Yay!! Look guys!!! This makes me happy 🙂
Yay!! Look guys!!! This makes me happy 🙂
It was that awkward moment when I realized I’m not doing as well as I thought I had been.
There was no purging, I was starting to go out more with friends, work was at a steady lull.
I had stopped going to therapy, and had stopped going to the support group. I felt fine, so thought I’d take some time off.
I’d been so busy ignoring my Eating Disorder, that I had neglected to see it had slowly began to crawl its way back into my life. Then, Saturday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Holy Fuck. I’m running twice a day again.”
I hadn’t thought about my Eating Disorder, I hadn’t even been thinking about eating, and that was the issue. When I sat down and really reflected, I realized I wasn’t doing “better” I was just neglecting my recovery and becoming complacent. I hadn’t been eating, or even packing breakfast, and lunch was a joke, not packing anything for that either.
I haven’t been fully involved in my Eating Disorder.
But I haven’t been fully engaged in recovery either.
This may just be the most personal post yet.
I despise pictures, but somehow seem strangely drawn to looking at old ones. Lately it has become nothing more than a morbid game of comparisons. While I am happy for my friends in recovery and all they are doing, it somehow makes me seem inadequate and I begin to question my own recovery.
I tell myself that my story doesn’t matter, that I really have nothing to say. I want to be an advocate and help others, but how when I am so drawn into denial. I am one of you, one of the people who struggles with an eating disorder, but was never hospitalized, never had a feeding tube, who believed she was never “thin enough” to have an “actual” eating disorder.
While many of these thoughts have become easier to grasp over the years, there are still certain ones that are more triggering than others.
Becoming better with understanding that “yeah, I was ‘thin enough’ to have an eating disorder”, because they don’t discriminate based on looks. I was still struggling, I look back on pictures from mission work, or a cruise, and the first thing that comes to mind is how I purged on the cruise ship many times, and spent most mornings in the gym on the ship.
My body has changed tremendously over the course of my life. When I look back I see a heavier girl with boobs, she didn’t eat at school, but would purge when she got home. She hid it from her family and would take the dog on a walk after dinner, or get in the shower.
I believed, like many other children, that I was solely responsible for my parent’s rocky marriage, drinking problems, their fighting, etc. I was convinced that since my own father didn’t want me that somehow the problem was me, I was the common factor.
I was cursed/blessed/given boobs. It was many of the physical attributes I hated about myself, known as the girl with the “big boobs”. I hid behind big hoodies, hoping to go unnoticed.
When the weight began to really come off, and people became more aware that I wasn’t eating, it became concerning to some. Some people tried to talk to me about what I was doing, others tried to talk to my mom. It all fell on deaf ears, and I played dumb, using the typical, “I already ate” excuse.
I began running, told myself it wasn’t “that much”. 3 miles became 5, which quickly became 7, and so on. I was always rationalizing it by saying, “It’s not like I’m running ___ miles”, but it would inevitably become that number.
Some were concerned, others didn’t know me well enough to be concerned, they told me how great I looked, others wanted to know what my secret was. Still, I rationalized it by telling myself that “Sick people couldn’t run this much.”
If I was to sit down and be honest, I would say I went from a heavier girl who hated her body and was always self-conscious, to a smaller version of that girl. She still hated her body, but she was also poisoning it, giving it laxatives, not feeding it, and so consumed with the thought of running and restricting that she chose running over Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Virology classes. She hadn’t had her period for as long as she could remember, she was put on crutches from tearing her entire IT band from hip to knee, she had to have her gallbladder taken out since it was storing so much bile from not eating. She still believed she was completely fine, refusing any food she hadn’t made herself, fearing liquid calories, living on egg whites and veggies.
Sitting down I still struggle with believing that I wasn’t worthy of recovery. There are others who needed it more than me, who were worse off than me. I compare my journey, my recovery, my body, to those around me and while I know it isn’t healthy, I can’t help but believe that they are more worthy, more important than me.
“Insanity is doing the same thing
over and over again
and expecting different results.”
This isn’t the first, or even second, time I’ve left group and felt like it was a waste of time, effort, gas, and regretted going all together.
This evening was nothing different. It takes the “same shit, different day” motto to the extreme.
I feel like I have been going for so long that I know everyone, their back story, and what they are bringing to the table every week.
She is sick and feels like shit.
She so desperately wants to be in a relationship.
