I don’t know how she found out but I know she knows. Today she asked me if I was eating and “are you making yourself throw up after”. I replied yes and no to each question respectively- which technically is … Continue reading
Last week I posted about having a doctor’s appointment and possibly confessing to my ED. It’s a terrifying prospect to be faced with because on one hand I am screaming for help and on the other the “your not thin enough” voice is booming through an imaginary megaphone. The “you ate too much yesterday” “didn’t work out hard enough to burn the calories” and “you’ll be better if you can just lose more weight” voices feel as though they are being shouted by a stadium full of screaming fans.
Except this ED Is not my friend. It’s.Not. My. Friend. I have to keep reminding myself of that because honestly it feels like it is. And so, even though I was sitting there in the exam room of the doctors office I was still unable to let go. I knew as soon as I parked it wasn’t going to happen. I sat there, in the parking lot, staring at the front door knowing on the other side lay the help I needed to get to freedom and yet I ignored the small voice saying “please help”. It wasn’t loud enough to drown out the rest of the “you’re not skinny enough” voices. Not even after I dropped below my goal weight.
That’s right, i made it to my goal weight. (trigger warning) Actually I am 3 pounds under my goal weight but still even though I promised myself i would ask for help once I reached my goal weight here I am, lying in bed after a day of restricting and taking diuretics just to make sure all the weight was off before I was forced on the scale. I am terrified of the scale. I used to be obsessed with it but one time I gained and I quite actually came so close to killing myself that I scared myself out of it. I am talking had everything in the bathroom, planned it out, was prepping and realized that someone would have to explain what happened to my adorable 3 year old (at the time) niece and nephew. It was that thought that stopped me cold. I threw the scale out and developed an immense fear of ever getting on it again. Going to the doctor is wrought with anxiety for that reason solely.
But I made it to my goal weight on a day that may have presented itself to me to get help. That’s ironic. I was also supposed to be excited about being at my goal weight (and I am absurdly happy) but at the same time I feel… ashamed(?). I’m not sure that’s what it is but I just feel like I let myself down because it’s both not lower and because I told myself I wouldn’t go below my goal weight without asking for help and I know that’s not going to be true anymore.
Part of me thinks the reason I couldn’t ask for help today is because I had to exceed my calorie limit this weekend. One of my best friends got married and I was doing wedding activities all day Friday and Saturday which meant every meal was not my same food, not on my schedule, not alone, not safe, and not able to escape. I covered up most of my not eating though by just moving food, eating only the vegetables, talking a lot, etc. At the wedding reception though, I purged in the bathroom more than a few times because I ate after almost passing out in the church’s bathroom and I didn’t want to ruin my friend’s big day but the food I ate was unsafe so it had to come out. But after eating something that’s unsafe I feel unjustified to go asking for help because I let myself actually consume that food despite how much I hated myself during and after.
Yesterday I also had a close encounter. I am in school and was shadowing at a hospital and was so sick from not eating Sunday or Monday that I nearly threw up and collapsed during shadowing. Luckily, the person I was shadowing didn’t notice but when I had lunch with some of the other people in the department one of the ladies asked me as we left if I had actually eaten anything. (trigger warning) I had had 5 baby carrots and an apple, both of which are not entirely safe but my safe food wasn’t feasible. I tried to extend it out but I just lied and said I was going to dinner early and had had a large breakfast after my workout (the workout part wasn’t a lie but the eating comment was). I do, however, find it highly ironic that someone I have known for 3 hours can spot that I haven’t eaten and people I spend day in and out with, haven’t. I also find it terrifying, am I getting worse at hiding it? sicker? was it a fluke?
Anyway, I didn’t get help. I didn’t freeze up I just didn’t feel like I needed help. The doctor even asked me if there was anything else or if I wanted to discuss something else. I said no as if it was second nature but I could feel a part of me screaming yes. As soon as I got 5 minutes down the road, though, I regretted it. Not enough to turn around, go back inside and say anything though. Not enough to cut the strings making me into a puppet for this ED.
I guess all I can do is my best. I tried. Now I have a new goal weight (it always gets lower) but I also know that the doctor is in the same building and hopefully soon that room will hear the words that I’ve been keeping secret. I am still thinking about July 2 but honestly, I’m not sure any more because I am pretty sure i am going to have another day when I can’t stand this, call the doctor and do it right then and there while I am stronger than the ED because otherwise it just has too much time to talk me out of it.
Do you ever feel like you are on a sinking ship? One where you really have three options:
1. Jump Ship.
2. Wait for help to arrive, if they arrive, and force you off the ship.
3. Go down with the ship.
That’s where I feel like I am. I’m on a sinking ship. I only have three options and the conditions the boat is in are getting worse. The storm is getting worse, the waves are getting bigger and I am getting further and further from shore.
If I jump ship now I risk drowning, not being rescued in time, or being overtaken by the storm anyway but without any protection from the ship. If I wait and jump ship later the storm may be worse, help still might not be close and I may still face the same fate as if I jump now. But if I jump now I’ll be closer to help, closer to the shore, the storm hasn’t gotten as bad as it may and I can choose what I am jumping overboard with and maybe give myself a better chance at survival than if I wait. If I wait too long however, I’ll go down with the ship when it sinks, dragged down by the mass of boat being sucked to the ocean’s floor by the forces of the storm. Jumping now is probably best but, I still have to find the courage to jump when every ounce of me is screaming to stay on the ship.
