Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Small Thank-you

In the last few days I have been emotionally and physically recovering from a binge episode. I am so over the 10lbs conundrum and am very glad that I wrote those feelings down so that I can remind myself that I did, at some point, actually feel that way. At this very moment I am okay. I am working hard at identifying what triggers or is likely to trigger an episode and I am doing my best to stay away from, or at least be prepared for, them.

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all the people who have taken the time to read this blog. Knowing that you are participating in my journey with me by reading this journal motivates me to keep taking steps toward recovery. You inspire me to reach harder for successes so that I may have something positive to share with you.

Thank you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Record

For the record I went to see an MD about my condition yesterday and now it's officially part of my medical record. The thought of that makes me sick to my stomach. Now anyone who picks up my file has access to judge me.

Part of me heard her: she said that she was really proud of me for taking such steps to recover and that an eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, there is something physically wrong in my brain, the neurotransmitters don't fire correctly. In an attempt to make me feel better she also mentioned that I wouldn't criticize someone because they had cancer, which is true but I don't feel like an eating disorder is not comparable to cancer. It feels more like a cross bread of herpes and schizophrenia - you didn't purposely get it but it's embarrassing and fraught with social stigma. You can hide it from most people but once they know they will always treat you differently from that point on. You can treat the symptoms, reducing their likelihood and frequency but you'll never be truly cured.

The reason I finally saw a doctor is that I learned (via this Questionnaire) that my unexplained health problems (the one's that have taken me to six different doctors (of three different specialties) in the last 8 months) may be a result of my eating disorder. Moreover, some of the things and traits that I had just accepted about myself may also be a result of it. It's scary to think how sick I have made myself without having a clue - I knew I had a bad relationship with food but I didn't see it as a problem because look at our society - it's clear that many people have bad relationships with food. However, mine apparently goes beyond the 'normal' bad relationship with food.

I am actually hurting myself and that knowledge was enough to get me over my fear of talking to a doctor. I needed to know how much damage I have actually done.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Now What?

Alright I've come to terms with it: I have an eating disorder. Now what?

Initially the thought of recovery made me sick to my stomach. I could only think of all the positive things that this 'voice' in my head has done for me but now I see the truth and am ready to recover (alright, most days I see the truth and I'm already sick of this so I better get around to recovering). All I need to do is change how I think, what I think about, my eating patterns and habits, how I view the world and how I view myself. No problem! If only it was that easy.

I got angry at my boyfriend yesterday because since we found out that I have an actual problem (a real eating disorder - it's not just that I'm an emotional eater) I haven't been able to purge as often; now purging does more than just hurt me physically it also hurts him emotionally. Most days I am grateful to have this extra presence and awareness of my disorder in my life but some days I am angry that I can't just take refuge in the calmness of a purge. A purge wipes the slate clean, gives me a moment of emotional peace and lets me move forward away from a binge; it is the conclusion of a very bad thing, without the conclusion where does that leave me?

He uses words like 'just don't do it' to illustrate that even though he loves me more than anything he just doesn't understand what it's like. If it was as simple as 'just don't do it' then I wouldn't have a problem.

Which brings me back to my question: Now What?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 10lbs Conundrum

You don't put on 10 lbs in less than 2 weeks in any type of healthy way.

The fact of the matter is that the non-disordered aspects of my life have needed a lot of my attention and energy recently. Thus, there has been no energy left over to fight with myself about food.

In researching eating disorders I have learned that people with binge eating as part of their symptoms typically binge in one of two ways

(a) Fast and Hard - 2 to 4 hours of complete all consuming power eating
(b) Long and Slow - days of prolonged (secret) overeating, sometime with periods of type (a) bingeing. 

I am unlucky enough to be inflicted with type (b) binge episodes. Lucky me!

I hope you never know what it's like to eat so far beyond being full that it hurts (and more than just that undo-your-top-button-after-dinner type of pain) or to be so disgusted at the amount of food you've consumed that you cry as you put more food into your mouth. It is unpleasant. 

