31 December 2009

Leaving ED - one year later

In July 2008, I boarded a plane headed for Wisconsin and Rogers Memorial Hospital. I was going to check myself in, determined to beat anorexia (everyone said I was sick, so I must be, right?) during a scheduled two-week inpatient stay. After meeting a 12-year-old girl with a feeding tube, I was ushered upstairs, the unfamiliar environment already frightening me.

A bewildering 24-hours later, I was on another plane, headed back to Michigan after checking myself out of Rogers AMA. The psychiatrist there told me I had little insight into my illness and that if I didn't pull it together soon, I would be dead within the year, another victim of anorexia, another wasted body thrown on the dust heap of this inexplicable disorder that strikes men and women, young and old, with equal viciousness.

Flying back to Michigan, I leaned my head against the window, looking at the clouds and wishing I could jump out of the plane and be free. Free of my thoughts. Free of my body. Free of my bones. Free. Free of anorexia and the ever-pervasive anxiety that it brought with it. I was so afraid, and I believed that psychiatrist from Rogers that I would die of anorexia. I didn't care. I was 92 pounds and quickly heading for the 80s, and I just wanted it to be done and over with. Take me home, Jesus.

As 2010 comes ever-closer, I think back to those days when the numbers meant everything and you couldn't convince me that anything was wrong. Or at least that anything was so wrong that I needed help. I wanted anorexia to play its course, and then along came a caring doctor who said, as many others had, "You're dying." Then he told me I didn't deserve to die, that I had a lot to offer the world and that I didn't need to be one more victim of anorexia. He suggested one more inpatient stay, at Beaumont Hospital. I rolled my eyes at him, and said, "Why not?"

But a tiny flicker of hope lit in my heart, as I instantly trusted him and thought maybe, this time anorexia's strong hold could be broken.

My year - this year of regaining weight and life - really started in August 2008 when I met that doctor. It didn't come at once. After two weeks inpatient, I came home and continued to struggle with my fear of food and fat. Anxiety continued to gnaw at me, and December 2008 saw me back under 100 pounds and back in Beaumont. I was to be admitted a total of five times between December 2008 and February 2009 before I could convince myself to eat like a normal person, like the person I had been before anorexia came.

In February, exhausted from starvation and its effects (including a severe, pervasive case of anemia), I took sick leave from work. I didn't know if I would ever be back, and several people later told me they thought I went home to die.

But I didn't. Each day I ate three meals and drank three Ensures, this time facing the 100-pound mark and gritting my teeth, continuing to crawl my way to health. And it felt like crawling. I would cry every day, sometimes begging God to just kill me, looking at the bottles of tranquilizers and other medications squirreled away, tempted by the relief, the sweet, permanent relief swallowing each and every pill would bring. I thought, surely God would understand and forgive me for my moment of weakness.

I continued to eat and drink Ensure, and each pound both frightened and thrilled me. Sometime in April, I found the energy to start walking. I would walk three houses down, three houses back, in all sorts of weather. The next day, I would walk four houses down, four houses back. I began to look around at the trees, the coming of spring, the still-cold air filling my nose and blowing through my hair. Each walk represented one more step to health, and I continued to eat.

In May, I returned to work. One person - an editor - said he knew all along I would be back, that I would get better and make it (thank you, Ralph!) I threw myself back into work, feeling strange that I could again function without falling to pieces. That I could think and interview people and cover meetings and write articles people read. It felt like a miracle. It also felt very strange.

More changes were coming. The newspaper I worked for offered buyouts this summer. It was an opportunity to carve a new career. Did I dare take it? I was still on anxiety medication and I feared a relapse (I had already lost five precious pounds after returning to work.) I decided I had already taken so many risks in the past few years, so what was one more?

I completed my first semester of graduate school this month, using the buyout money for tuition. I'm working toward a master's in English Language and Literature, specializing in Children's Literature. I dream of the future, one filled with love and teaching and writing and learning.

The thoughts are still with me. The number on the scale still means something. Sometimes I cut food here or there, fear nipping at me. I'm not exactly sure what I fear - fat? loss of control? really living? I often think I don't deserve this second chance, that I should starve myself because that is all that I deserve. I still question - why me? Why in my 40s? Why did anorexia strike without warning, coming to stay and never completely leaving? And the most frightening question - will it grab hold of me again?

I look back at the lonely, scared person in July 2008, flying back from Rogers Memorial, feeling like a complete and utter failure and I want to go to her, take her in my arms and whisper, "You'll make it. You will make it. Just believe."

24 December 2009

Awaiting the Christ child

The strains of Cistercian Monks fill the air with their chanting, waiting for the Christ child's arrival, as I write this. I also wait and each year I pray that I will be worthy of His salvation and grace. Each year I pray the next year will be one of healing, one of wellness and one of joy.

The past few years have been difficult. Since 2007, I have been told by doctors at least three times I was near death. One time I was close to slipping into a coma. Then I developed anorexia and I have often wondered why I developed a near-lethal eating disorder after almost making it back to health.