She sleeps all day, and struggling.
Sure enough, I was right, I even called it earlier when I was in my appointment.
Not wanting to even go this evening, one of the girls texted me asking me to come. So I threw on my Nikes, put a baseball cap on and hid myself under a comfy hoodie and headed to support group.
If we were all making progress or something, that would be great, beneficial, something.
It just feels like something has to give. Maybe we need a group exercise, or an assignment, something to pull us from the perfunctory routine of what seems to be a whiny venting session. Or maybe I just need to quit going so often, that way when I go, it is something new.
I sat there, trying to listen, be supportive, but it was the same things I had just heard the week before. My ass bone grinding against the uncomfortable chairs, and being able to smell myself since I had yet to shower post run.
The thought was even there, “Text brother, get him to call you. That’s your way out. Answer your phone, and leave.” Still, I was trying to give group the benefit of the doubt. I may have said two words tonight. It just didn’t seem worth it.
Same shit, different week.
I could have bitched about my head hurting.
Whined about work.
Praised my awesome lunch.
Bragged about a delicious apple cake.
Instead, I sat there. Knowing what would happen if I opened my mouth. Not so much praised for the good, but fixated on the bad.
I would talk about how I ran today, but how I had a black bean burger yesterday for lunch. It would quickly become a “How often/much are you running?” “Oh, well are you eating lunch every day?” I understand where they would come from, but it just didn’t seem worth it. I may just be being a stuck up bitch, but lately it just hasn’t been beneficial at all, and I don’t think I am getting anything out of it.
I don’t see me returning for a while. Think I’m done re-living the same Thursday of my life over and over.
It’s a question I have been asked several times, but I’ve never actually stopped to dig deeply and dissect the answer.
The question may differ slightly,
“How did I get into Christianity?”
“Why did I choose to stay involved?”
“Have you always been a Christian?”
but the answer inevitably brings me back to a certain time in my life.
I can vividly remember being somewhere around 6 years old. I remember our apartment, the glass table, the beanie babies piled high, the kitchen bar, the stained bathroom floor from when I spilled red nail polish. I never remember church. I remember the park, my neighbor upstairs, my cat, the statue of the panther in the living room. I never remember praying.
Around 7 years old I was dragged along with mom who moved to North Carolina with some strange man who would later become my stepfather. I remember my bus stop, my dog, my teacher. Still no church or praying.
In 2000 my brother was born. At some point, unsure of exactly when that was, it was decided among my parental units that my brother, in order to keep him from being damned to hell for reasons I was unsure of at the time, was going to be baptized/saved/christened. I guess by default, I was volun-told that I was to participate in such religious ritual as well. I remember the smell of vegetable oil on my forehead and how I was sickened that I had some greasy oily stuff smeared on my face by a stranger. Up until that point that was the most religious experience of my life.
In 2004 my sister came into the picture. Somewhere between moving and the birth of my sister we began to make an appearance to a church. We stood up, knelt, sat, knelt, it felt like a bad version of Simon says. I watched as my parents introduced me to people that could be my grandparents. We showed up, smiled, and left. One Sunday morning I was getting ready for the perfunctory routine, I had decided to put on mascara and was instantly ridiculed by my step dad.
This is also when their religion seemed to be found more frequently at the bottom of a bottle than in a church pew.
Being under 13, I remember one night, after they had been praising the bottle again. A fight broke out. I gestured to my brother to go to our room and that I’d be right there. I grabbed my sister from her high chair and was going to take her with me to our room. Immediately, I was spun around by a slurred patron saint of the bottle. “You don’t EVER take my child away from me!” With that, my sister was ripped from my arms.
Another move, and another sibling later, I was in middle school. My parent’s religious worshiping of the bottle increased as did my self-hatred. I wasn’t allowed to speak up, have an opinion that was different from my mom’s, or stick up for myself. I turned all the feelings inward. Turning to self-harming, purging, anything. I was already hurting with all of the screaming and fights, which I was convinced was my fault anyways, so it made sense to punish myself, and simultaneously release some of the built up angst. I was blamed for why my parent’s argued. This logic made sense in my world since I had introduced the two of them by accident. I wasn’t sure if they hated me because of it, and if only I was thinner, better behaved, made better grades, maybe they wouldn’t hate me and their marriage would get strengthen.
Eating less, cutting more, purging when I could.
I had the opportunity to go to Ireland on a student program. I was threatened by one of the leaders that if I didn’t start eating I would be sent home.