To paraphrase something I read on another blog:

Fuck you and your two cookie binge.
Two cookies are not a binge. 

Anyways, that is not the point of this blog. The point is that not having the energy to fight myself out of this epic binge has had (so far) a 10lbs consequence and this 10lbs has had surprising consequences of it's own: 

There are parts of my body I like more at this weight. My breasts look fantastic (both with and without my everyday padded bra on). The slight amount of gain to my stomach has pulled the skin slightly tighter making my stomach look firmer. Moreover, all my clothes still fit and the gain hasn't done anything noteworthily 'bad'. The larger breasts actually make me look ever so thinner by creating a more defined curve. 

I, by no means, plan to stay at this weight but something amazing happened:

I finally see how my boyfriend can see me as beautiful at any (reasonable) weight I may be. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Glimmer of Hope

I love moments like I had this morning. Moments when I feel like myself. Moments when the core of my being is at peace and I feel like I have fully recovered. When I think about my eating disorder in moments like these I can barely imagine how I ever could end up in that dark place of bingeing and purging again. These moments are fleeting but they give me hope as to why I'm fighting so hard to recover. Eventually, one day, all my moments will be like this.

This is in stark contrasts to how I've been feeling the last few days when the fight did not seem worth it at all! I was caught in the thought pattern of 'my eating disorder is not that bad', 'the physical health consequences are not that severe' (yet), fighting this is SO fucking hard, I was happier before when I wasn't fighting, I was happier when I just let the 'incidences' happen and if the goal of recovery is to be happy then shouldn't I just stop fighting it and let myself be happy like I once was, happier than I am now'.

I wish I could find a magic button that would allow me to switch between these two types of extremes. I don't understand how some days the voice of my disorder can be so quite when just hours before it was screaming at me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I know eating disorders are a serious illness that people die from every day. I do not want to be sick! I don't want to have an eating disorder!

But if I have to have one can't I have a better one? I look at media images of women suffering from anorexia and although I don't want to be that thin or that sick, a small part of me envies them. If only I had the type of control that they did. If I'm going to be sick can't I be sick like that? If only my recovery could include eating.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) you can't pick your illnesses. But if I have to have this one then can't I at least be sick enough that I can get real help? If I could just be better at having an eating disorder then people would notice and I could get more help! I could put my life on hold and focus full time on my recovery. If I was sick enough then people would be more understanding when they found out the truth, I wouldn't need to defend my illness to them.

I look at the requirements to be medically labeled as bulimic; the thought of being that sick scares me and I my heart hurts for people who suffer like that but a small part of me envies them. They are successful at having an eating disorder and because of that success they can seek help.

I know logically that envying (even just a little bit) the girls that are sicker than me is part of my illness and will need to be one of the things I get rid of/change about myself as I recover.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quick Update

I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing okay. I am under a lot of stress right now and taking the time and energy to battle my disorder is really wearing on the rest of my life. However, I will not let this be an excuse to stop the fight. I will triumph over this illness. In the mean time the stress is making me physically sick and I'm not sure if this is a step forward or backwards in my recovery.

It was nice to meet with my councilor today because she reminded me of how far I've come. I am slowly getting better. 

We also talked about a letter that she asked me to write. It is a letter to the voice inside my head, the voice of my eating disorder. I would like to type more about the epiphany's I had while writing it but I do not have the time right now. You can look for more on this subject to come. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrate the Small Victories

One of the characteristics of my eating disorder is obsessive thoughts about food. I can only assume that these obsessive thoughts are similar to what an addict experiences. I hear this voice in my head about a specific food and it is so loud that it drowns out everything else. The rest of my entire life goes into auto pilot as this internal battle rages on in my head. The thoughts usually focus on a food that I have in the house (or candy or chocolate, which may or may not be in the house) and my entire focus is on eating it. The battle goes something like this:

You need to eat it! It tastes so good. It's right there just put it in your mouth. 
You can eat better tomorrow. You'll make up for eating this today tomorrow. 