Did I want to die? Sometimes I long for heaven and Christ, but for some reason, He has kept me here. I still wonder why. I don't think my questions will ever be answered, and maybe it's time to stop asking them and accept His grace and peace for what they are - gifts.

I wrote the other day that I won't have an empty life. Each day it is a struggle to maintain that sense of hope and purpose. I have to keep trying, the only alternative is death. Each day I still struggle with food and my fear of it; I eat, then I pull back, afraid; then I eat again. I now realize this will be part of my life forever; I will always have some fear of food. And that's okay, as long as I don't stop eating.

I no longer regret having anorexia, or almost dying, or any of the other things that have happened to me through the years. I have made many mistakes, but each one has made me who I am. I think the pain and the struggle has made me more compassionate, as I learn that people and their feelings, who they are and what they dream, mean the most to me. I wish I could wrap my arms around each friend who is suffering and take it away.

Tomorrow is Christmas. I will eat and I will be afraid and I will fight that fear. And as I long as I fight, it will be a Merry Christmas.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, one filled with the peace and joy of Christ and one without fears or eating disorder thoughts. For those of you of other faiths, I wish you much happiness during your celebrations.


17 December 2009

For Terry

The past few weeks, I have been able to really see what grace and dignity is through a former co-worker and friend, Terry. Terry was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer this fall and was sent home with hospice two weeks ago. I went to see her in the hospital, and at first I was apprehensive. What would I say? What could I say?

She immediately gave me a hug and we talked about her childhood, growing up and raising two sons. She was at peace and treasured the life she had, but did not become angry or bitter because that live was being cut short.

Several of us arranged to sit with her for a few hours in her home while her husband went to work. I went last Thursday, and had the most wonderful, enlightening conversation of my life. I was thinking about leaving graduate school, thinking I should find a full-time job or else train for something practical and in demand, such as nursing or dental assistant. But my heart was sad, because I love English and literature and reading and books, and the thought of being able to immerse myself in those loves and possible earn a living brought an excitement to me I haven't felt in a long time. Terry must have sensed what I was thinking, because as we held hands, she said "Do what you love; that's the most important thing." She told me I was a talented writer and a good person and that I deserved to do what I loved. At that moment I decided I would return to graduate school next semester, go full-time, and give this opportunity for a new life a chance.

And when I became depressed and despondent, worried if I could make a living out of it, I kept hearing Terry's voice, "Do what you love."

I returned to see her Tuesday; mainly she slept. I started to cry, selfishly thinking that I needed to hear her say that to me one more time. I was tired, going on about four hours of sleep, and briefly rested my head against her arm as I held her hand. Then I started talking about a recent visit to a outdoor Christmas walk, describing the lights and the children singing Christmas carols. Her eyes opened and she smiled. And although she didn't speak, I could hear her say, "Do what you love." She loved people and friends and her family and life and her six grandchildren.

Terry died today. I feel honored for the times I was able to spend with her, and my heart feels both full and sad.

More and more, I realize I don't have the choice to return to anorexia. I want to do what I love. I love books and reading and learning and spending cold nights snuggling with my husband and nights out with friends and days with sunshine streaking the icy snow. I love the deep red sunsets of warm summer nights and quiet walks with the smell of grass in the air and the sounds of children playing in the small play corner at church and when they run up to you and giggle and laugh and show you something they made in Sunday school.

I love all of it and as long as God grants me life, I will cherish all of it. I remember once in church, when I was in the throes of anorexia, when I was near death, I heard God say to me, "I do not want my people to starve."

I will not starve and I will not have a life of emptiness.

I think of Terry now, and how much she would have given for one more year, two more years, three more years. I wish, I wish oh how I wish I could have given her that gift. It has been a hard year for many of my friends, and if I could make things better, if I could change things so all of you were surrounded by peace and happiness and love, I would do that.

But I can't.

The best I can do is honor the people in my life by really living. Terry, I will do what I love. Thank you.

06 December 2009

Out of commission

Out of commission until 15+ page research paper is done and turned in!

Why, oh why, did I ever think I could do graduate work???

Trigger Trigger Trigger! As I wrote on edbites, if I fail at graduate school, there's always anorexia. I know I'm good at losing weight, I don't feel so hot at being a student again.

28 November 2009

Weighty questions

This year was the first Thanksgiving in several years that I've been at a near-normal weight. I went to the family dinner with the intent to - this year, finally - enjoy the company and the food, to eat without fear. Then my mother looked at me and asked me, "How much do you weigh?" I was stunned, but I answered her. She then cheerfully replied how great it was that she didn't weigh much more than me. My first thought was, "Well, that's something to aspire to - compete with a recovering anorexic!" I sat at the meal, picked at my food, and barely choked some of it down.

How could I have responded? Could I have said, "Well, Mom, at least I'm healthier this year?" Or, "I'm aiming for health, numbers don't mean anything?" Or, "It's really none of your business?" My husband said afterward, "She just doesn't get it."

