31 December 2010

The Spirit Within

Anorexia nervosa (noun) — A disorder that has caused me to illogically starve myself for four years. A disorder that has stolen the best parts of my personality, that has wreaked havoc on my marriage and friendships, and has almost cost me my life. A disorder that my psychiatrist rightly calls a "love stealer."

I vow that this disorder will not continue its grip upon my spirit and soul in 2011.

The first part of breaking anorexia's grip is creating a new focus for my thoughts and writing. I have renamed this blog, "The Spirit Within." It is my hope that this new name will reflect my growing commitment to full recovery.

I have written "Leaving ED" for two years. When I started this blog, it was my full intention that I would in fact leave my eating disorder behind and eventually write about other things. But instead, "Leaving ED" has often become a trigger for my anorexic behaviors. I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is because I never did leave my eating disorder behind, and the title has taunted me for years.

Now it is time for a change. This coming year will be a pivotal one in my recovery from anorexia for many reasons. I have been told that I must recover; that my body can't take much more of anorexia at 45 and that I could be looking at a very bleak future if I don't turn this around.

Dr. S believes I can fully recover. But he also believes in order for me to fully recover, I need to break this attraction, this almost addictive-like hold that anorexia nervosa has over me. And he believes in order to do that, I must find out who Angela is underneath the layers of anorexia that have been smothering me for years.

In order to do that, I need to change what I write about. I can no longer focus on a relapse, because in doing so, I have found that I have just made it worse. Then I continue the downward spiral until it is too late and I'm either in the hospital or undergoing some other treatment.

For four years, my life has really been nothing but anorexia. I hope to change that. I will still write about my efforts to recover from anorexia on this blog, but my focus will be on recovery. I can no longer focus on urges and symptoms; writing about it has not helped me, but instead has made things worse.

With the new blog name and some changes, I hope to find and show who the real Angela is. The Angela I was before anorexia came and took everything away. Before the darkness enveloped me so fully.

There always is a danger in changing the name and focus of a blog. I value each reader, and I hope all of you will read the new blog, "The Spirit Within" and get to know the person I am and that I will be becoming as I recover. Please pray for me. This will be the hardest work I will ever do, but I believe it will be worth it.

I am doing this for hope. I am doing this for life. I am doing this so 2011 can be a year of health, love, and laughter for me. I wish this for all of you, too.

Yours in Christ,

29 December 2010

Becoming myself

I now know I must recover for myself alone. I must discover who I am under the layers of anorexia, and it will be hard and painful work.
But these are my choices — full recovery or anorexic purgatory. And I refuse to only exist. I refuse to continue with this half-life of anorexia.
I want to know fun and laughter and deep, abiding joy again. Today I felt it is possible. I can do this. I can do this for me. I can learn to love myself and feel worthy of eating and life.
I need to become myself again. This is a new journey of Leaving ED, one that will be filled with tears and pain and happiness and life. I am ready.
I will not be taking this journey alone. I have so much support from my wonderful sister, Samon, my friends, and most importantly, from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am blessed and humbly grateful for the things I have in my life.
This does not mean I don't miss David or don't want him to return. I love him very much. But I want him to return to a healthy, strong and recovered woman. He deserves that, and we both deserve a full and rich life free from anorexia. I believe it can happen if I trust in the Lord and do the things I must do.

27 December 2010

Alone again

My husband has left me again. Because of my anorexia. Because as much as I promised to get better, I didn't stick with it. I have been sliding for a while.
He says he still loves me and he took very little with him. That gives me signs of hope that perhaps . . .
But first I must get better. I must recover and stay well. For me. I'm not sure I can do it. But I suppose I will have to try.
I already miss him so much. I just wanted to make him happy. But I have been struggling, and he can't handle it. I don't blame him.
I miss him. I wish he would at least call me...
I probably won't be writing much for a while. I will see. Thank you to everybody who has believed in me and tried to help me.

26 December 2010

I am not always strong

Today I did something I've never purposely done since developing anorexia.
I threw up my food.
I had tried to unsuccessfully several times before, but for one reason or another, it never worked. Then I read how other people do it. And this time it did work. My stupidity never ceases to amaze me.
I was feeling very desperate because I had ate some Christmas treats — two cookies and a small snack bar.
Little things, really. But all of the sudden the food felt dirty inside me and I knew I was not worthy of eating. So I threw it up and then called for my husband, crying about what I had done.
I am very ashamed of myself. I didn't want to admit to anyone that I did this. But I promised I would always be honest on this blog.
This has to be one of the worst things I've done since developing anorexia nervosa. I feel like a hypocrite, writing about recovery and about being positive and forgiving oneself. I even underwent the anointing of the sick on Thursday. So many people are trying to help me fully recover, and then I go and do something like this?
Why do I keep learning new ways to hurt myself? Why do I keep learning new ways to keep myself from recovering? Why can't I forgive myself?
I am feeling a lot of pressure. To gain weight and recover. To write honest and helpful posts on my new blog at HealthyPlace.com. To finish up an incomplete class. To complete some freelance articles.
I think part of me doesn't want to recover. I've thought of that before. It is a hard thing to admit. Who would I be if I weren't anorexic? As each year passes, the memory of who I was fades and the person I have been becomes stronger. Sometimes it feels as if I will some day become trapped for good, and that will be the end.
Some people have accused me of romanticizing anorexia. Well, there was nothing romantic about puking up Christmas cookies into the toilet. There is nothing romantic about starving yourself until it hurts to eat, and the food makes you feel dirty inside. I cried and prayed constantly for all this to be over. I just don't understand why recovery seems to be so hard. It's not like I've been afraid of hard work before.
But each time I try to make a step forward, I find a way to shove myself three feet backwards.
There is definitely nothing romantic about any of this.

