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.

 

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My Best Friend is more important than Ed

Words can’t express it. Pictures don’t show it. Stories and memories barely begin to cover it.

My best friend and I have been friends for over 13 years. Meeting around fourth grade and now currently being college graduates. We were never that stereotypical prepubescent whiny, petty, girl drama indulging type. It was the two of us, that was all that mattered. While other girls were getting in trouble for popping others’ bra straps and all the girls had to stay after class; the two of us were excused to go back to gym. We have never “broken up” or gotten into a blow out fight, and I mean never, I feel like that is impossible.

Yeah, we get annoyed sometimes, but give us fifteen minutes and we will be laughing. I have been part of her family for as long as I can remember, and as the years of friendship increased, so did my status as family. We’ve sneezed on each other, slept in the same bed, cried together, become increasingly intoxicated together, and get incredibly pissed off/enraged and defensive when the other is hurt.

Over our friendship we went to space camp in Alabama together, played sports together, I moved to a different school where our softball teams became rivals (she was a pitcher, pegged me in the leg when I went up to bat- glorious moment), we talked on the phone nearly everyday since we were still too young to have a cell phone and her mom would drop her off at my house. She was there for me, and I was there for her, when we could drive we would spend the weekends together and meet up. Then, when my home life began to go even more downhill her parents gave me a room. I moved in with my best friend. We all went on family vacations together to Florida a few times, then on a cruise. I spent many holidays with them and she was there when I met my biological father for the first time.

At this point, we worked together, went to school together, and lived together.

You know how they say don’t work/live with your best friend if you want to keep the friendship?

Well, as you have probably realized, we aren’t your average friends. We just became even closer. Without even having to exchange any words or utterances we knew what the other was thinking. With just a look, we knew. To the outsider, some of our conversations were so vague they were unfollowable.

“Oh, you mean at that thing where we saw her?”

“Yeah, but not that time, the time before that.”

“Wait, when I drove or you?

“You drove, but you let me drive to that other place afterwards.”

Instantaneously we both knew the situation, time, place, person. Our thoughts and half sentences didn’t have to make sense to anyone else because we understood.

She supported me going into residential treatment when my eating disorder was getting the best of me and there seemed to be no other option. She drove me there, helped me with my room, and came to visit more often than my own mother.

After college graduation she moved about 9 hours away. It has been difficult, but we still talk, or text, everyday. We still have our verbal banter back and forth when our life is rough. After about 4 months of not seeing each other we had had enough. Our half way mark was West Virginia. We decided on a random town, a random date, and were setting this in stone so that we could see each other.

Weeks leading up to the trip I was thrilled, life was going well. Work was uneventful, I didn’t seem to be going from 0 to 10, emotion wise, at the drop of a hat, neurofeedback was going well, I was killing my meal plan and recovery was looking bright.

While with her, we had an amazing time. We met up, hiked and walked around, decided to have pizza and beer for dinner (this in itself was absolutely terrifying, I knew that my best friend would support me, never judge, and would cheer me on) we split a pizza, did more hiking, were there for some gulley fest, went to a wine festival. It was an amazing time, and we had missed each other so badly. Without even skipping a beat our half uttered, half put together thoughts and sentences were right back in normal conversations. We had never realized how sporadic and even jumbled our thoughts were sometimes because we had become so accustomed to having the other one around all the time.

When our trip came to an end I tried so hard not to cry, and succeeded in avoiding this emotion. Eating became so difficult, and I was conflicted and torn. I had an amazing time, but I wouldn’t see my best friend again until Christmas, this thought was unbearable. I got home finally after the drive and laid down on my bed, unable to talk myself into eating. The next morning I got up and went to work as usual, didn’t pack any food, had no intention of eating. Ed was royally kicking my ass. Telling me everything from “You need to restrict since you ate that shit over the weekend.” To “You do realize that T (therapist and most amazing women ever) doesn’t even like you. It is just her job to care. It’s more like babysitting than anything else.”

T found out I wasn’t eating and checked in on me. I tried to ignore the messages but that wasn’t happening. Wednesday I went to neurofeedback with a lot of push from T, because Ed sure as hell didn’t want me to do anything that could even possibly help or lead to me getting better. So, after coaxing, and some tough love from T, I showed up. I went to OP Thursday and struggled as well, but I am trying to get back on track with not only eating, but also “emotional regulation”

whatever that is…. 😉

“We don’t have anything here to fit you.”