On the plus side, it was still great to see a lot of my family and to laugh and joke with them.

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! And may this be an ED-free day for you all!


23 November 2009


I stood in the shower this morning and I started crying AGAIN! Hating what I see in the mirror, fearful because of many days with the pain of a migraine resistant to all forms of medication, regretting my slide into anorexia, wondering who I am now because I'm no longer diagnosed with anorexia, afraid of the future because I'm trying to create a new career, tired of feeling ugly because I don't conform to someone's artificial standards of beauty (hair too curly, too short, not thin enough, never thin enough!)

As I cried and screamed, no one but the cat around to hear me, I finally asked - When am I going to accept myself? When am I going to love who I am? When am I going to celebrate the good things in my life? When is this going to end?

I'm so afraid it will never end. I will never look at one bite of food without being afraid of it. I will never put one spoonful into my mouth without looking down at my thighs, my stomach and seeing FAT. I will never look in the mirror and think I am beautiful, as my husband tells me I am so often.

I will never be happy. I will never be free.

There. I've written my worst fears in those two sentences. I don't know where the key is. I don't know what medication, what exercise, which doctor, WHAT WHAT WHAT will free me????

I try to tell myself the key is within myself, even if that does sound cliché. But if the key is within myself, it is buried underneath years of regret and torment and self-doubt and anorexia and illness and ....

I asked God the other day why didn't He just let me die of anorexia last year? My weight was very low and dropping, the blood tests were getting bad, I was getting sick.

He didn't answer me.

11 November 2009

Counting ...

One cup of Cheerios - 110. Two scrambled eggs - 154. Half a banana ...

Food food food - I can't seem to live without it, and I'm afraid to eat too much of it. I add up the daily calories in my head to reassure myself, only to ask why why did I eat that and that and that ... I'm a pig, I'm too fat, I'll never be thin again, the size one dream is GONE.

I started to cry as I walked through the mall today, mourning my thin thin body, missing my bones, the curving in of my stomach, the clavicle standing out, the too-big eyes. The mannequins were all smaller than my, lighter than air, fragile, delicate; everything I used to be and now am not. Inside I cried to myself, what have I done???

I looked at the gracefully hung clothes, remembered the times I could walk in and get the smallest size and sometimes even have that size be too big.

I look at pictures of women with anorexia online. They are so tiny, so airy, so light. I want to be them, I want to be someone like them, I want to have that look. I miss my stripped down arms and my thighs not touching.

So today I started counting again. When I was still actively anorexic (am I now a retired anorexic? Have I given up on ana? Can I ever separate from her, or is she like a demon, part of my soul, that can't be cut away???), I counted every single calorie. One of my biggest downfalls is that I can't have diet products because I'm allergic to aspartame. So if I want any sweetness, it has to be sugar.

One packet of sugar - 10 calories. One teaspoon of CoffeeMate Lite - 10 calories. Water, blessed water - 0 calories. Five Ritz crackers - 60 calories ... It's too much, each damn calorie means one more step to losing myself.

I hate how the calories now add up to a four-digit calorie intake, meaning NO WEIGHT LOSS FOR ME!

Counting, counting! Numbers and food and what it all means swirling around in my head.

Only sleep brings some relief. Until I dream of food.

07 November 2009

Hope rising

It has been a tough week of restricting and little sleep. The days were dark and ana was begging me to come back and I almost fell for it.

But today I feel hope rising.

I went through the many messages I received from friends through this, and I am just amazed at the support I've been given through almost three years of battling anorexia.

I thought, "With all these people behind me, how can I fail?" Thank you Courtney, Carrie, Patti, Joan and so many others I can't even begin to name all of them.

I discovered today I do want it all and a normal life free of anorexia is within my reach.

I am just grateful for the opportunity to go to school, to be with my husband, to look out the window at the sunshine (a minor miracle in Michigan!) and to write and breathe and love and live.

So ED, KISS MY ASS! You're not welcome here anymore.

29 October 2009


Talk about crashing. Tuesday and Wednesday, I felt like I could do anything, that I could overcome the anorexia and have the normal life I crave. Last night, my mood started to fail, I couldn't stop crying and I ended up developing a migraine. Today has been totally useless - instead of working on my future (i.e. studying and writing for my graduate school classes), I've surfed the Internet and Facebook, looking at pictures of people with families and lives and fun, feeling sorry for myself.


I feel that my dreams are too big for anorexia. I eat, then I think I don't want to eat. I'm trying to reduce the number of anxiety meds, then this afternoon took extra in the effort to stop thinking about how many ways I've screwed up. I write to friends who are struggling, trying to help them see that they can get better and live a full life, and can't convince myself I can do that.

I feel like I'm sinking, and I don't even know why.

I feel like all my dreams are dying, that I have no right to want more, that I have no right to expect a happy, normal life without ED.