24 December 2010

A silent and holy night

"A silent and holy night"

My heart awaits the peace
The Christ child brings

The world is silent,

Holy is she
Opening heart and soul
To the Lord

Bringing the Christ child
Forth into the world.

Knowing one day,
He will die
For me.

My mind barely
Such a gift

Heaven above
The dark

Filling with angels
Singing to God
Made man.

It is quiet.
But soon,
He will come

And He brings,
Justice and mercy.

If only I am worthy.
Then I realize,
I am already


21 December 2010

To Anonymous (Eating disorders are real illnesses)

To @Anonymous,
I accept your apology because apparently something is going on with you. But you need to know just one thing. I also have a life threatening illness — it's called anorexia nervosa. My doctor has spent years trying to get me to take this illness seriously and to realize it can kill me. You see, for years I didn't really think it was a big deal. I was just thin, so what? I truly believed nothing was wrong with me.

Now I am finally listening to him, and I hope it is not too late. The sore spot you hit is the fact I was told Friday that my body is not handling this very well and that I am at risk for a stroke at 45, in addition to ongoing liver and kidney problems. It also tends to make me cranky to blackout and hit my head against the wall and the nightstand, and then deal with a headache and overall soreness for days.

What I think you — and you are not alone — don't realize is that this is not always a choice. Yes, I do believe we choose recovery. But sometimes — at least for me — my mind knows that recovery is a logical and rational choice, but for some reason it won't allow me to do what I know I need to. That is to eat and eat and eat ... The fear and anxiety of food takes over the fear and anxiety of possible permanent damage. It is like a war within my brain and believe me, I wish it would stop.

I write this blog for several reasons. One reason is to bring some sort of understanding to the outside world of what it is like to have anorexia. It is not fun. It is not glamorous in spite of what the media would have you believe. And it is not a choice, although pro-anorexia sites say otherwise. Why would I chose to live this way? Why would anyone chose to live this way? It is destroying my life and apparently my body. I have so many dreams. I want to finish my master's degree and use my talents to help people in someway. I want to live a full life with my husband, and travel to places like Ireland and Alaska. I want to read and write and know joy again.

I want to be normal. I once was normal, you know. That's what started this whole thing, when I started remembering life before anorexia and my writing was a mixture of nostalgia and sadness.

Again I will stress that those of us with eating disorders also have life threatening diseases. Eating disorders are misunderstood by the vast majority of the population. But eating disorders are illnesses and can be fatal. Many, many people have died of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Many are dying of these diseases right now. And yet the world blames us. The world would not if we had cancer or ALS or MS or another disease.

That is the sore spot you touched. People who are struggling and trying to recover from their eating disorders. Some people with eating disorders are praying that this time treatment will work and they will be free of this imprisonment of the mind. Others are praying they can recover without treatment because yet again their insurance refuses to pay. Finally, some feel as if they will never recover. All of them are hurting, and your words hurt them further. But I do understand you are hurting, too.

I will ask again — who would chose to have an eating disorder? Who would chose years of fighting and struggling with illogical illnesses that take so many lives and ruin so many others? Who would chose to enter eating disorder prison? Because that's what it feels like at times. A prison, and there is no get out of jail free card available.

Some people might wonder why I have spent so much time addressing your comments. I am hoping that God will open your heart and allow compassion and understanding for people with eating disorders enter. Perhaps I am a fool or a dreamer, but I believe maybe this is time well-spent if it changes the thinking of one person toward eating disorders and those who suffer from them. I can always hope.

17 December 2010

The (mis)adventures of the brave Victorian lady

Ah, if only it were that easy to rid oneself of anorexia . . .

"You are not some brave Victorian heroine, sighing and weeping and fainting on a couch. You have simply found a powerful way to manipulate others and get attention. In someone of your age, class and intelligence it is truly a disgrace. say it how it is. You have wasted a good life and that is criminal." Anonymous

This comment was left by yet another brave anonymous poster. Someone who thinks anorexia is just a creation of my craven attention-seeking nature. Someone who believes that eating disorders are not real illnesses, but instead something each one of us has control over and can overcome if we would just stop being so silly and selfish. Someone without the guts to leave her real name. Pardonnez moi while I swoon onto my divan and call one of the servants over to fan my prostrate body.

