31 December 2008

The fear of ...

Anxiety threatened to consume me in the past few days. It gnawed at me like an evil demon, not letting go, coloring everything until I felt like I was literally going to die.

I should have listened to my doctor. He said I needed Zyprexa. I said, no, and secretly, inside, I said no because I feared it would make me gain weight.

It all came crashing down on me in the last few days, until my husband took me on a 2-hour, fear-filled drive to the hospital, where I was admitted for a few days.

I couldn't read. I couldn't write. I couldn't think, and I literally thought I would die. I begged everyone to help me, please just make it go away; finally, the drip of an IV and some Ativan did beat back the demon.

I am calmer now, functional, the residual anxiety just nipping at me. I dread the thought of that black hole consuming me again. At least I can breathe again. Never again will I take for granted the simple feeling of being me, being whole, being able to move my limbs and perform simple functions without the fear that any movement, any wrong action, could cause - what? I don't know.

26 December 2008

Fear and determination

I have been pretty sick this past week; a norovirus has been going around and it hit me hard. It also derailed my (albeit feeble) attempts at eating and recovery.

Tuesday I could barely eat. Wednesday was a bit better, but by then, the pattern was set - I wasn't eating much. Thursday I weighed myself and discovered I was below 100 again.

Several months ago, hell, even several weeks ago, that would have thrilled me. This time, it struck fear in me.

Goddamnit, I had worked so hard to get over 100 and to accept it!

Unfortunately, I did start feeling thrilled when I hit 98 this morning. Then I panicked, got very pissed and decided, as I enter my second year of battling my ED, that anorexia was not going to kill me, that I am going to fight back.

I grabbed an Ensure and guzzled it down, thinking of the calories as healing medicine. It's a start.

21 December 2008

Food, food everywhere!

This time of the year feels like I'm walking a cliff, ready to fall off - cookies, cupcakes, candy and more abound. If I say no to this monstrous holiday treats, I feel like a Scrooge. If I give in, I feel sick, fat and like I want to purge.

This first holiday season in recovery is so stressful. Not only do I have to go to my family's for Christmas, as an added bonus, we are having Christmas with my husband's family the Sunday after. It makes me wonder why holidays are celebrated with food.

My doctor advised to eat beforehand, and place the emphasis on getting together. He doesn't know my mother - or her wrath, if I refused to eat something at the holiday table. I told him I'd rather deal with him than her (he laughed.)

But seriously, how do I explain how all this food just cranks up my anxiety level ten-fold? So I take a nibble here, try to add up the calories, and wonder when will there be a time when food doesn't cause me so much anxiety?

I remember the last time I ate like a normal person - it was last Christmastime. We had people over for an early holiday dinner. I was in the early throes, if you will, of anorexia (although I didn't know it then, of course.) I nibbled on some nuts, ate a normal, if light dinner, and proceeded to panic about the food. Then I took a bunch of laxatives, staying up all night with diarrhea and a racing heart.

I've never eaten normal since then. I still weigh (pardon the pun) every single bite I put in my mouth - too many calories? how do I balance it out? how do I get rid of it? will I be able to exercise it off? or can I let it go for once?

I can't wait for January. The minefield of food is a little less treacherous then. 

16 December 2008

"just think of the starving children..."

As if I don't feel guilty enough about having an eating disorder, someone recently told me I needed to think of the starving children in (insert country here).

I do think of the starving children. I traveled to Haiti to help children and others on a medical mission - against doctor's orders. But it didn't stop me from starving myself - I gave most of my food away on that trip - and it didn't stop me from feeling guilty.

If I could give all the food I haven't eaten while anorexic, I would. But comments like these are not helpful.

Neither are these comments: Just eat. (Gee, I hadn't thought of that! Let me just grab that doughnut and scarf it down and I'll be all better), I'd love to be anorexic - for a little bit (Really? You mean I can turn it on and off? and Be careful what you wish for - I use to wish I would be really thin - And now I am!), You actually ate something? (Well, even anorexics eat something; if I didn't eat at all, I would already be dead), I didn't think you would want to be invited because it involves food (Yes, I just like be left out of fun things with friends because I have an eating disorder), and my all time favorite (from a relative, no less) - You just need to pull yourself together!

15 December 2008

Zyprexa -NOT the answer

I feel like I've failed.

For some reason, the Zyprexa started making me feel restless and more anxious. So I've stopped it. I'm ready to give up on medications.

Maybe I'm going to have to do this substance-free. There's a thought.

But I still feel like I've failed.

14 December 2008

The enemy - Food part 2

I've been struggling the last several days, with trying to eat normally and trying not to purge any food by taking laxatives.

A cookie - a small, innocent cookie made by a child - broke me Friday night. I spent most of the day Saturday on the couch, yet again removed from life and the world, because of the after-effects of laxatives. I hate myself at times.

Sunday, I decided to have an ED-free day. No counting calories. Eating whatever I wanted. My husband and I were given a small gift bag filled with Christmas goodies, such as Chex Mix, banana nut bread and chocolate-covered pretzels.

So I grazed my way through Sunday, but could not really enjoy it. I feel so guilty for my little splurge, and madder than hell that I gave my husband the laxatives, which he quickly threw away. I tried to find the little buggers in the garbage, but David had buried the packages.

Now I'm left with guilt and anxiety over the food in my body, and huge regret that I thought I could be normal and not just "anorexic." I'm also left wishing I could throw up my food (something I've never been able to do) and scared about my reaction - or overreaction? - to some holiday treats.