I keep trying to kick ED out, and like a bad-boy boyfriend, he keeps coming back and enticing me. Try telling this charmer you're done with him. Ha! He'll just say, "You know you want me." And the problem is, part of me still does.

Because if my dreams can't come true, what do I have left? ED will always be there without fail.

20 October 2009

Craving normalcy

I want to be normal.

I want to: go to the movies and gorge myself on popcorn; hang out with friends and have scones and hot tea; eat too much, eat too little, and eat just right and it not be an issue; have dinner at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and not have it matter; eat for the day and have no clue how many calories I have consumed; eat an oatmeal raisin cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, a brownie or all three and not give a damn.

I also want to: grow in my marriage, not have anxiety, be medication-free, have a family, complete graduate school and move forward in my professional life.

I want full-on, normal, boring, every day life - it would feel like a miracle.

I crave normalcy like I once craved to be thin. I look around at all the normal things people are doing - traveling, hanging out, working, going to school, getting ready for Halloween ...

I am afraid to speak my dreams out loud, even on this blog. I'm afraid my dreams are too normal and are closed to someone like me, someone going into her third year of battling anorexia. I fear that there is a sign a head that says "STOP - You are not allowed to proceed. To the left to continue the drama of ED. No normal life for you!" (Said in the tones of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld - NO Soup for you!)

I'm afraid it's too late. But I can't give up the hope, the dream, of ... normalcy.

14 October 2009

Picturing me

I just looked at a photo of me in my "anorexia days" and my reaction was both surprising and gratifying.

Surprising because I was absolutely appalled by what I looked like at my lowest weight (this is a picture of me on a mission trip to Haiti - which I went on against doctor's orders.) I look so gaunt, so skeletal, so thin ...

At the time, I thought I was very attractive. I certainly was the thinnest one around - several small Haitian children would come up to me, stroke my arm with their little fingers, and whisper "too thin," "too thin." (That really should have given me a clue - if children in a third-world country who have seen starvation tell you you're too thin, you might want to think about it!)

I was very proud of being the thinnest one around during the summer of 2008. Unlike many anorexics, I didn't bundle myself up in layers of clothing (unless I was too cold) - I wore mini-skirts and tiny T-shirts to show off what I thought were my thin, model-like legs (no thighs touching!) and slender arms. I remember feeling so proud walking into a store and being told, "I'm sorry, we don't have anything small enough to fit you," "What are you, an extra-small," ad nauseam ...

Oh brother!

Now looking at the picture, perhaps seeing myself as others saw me then, scares me. My arms look stripped to the bone, my face tightly pulled against my skull, my skin dead-white. Frankly, if I saw someone looking like I did, I would be scared for her life!

I am gratified by this reaction, because I feel that in spite of some small relapses and evil thoughts (get that thin again! come on, you can do it! it is easy!), my reaction makes me feel that I am getting better. I don't really want to lose weight. I enjoy being able to wear jeans without tugging them up no matter what size (and near the end - or maybe the end of anorexia's complete and total grip on my soul? - I was tugging at those size zero jeans, and I thought it was terrific; I was aiming for teens size 14!)

I am grateful for the health I've gained, for the curves I've earned, and for the right to at least try and eat without fear.

At first, I thought about posting that picture with this blog. But no. She isn't me anymore. And she never will be again.

06 October 2009


I keep saying to myself - I know what I'm doing, I know what I'm doing ...

Panic rises up, bubbling in my throat; tears come from nowhere, scary thoughts unbidden.

Skip part of a meal, throw away some of my breakfast (make sure my husband doesn't see), do away with cheese (the lie - I'm congested. The truth - the calories and fat frighten me), count calories in my head (wow, today was under one thousand - I'm doing it again; I'm succeeding!)

Succeeding at what? Being sucked back into anorexia? Being able to ignore hunger pains? Watching the scale drop in small increments, a tiny burst of joy in my heart (it's going DOWN again; that's the direction I want, isn't it?)

What I'm really trying to control is my panic over graduate school - that I'm not smart enough, not good enough, not a hard enough worker to make it. See, if I fail, I can blame it on anorexia (I failed because I was sick, not because I am stupid). Plus, we now are trying to have a child, and I'm afraid I will fail at that, too.

I see my dreams spiraling downward into a pit, taking me along with them. What is the point of dreams if they can't come true?

Coffee and a cereal bar for lunch today, and I'll be sure to tell my husband I had a big dinner on my way from home (Oh, I am so full; I'm not hungry at all.)

I look at all the options of my life, and I am reminded of a passage in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. She is staring at a fig tree; each fig represents an option in her life. One fig is motherhood, another is being a wife, a third is the big dream - writer; and so on. She is staring at the figs, so hungry for one of them, so hungry for all of them. But she can't choose, and by not making any choice, she goes hungry.

I am staring at a million figs and I can't pick one of them out of fear. Fear of calories, fear of fat, fear of pounds, fear of failure - fear of succeeding?