Oh yes, anonymous, I've enjoyed these years of anorexia tremendously. I loved it when I had to spend two weeks in the hospital with a line running through my vein to my heart because I was so malnourished. It was great to go in and out of the hospital five more times two years ago when anxiety over eating and weight had me crawling the walls and literally pulling my hair out. I thought it wonderful when mere restricting wasn't enough and one evening I found myself slashing my skin, so angry at myself for having anorexia, so full of self-hatred I couldn't stop myself. The insertion of the NG feeding tube through my nose in February didn't bother me at all; I enjoyed choking on my own bile as the technician poked the tube down my throat and into my stomach for more than forty-five minutes.

Oh yes, anonymous, all this fainting and swooning has been a real blast. Do you know what happened to me yesterday? I woke up and reached for my robe, only to blackout and crash face-first into my nightstand, hitting it so hard that everything on it scattered throughout my bedroom and the contents inside all slid back. I ended up with a bump on my head, and spent the day with a headache and nauseated so bad I couldn't eat much even if my mind would have let me. I guess I just don't know how to swoon gracefully, which is strange because I've been practicing so hard, with all the recent dizziness and lightheadedness.

I'm sure while you enjoyed Thanksgiving Day you never gave a thought about those of us who struggle not only with either not being able to eat or binging and purging, but also that those of us with eating disorders realize that many people believe it is all our fault and we aren't struggling with a real illness at all. That was the first day I blacked out and fell head-first down our staircase, and spent Thanksgiving Day on the couch thankful I hadn't broken any bones or didn't have a concussion.

Oh, but wait. Why didn't I go to the hospital? After all, the emergency room is the ultimate for those seeking attention. The nurse spends lots of time asking you questions and showing concern, and most of the doctors are kind and attentive. Damn, I missed the perfect opportunity! (And I didn't go yesterday. Do you want to know why? Because I didn't want to bother the ER with my minor issues, feeling they have more important things to treat than just a woman crashing into her nightstand.)

Anonymous, you imply you have a physical illness that is possibly fatal and untreatable. Let's see — anorexia and other eating disorders also are illnesses that can be fatal and treatment often fails. Ever heard of Karen Carpenter? Christy Henrich? Margaux Hemingway? Each one of these gifted women died too soon of an eating disorder.

And you don't know a damn thing about me. I am a former social worker and journalist who has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal (the highest civilian honor given by the military) for my work in covering the local military's deployment, and I am currently a freelance writer and graduate student in English Communication and Composition carrying a 3.8 GPA in spite of the fact I haven't been well for the past year. I have a wonderful husband and great, caring friends and family, and I hope some day to recover and use my writing and other skills to help others. Sounds like a wasted life to me.

But probably none of that matters to you. I think your real problem is envy. As I wrote, I will pray for you.

Anonymous, you remain wrapped in your protective cocoon of self-righteousness and continue to pass judgement on people and illnesses that you obviously don't have the capability to understand. But the next time you post on my damn blog, at least have the guts to leave your real name. Otherwise don't bother.

Now, excusez moi while I try to recover while surrounded by ignorant, uncaring people like you. 

12 December 2010

Remembering the life before

Remembering the life before . . .
Before anorexia nervosa came, snatching away my smile and leaving me with a hollow shell of empty fake laughter.

Before anorexia came, stealing my spirit in exchange for the gift of anxiety; a gift that keeps me second-guessing day or night whether I have done.said.eaten something wrong, a gift that makes me worry about that small cheese biscuit that accompanied my plate filled with lettuce.carrots.dicedtomatoes.greenpeppers.mushrooms, all safe foods of few calories and no salad dressing, not even a dribble. 

But sometimes I want to eat something warm and comforting, like cream of potato soup or mashed potatoes or hot chocolate with whipped cream, but NO, I am not allowed, I would be a GLUTTON and that is a sin and I pay for my occasional indulgences, knowing the scale won't start its inevitable slip and slide downward, and then of course I would no longer be me, or am I no longer myself now? I am confused.

Before anorexia came, teaching me to fear food and people and fun social events in which I would casually chat with someone, and I would occasionally stop talking to take a bit of cheese and crackers, stuffed mushrooms, perhaps nibble on a cookie or two without any fear.

Remembering the life before when I believed that love could overcome anything and love was the greatest gift of all, and people and vows could be trusted and my mind didn't constantly turn against me, the voices in my head rubbing me like a hairshirt of old; always reminding me that there will be consequences if I eat too much and who defines too much? Well of course, anorexia defines how much is too much food, just as anorexia defines every aspect of my life and right now we are fighting to me to hang onto six lousy damn pounds, because once those pounds are gone, I'm back into the double-digit and then anorexia will be in total control; there will be no small, inner voice to whisper recover. Try and eat; try to recover. That whisper will be lost, and this time I fear forever.

Sometimes it feels as if life has changed irrevocably, and to even hope of returning to who I was is an impossible dream, like wishing upon a star; the star has imploded and isn't taking any more wishes, at least not from me.