A family friend invited us to church with them. We reluctantly began to go. I had learned from my past experience with church that it was time to put on my nice clothes, put on a smile and pretend everything was amazingly awesome in my picture perfect world.
Behind closed doors my family threw stuff, screamed, hated each other. My mother would wake me up at all hours to clean my room, clean the kitchen, whatever. Digging her nails into my arm and screaming, as my brother cried from behind her, “Don’t hit her mom!” My parent’s would scream and fight until the church door. With that, the name calling was suddenly, “Oh sweetie, I love you.”, “I love you too honey.” With controlling displays of affection to show to the church how great our family actually was.
I began to question what I was told about God, and even the very existence of God.
“God doesn’t love me, if he did why would he allow this?” I would question.
My own mother would push me against walls, dig her nails into me, and throw stuff at me. The next morning she would say “I love you, have a great day at school.”
I doubted the very word of “love” and it took years for me to be able to tell her I loved her back.
I continued to put on a happy face when we went to church, and was criticized by my parent’s when I wanted to go to church on Wednesdays for youth group, being asked, “Don’t you have anything else you could do besides go to church?”
I went into High School, from moving so much I knew almost everyone in my class. I told myself I would never drink or smoke weed, I didn’t want to be anything like my parents. I began to drink, and would smoke during the off season of sports.
I don’t remember a lot during this time. I went to school, did sports, was on student government, had a job, didn’t eat. Did anything I could to not go home.
Being told that what happens in this house, stays in this house.
My math teacher is the reason I actually became involved and plugged in. During Senior year I moved in with my pastor and his wife. Being told once again that I am the reason their marriage is so rocky, so if I moved out for a while…..
I changed my number, paid my own bills, went to church. Pastor and his wife actually gave me curfew, and I was thrilled someone actually cared about me and where I was. I was diving deep into Christianity, my devotional, and church in a way I hadn’t. We talked, like a family, prayed, like a family, went on trips. There was no yelling, and I realized what I had lived in wasn’t normal.
My parents left the church, I was eventually forced to move back home, and continued to stay at that church for as long as I could, refusing to ever go to church with my parents again.
My math teacher would pray for me and with me. I had convinced myself that if I don’t talk about what’s going on at home, then it’s like it doesn’t happen. After the cops were called, I began to open up to my teacher who invited me to her house, prayed with me, shared books and articles with me, and invited me to Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She spoke of her mistakes, I told her about mine, but it was never from a criticizing or demeaning place, but one of hope and love.
After graduation, I moved out, again. Found a church which I attended regularly, as well as a girls college bible study that my teacher led up. It was a safe environment. Learning about mistakes, love, forgiveness for not only ourselves, but others. There was something peaceful about the entire thing, a sense of belonging and security. How faithful God is and all He has in store for us and our future.
During all of this, my self-harming would come and go, and I was consistently struggling with my Eating Disorder. I was told by several people, that someone must have been looking out for me.
Deep in my eating disorder I would eat under 100 calories a day, and was running and lifting. I was taking diet pills, laxatives, and going to the gym. I have sustained injuries because of it, but when I look back, it is crazy to me that nothing severe happened. There is no reason that I shouldn’t have collapsed during a run, or seriously damaged my body.
I can only think that God has something in store for me, for keeping me around.
I continue in my faith for many reasons. It is one step further away from becoming my parents, every person I admire and look to are strong in their faith, and just the pure honesty that is spoken and how I feel after digging into my devotional.
Trust the Process!!!
First, I wanted to apologize.
The days of class I skipped.
The days I couldn’t pay attention.
Or, the days when I would skip your class, and you would catch me running around campus walking back to your office.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was that I was just more consumed with burning calories and making my Eating Disorder happy that I didn’t want to sit in class.
I didn’t want you to take my struggle as apathy or anything like that, and for the professors that did know about my struggle, I’m thankful for all that you did.
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go to class, I physically didn’t have the energy to be there. I was freezing, exhausted, and all I wanted to do was go out and run this anxiety off. Running was more important to me than school, studying, or any sort of life.
Classmates would comment on how athletic I am, and how impressed they were at the distances I was running and how often I went to the gym. (Little did they know I had eaten an apple in maybe two days, and the violent shakes were from the Hydroxycut, not the coffee like I told people.) They didn’t see the girl who laid in her bed crying because of her electrolytes and her legs were locked up again, or the girl who ran to the toilet at 2 am because I had taken the laxatives too early and was up in the middle of the night.