Merry Christmas to me.

12 December 2008

A question of identity

Where does anorexia end and I began?

I've started reading "Regaining Yourself: Breaking Free from the Eating Disorder Identity." I'm very afraid of becoming only "anorexic." Only someone with an eating disorder. Only someone who is continuously in recovery. Only .......

Who I was: a writer, a journalist, an avid reader of everything from history to literature to fiction. I was a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter and someone with a strong curiosity about everything in the world. I cared about the children in Haitian, the mentally ill here in Michigan ... and I tried, in my own way, to do something about the problems of the world. I wrote poetry; I sang Christmas songs in July. I drove North on a sunny day just because, and called up a friend at the spur of the moment to go out to lunch. I was unafraid when I ate, and I didn't care about the calorie count of one teaspoon of cream for my coffee or the fact that honey I so loved for my hot tea had more calories than sugar.

I was free and I was Angela.

Anorexia - any eating disorder - diminishes you, even if it doesn't literally shrink you. My world has become much smaller, because counting calories and worry about food and trying to figure out either how to avoid it or get rid of it takes so much energy. Sometimes I don't even want to get out of the bed, because I have to start the whole damn routine again.

Sacker's point (at least so far as I've read) is people with eating disorders often haven't fully developed their own identities. Then they are labeled anorexic or bulimic or whatever, and the eating disorder become their - my - identity.

It's a seductive world of pro-ana and pro-mia, complete with its own language and routines. It has become easy to stay with anorexia; it's been my world for quite sometime.

But now I'm tired of being anorexic. It's much harder to crawl out of the eating disorder hole than it was to fall into it, because it feels like my future is either a. black space and/or b. a watery, murky question mark that I can't answer right now.

11 December 2008

Hope - when there is none

I've hit rock bottom - twice - in the past week.

Tuesday was a hectic day, with my mother-in-law having surgery and my eating schedule being disrupted. I panicked after eating dinner at 7:30 at night, broke into hysterical tears and cried over and over - I don't want this in my life anymore, I don't want to be anorexic. This was after adding up all my calories and seeing I went over my self-imposed limit of 1,000.

Then Wednesday, the voice (the bitch!) in my head kept saying 'you're fat, you're fat.' I bought a pack of laxatives and swallowed them before I could change my mind. You see, it was punishment for trying to eat normal.

Now I feel like shit - bloated after an evening and morning of diarrhea, tired from little sleep.

But I must continue to hope I will get better - the alternative is death.

07 December 2008

An atypical anorexic

I can't be anorexic because a. I was diagnosed at age 42. b. I come from a working class background. c. I didn't totally lose my periods.

I am anorexic because a. I was (and still am) less than 85 percent of my minimum weight b. I am a raging perfectionistic who nitpicks herself to death and can never, EVER, be good enough c. I both feel and see fat when I look at my body and d. I still, in spite of being told I could die from this, have a strong, almost unbearable urge to lose weight.

What's going on here?

As I search for help - mainly through books and the Internet - I am confronted with the fallacies of eating disorders. That it is a "teenage" disease. That only upper middle-class, white girls are struck by these disorders. That you must stop menstruating for three consecutive months to be diagnosed. And etc. etc. etc.

I tried to pull out this criteria as proof that I am okay, that I do not have anorexia; not me, I am too old and do not totally fit the cookie cutter box set by the DSM IV. My doctor just rolled his eyes and said, right, you can still die of anorexia.

Because God knows I don't want to be anorexia. I'd rather just be thin.

But until many of the people writing about and working with people with eating disorders get it together, many people are going to fall through the cracks and not get the treatment they need. It's bad enough to kick yourself for being a pain in the ass. It's harder feeling like you don't even need help.

06 December 2008


It's a tiny, 2.5 mg pill. It makes eating - and life - a little bit easier.

I was very reluctant to take a medication to treat my anorexia. I wanted to do it on my own. But as weeks turned into months, and I continued to struggle with both eating and gaining weight, I agreed to try medicine.

First I took Periactin, which made me feel drugged and out of it. Not good for someone who writes for a living and must be able to quickly put together sentences and whole paragraphs.

Then my doctor suggested Zyprexa - an antipsychotic. I balked. I remembered my social work days, of working with clients who took Haldol or other antipsychotics, and the terrible side effects - twitching movements called tardive dyskensia was one prominant side effect.

But as my weight started to drop into the 90s again, I decided to give it a try. It didn't change my personality - I'm still just as moody, weird and quirky as ever - nor did it give me a raging appetite, which was my biggest fear.

It just has made it easier to sleep, easier to get up and easier to swallow the food.

Lesson? Trust my doctor. Maybe he does know best.

05 December 2008

The enemy - Food

So when did food become the enemy?

I look at my plate each morning, noon and night and think - I must eat, because in order to live, I need food. But when I hear people talk about the pleasure of eating, of the joy of creating a new recipe, I just don't get it. I think, why bother? It's all the same, anyway, and I just want to shovel in the bare minimum and get it over with.

No more not eating for me. No more skipping meals or weaseling out of breakfast or eating half a sandwich and giving the other half away (like I did many times in Haiti). But to eat for fun? No way; that just doesn't make any sense to me.

So why am I writing about this very private matter in this very public forum? Because at some point in life, silence must be broken in order for healing to take place. And this is a start.

But eating for pleasure? That's going to take a very long time.