There is much sorrow remembering the life before. It was a time of freedom and love and feeling cherished and not crying for three days straight because I feel I have failed as a wife, I am failing at recovery, and sometimes my greatest wish is that anorexia would just kill me so it can all end, because I am definitely sick of this drama, but I can't change the station nor find the key to turn it around; each time I think I have, it crumbles in my hand.

So right now I'm in anorexia purgatory, fighting to not lose, but perhaps not fighting hard enough. Meanwhile, my body is starting to go haywire with all this starving.notstarving.starving.notstarving, ad nauseum. My doctor told me there are certain liver enzymes that are acting weird, and the kidney functioning is typically bad, and the potassium can't make up its mind whether to stay in my body or not. I figure it is a crap shoot - cardiac arrest, kidney failure, or liver failure.

For me, it is when he reminds me that anorexia does kill people do I realize what I have done to myself, and then he can't truly predict which one of these things will implode within this body I have abused so long, he can only keep an eye on things for right now.

Back to to the life before . . . one of freedom from fear and anxiety, filled with interesting work and the love of my husband, when food wasn't an issue . . .

Did I dream this past life? Because I'm beginning to believe it never happened, that I've always been on this rollercoaster.horrorhouseride.suicideplan called by the innocuous term of anorexia nervosa.

26 November 2010

Tumbling down

On Thanksgiving Day, I took a tumble down our staircase and landed headfirst into the wall. I could almost hear Alanis Morrisette in the background singing, "Isn't it ironic?"

I am tired. Tired in my soul. I don't know whether I should feel grateful I wasn't more seriously hurt or pissed that I had yet another potentially fatal accident AND YET I DIDN'T DIE. Why? It might have made things much easier.

I am trying to kill myself by plunging headfirst back into anorexia and starvation. At least that is what my doctor said today, and he wants to know why I want to diminish myself until I become nothing.

I struggled to answer his question. Not because I don't necessarily have an answer, but it is typically easier for me to write out my feelings.

Do I want to die? On some days, yes. The anxiety is so all-consuming, I feel as if I could crawl the walls and scream at the moon. I can't stand the thought of all I have to do and all the people I have to please. I want to shut myself away into the box of anorexia, slam the lid shut, and tell everyone to leave me alone. (Thank you, Dr. Sackeyfio, for this very apt metaphor.)

Other days, no. I feel I can pull myself through this and turn it around. I just have to do one simple thing: eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat.

But I don't want to eat. It's what I need to do to feel better and function more clearly. It is the simplest thing in the world, really. Billions of people lift food to their mouths, insert and then chew daily.

So why do I find this very simple act so very difficult?

Because if I eat, I live. I live and must face life, in all its ugliness and beauty, its pain and joy. I must live my life; read and study, write papers; it is all very simple enough. I must rebuild my relationship with my husband, rediscover love and joy and everything that comes with an intimate relationship.

Is that what I'm afraid of? Perhaps. As we grow closer together, I am haunted still by his actions this summer, when I came back from class and found our home stripped of everything he valued. Except me.  I often dream of that evening, hurtling back into time and seeing the rape of my home, my life; knowing nothing would ever be the same again. I think about it and struggle not to cry.

Maybe that's why I am again starving myself. I don't want to feel what I felt then, and if I block off my emotions by starvation . . .

There it is. The box is there and I crawl into it more and more. I just don't know if I can crawl out of it this time.

18 November 2010

The broken road of anorexia

For almost two months, I have woken up afraid. Something shifted within my brain and I can't seem to get back on track. I struggle with simply being, and yet I have no explanation for this sudden change from when it seemed as if I were, to quote a friend, "traveling the yellow brick road to recovery" from anorexia nervosa.

Now the bricks are broken into sharp little pieces and the yellow paint is faded, and whatever was guiding me down the road to recovery has abandoned me. I don't understand why it is so difficult to simply get up and face the world.

I don't grasp why I have (again) decided that I am not allowed to eat more than 800 to 1,000 calories daily, that I am not worthy of eating enough food to sustain a child. I have lost several pounds over the past few weeks, and now each morning at the scale I pray that the number goes lower, and lower, and lower...

I don't get why each time I am faced with a blank computer screen in order to write an article or paper, I freeze up and need to resort to either extra tranquilizers, a glass of wine or two, or any combination of things before my mind unlocks and my fear begins to subside and I can breathe again.

I feel as if I am now walking the broken road back down to anorexia and each time I try and bring myself back, the voices within my head scream I am not worthy. Not worthy to eat. Not worthy to live.

Not worthy.

I'm again starting to feel tangled in the web of anorexia; its tentacles wrapped around me. I still eat, but I look for ways to restrict. I still rest and try to take care of myself, but increasingly feel guilty about what a lousy graduate student and wife I have become. I still take part in life; however, I am afraid each time I must meet a new person and I always wonder if I have said the wrong thing.

According to my evil anorexic doppelganger, anything I say is wrong and I am a hopeless case who will never recover.

Now I am writing a memoir about my experiences with anorexia for one of my classes, and I cried when I wrote the prologue because it is about when David left me.

I fear each day he will see my struggling as a sign I will not get better, and this time he will leave for good.