But I've already eaten enough calories today. I don't need it!
I know that I'm not going to exercise it off tomorrow. 
I never 'make up for it tomorrow'.

Just eat it anyways. 
-persistent thoughts about the taste, texture and smell of the food- 
You're not going to stop thinking about it until you eat it.
You need to eat it!

I don't want to be fat. Think about all the hard work
I've done to get into this shape and I want to get smaller. 
Eating this will not help! Please don't eat it. PLEASE!

This thought pattern will continue for hours on end and is often accompanied by negative thoughts of what other people will think of me if they see me eat it. The voice to eat is so loud that I often lose. 

Do you know that satisfied feeling you get when you eat a tasty tasty treat, especially something that you've been craving for a while. You savour and enjoy it. Often the calories and fat are worth that enjoyment. That is NOTHING like when I lose the obsessive thought battle. When I finally give in and lose and eat it there is no joy or satisfaction. I often don't even really tasty what I'm eating. The positive feelings associated with treat eating are replaced with guilt and shame. Moreover, as I eat there is a stream of negative thoughts about how weak, fat and pathetic I am running through my head. To make the whole situation worse the voice in my head is never satisfied when I give in and instead I hear one of two things (1) "that was so good, eat more!" or (2) "what are you going to eat next?"

BUT today I won! 

Lately my obsessive thoughts have been focusing on cheese whiz - an unhealthy product that I haven't eaten in years but is in the back of the fridge - particularly cheese whiz on rice cakes. I've lost the battle many times in the past week and to make it worse I am allergic to cheese. So when I lose, along with all the crappy negative thoughts, I get physical consequences too. I break out, get stomach aches, gas, constipation and an overall feeling of lethargy - like the dairy gets into my muscles and makes them tired. 

BUT today I won!

I tricked the stupid internal voice by eating (dairy-free) cream cheese on rice cakes. I took such pride in figuring out how to shut the stupid voice up that I tasted every bite. I enjoyed it and the calories were totally worth it!

Today I won! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What living with an Eating Disorder looks like:

Life is like walking upstream through a river. There are parts of the river that are calm and the walking is easy, sometime even effortless. Then without warning I find myself in deep rapids and I get pulled under the water (a binge). The rapids are rough and I get tossed around, never being able to get a breath of fresh air, I’m drowning! I’m being tossed and turned, I don’t know which way is up or down and my head keeps getting smashed painfully on the rocks, making the confusion and disorientation all that much worse. I can’t breath! I need to breath. I have no idea when the rapids will be done with me, when I’ll be able to breath again. It’s so painful and scary, I have no control! and then I stick my head out the water and breath, a huge satisfying breath of fresh clean air (a purge). There is so much calmness in that first gasp of air that I can put my feet back under myself and regain my composure. I am okay now, the water is calm and I can start my journey on life’s path again.

There are times when I recognize that I shouldn’t purge. That it really is unhealthy and no matter how much I need to breath I force myself to stay under the dark scary water. At some point I loss consciousness from the lack of oxygen and smashing of my body against the rocks. When I eventually wake up battered and bruised on the shore there is no satisfaction to that first breath. I am standing alone emotionally and physically beat up with nothing to do but start walking back upstream.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How did I not know?

Part of me must have known that I had a problem but the voice inside my head, the voice that I thought was my own, was so logical that I couldn't argue. It would say things like

You can't have a problem, you're not small enough or 
large enough or sick enough. No one will believe you. 

You don't want to be obese. Did you see what you just ate?
You deserve to be punished.

You're just an emotional eater. There is nothing 
wrong with you, lots of people are this way. 

I was fortunate that before I got sick enough to need medical intervention I happened to be in counseling for another reason and as that reason for counseling was coming to an end I mentioned how I feel about food and my fear of having an eating disorder and something purely amazing happened:

She believed me! 

Thinking about and typing that right now brought tears to my eyes. I really do have a problem, I am sick, I am getting help and I am going to recover.