College just seems like one big blur to me. Life was a half-hearted perfunctory routine of get up, run, go to class, run, go to work, maybe go to the gym, and start all over again.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my professors. I had her class during the semester that I left for treatment. We sat outside, laughed and caught up on all that we had missed. She told me that I looked happy and she was so proud of me. That, was what I needed to hear. That I didn’t disappoint her, or had somehow failed at being a “normal” college student.
She went on to say that she talks about me frequently, how I never asked for special treatment, and did continue to show up and do well in her class. The only thing I ever asked was if I could take my final early, (I was admitted on finals week).
I was honest and told her that while I was in her class I was consuming more diet pills and laxatives than actual food, she shook her head in a concerning way.
The most difficult was a male professor, only because my senior research also included a food log, which I was sure would lead to me failing my senior research if I didn’t have any data to actually document. He was very understanding, and I missed half of the following semester since I was still in treatment. Returning in March to his Biostatistics class, he was shocked and surprised to see me walk in the door. I had three tests to make up, multiple practicals, and I was determined. He was willing to work with me and said I could take an incomplete and finish the semester when I was feeling better. I told him I was supposed to graduate this semester, and I wanted to catch up.
I did, I finished school on time and graduated on time, missing half of a semester of Biostatistics, Virology, and Biochemistry.
I am very thankful to have the support I did through my academic career. Both of those professors actually wrote me letters of recommendation. They believed in me, even when I didn’t think I could.
Who are you?
If someone was to ask you who you were what would you say?
Would you identify yourself with your flaws?
Would you identify yourself with the size pants you wear?
“I am _______.”
How would you fill that?
The world has told us to fit molds, stereotypes and to hold certain expectations.
As if your importance and worth in the world is somehow based on how you look; and God forbid we are open about our struggles and flaws, which could somehow make us less human or less worthy.
Who you are is not:
What you do.
A label set by others.
Mistakes you made.
Why would I accept a label set on me by others?
I don’t walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I am a recovering anorexic.”
“Hello, I am anxious.”
“Good afternoon, I am depressed.”
Honestly, to me, this doesn’t sound bad. It would be more real. People may stop hiding behind the taboo shame that comes with these labels.
But, these labels, regardless of what they are, are not WHO we are.
I’m gonna say that again for the people in the back….
Regardless of what these labels are, THEY ARE NOT WHO WE ARE.
1 Corinthians 10:12
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
Over the course of being in recovery, I have had the same goals.
1) Be “normal”
2) Find a healthy balance between working out and eating
3) Be able to help and share with others
Some of you may read these, especially number one and think, “Come on, what even is ‘normal’, that is such a vague idea.” Others of you, I know because I have talked with others, are sitting there thinking, “Holy shit! Yes! She gets it!” I’m not saying I want a job, a husband, a dog, a house with a picket fence, 2.5 kids. I already have two of those… I’ll let you guess 😉
What I am saying is I want to eat like a normal person, eat when I’m hungry, eat when I’m not hungry, put cheese on food, not count calories like a fiend. Eat cold pizza for breakfast, have hot chocolate, you know, what NORMAL people would do, and not think twice about.
While I am so thankful that I am not where I was, I know I have work to be where I want to be. (Even though you guys can’t see it, I’m finishing up a tofu taco salad- delish!) I still struggle with the morbid sense of wanting to be sick, and wanting to be back in treatment. At the same time, lately I have been able to take a step back and realize, “ok, I’ve been there before. Nothing will be different, so why do I want to go back?”
At this point in my life, I am 23 years old. Living in Pennsylvania, by myself, moving from NC to PA after graduation to pursue my career in Biochemistry. I feel fortunate to have a career with benefits, PTO, and in a field where I have my degree. So why would I want to throw that all away to go back to being weighed everyday?
I have made friends going to the support group, and through that I have had lunch, and gotten coffee, with some of the girls. It is eye opening that at times, I am the oldest one in the group, and I am not ok with this. I do not want to be tied down by this thing. Recently, I have reached out, getting to know some of the girls, and I want to be a support for them to reach out to.
I have been reminded of this verse lately, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” This is huge to me. I don’t want to reach out to help, if it may completely undo the progress I have built. I want to help and pull others up without worrying about being triggered or being dragged down. I pray this a lot, especially when I hang out with the girls, hoping for the best, for the right words to say and to remember to be careful.