I thought all this wasn't noticeable until I really looked at my face in the mirror the other day and realized it is beginning to again take on that gaunt, anorexic look. Then my blood tests came back and my doctor confronted me with my restricting, which he knew about without even asking me. He says my whole demeanor changes when I am restricting.

I think I know what it is. I become sad inside, fearful I will descend further and not find my way back this time. It is hard for me to hide sadness with a smile and some carefully applied makeup. I believe sadness fills our eyes, and nothing can hide it.

I am sad. I am sad that the road to recovery seems broken down to me and I am sad about all I stand to lose if I can't find my way back.

I am sad that I still want to follow the broken road of anorexia. I am sad that I still crave thinness after all this time, that I am addicted to sharp bones and a concave stomach.

Most of all, I am sad that I am beginning to believe that anorexia holy. I am sad that I am trying to convince myself that this is what God wants; that He wants me to eat less to become closer to him. That fasting is a good and right thing to do. I know am subverting God for my own purposes, and deep down I know that is evil.

I can't keep all this sadness out of my eyes or my drained face. I've lost my smile again, my sense of happiness and excitement about the future replaced by fear and anxiety.

I am sad . . .

10 November 2010

Grieving anorexia

I have been struggling yet again with my recovery from anorexia for about a month now. The all-encompassing anxiety has made it so hard to eat, and I have dropped a few pounds and the old voice trying to convince me to lose more weight has awaken from its slumber.

But I haven't been able to put into words what was really bothering me until my friend, Carrie at ED Bites asked me if there was something she could do. That opened the floodgates and I cried as I wrote her the following:

I just can't seem to get past the all-encompassing anxiety to continue to eat enough to get to my healthy goal weight. Dr. Sackeyfio assure me once I reach that weight, eventually the ED thoughts and behaviors (i.e. restricting, self-harm, etc.) will stop. But I can't seem to take that final leap, and I think I allow myself to be triggered by a number of friends who either have relapsed or given up on recovery altogether, and the fact that it seems like so few people I know can't seem to stay in recovery.

The frustrating part is that I was so close, and still could make my goal weight if I pulled it together. Also, since I am so close, everyone around me (except my husband) seems to think things are fine - I don't look emaciated like in the winter and spring, so I'm all better, right? But I wake up every morning scared to death to face the day, I burst into tears for no reason at the weirdest times (like right now while writing this) and I can't seem to stop restricting, but I of course I'm eating something, so it's not like a full-blown relapse, right? (I'm being sarcastic.)

I need people to hear me and maybe I'm not saying the right words. I'm grieving. Grieving the loss of my too-thin body. Grieving the fact I am 45 and most likely will never have a child. Grieving for the person I was pre-anorexia. Grieving. And everyone wants to see happy smiles and recovery full-speed ahead, and I am failing them. And I can't get the voices in my head to shut up and let me eat; instead I hear that I don't deserve to eat, I'm a fat pig, etc., etc.

I'm afraid I will be one of those who don't [recover], and it makes the future look very empty. I'm tired of weighing myself and counting calories and worrying about every bite . . .

03 November 2010

Reflections on life and anorexia while driving through the Minnesota prairie

Right now we are driving through southwest Minnesota, about twenty miles from South Dakota. The sky is a huge bowl cupping the earth; the land is flat and as endless as the Atlantic Ocean. Dotting the landscape are huge white windmills. These windmills give the landscape an alien feel, as if the structures were towers from another land or planet. The sun shines brightly over the land, a few trees here and there dotting the landscape. The road looks as it would drive straight off the earth.

Now fog has descended and the sun is watery, diffused; a small yellow circle surrounded by streams of white. The fog does not diminish the sun's power, however, and my eyes burn each time I stare up at the sky. The miles home seem endless. Not just the literal miles, but also the miles home to myself. I take several steps forward in recovery from anorexia, only to balk and pull back, feeling as if I don't deserve recovery or happiness or life. The desire to go back, to become so thin that the bones are sharp again, aches within in me. It is an ache that I am afraid I will not be able to resist. An ache that is inhuman. The ache of Ana.

Why? I can't ever seem to answer that question. What is the allure, the seductiveness of being emaciated? It truly is an addiction that continues to grip my soul. I think: I can go back. I can go back even further. I was almost there once; so close to the eighties. What can I do? Allow myself to fall back into the addiction of anorexia or continue to fight? But I am so tired, and the recovery doesn't seem to hold the same allure, the same seduction, as anorexia.

So should I just accept that this is part of my personality? Should I just let go and live my life with anorexia, accepting that this mental illness is part of me and I can't excise it out, can't cut it out with a knife, can't write it out of me? That nothing will really heal me? Perhaps I am not meant to be healed. Perhaps I am meant to continue on the path of anorexia. Perhaps I am meant to be like the medieval nuns and become a holy anorexic, fasting and praying to become closer to God. Perhaps food really is the enemy, the enemy that keeps me separate from true spiritual growth and truth?