If I stay on the ship I may still have to jump ship later but if help arrives they’ll be there to force me off the ship. I’ll still have to jump in the water, leave the safety of the ship and struggle through the storm but someone will be there to see me to safety, make it more likely I survive the storm. But what if they arrive too late, what if they force me off the ship but I can’t be saved, what if I just take them down with me?
And then again I can stay with the ship. I can go down with the ship. The ship has kept me safe for so long and is all I know anymore, the only friend I have, the only protection I have. It has kept me both isolated but in company during the last few years. How am I just supposed to abandon it? How am I supposed to just jump off, leave it behind? What if I am not strong enough on my own to face the storm? What if help isn’t there because I am too far away, too far gone? What if I die anyway?
What do I choose?
I don’t know what to choose.
This isn’t a first but today I started crying in the middle of the grocery store. I shop primarily at the Super Target by my house and I was “okay” while I looked at jewelry, clothes, shoes, and housewares but as I was crossing from housewares to the food area I started to panic. I say I was “okay” before I reached the food section because I was still uncomfortable. I had eaten today and I feel like I ate a lot even though I didn’t eat a lot of calories and I can barely look at myself in the mirror my face is so fat, my body is huge, my legs are gross and I feel like I quite literally weigh 300lbs. So yeah, I was just “okay”.
But then I got closer to the food section-mind you, I was just going for trash bags but of course, there is almost no food at my apartment so the idea that I should be there to buy food like the dozens of other folks kept running through and panicking my mind. I aimed for trash bags first, on a scale of 1-10, this was about a 4 as far as fear. It’s located near food. It’s like I could feel the temptation to buy food but at the same time I could hear the louder “don’t buy it” voice.
To get to checkout and out of the store I had to then walk past all the other aisles of food. Bad food. I tried to go down one of the aisles to try and find something that was safe or that was possibly safe but when I got to aisle the panic was full blown. Food is bad, not good, bad. It is terrible. And honestly, I can’t believe that people actually eat and don’t experience (a) pain, (b) nausea, (c) purging after. I just can’t. That’s my current life, it has been my life for a few years and it has become normal.
So as I stood there in the aisle I went to grab something that I have eaten on occasion, often when I am in the middle of running season and need carbs, I went to grab Cheerios. Frickin Cheerios. I touched the box, pulled away, tried again and just couldn’t. It was like someone was inside of me scratching to the surface, screaming that eating wasn’t and isn’t allowed, telling me it was bad, that I need to protect myself that I am not hungry and that when people say they ate, they lie.
And then, the tears started.
It wasn’t like the flood gates opened and I was hysterical but I was in the middle of the Super Target crying. Staring at Cheerios, crying. I’m not sure if it was out of disappointment, fear, hate, anxiety or what but it was just too much. I got my wristlet, phone and keys and I nearly ran out of the store. No trash bags, no food, nothing. And even if I semi-think it’s normal not to eat. I know crying in the middle of the grocery store is not.
I cried in the car, I cried on the way home, I cried when I got inside my house. But you know what, I still feel guilty because I ate earlier. I feel guilty that I THOUGHT about buying food. I feel guilty about it all.
I ended up looking up the “recommended daily caloric intake” for both the US and Canada. I chose Canada too b/c quite frankly I figured the US would be wayyy off base and would overestimate what people need- hence, the obesity rate. Canada says for a sedentary 20-something you need 1900 calories a day. 1900!?!?!? I haven’t come close to 1900 in years. I am also not sedentary. But that just makes me feel worse because I have not been losing weight, I feel fat as a damn hippo and I still fear the return of the pain that started this whole thing.
So, I am back to crying in the grocery store.
Honestly, I started this blog to document my journey and to hopefully encourage me to seek help for my struggle with food and eating. I am about 99% sure I can actually (by DSM-V criteria) be classified as having an eating disorder but I know I for sure have disordered eating at the very least.
I first started having trouble eating about 2 1/2 years ago when I developed a mysterious medical condition. The length of time it took to diagnose (?) – if you can call it that- led to a lot of weight loss, disordered eating and, according to my medical records, anorexia. And when I learned I was going to have to adapt my eating habits to prevent bad attacks, I developed an even worse fear of food than I already had by that point. Top that off with the fact that I didn’t- and still don’t- see the weight loss when I look at myself and you have pretty much got much a perfect recipe for an eating disorder.
About 4 months ago I really came to terms with this fact and I told the first person and, to date, the only person I personally know and who knows me about my eating problems. I haven’t seen her in about 6 years but still, I feel a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from her despite the fact that I haven’t actually been able to move forward and seek help still 3 months after telling her I wanted to get help. I think it helps me knowing that I don’t have to face her everyday but that I still have her there to seek support from. Although, I am sure she does- she is very involved in ED recovery and awareness- I hope she knows I a trying every day to muster the courage and ask for help.
See, that’s the thing about this disorder you are waging a constant battle. You vs. The voice in your head. The evil, mean, voice in your head that simultaneously feels like the only person you can trust. The best way I can explain this relationship is it’s like your mind is playing tug of war against the other part… and at least for now, losing.