Seeing Myself In A Student

It is so difficult to compliment myself, brag on myself, or even see myself in a worthy light. My homework from my therapist this week was to “build a court case” against the lies I’ve been fed for so many years.

This is so hard for me, it is not like me to talk about what I have done or accomplished, because I just find that selfish and conceited.

My last post was about owning your story, but at the same time, owning it, doesn’t mean owning the lies you have been told your entire life. That is completely different. In an attempt to placate my therapist, I sat down the night before, and did the assignment she had given me last week. I didn’t put too much thought into it, because that would have been stressful and scary (which I know is kind of the point, to push me out of my comfort zone.)

Well, yesterday, I decided I wouldn’t wait last minute. I got home from my appointment, sat down and began to really think about the assignment and how difficult it would be. To not do it would be giving into the lies, rather than fighting them, but to do the homework meant dealing with the lies and trying to combat them with bragging on myself.

 

So, as I sat there, staring at the paper, it really hit me that this assignment was going to suck.

I began to think of my kids when I worked at a school, and one girl in particular who came to my mind and heart. I missed her, she had a very difficult home life, was hands down, one of my favorites, a heart of gold, and sassy as all get out (A girl after her own teacher’s heart).

So I started the assignment with, “What Would I Tell Alisha?”

  • You have been through so much, and are so strong.
  • Stay loud and loving.
  • Be there for your brother, you guys will be close.
  • You can’t control your parents.
  • None of that was your fault.
  • You are so loved.
  • It is ok to ask for a hug.
  • Be honest.

This is the girl, who was one of the smallest in her grade, yet, with a older brother, she would be out on the basketball court showing all the guys how to shoot. She was loud, sassy, played like one of the guys, but has a heart of gold.

Every day she would come running down the hallway, yelling my name and run into my arms. I was one of the select few who she came to for hugs and compassion, she didn’t want to lead on that she too, was tough, but needed love.

 

The day she came to school with stitches above her eye and scraped up, my heart sunk. The more I found out about her home life, the more I wanted to pick her up and take her home with me. No wonder she was tough and snarky, but I loved her just the same.

 

Reading the list that I would tell one of my students, but at the same time, me, not wanting or asking for help.

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1 Corinthians 10:12

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!

xoxoxo

Why I Am Still Choosing Recovery

The moment I left residential I could have easily gone right back to my behaviors. In my mind it hadn’t been detrimental, it was working for me, wasn’t sustainable, but was working. During treatment my boyfriend found out and didn’t talk to me for a while, my mom rejected me, and my grandmother has completely cut me out and still won’t even talk to me, I gained weight, lost my freedom, was hospitalized and was almost unable to graduate college. I went into treatment to placate everyone and shut them up. I didn’t believe it was serious, I wasn’t unhealthy, I clung to my eating disorder because it had been the only consistent thing in my life. I didn’t think I was even ready for recovery, let alone think I was strong enough for it. After all, I was strong enough to not eat, and strong enough to go running, I obviously was still “healthy” -right?

Weeks had passed in treatment before I even opened up. I scoffed, laughed, deflected, was snarky, or just wouldn’t answer and pretend like everything in my life was fine and there was no problem. My mom had trained me well. I used my defensiveness and my eating disorder to not only cope, but to hide. Kept people out, and made sure I was never vulnerable.

I still have the voice, criticizing everything I eat, lingering guilt if I don’t workout, I still lift my shirt and body check daily and probably workout longer than I should-still. Do you think I want to eat as much as I do? Risk gaining weight? Not particularly.

So what has changed? Why do I continue to follow the meal plan and attempt to do the same things that I did in resi that practically drove me insane? there are days, all the time, when I want to restrict so badly, skip a snack, feel bloated and want to take laxatives.

But, I wake up every morning, determined and sure that those three months weren’t for nothing. With help, guidance and love, it has all become a little easier. I’ve begun to fully understand that the food is only the shallow issue. It won’t matter if I’m 80lbs or 280, I have no confidence at all. I didn’t like myself any better when I weighed less, so why would it matter now. I’m still stuck in believing that I would like myself better if I lost some weight. Slowly but surely, that skewed mindset has begun to deteriorate.

I choose to recover so I can have energy and enjoy life.

I’m recovering because of the amazing support system I have. It may not be the people I wanted, but it’s definitely the people I need.