We continue traveling down I-90. The land is still flat and covered with diffused light, although it is fading as the fog breaks up and the enormous sky returns; white clouds feathering the sky, broken up once in a while by the crisscross of electrical wires.

Narrowing my blue eyes, I can almost see the land as it once was. Flat, covered with grass and just a tree here and there to break up the aching loneliness of the land. There were bison and Native tribes who moved with the seasons; people were connected to the earth and sky and the changing of the seasons. They would be preparing for winter right now. How did they prepare for the brutal winters that sweep across this land, nothing to break the icy wind and snows?

They turned to each other and worked together to survive each winter. They were connected to one another as much as they were connected to the land, and the ideas of individualism and self-sufficiency were laughable in the face of reality; the reality of either work together to survive or die.
We have lost many connections in our colonization of the land. Connection to people. Connection to the land and the sky and the vast clouds and the ever-changing sun.

Instead, we tell ourselves we can each make it on our own. That individualism and self-sufficiency are virtues, part of the Grand Narrative of America that has destroyed souls and left many people feeling lonely and depressed in their separate apartments and homes and mansions and other boxes we build to keep out the cold and rain and snow, not realizing we also keep out people and laughter and togetherness because we hide in these boxes.

I also was in a box at my thinnest. The box of Ana, anorexia; whatever word you want to use. I was very comfortable in my box, and I resent being made to open the lid and crawl out. I want to go back into my box, separate myself from others and from myself. This box is small and cramped, cold and empty, but it defines me. I feel myself drawn to this box, because nothing outside the box feels as good or important or safe as what is within. The outside world created by man is not one I want to be part of; I do not feel drawn to it. So how do I live and yet not become trapped by a world that I mostly reject?

For anorexia is a world I understand and trust. The rest of the world I do not.

Written 31 October 2010 while driving through the Minnesota prairie about twenty miles north of South Dakota. These words were written stream-of-consciousness and reflect my thoughts at the time. When I wrote that I "trust" anorexia, I meant that I have become used to it through the years and can predict how it will make me feel and act. Please don't misconstrue this as me saying anorexia is a good thing or something someone should put her/his trust in. Anorexia is a dangerous and often life-threatening illness and I would not want anyone to think that I believe otherwise.

27 October 2010

Denying Anorexia

I am denying anorexia nervosa the victory it is trying to claim. The past month has been one of struggling with rampant anxiety and constant voices in my head first whispering, then screaming at me to stop eating and go back...

You don't deserve to eat. You are a gluttonous pig and should be ashamed of yourself. Look at how you have let yourself go...

Every pore of my being is filled with anxiety. I am frightened to get out of bed and start the day. Each class assignment taunts me, reminding me that I am stupid and unable to grasp the concepts of English rhetorical theories, literary elements and critical analysis. I can barely decide what to put on my fat body each day!

Each day feels like a treacherous journey through a threatening landscape. I feel as if I could literally crawl out of my skin, the raw bones and veins exposed and scrapped against the sharpness of life. I want to hide, become invisible, burrow under the covers and never come out; anything to be safe.

Anorexia kept telling me there is a way out. Just eat less. Anorexia promises that the thinner I become, the less I will feel. I will be free again. Free of this anxiety which has become my constant companion, and that tempts me with a permanent way out of all this...

I am fighting these lies, conjured up in my brain by anorexia and most likely fueled by a lack of full nutrition. Even the thought of doing things to combat the anxiety, such as yoga, brings me to the edge of panic.

Then yesterday I drank two Ensure Plus. Dr. Sackeyfio has been trying to get me to increase my calories for some time now, assuring me that full nutrition and reaching my healthy goal weight will lessen the anxiety and make things easier for me. Easier to get up in the morning. Easier to do things. Easier to study. Easier to just be.

Of course, in spite of my earlier vow to do whatever he said to get better, I first ignored his advice and instead did things my way. I mixed different tranquilizers, and sometimes added a glass of wine or two to that. Sometimes I would throw in one of my migraine painkillers. It got to the point I wasn't sure what kind of cocktail I was ingesting; anything, anything at all to stave off the anxiety.

I liked these options because of course, none of them involve weight gain (I just factored in the calories from the alcohol.) But a tiny part of my brain told me I was behaving stupidly, and I was quickly going down the yellow brick road of addiction to tranquilizers, pain killers and alcohol, or else putting myself at risk of doing something stupid that would 'accidently' kill me.

Then I did something terrible while filled with anxiety and despair, and it could have cost me my life. I felt as if I were being eaten alive by anxiety, and part of me wanted to die. Then I stopped and thought of David and our love for each other through all of this. I thought about my hopes for the future; to write and learn and reach out to others. I thought about my upcoming presentation at an English conference and how proud I was to have been chosen as one of the participants. I was really looking forward to reading my paper about anorexia, and perhaps opening the eyes of some people.

And I thought of Dr. S and how hard he has worked with me, how patient he has been and how much he has believed I will recover, even when I didn't believe it myself. I thought of the words he often says: You are more than your body size, and you have so much to offer the world. I would reward him and his hard work by dying? Talk about being ungrateful.