Why can't I fail or succeed, and not beat myself up? Why do I have to be anything? Why do I feel I don't deserve one fig, let alone two or three or four?

In the meantime, I am so hungry.

15 September 2009

You could be happy ...

It's starting again. I want to be thin — so thin that I feel no pain.

I feel like everything has been taken away from me — my job, my identity, my life.

The only way is back. Back to where I was oh so close to the 80s. Why did I let them make me better? Because it's only made me better on the outside.

On the inside, I feel like I'm dying. So the outside needs to match the inside.
It's the only way.

Maybe I can regain what I've lost. Maybe I can be me again.

04 September 2009

The Siren call of anorexia

Like the Sirens of ancient Greece, anorexia has been seductively calling out to me — "Come, follow me back into the abyss. Once again you can be the thinnest woman around; you can be in control, instead of the Fates controlling you!"

I look at each meal — and I typically eat the same types of food every day — and think about cutting this or that out. For example, at breakfast: Do I really need that banana? Won't the cereal alone do? Or maybe I should return to my favorite anorexic breakfast — yogurt and no more. (And don't lick the spoon!)

Lunch — That Miracle Whip is just too much fat; why not just the turkey and cheese on bread? Then — OMG — cheese! How could I have forgotten? Cheese is the enemy, damn it! FAT FAT FAT! And bread — remember what Dr. Atkins said about bread? The carb count is horrendous. Maybe just a few slices of turkey would suffice.

Then there's dinner. I argued with my husband, David, the other day that too much margarine in the vegetable and rice was bad for my complexion. Could he please limit his use of margarine to a few swipes on bread? (I surprised he doesn't just tell me to get my own damn meal!)

I wander around store to store, holding up the dainty size one clothing and marvel that I, of all people, used to fit into such a size. And then I miss it. I want to be the one wearing the size one, I want to be the one tugging up the size one jeans like I used to not so long ago (around this time last year.)

I think back to last year. I was an inpatient at Beaumont Hospital for two weeks, connected to what is affectionately known as 'fat in a bag.' This line to my heart basically fed me sugars, potassium, and yes, fats and lipids, to my starved little body. I dragged the pole around for ten days; it was really almost a badge of honor — I was so sick, so low weight that I needed nutritional support, for crying out loud.

But I also remember the hope that I felt. I wanted to get better, and I prayed I would be well enough to just take a long walk with David in the summer sun. We have taken many walks this summer, talking over plans and dreaming about the future when I enter that almost-mythical land of "recovery."

For I have not reached recovery yet, one year later. My doctor says that's normal, and that the Siren call of anorexia also is normal. "Look how far you've come," he says. "You have dragged yourself out of the hole."

Yes, I have. I just wish I wasn't still staring into the hole, the pit of anorexia, wanting to jump in every time stress gets to me and I feel like life is out of control and swirling about me, ready to attack me and trip me up. I wish I didn't still view anorexia as an option for my future.

23 August 2009

Fear and determination part 2

I both dread the coming of tomorrow, and look forward to it with eager anticipation.

Tomorrow I start graduate school.

All week I have doubted and second-guessed my decision to give up my full-time job and return to school. Every day I have asked myself - Am I smart enough? What if I fail? What if I can't cut it?

What if it derails my recovery?

I am so scared of change. Oh, I like to sound brave. I like to talk like I can do anything, that I'm tough and smart and ready to take on the world.

But inside I'm a scared little girl.

And any change - including a positive step toward a better future - elicits in me a deep, strong desire to stop eating, to go back to that low, low weight, to diminish myself, to hide until I don't have to do anything but wail and cry and storm about.

Let others move forward and challenge themselves. Let me stay safe.

That's what anorexia was - is - for me. Safety. I stay a certain weight, I'm safe. I go over that weight, I'm lost, everything's lost, I feel threatened beyond belief and the world violently shakes.

Tomorrow I will walk out of my front door, get into my car and drive to the university. For I continue to choose life and growth above death and anorexia, in spite of how painful it is.

It would be so easy to give up. But as my doctor told me the other day, I am a fighter. So I will fight the anxiety and fear, and I will do the best I can in graduate school.

And hopefully, I will thrive.

09 August 2009

Grief and my ED

I can't let grief kill me.

All I can think about is my beloved cat, Cassie.

She started getting sick about two weeks ago, and the veterinarian found a large, inoperable mass in her abdomen on Thursday. I decided to have her put to sleep on Saturday. I couldn't bear to watch her become emaciated, skin and bones, weak and unable to do much of anything (sort of like how I was last summer - the irony isn't lost on me).

Now I don't want to eat. I feel so lost without my precious kitty, my baby; the thought of eating seems, well, wrong.

I want to go back. Back to the days when I was thin, fragile; a whisper of a person. It seems fitting when I am losing so much - my kitty, my job of 10 years (I took a buyout), my whole identity as a journalist - everything.

I want to be small again, to be taken care of, to be weak and not responsible.

And I don't want to be that way.