Why do I wake up every morning, eat my 8 am breakfast, then follow it up with a 10:30 snack and so on? The way I was living my life before recovery was not a life I want to “live” again. I can squat and dead life again without feeling like I am going to fall over, I can do push ups again.

I have changed, not just physically, but mentally.

As I looked in the gym mirror yesterday I couldn’t help but laugh. I had been there for over an hour, and as I opened my Clif bar and caught myself chewing in the mirror it hit me. The old me never would have eaten after working out, especially not in public, and definitely not something so calorically high. I am able to eat in public, I am becoming that person that pulls food out of her bag and will eat it to stick on her meal plan. Yes, it is still terrifying, and the spot light effect still hits me, but I have to do what has to be done. I am no longer up at 3:00 in the morning because the laxatives are ravaging my insides.

I am still recovering because even on days when I can’t stand myself, I have so many people around me that care and believe in me when I don’t believe in myself. I went into treatment feeling like a pain and a burden to the staff, not wanting to bother them, talk to them, take up their time. I expressed several times how I just felt like a lost cause and felt so bad for even being there. I had no self worth, I wanted to vanish in the corner beneath the “Strength” sign, that seemed to mock me. I didn’t feel worthy to speak up, have an opinion, or take up anyone’s time.

I wake up every day and continue to choose recovery, because even though it is so hard; those three months had an amazing impact on my life. I met amazing people, who didn’t reject me, but welcomed me and my difficulties. I left treatment no longer feeling unworthy, but with self worth, and the feeling that somebody actually cared. For the first time in forever, I had been vulnerable, spoken up about my life, what I had been through and people listened.

I still choose recovery everyday, because it is a daily decision.

From Residential to Hospitalization

It has been quite a long time since I’ve been on here. As most of you know, I went into residential treatment at the beginning of December (I will make another post for that update). Recently, I got referred to the hospital because of meds.

One week and 6 days until my 22nd birthday. I wonder how I got here, questioning everything at this point.

To myt left sits an ex heroin addict who overdosed on Benadryl; on my right is an 80 year old suicide attempt. Across from me is a lady who reminds me of Red from Orange is the New Black, minus the intimidating Russian accent and next to her is, what seems to be, the leader, loud, intimidating and she meant business.

Only a few hours ago I was still at Residential, taking for granted my friends and freedom. Being told, “You are being transferred.” is one of those gut wrenching moments. The clinical director helped me pack up while I cried. She wasn’t even aware, they had gone behind her back and made this decision. I couldn’t be mad at her, I loved her all throughout my stay there, quite an amazing lady.

She held me close and hugged me as she explained that the nurse was planning on taking me, but she wanted to take me instead. We reached the hospital, she held my hand and stood beside me through intake and was determined to come with me as far as they would allow her to.

After she left, my bags were taken, I was stripped down, searched and examined. I sat on my bed, crying, an RN came around and told me about group. That, was how I ended up stuck at the table in a looney-bin sandwich.

I was deemed “special” and put under their specific eating disorder protocol. At the time I didn’t know, nor was I prepared, for all that entailed. We had group where I was introduced to the other women in the unit.

Scared out of my wits, the leader, Kari, began to talk to me. Jan, the 80 year old began to crack a joke about a whore, Debbie laughed, Trish and Sharon began to compliment and talk about me as if I weren’t even in the room. We were offered an evening snack, which I politely declined.

That evening I cried myself to sleep, unable to get remotely comfortable on the hospital bed. I was woken up to the sound of my door being opened. I quickly learned that I’d be checked on every 15 minutes throughout the night.

Next morning I was bombarded at 5:30 by two nurses, an EKG, 4 viles of blood, a cup needing to be filled with urine, and a hospital gown.

I wasn’t given any other option besides to eat breakfast, and was greeted with an Ensure when I only picked at the food on my tray. Afterwards, I had to stay in eye sight, or more specifically, confined to the hallway, for an hour after I ate anything. Along with isolation in the hall, I had to be accompanied and watched when using the bathroom or showering.

My days consisted of eating unappealing hospital food and sitting in the hall. Kari, Sharon and Trish didn’t understand why I was sitting in the hall on the floor. I explained it to them, they turned and walked away…. and shortly returned holding crayons, a coloring book, pillow and blanket.

These women took me under their wing, they became my support system. Jan would pace the hallway and invited me to join her. She would compliment me and I would get sassed for “exercising” in the hall. I taught the women square breathing, yoga and tapping.