So after another day of feeling anxiety crawling all over me, I knew what I had to do. I don't need a different medication or more tranquilizers (not that he is likely to increase my dosage, anyway.)
I need full nutrition. I need what anorexia keeps telling me is bad for me — food and calories. Even though I have been eating, my body has been so depleted by anorexia, my brain is still starved and not totally thinking clearly. This creates the cycle of anxiety and eating less, and eventually my weight would have continued to drop (I already had lost two pounds.)

I kept hearing Dr. S's voice, telling me to eat more and that will heal me. I finally decided to believe him. And after two days, I do feel calmer. Anorexia is still screaming at me, but it is starting to melt like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

How many times can I deny anorexia? As many times as it comes back — until it is gone for good.

16 October 2010

In the borderland of anorexia recovery

I thought anorexia had been torn from me body and soul forever after David left.
Now he is back.
And so is anorexia.
Anorexia nervosa started creeping back a few weeks ago.
Taunting me with anxieties and fears; driving me to seek solace in dangerous places.
I look in the mirror and wonder who I am with this newly gained flesh.
I step on the scale, the relentless pursuit of thinness hovering in the back of my mind.
I know the numbers are a lie, and mean nothing without the power I give to them.
I know the path I have been on has been one of health and recovery and life.
I think of the future, and there are two alternative paths.
One is the path of anorexia and self-destruction. I fight to face the feelings stirred by recovery, but sometimes fail and use medication or alcohol to dull the inner pain. I don't want to become the victim of an accidental overdose. I want to learn how to handle anxiety so powerful it feels as if it could kill me.
The other path is one of healing and hope. It is a scary path, filled with anxieties that must be faced and food that must be eaten and weight that must gained. For I know until I reach my healthy goal weight, the anorexic thoughts will continue to nip at me and I will not be free. But I am so close to being free...
From 3-7 October 2010 journal entries.

This is the borderland of recovery. The word borderland implies a middle state of not belonging to any place or group. You are the "other." I am not yet recovered. I still sometime restrict and count calories and fight the thoughts of anorexia. I still weigh myself every day, and that number still means something to me.

Yet, I am not emaciated nor in physical danger, except for a persistent low potassium level which could impact my heart function (I also have potential heart problems from having scarlet fever. Typical for me, I try not to think about it.) But I am overall healthy and my mind is more clear than it has been for months. I know I must continue on the path of recovery. Neither my mind nor soul could handle failing this time.

Perhaps I am not failing. As I traverse the borderland of recovery, I see both many obstacles and many sources of help scattered throughout. The main obstacle is my mind and the still-obsessive drive to lose weight and become unimaginably thin again.

I am trying to discern why this thought remain pervasive. My therapist believes I am still afraid of life, and this is my way of staying safe. But the question is why am I afraid of life? I'm not sure. Sometimes life is beautiful and wonderful; the sun shines through my study window and caresses me and the brilliant leaves of orange and yellow and red fill my yard. It is a dying time, and yet reminds me that everything God creates is beautiful and life will come again.

Things are going wonderful for me in many ways. My husband and I are reconciled and are working hard to reestablish the intimacy we shared before anorexia nervosa decided to join us as a third partner in our marriage. I am working hard toward fulfilling my dream to obtain my master's degree, and I was recently admitted to the English department's writing program. This means I can pursue writing as my career, and use my skills as a writer and journalist to help people with eating disorders and mental illnesses. This means so much to me, and I am gratified in particular by one comment made by a professor reviewing my portfolio: "You have a rare gift." (She added that means she will push me hard to cultivate and hone that gift, and I might not always like what she says or wants me to do.)

I have a wonderful group of readers of this blog and recently it caught the attention of Ladies Home Journal. I am now working on a piece about my experiences with anorexia. I also will present my graduate paper on this topic at an English conference later this month, and will be interviewed by an Internet show by HealthyPlace.org next week. Finally, I am working on a presentation on eating disorders to present to students at the university, fulfilling another dream to begin to create a ministry to both present my story as a warning and help young people realize that we all different and beautiful in God's eyes and that is good.

But I'm not recovered. I am still walking through the borderland of recovery and know I can cross into either territory. At times, I feel as if I am on a very thin line and I am teetering either way. Cross one line and I am embrace life and all it has to offer. Step over the other line and I am looking at a lonely future with little hope and dreams destroyed.

My protection in this in-between state is my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and He guides me through the harrowing journey of recovery. He tells me I am beautiful and wondrous in His eyes when I look at my body and see fat that I want to carve out. He assures me that I am His child when I doubt myself and listen to my anxieties and fears that come of this world. He reminds me that my body is His gift and I am responsible for its care and love while I am on this earth.

I often wonder how long I will be on this earth. There are times I don't feel as if I belong here; the borderland is a lonely place and I haven't yet met anyone else wandering there, fighting for strength and recovery and wondering if s/he is the only one there. If you too feel as if you are in the borderland of recovery; if it is hard and you need an encouraging word or prayer, contact me via my e-mail on my profile.