“Are you shopping for you or someone else?”
Uhm, us, well, me.
“Oh, well, we aren’t going to have anything in here to fit you…..”
My eyes darted from her body to mine, and back to hers. “What was I missing?” I thought to myself. I thought her and I were about the same size. I don’t understand. No, this isn’t some Abercrombie and Fitch fat shaming. 
“….our store starts at a size 12.”

————-

Shopping sucks, I haven’t eaten in about a week. Even with this ED I recently fell into a great article about thin privilege.Unfortunately, it is so true. I don’t get judged for eating something, hell, at this point people praise me and cry when I eat. I get attention at stores. If I want pants or a shirt it is almost always in stock, and I have the ability to get it for fairly cheap. The only one who judges my body seems to be me. Yeah, I’ve heard it all from “fat ass” to “chicken legs”. I have never been called petite or tiny until this year. I have lost quite a bit of weight.  I don’t have any pants that fit, no bras besides sports bras.
I am jealous.
Jealous of the girls who wear whatever they want.
Jealous of the girls who see food as food and not as numbers.
Jealous of the girls who are bigger than me, but radiate, just absolutely RADIATE self confidence.
I want that. I want confidence. To not wake up in the morning and hate myself.
To wear something other than yoga pants, running shorts and sweats and not hate my body.
 
 
C, called me today to see if I had pursued anyone/anything/any place else for treatment or made an appointment. I didn’t have much to say. I slept all of maybe four hours last night. I ate for the first time in six days yesterday. My best friend kinda forced me to, then told me, “If you have to go to the bathroom it’s ok.”  Wait, did my best friend just give me permission to throw up? Should I be pissed or thrilled? Excited or appalled? ….going off on a tangent, oops…. So, I ate a little, threw up what I could, but woke up in the middle of the night with muscle spasms and my stomach being pissed as hell that I had eaten. I was curled up in pain, regretting eating at all. Fucking food. So, anyway, C, called. I told her I hadn’t much thought about it, the ED specialist was only there one day a week and because of work and school that is literally the one day I can’t go. She threw out a couple of options. I mentioned possibly going to something on campus, she threw out the idea of coming to her office. Either way she was really pushing the fact that I need to go somewhere or do something. My best friend was standing right there while I was on the phone. Didn’t bother me one bit. She sat there silently as C went on about scheduling an appt, dr appt, something. I told her that my best friend was really pushing residential during December, “That would be great, if we can keep you healthy that long.” gee thanks…. 
On the plus side, I actually bought pants yesterday. Bought my plane ticket for Thanksgiving! I am so tired. Hate headaches. My legs are still cramping. Dysmorphia and ED are both bitches. 

—————-

Employee at another store:
“Can I help you find something? Oh girl, try this. These would look great. What size pants are you?”
“I have no clue.” 
“Well, it’s gonna be itty bitty whatever it is.”

Emotional Non-Eater

Well, yesterday was a mental clusterfuck. I am a girl, there are certain things I should be emotional about, cute movies, kittens, puppies, babies… Not bread. I should not cry over fucking bread….. 

I realized that last year I at least had the energy to keep up with my kids at work (well, students, but they are my kids). I barely have the energy for that. I sat down, about ten sets of eyeballs all staring at me as I opened up “The BFG” and began reading to them. My voice horse and crackely from all of the purging, I finally had to give up and quit reading because the strain was too much. 

All I wanted was to go home and have a piece of Ezekiel bread. I hadn’t eaten, that was the one thing I craved for and wanted. After running in between classes and going to work I was so worn out. My legs still achy from the leg cramps and I was getting a headache.

I walked in the door and the smell of food was nauseating. All I wanted was a damn piece of bread. I went into the kitchen, opened the fridge and began moving stuff.

“It has to be here. I know I had at least three pieces left.”

My hands fumbled through the fridge a little quicker moving anything and everything in my way.

“Shit, where is it?!”

I was looking everywhere, hell I even looked on the fridge door. It wasn’t there.

I finally gave up, slamming drawers, slamming the fridge door. Cussing and being pissed off, both to myself and out loud for the whole damn house to hear.

