Complacency

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.

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Worth & Deserving

For the absolute longest time, I was certain that I was unworthy and undeserving- of many things:

  • Relationships
  • Recovery
  • Love
  • Compliments

I believed I was the exception, that serious complications from an eating disorder happened to others, not to me. That others deserved recovery, not me.

 

Being consumed with my inner critic and eating disorder, I fully believed that my worth was based solely on my actions and others’ opinions of me. Yet, it was always unfairly graded and weighed.

Positive that the pleasant compliments were only said to be polite, and maybe even out of pity, they held no truth to them. Yet, when someone was critical or demeaning, I held those comments as gospel and put my worth in my imperfections and short comings.

 

By listening to my inner critic and falling for the lie of being unworthy and undeserving, I was practically saying that I held no worth in who I am.

I would never say this to another person, but yet I found it acceptable to refer to myself as this.

It has taken many, many years, but I am not the exception.

Just like how my body won’t survive on carrot sticks because I want it to.

My worth isn’t based on my short comings because I think that is all I deserve.

 

In a society that thrives on perfection and believes asking for help is a weakness, we become fake to those around us.

It has become taboo to talk about struggles, we portray only the very best side of our life, feeding into the belief that we can’t measure up.

I am a huge advocate for sharing our stories. It is so easy to get caught up with our faults and mistakes and make our identity in them, but yet, I want to hear who you are.

I don’t care about the weather, your car or your job. We ALL have SOMETHING and I want to hear it. What you’ve been through, how far you’ve come, what you learned, and how it made you, you.

So instead of only showing the best side of yourself – be real.

Own your story, it is yours to tell and nobody has the power or authority to belittle it for how far you have come.

Be unapologetically you.

You are worthy of it.

I am worthy of it.

We deserve so much more.

Who, Not What, Are You.

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.

                A diagnosis.

                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.

“Skinny as a rail” ED and the workplace

This is usually the part where I enter my journal entry from last year.
Talk about how difficult treatment was, how I wasn’t sick, didn’t deserve recovery.
                            More stories about wanting to run,
                                                       wanting to be thin,
                                                                            and more Ensure.
In my entry I wrote about how another resident was practically bragging about how sick she was, and how I had never really been sick.
I don’t remember much. I remember storming out, sitting on top of the shed, and smoking a cigarette (even though I don’t smoke). My friend climbed onto the shed with me and that’s all I really remember.

That had always been  is one of my biggest fears, being reassured I was fine, not sick, or too fat to have an ED.

So, anyway. Currently, I have moved. I am an Associate Scientist in Biochemistry.

It is so much work and training and preparation.

I am so excited I am finally back on a somewhat regular schedule again.

Unfortunately though,

I am probably only eating twice a day….. maybe.

Part of it is deliberate, wanting to restrict, or not wanting to be the only one eating in the room.  Another part is that I am just busy (which I use to my advantage).

I haven’t been taking a lunch break, but they don’t want us going over 40 hours.

So, a conversation after the lab went something like this:

#1 to #2 and I: “Yeah, that way you can take lunch and stuff some food in your face.”

Me: “For sure, that is important.”

#1: “Look at you, you must not think it is. You’re skinny as a rail.”

#2: “Oh my God, I know! Look at her!”

ED wasn’t impressed, or thankful. I wasn’t thrilled someone told me I was skinny. My first reaction was frustration.

Of course they don’t know, how could they, it isn’t their fault.

I didn’t know what to say. Do I say thank you? Do I walk away?

#1 went on and on about how when I get older I will get fat, but I am so tiny right now, it wouldn’t stop. So, as we were walking out I said, “Yeah, well, I am a recovering anorexic who spent months in treatment.”

I was so pissed at myself for even saying that. It was none of her damn business. I am new to this job. What the Fuck did I do??!!?!

I think though, I am just so frustrated because I see myself as very fat. I wish I could see myself as others see me, but I don’t. That is the most bothersome thing.

 