This group made the unit not as terrifying or completely horrible. Kari became the mother duck of the group and we were her ducklings. Then came Jennifer, she was a zombie of a person with the disposition of the female Hulk. Mentally unstable, she would mutter, groan or grunt, and stomp through the hall. Crying uncontrollably, then laughing hysterically, throwing tantrums in the hall, and chairs down the hall. I was terrified, scared that at any moment I’d be in her way and be trampled. All through the night she would have hysteric fits of laughing, sobbing and hallway pacing with feet of lead. On edge, fearful that at any moment the person to come in my room would be Jennifer, and not an RN.

In the morning I walked my runway of white institutionalized walls, and cold barren tiles in this seasons’ newest hospital gown attire. My wardrobe was a reflection of the immediate emotion that filled me; my ass exposed to the world.

Jennifer slept through breakfast, thank God. I ate the food placed in front of me, granola and yogurt with grapes and took my usual place in the hall. Kari and Jan both expressed concern about Jennifer’s behavior and all of our safety.

I didn’t want to eat, I wanted nothing to do with food. Filled with anger, hurt, a sense of rejection, abandonment and disappointment; I did what I do best, and I shut down. Closing out others and cutting out myself.

The hospital was freezing, I would wear two pair of socks, boots, leggings, yoga pants, sweat pants, a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt at the same time to keep me from shivering. At meals, I relied on my coffee cup to keep my hands relatively warm. In my room I would secretly exercise to burn calories, but to mainly get warm. Running in place, push ups, jumping jacks, burpees and crunches were just another way for me to try and stay warm.

Even with the sub-zero arctic temperatures of the hospital, it was no match for the rapidly spreading germs among the unit. Purell hand sanitizing wipes practically became a commodity and precious resource to smuggle across the lunch room border.

Talks of weight gained, weight needing to be lost, diets tried and failed, constantly filled the room as I watched the consumption of cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches.

While I’ve never been to jail, I can only imagine the similarities. Isolated to a hallway, one phone, constantly being watched, no clothes or shoes with any type of lace or draw string.

I shut myself out from almost everyone on the unit with few exceptions. Taking a nap in my room became ritualistic. One day while taking a nap I was woken up to Jan putting a blanket on me and tucking me in.

These ladies didn’t just have a name, they had a story. One by one, just as I had gotten to know them, they were discharged. Debbie, who became depressed after one of her pharmacies began to fail, and her husband hadn’t been emotionally supportive. She decided to close that pharmacy and put her time into the other one that was still doing well.

Next to go was Sharon and Jan. Sharon had a very successful career working in the medical field for almost 20 years. She got into pills and heroin, spending about $50,000 over the years to sustain her fix. She was struggling and took Benadryl one evening to help her get to sleep. By complete and total accident she had taken too much and was rushed to the hospital.

Jan, an amazing woman, threatened to kick my ass on more than one occasion if I didn’t take care of myself. She moved to the area many years ago and loved it up until recently. Her son left her to move to Florida which left her by herself at about 80 years old. She became very depressed and lonely and ended up here. Jan is a spit fire of a woman who took no cray from anyone and has a heart of gold. She plans on selling her place and moving to Florida. The last thing she told me before she was discharged was, “You better take good care of yourself, or I’m gonna beat your ass.”

Kari and I were the last ones to go. She would comfort me, stick up for me, cheered me on during meal times. She would sit by me in groups, talk with me in the hall and we shared our stories. Her coping mechanism had been alcohol. It had destroyed her marriage and relationships. Her mom showed no empathy or compassion in anyway.

The entire dynamic of the group had changed with discharges and new admits. Know-it-alls, grumpy women who took it out on us and attention seekers who never stopped talking. The irony of going crazy in the psych unit.

The director would periodically call and check on me, which I appreciated so much. She is such an amazing woman who has done an enormous amount for me that I will never be able to express enough gratitude for ever.

It’s funny, in a not so funny way, maybe more eye opening, that it took a hospital unit, full of addicts and depress ridden women and the amazing director, to make me feel like I had any worth.

I got picked up and headed back to residential…. then left in the middle of a blizzard. Tears streaming down my face at the same pace of the snow flakes hitting the ground. I had given the director an enormous hug, left her a letter I had written, cried even harder, and headed out the door.