Who the fuck ate my fucking Ezekiel bread?!?! It isn’t even tasty! Maybe if I was hoarding Oreos, then yeah, it would be understandable. I went in my room, still cursing and slammed my door shut. I texted my best friend from my room,

“I have one thing that I actually fucking eat, and someone either eats it or throws it away. What the Ever-Loving Fuck?!?!”

It just went down hill from there, I began to cry because, well, fuck it. Maybe it was a sign I didn’t need to eat. I tried to vent to my potential boyfriend. He responded with, “Well, I wish you would eat more, but that is another story.”

“Don’t you fucking dare lecture me about my eating!!”

I messaged my mom, saying pretty much the same thing, “I hate when I have one fucking thing I eat, and it gets thrown away or eaten.”

She responded, “I understand, I don’t even like it when people look at my food.”

“Exactly!!! Don’t comment on my food, don’t look at my food, and God help you if you touch my food!”

 

 

My Dear Legs,

My Dear Legs,

I have put you through so much; miles upon miles, stairs, squats, presses. I have abused and neglected you. Not feeding you the proper nutrients you need to keep the miles rolling. My legs, you have carried me to and from work, the gym, school, and so on. Thank you, for keeping me going as long as you have. I know we have had some rough times, being on crutches, the leg cramps, the injections, etc, but so far you have never given up completely on me and I appreciate that. 

At any moment I believe my legs are just going to give out on me. They are just going to collapse and cave in under me for good. 

Do you know the feeling  of squatting your body weight with the bench press bar and barely being able to put that bar up securely before your legs give out?

Do you know what its like to walk all around campus, your legs trembling beneath you, unsure if you can even make it to class?

Or standing in the shower as your knees begin to knock together?

Laying in bed when all of a sudden your leg tightens up and can’t even move because the cramp is so bad shooting through your leg and foot. The pain so unbearable as you forcefully attempt to straighten your toes and rub the pain out of your calf.  The stairs were nothing to me, just another thing on a daily basis. Now, I look at every flight of stairs, wondering if this will be the one that makes my legs surrender. 

It isn’t the weight of my body that makes my legs want to collapse and give in; it is the weight of everything on my shoulders.

I had to text my roommate the other night. The leg cramps are getting worse. I can usually rub them out, flex my legs, something. I hunched over, rubbing my calf to let the pain stop, but with little avail. My toes curled and I was unable to straighten them without prying them straight with my fingers. I texted my roommate who came running in my room.

I Just Kinda Fucked Myself Over Didn’t I?

Attempting to lace up my shoes for a race when I can barely stand. 

I felt awful and called out of work. I showered because I was so cold, but could barely stand. 

I spent a good half hour wrapped in my towel on the floor, trying to find shorts and a shirt for the run. 

After I was dressed I made my way to the car and headed out. 

For those of you that don’t know, I have been looking into residential places lately for my eating disorder. Everything in me screams, “Don’t do it!!” “You aren’t sick!” “C is just trying to use a fear tactic.” “You aren’t 90 lbs and emaciated, you are fine!”  Another part of me realizes what I am doing isn’t healthy, whether I am 90 or 490 lbs.

Well, my therapist seems to have some radar that just knows when to email/text/call me. There was a few times that she caught me at either the right, or wrong, time:

1. I was in the bathroom throwing up when I got her email on my phone.

2. I had taken laxatives and was literally running out of class to use the bathroom when I got her text.

3. Headed on a run when I got another email.

4. Popping diet pills as she was calling me.

So, anyway, here I was, had made it to the race. After feeling like shit all day. I hadn’t eaten in days, I could barely stand, my head was spinning, so lethargic. I had just gotten my packet pick up with my bib and all of that when my pocket started to buzz. The first thing to go through my head, besides the throbbing from my headache, was “It’s Saturday, who in the hell is call me?!” As I finally grabbed my phone and was looking at the number I had missed the call….

…. I got on Google to see where/who/what they wanted, and if the number would pop up. As I was typing it in my phone started buzzing again.  

Without thinking, I answer it. 

Hello, this is Joe Schmo with XYZ, calling for Susie Q….

I can barely hear anything at this point, my head is throbbing, my legs are ready to give out, I’m not sure if I am going to shit myself or throw up, and of course the damn band for the race had decided right then that me answering my phone was their cue to start jamming out….

“I’m sorry, give me one second, I can barely hear you.”

