College and Eating Disorder

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.

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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.

 

Doctor and Therapist Gossip Time.

As I walked into meeting #2 with my new therapist, she grabbed a stack of something and sat down. I was thinking the stack was just something to bear down on while she wrote…then it dawned on me… she had my fucking medical records. Already feeling quite fractious at this, I hesitantly sat down and buckled up for what was to come. 
Last time she told me that I looked “healthy”, and this time told me my weight as well as BMI. To me, I think these things were slightly ignorant and had me upset and aggravated. BMI in itself bothers me, especially since I am an athlete, run, lift, etc. Unless I just quit working out completely and my body relies fully on muscle consumption, I don’t see it drastically changing- unfortunately. At the same time she told me, “I’ve never really had any eating disorder patients, I usually have addiction patients. What I have been reading and researching though says this…” To me, that meant a lot. It means she actually took interest, or enough shits, to give a damn and look into what she is dealing with and what to do; I really appreciated that.
So, as mentioned, she also had my charts, files, etc, which to be totally honest, I am not sure how she acquired access to all of that. I am well aware that my doctor was the one who referred/scheduled me to be seen since, “I know if I don’t make the appointment you won’t. So I’ll go ahead and call the clinic and make an appointment for you to be seen.”  Maybe that was enough grounds/permission, for S to get all of my files, maybe it wasn’t, not sure. Anyway, She had my weight, charts, bloodwork, cardiologist tests, etc from God only knows how far back. S asked if I wanted to know my weight from a while back, “Um, hell no, I was even fatter then than I am now.” Still stuck on the imperceptible fact that she had a long talk with my doctor about me and God only knows what else. 
“Dr. M and I both agree  that getting you plugged in with a dietitian is probably the best route to go at this point.”  listening incredulously at the fact she had talked with my doctor. S also told Dr. M something I had said. I had expressed that my main concern was my teeth and the rupturing of my esophagus, not so much electrolytes or heart since I am so active. To that, Dr. M told S (I feel like this is all code, sorry.) “Rupturing of her esophagus is very likely, especially with all of the purging. I didn’t stick anything down her throat to check, but it is very very likely at this point.”
Everyone is so much more fucking concerned than I am.
She and I were both shocked that my body has done so well given the little nutrients I put in and how much I work out. “You must really be on good standings with someone, or have someone looking out for you.” S is also setting me up with a nutritionist on campus. She said a few things that really kinda resonated with me.
>“I hope this bloodwork doesn't give you a false sense of security.”
Well, to be honest, it did/does.
This started a kaleidoscope of explanations, false hopes, how I felt like a failure for not even having an eating disorder the “correct” way.  S explained to me that the bloodwork she had ordered both times was just to skim the surface. “These results tell Dr. M that you don’t have diabetes, cancer, or an infection….Congratulations…. That’s about it. So I really hope this bloodwork doesn’t give you a false sense of security that you think you are so ‘healthy’.”
>“You think you’re so healthy, but your body is trying to tell you something. Your leg cramps. What about your period? Do you have that regularly?”
“Dr. M never asked me about it, I didn’t think to bring it up….no.”
“Maybe I know more about eating disorders than I thought. I was looking through your chart and didn’t see it anywhere.”
I told her I rarely, rarely get it.
This began a long session of “Your body is trying to tell you something, even with ok results, what is it going to take?” talk… which spiraled into a snarky off the cuff, “a feeding tube in a hospital bed probably.”
……Which, led to…….
>“Would it really be worth it to be, I don’t know, say 90 lbs, if you weren’t able to do the thing you love-like running?”
This one really had me thinking hard. This is such a valid point. When I was laid up from my surgery I was climbing the walls and so antsy, I can’t imagine not being able to work out whenever I want, even if I ever hit my UGW. Granted, There have been multiple occasions where I could barely stand long enough to get my shoes on, and I was so weak and tired I was barely to trudge through a couple of miles, but I was still ABLE to. 
S mentioned possibly having me consider taking antidepressants, not sure what I think about that. I don’t think that I need them, but if it would help ease the anxiety of eating in public, or grocery shopping, I’m not really sure… any opinions?
All of this happened Wednesday. Today, I ate for the first time since last week-ish, It hurts so bad. I missed class Thursday because I felt so weak and sick, Friday I had a test, but missed my workout. Thursday was awful, I could tell that I was so drained, felt absolutely miserable, could barely stand or stay awake. I managed to trudge through only three miles, but had to go home because I began throwing up stomach bile. 
Today, I felt better after attempting to eat something small for energy. During my run, I look up, and who drove past me, but S. She made a quick glimpse, as did I, unsure if we were both seeing each other for that split second. Then, I am not completely sure, I looked up about a mile later and she had driven around campus (or so I’m assuming) and was now driving toward me. Maybe she really wanted to make sure that it was me, or wanted to check that I wasn’t on the verge of passing out along my run.
Either way, I just heard her voice in the back of my head, “Running is your Prozac, so that way you don’t have to take it. It is your happy place.” 