A Come To Jesus Intervention

My body has still been struggling with wanting to involuntarily throw up. It had been getting slightly better, until one night around 1 am I got seriously ill. I ran to the bathroom, projectile vomited on my hand and the toilet. It had been something I ate, I was not feeling well, but woke up the RC (residential counselor) just in case to cover my ass.

Every other resident here went to a facility before coming here. I’m the only one who went from 100 mph to 20, and it sucks. Eating maybe once a week, running everyday, coffee, gym, to sedentary, eating 6x a week. My body couldn’t handle it. They had to step down my meal plan because I wasn’t able to keep anything down. My body was still struggling, I was told I had to sit down after meals, oh… and I had been told “If you’re going to throw up, just do it right there at the table.” ….well, so, on a couple occasions, I threw up at the table.

I got told I had an appointment with the therapist while at residential. Instead, I got pulled into the clinical director’s office and was told they were, or had already decided, they were going to be sending me to UNC Chapel Hill for a while. I began to just bawl and bawl. I didn’t want to go. Thoughts began to run through my head, “Do I go home and just pretend that now I’m fine?!” “Do I go? Hell No.” “I can’t leave and go back to my life of hell.”

Two of the people on the clinical staff had been the ones who had to tell me. The main therapist sat right next to me on the couch and held me in her arms as I fell into her and just continued to bawl and cry. She tried to console me by saying this was in no way a reflection of me, but of just how trapped in my eating disorder I am. That didn’t help, I just got angry and said “Girl 1 practically flipped you the bird…she gets to stay! Girl 2 had to go to the hospital for a fake panic attack, she gets to stay. Girl 3 is refusing to eat today… she gets to stay. I am actually trying and you are trying to send me away!”  The clinical director rolled her chair over closer to me, I could tell she was genuinely upset. Her eyes began to tear up and get red. The evening before I had written her a letter thanking her for what she has done for me, and how far I have come even though I am still struggling. I expressed I am actually capable of eating, I am able to talk about feelings, and so on. The clinical director knew how upset I was, and was really trying to hold back tears. She was just following orders, I knew that, but when I looked up at her between sobs and just asked, “Why?”  She had to get up and leave. She then returned with the program director who took a seat staring at me.

Between gasps and sobs I was told to explain what had happened. I told her how every other resident had been to a facility before this one, except me. Where I was before I came and where I am now. How I am struggling, but I am trying and willing. The clinical director then piped up, “Tell her about this morning.”  So I continued, “It was a rough morning. The voice started and was so loud with how fat I was, why I was even here, and so on. Yeah, you walked by and saw me still sitting at lunch, but I ate it and finished it. Then I laid down like you asked.”   The program director said I needed to be “behavior free” for so long and that they were calling UNC. I looked at her and explained, “Besides getting physically ill and sick last night, I would have been so many days behavior free!”  I was so determined to stick this one out. The program director looked at the clinical director and asked her if this was true, to which she vouched was.

“Do you have any hobbies you could work on after meals?”

“Sports. Sports was my hobby.”

After many many tissues, sobbing, anger, and compromises later, it looks like I am not being transferred. I’m now under super babysitting watch, have to tally how many times I climb the stairs, no showers at night, medicine for acid reflux, medicine for anxiety, can’t do the dishes after eating bc my ed loves to puke in the sink, oh, and my 15 min “sit out” time, was upped to 45 thanks to the  program director.   I made a mistake though. Weigh ins are on Monday and Thursday… my intervention was on Wednesday. I water loaded myself the next morning before weigh ins, I was scared my weight had gone down and then I was really going to be transferred.

What comes up though, must come down. I was weighed yesterday morning, then got woken up early this morning for one other girl and I to be weighed….. Earlier today, she was discharged and left the facility.  It has been a crazy time here and I’m not sure, still, what is going on or what I’m doing.  I told the clinical director that and she said, “You don’t know what you’re doing? You’re getting better.”

Oh, and the treatment team decided that since they took all of my other coping mechanisms, I get 10 minutes of Ensure baseball or just kicking a soccer ball. Makes some pretty great therapy

Residential

Wow, guys. This post is going to be short. But since Thanksgiving, I’ve been put in residential treatment. Met some wonderful people, had to have my meal plan brought down.
I came to placate everyone and hush the doctors, my friends, etc. My oh shit moment was involuntarily throwing up daily, having to have my meal plan lowered, and realizing that I do need to be here. It has been a crazy few weeks.
I didn’t go home for Christmas because the clinical staff didn’t think it was a good idea. I’m still so conflicted, but overall I’m glad I’m here.
Weigh in is Monday and Thursday. Eating 6x a day, no exercise approval, too many ensures to count. Therapists, art, yoga, grocery shopping, having to check in my razor.
I’m not where I want to be, but I’m sure not where I was.