I think of how far I've come. I've gained enough weight that I'm not scary skinny, my blood tests are good and I have enough energy to work. I plan to go to graduate school this month, and work on my master's in English Language and Literature.

I have dreams, damn it, and it seems like every time I try to move forward, my damn ED nips at my heels. It says that living is false, that planning for the future is stupid, and see - your cat died, so what's the point? Any excuse to get me back.

Then I remember how helpless I felt watching my cat become emaciated. I can only imagine what it felt like for my loved ones, my husband, my friends to watch me become that way last year. I remember feeling my cat's spine and her wasted legs, and then I think about the pictures from last year, showing my spine and wasted arms.

And I think - I can't go back to ED. It would be like going back to an abusive boyfriend. He may be cute, and he may offer some kicks, but in the end, he'll turn on you and kill you.

In a heartbeat.

02 August 2009


I shouldn't have stepped on the scale the other morning. 109.6. The first time below 110 - and accepting the triple-digit weight was a real struggle - since about March or April.

It was very enticing.

Hm, I thought. 109.6. Not too far from 105. That's not too bad - slim, but not anorexic.

109.6. Hm, I thought. Not too far even from 100. 100 would be cool. Cool 100, reeling me in with its delicate sound. 100. Sounds like an adult weight, but oh so small and tiny.

109.6. Just 10 pounds and hm, I thought - double-digit weight. The siren call of double-digit weight. What do you weigh? Why, I weigh so little it only takes two numbers to measure it.

I remember the first time I dropped below 100. I stared at the scale in amazement and joy. I did it! I was Agent 99, 99 pounds - no round 100 for me. It was too good to be true; and of course, the weight drop continued.

I remember when I hit 92 pounds. Hm, I thought. Two more pounds and I would be in the eighties. The eighties seemed so thin, light and delicate; it hammered my brain night and day - go for it! Just two more pounds, and oh, you will be the thinnest of all.

Of course, that's when I started seeing my doctor. And damn him, he pumped nutrients back into my sorry little heart (almost literally, via a TPN) and pound by pound, the number kept increasing.

Until it stopped in December.

Until it dropped the other day, and landed on 109.6.

I must have a fever of 109.6 to even think about going back.

But oh, it is so enticing to think - what would I be like if I just pushed it a little bit? Not as far as before, but maybe a few pounds. Just enough to feel really thin again.

So far, I've done the opposite this weekend, filling myself with several bites of triple chocolate cake and a complete dish of fettucini alfredo. Anything, anything to stave off those thoughts. Anything to keep me from following through with this insane plan I have in back of my head.

Anything to keep 109.6 from become 105 ... 102 ... 100 ... 98... 92


26 July 2009

Of Belgian waffles

Today I ate a Belgian waffle.

That might not seem like such a big deal, but I had been craving one - secretly - for a while.

Since I began eating more normally (back in February), I found that most foods don't really appeal to me. It's all food, and just fuel to get me back to health.

But that Belgian waffle kept calling my name.

My husband, David, and I would go out to Bob Evans every once in a while, and he almost always ordered a damn Belgian waffle - it was like he knew my secret craving.

I would watch him eating it, and wonder why I didn't feel free enough to eat one of my own.

But you see, I'm still very restrictive about things. As long as I know the approximate calories in my daily bread, I feel safe. As long as I stay between 110 and 112 pounds, I feel safe. Any deviation causes me a lot of anxiety.

So I'm looking at this Belgian waffle today, dabbled with syrup and smeared with margarine and all I could see is - FAT. Globs of fat from the margarine caked inside the fatty pockets of the sweet cream batter that makes up the waffle, and then more fat, via the syrup, soaking into the big FAT mess.

The first few bites were as I had imagined - sweet, crispy and oh, so satisfying.

The next few bites were okay.

The last few bites felt like huge balls of dough making their way to my hips, thighs and stomach, ready to leach on and never let go.

I left the other half of the waffle, pushing away my plate and wishing I could somehow purge myself of what I did consume.

But it was too late.

I've promised myself no more purging, no more restricting, no more anorexia. And I have mostly kept to that promise.

It makes me wonder - will anorexia nip at my brain the rest of my life? Will I ever be able to eat a Belgian waffle, hell, anything, without guilt for wanting to live?

10 June 2009

A new identity

Some days, recovery feels like a loss of my identity.

I was so used to my too-thin body. I secretly loved the sharp, protruding bones; flat, smooth stomach and incredibly thin legs.

But anorexia almost killed me, and since March, I have worked hard every day to gain and then maintain a healthy weight. And Ensure after Ensure, meal after meal, the pounds came on. First one or two, then finally about 15. I was at a normal weight, albeit at the low end of the spectrum.

Curves came back. My stomach is no longer flat, my thighs seem huge, and every day, I struggle with this new body. It still feels foreign.

There's no going back, now that I'm in the midst of recovery. There were many days I didn't think I could recover. There are other days that I look longingly at a too-thin woman, knowing that was me just a few months prior.