Lunch With My Professor -Take 2

As my last class of the day came to a close I made my way across campus and up the many flights of stairs to Dr. A’s office. She sat there, waiting for me to arrive. Much like the first time we had lunch together she asked me if I had decided where I want to eat, much like the first time I said I wasn’t sure and hadn’t decided. I mentioned a few places where I knew I could manage to eat something.  She threw out one place, not far from campus at all. I said I hadn’t gone there before but to me it looked like bar food that would be really greasy.  Dr. A nodded in agreement and said ok, then that other place sounds good, with outdoor seating.

With that decision out of the way I offered to drive this time, that way she didn’t have to give up her parking spot. She caved and said ok.  We weren’t even to the car yet and she started making comments about my run tomorrow, how her sons both do triathalons and they “carb load” before their stuff and asked how that sounded.  I told her it sounded stressful.

So, anyway, skip ahead to lunch. We were sitting outside at a nice little place. She ordered, I ordered. As I sat there eating my grapes and pineapple and Dr. A was snacking on her salad, the waiter brought us a basket of rolls. She had one and mentioned how good they were, how soft and warm they were. I smiled, acknowledging I heard her, and continued on my grapes. After another few minutes she made another comment about “These great rolls, and you really should….”  I grabbed one just to shut her up. After our meals came I picked at the chicken and fruit and the roll, Dr. A began to eat her lunch. We talked about my siblings, her travel, dogs, sports…. then it came. I was blind sided, back handed, taken back and shocked at the same time.

“Have you heard of Karen Carpenter? Probably not, from The Carpenters.”

“Oh yeah! I’ve heard of them.”

“She was so pretty, a singer, died really young because of a heart attack brought on by anorexia. You don’t want that to happen to you.”

“Yeah. I know. The last time we got lunch, sitting just next to us was my cardiologist I was referred to a while back.”

“Good! Well, not good, but…”

“I know. My best friend is trying to get me to go get blood work because of my leg cramps.”

“Are you taking vitamins?”

“No. I’m figuring it is just potassium.”

“Oh. Gosh.  That’s what I was thinking, but you don’t want problems with your heart.”

After I picked at lunch a little more she made a comment about not eating a lot, I once again, told her I couldn’t, but that I would get a to-go box.  Overall, this lunch outing was also very nice, and I appreciate having someone like Dr. A in my life, even though she cares more about me than I do.

Teary Eyed and Dr. A

Here I sit in a coffee shop on campus, staring blankly at my chemistry lab report that I have barely began to touch.

Reflecting on yesterday morning when Dr. A nearly brought me to tears, and sitting here literally dreading lunch. Dr. A was the one I had lunch with about two weeks ago (you can probably already see what direction this is headed in), she saw me sitting in the lobby of one of the building yesterday morning. She came and sat down next to me at the same table and pretty bluntly just asked if I had been eating. I began to smile and nod, which quickly turned into me just shaking my head with a half attempt at a smile. This feels almost embarrassing to openly admit to somebody that no, I haven’t eaten. She offered up another lunch date and I thanked her for the offer, but I couldn’t Thursday, but possibly Friday might be an option. She made a comment that, “I’ll have to take you somewhere and have you load up on donuts.” I politely laughed at her attempt at a joke.