People Not My Age

Ever since I can remember I have gotten along with the elderly and the very young. People my own age? Not so much.

Halloween night approached. I sat on my bed watching my favorite movie ever, My Cousin Vinny, drinking green tea and knitting. Somewhere between, “What are you, a fucking world traveler?!” and “It’s me or them, you’re getting fucked one way or the other.” I received a text from an old friend:

"Hey, a bunch of us
are getting together
tonight for Halloween
if you wanna come party." 

I read the message and thought about it for a few minutes. Finally I decided, “I am a college student, legally allowed to drink, on Halloween night, when did I become 60?” So I came up with a costume, grabbed a 6 pack and headed to his house, unsure of exactly where he had moved to.

Long story short, I got lost, he didn’t answer his phone, I hated what I was wearing. An hour later, I was home, with a six pack, watching NetFlix, hating my life, body, self, and enjoying an Angry Orchard.

Pity Party-1
Me- 0

The next morning I jumped up, ran to the mirror and did an immediate body check. I have an irrational fear that eating or drinking will cause a massive explosion and I will swell and immediately have gained 20 lbs over night. To my disgust and excitement, my ribs were still visibly protruding, and yet my gut was still there, pudgy bastard. My family was going out of town for my grandmother’s funeral. The beloved devil step-child offered to stay behind and watch the animals and the house. I hate my step-dad’s side of the family anyway. So, I packed a bag, and headed to my house which would have long been empty of parental units and siblings.

I took the dog on a run, bought a vest, and got back to the house and scrubbed, and scrubbed. I wanted to keep busy. The thought of being a loser, not fitting in, the fact that my eating disorder is fucking with so many aspects of my life. To say the least, the bathrooms in my parent’s house is spotless, along with the kitchen.

I distinctly remember all of the years I hated bringing in firewood, the jabs in my arms, going outside in the cold to go grab it, getting flakes of wood everywhere. My step dad, I was positive, found such joy in giving me this task. It seemed like forever ago. I took care of the chickens, fed them, gave them hay, water, collected eggs. I made homemade bread. Carried in a plethora of wood and made a fire. Then, I sat on the couch, enjoyed my steaming tea, my cabin socks.

I realized how much I loved it all. The dogs sitting with me, the quiet of everything, the loudest thing being the crackling of the fire. Enjoying my tea.

I’d rather play board games with kids, or sip tea with the elderly.

I’m not a partier. That just isn’t me. I mentally can’t consume all of those calories. I’ll take my fire-starting, bread making, dog walking, chicken feeding days anytime.

Body Checking The Body Shaming of Self

It started out as a quick glance, we all do it. The peak passing a window, seeing your reflection at a mirror. Everybody knows logically, that when you starve, many aspects of your body are influenced and impacted. Vitals, weight, chemically and of course effects the brain. So what happens when your body goes into starvation mode, and when you look in the mirror all you see is a distorted image staring back? Even when someone weighs more than you, or the same, and yet you see yourself massive compared to them.

Occasionally though, I will have that momentary glimpse of truth that opens my eyes to the size of my body. Having somebody I love grab me and measure my thighs in front of me, a picture of my legs, looking frail, the collar bone joining with my shoulder. Once, before chemistry lab, I was standing in front of a glass cabinet, finishing my coffee, as I looked up I saw some frail legs, ankles together, knees knocking, and a large sweater engulfed the rest of the body. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. Having no concept of my personal size, portion sizes, or the correct way I perceive my body, This was a quick eye opening moment, that hit me, for all of a few seconds.

It has become obsessive and a daily, if not hourly thing, for not only me, but many of you as well. I have become so focused and obsessed with body checking. In the morning when I wake up, after going to the bathroom, after I get dressed, after I eat. I check my legs in the reflection on the glass doors as I walk across campus.

Snap

It isn’t only me that I am checking out though. I am checking out other girls as well. The questions and observations are haunting, “Do their legs tough when they walk?” “Are their ribs visible?” “Look at their long arms.” “I bet they don’t eat THAT.” I don’t only body check myself, but the others, and it starts a vicious cycle. I am well aware that it isn’t the mirror itself, but how I perceive myself. I know logically, that my body has not dropped x lbs in the past few hours due to what I eat or not eat. Still though, part of me believes that it will impact my stomach or midsection, and what I consume will stick directly to those fat cells encompassing my body.