ED and Others Just Don’t Mix

I wonder if I will eat today. This is one of the first thoughts that pop into my mind every morning when I wake up.
No, I’m not living in some third world country where clean water is difficult to come by, nor am I living in a poverty stricken town where homelessness is the norm. I live in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina where the only thing that seems to be affecting the population is ignorance. My question on what I will consume on a daily basis is rooted by my struggle with food.
The list of “safe foods” I allow myself to eat is about as short as my patience, especially when dealing with people. Sarcasm oozes from my pores, I am a bitch who says stuff at the drop of a hat, I hate people, and even more I hate myself.
You know that voice that beats you down? For some it is the mere, “Why did you do that?” or “Damn, I did awful on that test.” This is similar, “You are dumb, why did you chose that?!”. Except, she likes to push me to the extreme. “You don’t have to eat today.” “Bet she doesn’t eat THAT.” Or the taunting challenge of, “You can’t make it until Wednesday without eating.” The name calling, the harsh criticism that I put on myself every day.
Then, the worst, when you tell somebody and they just EXPECT you to be fine. Like it is a choice, “Oh, just eat.” (If you have ever struggled with an ED then you have probably heard this, as cliché as it is.) or the “It isn’t that hard, just have something.” “Why are you doing this?” “Are you trying to prove something?”
Sometimes it is just a shitty blasé attitude of not giving a damn, you figure you aren’t really sick, or sick enough, or it can’t get worse, or you just honestly have no fucks to give because that requires energy, which you don’t physically have to exert.
Talking with others about this is pretty damn useless unless the person is actually ridiculously patient, loves you dearly and, at least for me, spends the majority of their time with you. Even then they will say the wrong thing and piss you off, it is inevitable. From various people I have heard:
• Just eat
• Knock it off
• You are selfish
• There are starving kids all over the world
• You just don’t WANT to stop
• Pray to get better
• You wouldn’t be so absorbed by this if your little brother ended up in the hospital with cancer.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in prayer, and I have heard amazing stories. At the same time I do think it is going to take way more than sitting on my happy ass praying to get better. Trust me, I have wanted a *POOF* moment for years, it isn’t happening. It took a lot of self restraint not to fly off the handle and say, “Well yeah, some people pray about having kids and get them…” (She has tried to have kids for a couple years now with no success)
The starving kids one royally pissed me off, along with the one about my brother. I am very protective over him, he is MY brother, and YOU do not drag him into this. Guilt trips “starving kids” just piss me off to the point of fucking exploding. The one about my brother I was very proud of myself, sitting there in silence…. Clenching my jaw and fist so tight to the point of shaking, seeing red and visualizing myself slamming her head through the front windshield. When she was done I got out of the car, got in my car and headed home. Later that evening I sent her a message, “I did not appreciate what you said about my brother at all. My little brother has nothing to do with the fact I have an eating disorder. Yes, it might temporarily take my mind off of my eating, but even then I would go right back to it, or in all honesty, it might get way worse because I would be so stressed out and scared about him.”
People seem to not really think before they open their mouths sometimes, I too am guilty of this. A question I want to ask people that seem to be so ignorant is, “Do you really think I want to stick my head in public toilets?!” I mean really. I have stuck my head in more public toilets than I even care to think about. It isn’t one of my favorite things to do:
LIKES LONG WALKS ON THE BEACH, DOGS, RUNNING AND STICKING HER HEAD IN PUBLIC TOILETS.
Yes, I might have lost weight, but so what, it will never be enough.
• Chapped lips
• Always cold (It’s summer, I’m wearing a sweatshirt and cabin socks.)
• Blue/brittle nails (I have to get them done so they don’t look like shit)
• My hair’s health has gone to shit
• Sore throat
• Headaches that last for days
• Always (I mean always) tired
• I never want to do anything anymore. Work, gym, home. That’s it.
• Sensitive teeth.
If I do eat something I regret, even something small, I oh so attractive like go into the bathroom, and stick my ice cold fingers down my throat until I sound like a cat bringing up a hair ball. A tear and mascara blend of liquid rolling down my face, vomit slowly oozing down my chin to my neck, and the paranoia of being heard, as a mixture of regrettable food sometimes blood and always shame gets flushed down the toilet.

The 5 Stages of Grief- All Within an Hour.

If you have read anything I have posted before, you will probably recall that the relationship between my mother and I is, well, rocky. After a long run this morning, I checked my phone and she, Kathy, showed some slight concern (knowing I hadn’t felt good the past few days). I had mentioned “struggling with food”, Kathy ignored it, life went on. She would drop hints about “are you eating?”, but was done more as a perfunctory motherly routine than genuine concern. She sassed, I sassed, it continued. As it was going on this literally felt like the stages of Loss and Grief. Now, while I am well aware she has not suffered a “loss”, nor is she “grief-stricken”, it was quite amusing/stressful/annoying to watch her messages flood in and the varying emotions attached to them.
Much like the old email “You’ve got mail.” I wish my phone would have alerted during this hour, “You have a pissed off mother text.” and, “Text from a bargaining mom, coming in.”