That’s fine, take your time.

“Ok, now who are you?”

—————————–

After a few minutes (I swear I wasn’t drunk/high/etc I was so out of it from feeling awful and not eating in days I was so groggy) everything clicked. “Oh God, he is calling about ED related bull shit.” I thought to myself. 

He got information, asked general bull shit questions. 

So, tell me about your struggles, so I can help find a facility that can help. Like if you struggle with anorexia, compared to binge eating.

“Um, sir, I am at a race right now, I can’t really, uhhh, work out a lot, eat very little.”

Hmmm, a race? are you running in it or cheering someone on? *I could feel his wheels turning*

How much do you work out?

“I don’t know, I try to run anywhere from 5-7 miles.”

The conversation went on like this for quite a while until I reached my car.

What kind of treatment were you thinking about looking into?

“Honestly, I don’t know. Apparently outpatient wasn’t the smartest because of driving over an hour there on little food.”

Ok, well if you struggle with anorexia, but have a BMI of under X, then we would have to see if you were even healthy enough for some places. 

“Yes to the first part, but I run and work out so much, no to the under X.”

So anyway… talk about timing huh? I have a race that is starting in a half hour and here I am on the phone with some dude trying to get me into treatment. It was kind of surreal. I still see myself as fat. Boobs, stomach, thighs (a couple people think that is mainly the dysmorphia), but to talk to a complete stranger about my habits, and have him say, 

“Given just the little bit of information you gave me, the knowledge and experience from being here, your intake, exercise and so on, you would fit the criteria for residential.” 

Well, fuck me…..

Yay, and fuck. I’m not sure what I want. The ED is screaming, I am ready to cry, my best friend is happy and nervous for me, one other person keeps saying, “School and work won’t matter if you are DEAD.” and I refuse to tell my mother because she will probably say the same things the ED is screaming. 

8 Meter Laxative Dash

I feel awful. It’s a mixture of a few things. Nerves, and different aspects of the eating disorder.
Nerves because of school and looking into residential places for help. Those two things stress me out beyond belief.
The eating disorder, because if anything, I’ve gotten worse, not better.
My best friend and I had a good long talk about residential, outpatient, me, food. It was enjoyable to have someone to talk to. She doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to help me, but at least having someone there to listen is nice.
So, it’s almost 4:26 in the morning, I can’t sleep, and I feel awful. Afraid to move to fast and set off a chain reaction of laxative abuse in my body.
The thought of food right now makes me sick.
Going away to a place for help sounds scary because I fear I will be the…oh God do I dare say it…fattest, fattest one there.
I woke up, the familiar gurgle in my stomach from taking laxatives. I went to stand up to head to the bathroom and realized how dizzy I was, and shaking. You would think this would scare me, but it doesn’t. Unfortunately.
It took me a good 8-10 sec to get my balance back well enough to be able to walk to the bathroom.
I’m freezing, I’m shaking, I’m killed over in laxative pain, and I’ve been taking diet pills on top of this (which I think is responsible for the shaking). Making the dizzy dash to the bathroom. Hah, dizzy dash. There isn’t even anything in my system 😒 On top of that, the pants I wore are “too big” says C the other day, and I’m tripping over them and trying to pull them up between gathering energy, balance, my vision and weaving like a drunk down the hallway to the bathroom.
I ate an orange yesterday and air popped popcorn.
Day before that? Like 8 almonds.
How the Fuck am I still functioning so well?!
Nobody, well now besides you guys, know about the diet pills. The rational side of me knows this is no good, plus with the throwing up, and laxatives. My body must be as damn stubborn as I am.
Lord, I cannot wait for an “oh shit” moment…. Something has to give.
My body isn’t gonna give in, I’m slightly jealous of the people with physical, medical issues because they go 2 days without eating…you lucky bastards.
It’s almost 5 now. I’m so damn cold
While looking into places I saw Castlewood, which looks really nice. I watched a video about it and the nutritionists were talking. They showed food being prepared and I almost lost it. Salad, some rice type food, cauliflower, possibly mashed potatoes, and something that looks fried. Omg I started to cry. The mere thought of going to these places and having to eat something other than my “safe foods” is scary as shit. I can’t eat that shit.
Ugh so stressed. And I have a race today. I guess laxatives weren’t a good decision.