Comparison and body checking has ruined me. It is a destructive thought pattern and mindset that is constantly flooding not only my thoughts, but my emotions and impacts my actions as well. The panic mode I go into when I see and add the calories of what I consume just sends my anxiety through the roof. I was so intrigued to find this article though, that brake down the chemicals (Tryptophan and Serotonin) of the brain in response to starvation as well as eating.

Capture

Being a biology major this was so fascinating to me to realize that with the receptors being added (to achieve the same effect of somebody who drinks a lot of caffeine) when there is a flood of the chemical it is way too much for the body to handle. So the chemical and physical effect from eating and the heightened anxiety is true.

Either way, the body checking needs to stop. Whether the mirror needs to be covered, or I need to change my mindset and stop comparing myself. Something needs to be done for the body checking. It is body shaming of self to the extreme, which will have nothing but negative outcomes in the long run. The way that we perceive ourselves vs. How other people see us, is shockingly different. While I still am trying to come to accept this, it is a fact. We, especially those that struggle with an eating disorder, are much harder critics on ourselves. Stop being a bully to yourself.

Benefits of Starving and Why You Don’t Have a “Chemical Imbalance”. TETYANA ⋅ JUNE 12, 2012 http://www.scienceofeds.org/2012/06/12/anorexic-brain-neurocircuits-behaviour/

Body checking. Eating Disorders Glossary. http://glossary.feast-ed.org/2-eating-disorders-symptoms-and-behaviors/body-checking

Heart-to-Heart Coming Inside the Bubble

It is very difficult to watch other people care so much and be so concerned when I am so extremely apathetic. “Why?” she asked, coffee in hand, walking a trail that led around the park. “I don’t know. I wish I cared, I wish I gave a damn. It is so frustrating to see others be concerned, but yet just not care. You can only care about me for so long until you say, ‘Well, screw it, you don’t even care’.”

We stopped at the park for a bit, every now and then I would pipe up with a sarcastic comment to try and lighten the tone of such a dreary topic. “Well if I were in your shoes,” she began, “…your feet would be a lot warmer right now.” I interjected. “This time last year you were eating Clif bars, eggs, bananas.” I reflected on the truth behind what she was saying.

Throughout our walk/talk/coffee sipping, my walls slowly began to come down. Starting off with snarky comments: “You keep deflecting my question.” “Well, what is it? Just go for the throat, my doctor already told me my complexion looks so shitty from the anorexia and starving myself, so it can’t be more brutal than that.”

To the more truthful: “I just hate myself. I hate my body. I don’t think I am sick enough. I’m not in the hospital, passing out, etc.”

When finally the walls came down: “I wish I saw myself how others do, I just see fat. Thighs, a gut, muffin tops. I hate my body. I like being able to see ribs, collar bones, it excites me.”

She sat there and listened. Trying to talk me into eating. She began to cry, “I don’t want to go to your funeral. I love you and care about you.”  “My heart and everything is fine, it’s not going to happen.” “And that is the attitude that is going to kill you.”

I began to pace a little as we talked, she tried more to not cry, I attempted to deflect some more. We even briefly hit on the lax I have been taking, she pleaded for me to stop taking those.  I was on a bench walking around and around a table, circling the table to avoid eye contact. She talked about trying to eat and keep one thing down a day. I opened up a little more about my dysmorphia, “I just don’t see it! I look in the mirror and hate it.” “Sweetie! You are a twig! You are tiny!”

During one of my laps around the table I stopped and looked at her. She reached toward me, I backed away and was ready to start lap number 2,864 (bit of an exaggeration) around the table on the bench. “Come back here.” “No, you are gonna get in my damn bubble.” “Yeah, I am, deal with it, I’m barely going to touch you.” I took a step forward. With her hands she grabbed my right thigh, her thumbs and middle fingers met together with ease. I flinched. She let go of my leg and returned her fingers to where they had just been, only without my leg in the middle. Showing me the circumference that was made, waiting for some reaction. “You moved your fingers.” “Honey, no I didn’t. We will remeasure if you want.” “No.”