I sometimes still long to be that thin, but I know it would kill me at some point. I decided I had to choose - live, or die from anorexia.

And so I relish in this second chance. This second chance with life, and my husband. This second chance to continue in my career as a writer. And most days, that's enough.

21 March 2009

The truth about anorexia

Nobody tells the truth about anorexia. I mean, about recovering from it. They don't tell you that you have to stuff yourself each day, the equivalent of three small extra meals, to gain one freaking pound. They don't describe how painful it is to shovel that food in, how your stomach feels distended and how after dinner is your favorite time of the day because you won't have to eat again until morning. They write about rich girls with anorexia, ones who go off to treatment centers and then come out all better, wearing new clothes to fit their new bodies and seemingly having no issue with the extra 10, 20 or whatever pounds that they now carry.

They don't show how lonely it is to sit in your house, eat that breakfast, drink that Ensure, eat that lunch - it feels like you never, ever stop eating. Then you try to find something to wear, feeling uncomfortable in your alien body. Your anorexic jeans are way too tight, so you dig around trying to find something that fits - they don't tell you leggings are a great idea, and you're going to want to wear them ALL THE TIME. But sometimes, real clothes are a must. Then you must dig for some jeans that you saved that can fit your alien body, and a decent shirt that doesn't smother you.

They never tell you will begin to hate the sight of food, every bite of it, because you are so sick of eating it. They never tell you recovery will feel like forever, like the rest of your life.

All they show in the movies, magazines (oh, Mary Kate Olson, how you must have suffered!) and books is the triumphant end, the final light at the end of the tunnel, the young woman enjoying an ice cream cone or some other treat; easily, instantly cured. They don't show you the deep scars of recovery, either inside your soul or on your drained face, that won't ever leave you.

They don't tell you that the light might just be a train waiting to ram right into you, derailing you off that recovery track.

But really, what they don't know is that you will flatten yourself against the train tunnel, because you are NEVER going back again. Because you've already learned that one recovery is enough, thank you very much.

26 February 2009

The depths

I haven't blogged in a while, and probably won't for a while after this post. I am sick, so sick I can barely move some days, and I'm going on temporary leave from work this week. I don't know what happened to make me feel so physically tired and terrible, and I dread the search for answers. I just pray my doctors can make me better again - my husband, family and friends all believe I will get better, and I have to believe in their hope.
If you don't hear from me for a while, I wish all of you the best in your recovery efforts and please remember to relish each day that you can just move and do normal things - these days are more precious than I can ever describe.

13 February 2009

A celebration

It's working! Three meals, three Ensures - every day, no matter what - and I've gained weight. And I'm happy.
It means I'm beating that demon, that evil spirit who tried to steal my life - anorexia. I never, ever thought I'd be happy to see a higher number on the scale - but I am! It means my life is coming back to me.
I'm elated!

02 February 2009

What's wrong with being fat?

Someone recently asked me, "What's wrong with being fat?" The answer I came up with - because of how society treats and views fat people - just doesn't add up to me anymore.
I keep thinking of her question, why people with anorexia are so afraid to be fat. Society? The media? The fact you see the beautiful, thin people on every billboard, in every television show and plastered across this country.
Anorexia plasters you. It nails you down and sucks out your life, filling it with anxiety and a desire for perfection that you can never meet. As I (or anyone with anorexia) look at our thin, plastered down bodies, may be we should think - There's nothing wrong with being fat. Most of the fat people I know are living their lives, not counting calories or fighting this demon.
I don't know the answer to this person's question, but maybe it's good I'm now asking it.

14 January 2009

Life's a competition sport - even when it comes to anorexia!

I've been in the hospital for a few days, dealing with anxiety and anorexia. I quickly discovered two things - I'm not the thinnest girl on the block and I'm not sure if I like that.
Let me explain: at this particular hospital, all the eating disorder patients have to sit together at meals. That means we get to discuss calories, weight (exactly how low did you go? Oh, 92? Pshaw, I'm 60 pounds right now and could lose more in a second), weight lost techniques (do you take laxatives? the whole box or just the normal amount? how about water pills? enemas? Syrup of Ipecac, anyone?) and how much you may or may not be eating (You're not going to eat that muffin, are you? Well, yes, I had thought I might - until now.) (You're not worried about those two creams in your coffee? - said in a slight incredulous lilt in the voice - But after all, they are only about 20 calories - 20 calories can't hurt anything - CAN IT?) And then someone (thinner) points out how brave you are, how well on the way to recovery you must be if you can tolerate those two creams, how they would like to be like you but just can't imagine it.
Blood tests come back bad? That anemia and bad kidney functioning might have you worried, but damn, at least you aren't a walking heart attack waiting to happen. Your clavicle protrudes? But why do you still have so much hair? Any self-respecting anorexic would have lost most of her hair by now.
The doctor says you need to stay for a week, get better. The doctor says another person must stay for a month, and was threatened with a power of attorney if she did not agree to the catheter pumping thousands of calories into her heart (which, btw, I experience for 10 days this summer - oops, did I just one-up?)
I sit down at the table each meal, trying so hard to eat what is a normal meal for others. It makes me so anxious. It makes me feel like I will get fat. It makes me feel like I'm giving up anorexia, that ever-present companion. I feel so proud of myself for trying so hard - even though the anxiety sometimes feels like it will kill me - to eat like a normal person. I feel so proud that I am trying so hard to rejoin life.
Then I look around at my meal and her meal and I feel like a pig. How could I let myself get this fat! Fat fat fat at about 100 pounds???!!!
I keep telling myself, the only way out is through. And eating normally is the way to health and the life I want to lead. The way back leads to death.
I don't want my whole life to be anorexia. I want this bitch to DIE! But the competitive part? I wore a size 0. She wore a size 10 - children's.

