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.