Now, the definition of “grief” according to Merriam Webster is,
grief- noun
>a cause of deep sadness
>trouble or annoyance

The 5 stages of Loss and Grief are:
1)Denial
2)Anger
3)Bargaining
4)Depression
5)Acceptance

-Alright guys, stick with me.-
While I fall more into the trouble or annoyance category, please note the changing of emotions and tones through our conversation. It may not have been in the exact 1, 2, 3 order, but oh is it there. Our short “cliff note” version of our conversation toppled into place in such a fashion as this:

Kathy: Hope you are eating well. Especially with you working and running in this heat.
Me: I got up and ran before it got hot luckily.
K: Food?
M: Coffee. Priorities mother 😛
K: I worry about you and don’t want you in the hospital or passing out.
(My mother only has one volume, and that is loud. We yell. If I had personally been talking with her face to face this would have been screamed, with profanity, not texted.) (denial/anger)
M: More concerned with electrolytes than passing out.
K: Ok than up your electrolytes! And eat!
K: Are you trying to prove something or…?
K: Stubborn runs in family but ya still gotta take care of yourself.
M: Trying to prove something? To who? About what? It’s not just that easy to “eat”.
K: OMG! Yes it is dammit! (more denial/anger)
M: It’s like telling a depressed person to just “be happy” or an alcoholic to just “stop drinking”.
K: I understand… I do! But as the mom person you are scaring me! (acceptance)
M: No, no it isn’t. I’ve thrown up since 8th grade and now you are concerned? Just withing the past year or so I’ve heard all the time “You look so great…”
K: You are bringing your body to a ridiculous unhealthy state. You aren’t going to be unable to accept food and will get very ill!
K: I am so sorry you have an eating disorder. Go back to help. We will pay! I am sorry I didn’t realize. (depression, acceptance)
K: You have the choice to have a nice long life ahead of you…or not… choose a long life please!! (depression, acceptance)
K: Don’t punish yourself because I was a screw up as a mother please! What can I do?!?? I don’t have a time machine! How can we healthy like- go forward?
M: I’m running errands right now. I’ll eventually go back to outpatient. I hate the drive.
K:…or wind up in Er w/ organs shutting down… k gotcha
K: I am very scared for you and don’t know what to do! You are going to wake up in hospital w/ iv’s in you… please address this BEFORE YOU CAN’T! (Anger, depression, acceptance…)
K: Wanna move back home next year… senior year? While you apply for grad schools? (…bargaining)

While this all sounds fine and dandy, my mother’s emotions change like the weather. She may say this stuff now and tomorrow not mean a damn word of it. I feel like at this point I just don’t give a damn and I’m just not to the point of recovery.

“That is why you look like this….”

“That is why you look like this….” 

She meant it as a compliment. I didn’t take it that way. I wish I gave a damn. Wish I saw myself how others see me. 

As I was at the gym for the third time today, my coworker was there and came over to talk. She asked what I was doing as she saw the barbell weighed down, laying there at my feet taunting my spinning head. I told her I was doing dead lifts, and that I had just got done doing plank with a 25 lb plate on my back, if she wanted to do either of those with me. She laughed, declined my offer, gestured to me and said, “That is why you look like this….” What she meant was, “I can’t do that stuff, and that is why you’re smaller than me.” I took it as, “Yeah fat ass, you are here for the third time today and still look like THAT.”  

Now, as we all know, there is a huge difference between what she said, and how my eating disorder manipulated it into taking. 

I have also begun to step on scales. It isn’t to get an exact weight, but mainly so I know what I’m under. It’s one of those doctor scales. As I stand there in the gym, it feels like a stage that I’m stepping onto. Everyone is judging, waiting for me to forget my lines, waiting for me to trip up, get stage fright, cry, run off stage.

I slide the main bar down to some number that I couldn’t reach if it was Thanksgiving, I had drank five gallons of water, with my book bag on, and ten layers of clothes on, 180, 200, something. I stop at a certain point “Let’s see how close to the edge I can go without falling off the cliff.”  So I know I weigh under x… of course I wanna weight x-10, even though I don’t even know what I weight besides UNDER some number x. 

I got home and had a motivated moment. I’ll call C, set up an appointment, get help, maybe do more appointments, look into other places. Then it faded…. “You are not emaciated.” “You are not sick.” “Look at you, you’re healthy enough to go to the gym, you’re fine.”  I told a friend about this faded motivation, she got irritated, said I was emaciated, and I need help.  Everyone else sees something I don’t. I see a bloated stomach, love handles too wide, boobs too big. Yes, I lift, I squat, dead lift, run way too much, stay on the spin bike until I can barely stand, etc, unfortunately I have realized my weight won’t be low enough to be in what Laurie Halse Anderson called, “Dangerland“, until I just completely stop working out and allow my body to eat all of my muscle. I cannot just sit around and do nothing though. The irony of realizing that I feel the most alive when I am practically dying during my runs. 

Sometimes I just wish I would pass out at work, get hurt, throw up large quantities of blood, lose a tooth or two, SOMETHING to wake me the hell up and scare the shit out of me. Am I doomed to remain where I am, stuck on this hellish merry go round, until I am ready to “wake up”, acknowledge I need help, accept I am “sick”?

If that is the case, I am royally fucked