I gestured to my coffee and said “I have coffee.”  “I don’t think that counts. Is there cream init?” “No. If it is good coffee I’ll drink it black.” “Then no, it doesn’t count.” She began to walk away to face the day head on with her sweet personality, smile, and motherly affection.

Then, she turned around and came back. I had already began writing notes from a powerpoint for a quiz. “You know what, my husband and I made an awesome dinner last night and I brought it for lunch; grilled veggies with some ground up turkey. It was really good, and I will even give it to you if you will eat it.”  My defensive sassy side was starting to bubble up, quickly I shoved it aside and lying through my teeth I said, “Thank you so much, that is so sweet, but I’m ok, I’ll eat something on the way to work.”  “Ok, well eat something healthy today.”

I wasn’t sure if I should be pissed as hell because what I eat is none of anyone’s business, or be appreciative-ish, that she cared.  I guess when I open up to people, I shouldn’t be surprised when they have something to say. I got all teary eyed when she was walking away. That was so sweet of her, she was going to offer me her own lunch because she wanted me to eat. I have such a mental block over that. She is stuck at school, she was going to give me her lunch for the day, because she was concerned I wasn’t going to eat.

So anyway, I got home last night, and my best friend/roommate/sister-ish came in my room and we began to talk. She said, “I saw Dr. A at school, she mentioned getting lunch with you tomorrow.”  Well, shit. I guess I should have emailed her hours ago. So guess her and I are getting lunch today.

I don’t want to. I am not hungry, I feel sick. I want nothing to do with food. Lunch is going to be miserable. This wont be enjoyable, it is going to be a chore. She is a sweet heart though, and I am grateful for the people in my life.

Lunch With My Professor

I feel like everything I’ve posted lately has been so negative, well, today was. Today was; well, I’m grateful.

A few weeks ago I talked with my advisor about a possible medical withdraw. She asked what it was, if I was having surgery again, was I ok?  I mentioned looking into residential treatment for an eating disorder. She explained that her daughter’s friend went to a place for a while, was getting better, etc. She was also so helpful in explaining my options as far as next semester. Dr. A told me that her doctor thought she was anorexic at one point and she disagreed because she was never stick thin, but her doctor explained it is how she perceives food, and not necessarily her body.  It was a very nice conversation and I enjoyed it.  Dr. A told me how her daughter kind of struggled and would call her mom and ask, “Mom, I’m struggling again, can we go out to dinner?”  That way she could have a “normal meal” with her mom and try to not worry about it. After that story she extended a similar invitation, “If you ever need a “normal meal”, Let me know, and we will go out.”

Well, today, Dr. A and I went out to lunch together. It was ridiculously outside of my comfort zone and stressed me out, but I am so unbelievably grateful/thankful/flattered/happy that she would do that with/for me. After emailing her she said to just come by her office. I had asked about possible coffee or something because I like to keep myself busy in order to avoid having to eat. So, I stopped by her office today after class.  Dr. A looked happy to see me. She asked where I would like to go, and after talking for a few minutes we decided on a place, she grabbed her purse and we were headed out, also emphasizing that this was her treat and on her. We headed to her car (which I wasn’t expecting), talked about her grandbabies, her husband, school, work, treatment, the weather. We rode together through town, still making conversation, talking mainly about traveling.

It was so kind of her, and very enjoyable.

I picked at the grilled chicken and veggies that I had ordered and we continued to talk outside on the patio. She watched me as I attempted to eat and offered dessert, I declined.  Dr. A made a comment about not eating much, I told her I couldn’t eat too much or I’d get sick.  I didn’t want to risk throwing up something that someone else was buying for me.  It probably sounds dumb, but I think it is one thing to flush my own money down the toilet by puking the foods I buy, but it really bothers me to throw up food, or waste anything, that someone else bought for me.  She is such an unbelievably kind lady, and thanked me for sending her that email. I was just so appreciative that she actually said yes, drove, and paid- she didn’t have to do any of that. I wasn’t expecting lunch, maybe coffee and fruit or something, but wow.  Thank you Lord for people like Dr. A.