Trust the Process!
There are umpteen articles out there that are titled, “What Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder.” Or “What to Say to Someone Recovering.” “How to talk to someone with an eating disorder.” “What is acceptable to say to someone with an eating disorder.” Etc, the list goes on and on, some are probably titled the same thing, with a different font, different capitalization, different spelling.
One thing that I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to use my “science brain”. Some background on me, I hate compliments, hate positive affirmations even more, and was able to finish school and graduate, while spending half of my final semester in residential.
I am a Biology Major, with a Chemistry Minor. After graduation I got a job offer several states away, after interviewing, weighing my options, and looking at the hefty benefits that went along with it, I took the offer. I am currently working as a Biochemist, specializing in HPLC Method and Development. All of this to say, I have been called “smart” for as long as I can remember. I am nothing more than average. I got a C in Inorganic Chemistry, passed Virology with a disheartening B, and that is nothing to the hell I endured through Cell and Molecular Biology, with a professor I referred to as “Dr. Douche Fuck.” (Only behind his back, of course).
So, when people tell me to use my “science brain”, it, well, it pisses me off.
Yes, I can tell you that carbohydrates are needed for the cell, as well as lipids, protein, etc. I can tell you glycolysis, the one letter amino acid codes, the vitamins and what the body uses each for. Logically, I know food is fuel, that you can’t gain anymore than you consume, I know basal metabolic rate.
I know people die from eating disorders.
My science mind is great and useful for information about health, bacteria, the works. My mind is also great at using denial and deception, along with ED. I believe that I am the exception, I believe that it will never happen to me. I spent years in denial, I craved my morning runs and the lifting, I still don’t believe I’ve done any long term damage to my body. To some morbid degree, that bothers me.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that I was the frail, feeble, weakling with the feeding tube. Knees knocking as I wait for the elevator because I am unable to climb one flight of stairs. That I had some miraculous story to tell.
I fight with myself and my body daily. Wishing I was thinner, that my stretch marks would go away, that my thigh gap was more obvious and my collar bone would protrude a little more.
It is very difficult sitting in program, in a room full of sick people, comparing my body to theirs. She may not be allowed to take the stairs. He may need help carrying his tray.
Me? I did 5 miles before program. I did push ups, I did crunches. You name it.
I am the heaviest patient in the room, I am nearly sure of it.
I wouldn’t say I am “ok” with it- but I am accepting of this fact.
I could probably also dead lift their body weight no problem.
It is this morbid sense of comparison that is so difficult to me. You are the heaviest one here. Yeah, but I lift and run. Or are you justifying the reason you are fat? No, I tell myself. I wonder how they see me though.
ED’s never ceasing manipulation.
When you look back on life, what do you want to remember?
Do you want your life to be a flood of memories, experiences and people?
Is it a timeline of accomplishments/children/or jobs?
What about a timeline of all the programs you have been in?
Thinking back and remembering months at this facility, or when you were in that other program.
Is that what you want your life to be? Just a strung together list of the places you went for treatment?
I started IOP at Hershey. It was great for dinner accountability, but I am also thankful that I think something clicked.
Sitting in a room with various people, with different backgrounds, different ages, we shared one common thing, that had us all here for one reason. We, at one point or another, were probably dragged into treatment by the ball and chain that was around our neck, being led into the unfamiliar place by the havoc ED had on our lives.
We went around the room and I listened as people shared their goals.
“Finish school.” “Get a job.” “Move.”
Then it came to me. I wasn’t sure what to say. Something in me clicked. It had occurred to me before, but never like this. I had finished school, I had just started an awesome career as biochemist, and moved about ten hours away. I felt like this might just be repeat. I needed something bigger, that is not to say these people’s goals were simple, and unimportant, not at all! I had accomplished their goals (which at one time were mine), but now what? I had moved ten hours to what? Go back into program?
I cannot have a successful life, or a life at all, while I am immersed in my eating disorder.
It is very disheartening though that there are many people in my life who don’t think I can do this on my own. I have flushed the Hydroxycut, cut down on purging immensely, and am really trying. To hear others say I need to go back to Hershey is discouraging. The hospital food itself is enough to send me into panic mode, when I could be eating stuff I actually enjoy.
That’s about it for now. I have a latte waiting for me.