13 January 2009

Anxiety overdrive

My anxiety has gone into overdrive, and I have chosen to admit myself into the hospital. I'm scared to death and don't know what is going to happen to me.
I keep thinking - if only I had been better. If only I had pulled myself together. If only I had tried harder. If only ....
But the anxiety was consuming, my medication didn't seem to be working, and I have not slept in about 36 hours - I couldn't stand the way I felt, and if I had to feel that way, I'd rather be dead.
I pray this can be fixed, and that I can heal from the anxiety and anorexia. It's my only hope.

10 January 2009

When I'm not anorexic

When I'm not anorexic, I will be:
a normal weight
less anxious
more able to take daily life's ups and downs
able to eat freely and without fear
Now, when will I reach that mythical land of "not anorexic?" Next month? This summer? Next year? Never? (Right now, my bet is on the last option.)
Is this a shallow dream? Am I feeling like many people do when they think "When I lose 10 pounds?"
Or will it really mean healing for me? Because right now, I still count every calorie in my head. I still look at food as the enemy, even though I feel hunger. I'm still afraid of gaining weight and I'm still afraid of being obese.
As I sat getting my hair colored today, I wondered how many women really accept themselves for who they are. For there we were, having chemicals applied to our hair in the vain hope of stopping time and being young again. But I looked in the mirror and saw a 43-year-old, her face strained by starvation and worry, and wondered - "When will I be free?"
When I'm not anorexic, I will be free.

06 January 2009

My body I hate

As I move through recovery in fits and starts, I find my body doesn't fit me anymore! My jeans are too tight. My jeans are too baggy. My underwear rides up or sags down. My sweaters either make me itch, choke me or squeeze me. If I could, I would wear a loose toga, draping my body in soft cotton comforts as I go through the process of adding weight to my skinny little body.

Maybe there should be specially made clothes for those recovering from eating disorders. Loose, comfortable clothes that don't cause one a major anxiety attack when the number goes up (or down), one that doesn't cause choking breathes when the waistband pinches. In other words, one that doesn't remind us we are in recovery; clothes that don't point - I have an eating disorder I'm desperately trying to beat.

This body of mine feels foreign - I look in the mirror and it's either too thin (arms spindly, chest caved in, breasts soft, clavicle showing, butt nonexistant) or too fat (oh my God, those thighs spread to Europe! that stomach looks like it either has a baby or 10 pounds of gas in it!) Where is the smooth curve of my concave stomach? I can still see my ribs and the bony knobs along my spine - but look! are they being enveloped in, I can't believe it, something resembling roundness!

I miss the body anorexia gave me; and I mourn it's loss. I miss loose fitting size 0 jeans and T-shirts. I miss putting on anything, knowing it wouldn't - gasp! - feel too tight. I miss gliding through life, knowing I was small and light and airy. I long for the empty feeling inside, that cool, clear and light feeling; it was safe, even as it was deadly.

I avert my eyes, walk upstairs and go through the long process of trying to clothe this foreign beast of a body. I long to live in Tahiti or the Bahamas, anywhere I can drape a loose fitting summer dress and feel more fluid, more like me.

The anxiety of this new, and hated, body gets to be too much. I can only escape its confines when I sleep.

03 January 2009

Letting go

I know I must let go of my ED behaviors in order to be truly free. I must stop counting calories. I must stop weighing myself every day, sometimes two, three or more times (the number is never right; it is never good enough). I must stop worrying about getting fat, and I must start thinking that getting better means getting healthy. I must let go of the illusion of control, for I do not control my anorexia; instead, it controls me.

I was in a state of panic this evening. I worried about returning to work after two weeks. During those two weeks I was first sick with a norovirus, then consumed by anxiety that I felt would either kill me or cause me to kill myself.

I feel ready to go back to work, if only so my life does not become anorexia. So I have taken a deep breath (many deep breaths, actually), a hot bath and continue to tell myself it will be okay, that I am stronger than this.

Being this thin, carrying the identity of anorexia, having it define me, is a jail cell that I must break out of. I want to be free.