when we would go out to eat in treatment) boxed up the rest, and tried to not let anything get to me. It was my birthday lunch, this was my recovery. I was still annoyed by what she had done, but I tried to talk myself out of being triggered and pissed. I wanted to throw up lunch.

Being rational though, I told myself that this was my recovery. I had to do what worked for me.

Later, I told a friend about what had happened. I explained it was no fair that I had to eat all of my exchanges and eat so much when she was barely eating, and she knew I had been in treatment. I told her that was so triggering to me, and I thought it was so ridiculously ignorant of what she did.

Without judgement she pressed the issue a little further. “So, it was triggering because of what she was eating?”  Yeah! I wish she would have eaten like as much as me, not barely anything, because I didn’t want to eat anything.

“Sweetie, you weren’t just triggered…. you were jealous.”

Those words were enough to make me defensive and pretty pissed. Until I realized she was right. I was jealous. I was jealous she didn’t have to eat as much as I am expected to.

When people would talk about running and sports, I wasn’t “triggered”, I was jealous as hell that they could do something I couldn’t and they hadn’t abused working out like I had.

Talking to my mom I consider that very “triggering”. She has a way of making me envy people who have healthy mother daughter relationships. She makes me jealous of the people who can rely on their family and jealous of the children who can talk to their moms.

In my opinion, it is ok to be “triggered”, but acknowledge it for what it is. Is it jealously? Are you really “triggered” or is it stemming from something else?

It is okay to be triggered, just like me at lunch, but it is how you react to it.

I could have chosen to have a hissy fit, not had lunch, restricted or purged. That wouldn’t have been proactive or healthy at all, and would have only hurt me and my recovery.

It is perfectly okay to be annoyed, upset, triggered, jealous. The key is how you react to those situations and circumstances, that makes you rise and continue on towards recovery.

Trust the process.

XOXOXO