We continued talking about covering my mirror, she asked if I had any clothes that still fit, told me about the people at work who had made comments about how much weight I had lost. After lap 3,071 I had a seat on the table I had been pacing and circling like a shark waiting for its prey. She had a seat next to me and grabbed my leg again, this time my calf. I pulled away again. She talked about tactics like going on a drive, going on a walk, something to do after I eat to try and not fixate on what I had done. She motioned to my large sweatshirt I had on and gestured to my mid section and hips, “You try and cover all of this, but there is nothing there.” I looked at her and pinched my side where my muffin tops were cozily nestled on top of my leggings. She too grabbed it, “This?! This is skin! There is nothing there. You work out so much that you need to give yourself a break, because whatever you eat, you are going to burn right off.”

The Nurse and I Have a Rapport

I went to the doctor today. Not the one from the other day, my general doctor.

She was the one who scheduled me for surgery, had me referred to a cardiologist, and ordered a plethora of blood work.

Today my best friend came with me. I originally had an appointment set up next month, with fall break coming up and us going to Florida, the bestie was concerned for me. I called yesterday and told them that I have an appointment in November, but if anything happened Dr. M wanted me to come in. My leg cramps have just gotten more frequent and pretty bad, the receptionist asked what was up, to which I responded, “I’m having some pretty intense leg cramps.”

So anyway, today I went to the doctor. It was the same doctor, same nurse as months ago.

“We’re gonna stop right here at the scale.”

“No, please.”

She stopped, looked at me and said, “You?”

I looked at her, her hand touching my forearm, “Me.”

“It’s part of your diagnosis, so Dr. M is going to want you to be weighed.”

I handed my stuff to the best friend, and stepped backwards. The nurse glued to the number, her eyes glued to the floor. You would think by now though the nurse would know better, she sets the damn pad of paper with my vitals and weight down right next to me. Next came the blood pressure and routine “Have your medications changed? Why are you here? Okay, Dr. M will be in shortly.”

I flipped through the magazine, bitching under my breath about my weight, my legs. Nichole would pipe in with a “You dont want to be XX pounds, plus you lift weights.” “But my body is so goddamn resilient, I am fine, even if I do get blood work it is all going to come back normal.”

Dr. M came in, looked at Nichole, than me. She asked the question that we all already knew the answer to, “So, anything new since last time you were here?” Well, I got a magical unicorn… Became a lion tamer.. What the fuck were my options? “I’ve been having pretty bad leg cramps.”

“That could be a number of things. How is the throwing up?” (My doctor is very blunt, so with Nichole in the room, I hinted that she could just go for it.)

“Well, I’m not sure which one is my favorite. The involuntary throwing up of the stomach bile, or my legs locking up.”

“Neither of those are good. We talked about you going back to counseling for your anorexia, have you gone?”

Nicole was sitting there watching this.

“Yeah, for a bit. She left, and I haven’t been back.”

“How often are you throwing up?”

“Induced or not?”

“Both.”

“Depends on if I attempted to eat, how far I ran… could be 0 to 4 times a day.”

“How far are you running?”

“About 7 miles.”

“Do you want me to set you up with someone from the clinic to help? I can’t push you into treatment, or hold your hand but I really think you need to go. You are getting into a bad place. Your esophagus is going to rip, your electrolytes are going to cause a heart issue. People die from anorexia.”

“I guess. I probably wouldn’t go otherwise.I am sitting at a fine XXX lbs though, I am fine, my blood work is going to be good.”

“That’s what I was thinking. I don’t say all of this to be mean, I am worried. Plenty of people get into electrolyte issues. Plenty of people have a stable weight, then die with anorexia. I am not a specialist, but I am pretty sure that you are getting into a bad place. Back to the questions, are you feverish or chilly?”

“I am freezing right now.”

“Are you suffering with diarrhea or constipation?”

Nichole is looking at me, this had been the cue she was waiting for. If I didn’t tell the doctor she sure was planning on it, “Yeah, huh?…”

Dr. M looks at her, she knows there is something. “What?”

“Well, besides the laxatives, I guess not.”

“Oh geez, you’re taking those too now? I’m going to put in for kidney function, blood sugar, electrolyte work. Vitamin D is a major concern, I also want magnesium check.”

“I was low in vitamin D last time.”

“Are you taking any supplements for that?”

“Oh, no.”

Guys, I can guarantee right now that my blood work is going to come back completely normal, my body is so resilient and stubborn. If one more goddamn person brings up Karen Carpenter to me, I am going to flip my shit.