I dream of a world where we all help each other; that not one of us becomes the Good Samaritan left forgotten by the side of the road. We all have wounds inflicted by our eating disorders and I believe we can help each other heal.

Christ Jesus is my guide through the borderland and will lead me to safety. Without him, I could not make it. But He also requires me to work hard on my own recovery. He will be there to guide me but I have to do the work, whether it means picking up the fork and eating the food or hiding from my feelings through unhealthy means.

The choice is mine. Choose to move forward and cross into the land of recovery. Or not.

09 October 2010

Treatment denied (Blogging for Sofia)

Sofia Benbahmed as a toddler.

The joy and wonder of life shine in the face of this little girl; dark, tousled curls framing her face, eyes closed and the warmth of a summer day embracing her as she clutches a daisy in each hand. There was a time when this little girl felt comfortable in her body. She didn't worry about weight and calories and body image. She was free like all little girls; running, playing and secure within herself and her world.

But at some point, something shifted within Sofia Benbahmed and she developed an eating disorder about twelve years ago. Now a young lady, she is struggling to overcome her illness and create a normal life free of fear and anxiety. She began residential treatment at Monte Nido in California in November. She spent three weeks there, healing and beginning her journey of recovery.

Sofia wrote, "During my time there I began to feel myself changing and rising to the occasion in a way I never had before. It was as though all of these years I have been  in a room with no doors or windows, and suddenly doors began to appear — and not only did they become visible, but I began to walk through them."

Then her insurance company denied further treatment.

Many of us know how it feels to be trapped by an eating disorder, looking for a way out and praying for recovery. I have struggled with anorexia nervosa for four years, and residential treatment was recommended for me about two years ago.

My insurance does not pay for this type of treatment. Furthermore, when my treatment team recommended partial hospitalization (the highest level besides hospitalization that my insurance will cover) this past spring, I was denied treatment three times even though I was at my lowest weight and was quickly becoming medically compromised while the various powers-to-be at the insurance company debated with my doctor about the necessity for this level of care.

I was finally admitted to a PHP after my doctor told the insurance company I would soon end up in the hospital. I remember my own fight with the insurance company; how it wore me down and made it harder to focus on recovery.

It is because of my own experience that I am taking the time to write about Sofia, someone I've never met. Sofia's treatment team has recommended that she return to Monte Nido and receive the full treatment necessary to recover, but her insurance continues to deny her.

Sofia Benbahmed continues to fight for recovery in spite of the fact that she is becoming sicker every day. To contribute toward the costs of her treatment, go to GiveForward.org. You can read Sofia's complete story there, and see what a brave and determined young lady she is and how she takes full responsibility for her recovery; it is not easy for her to ask for financial help to pay for the treatment she so desperately needs. You also can find more information through Miss Mary Max's blog; she is the one who spearheaded the "Blogging for  Sofia" campaign.

Everyone deserves the treatment their doctors and health professionals recommend. Insurance companies have no right to play God, deciding if this person is worthy of treatment while that person is not.

I am honored to have a small part in this effort to gain treatment for one person with an eating disorder. I just wish that appropriate treatment would be readily available for everyone who needs it.
Sofia Benbahmed today.

03 October 2010

Survivor's guilt (living with anorexia)

She was thirty-three years old and died of anorexia. My therapist told me this almost as an aside, near the end of Friday's therapy session. Our talk had centered on who I am besides anorexia, and how I continue to hold onto strong anorexic thoughts and tendencies in spite of working so hard to regain weight and health.

I said I had been struggling for the past week, bombarded with urges to restrict and feelings that I did not deserve to eat. I have been restricting; missing Ensures and eating lighter meals when I can get away with it. I also have been using other means to stave off the ever-increasing anxiety; extra tranquilizers sometime combined with pain killers make me feel calmer; a glass of wine added also helps.

Anything not to feel. Anything to forget how strong I was, how well I have done, only to have it start falling apart for no apparent reason. I am not an inspiration. I am a failure, heading for a relapse if I don't find a way to stop it.

Dr. S. said it was because part of me still wanted to hide; hide from life and a relationship with my husband and obtaining my master's degree. Hide from all the responsibilities that come with being healthy and recovered.

He is right. There are times I want to dive right back into anorexia.

I said I miss my uber-thinness, the feeling of my bones and concave stomach. I sometimes crave to be that small again; it is unlike any other feeling in the world, the world of anorexia. It is so damn seductive, so alluring sometimes I can't think over the still-loud, screaming voices that try to urge me on to the impossibility of being thin, so thin I am just a whisper . . .

I also know what I stand to lose if I chose this path. My husband. Writing. Any hope of getting my master's degree or having a successful and fulfilling career. Friendship.


(But I would be with God.)

Strangely, I never have really believed that I could die of this illness. There are a few times awareness has tried to trickle in, but then my heart beats and my mind thinks, and the thought of anorexia killing me seems so remote.

I cried yesterday when I realized how close I was to my goal weight. I felt both happy and bitter, the two feelings intermingling until I just felt overwhelmed and exploded into tears and self-recriminations. I looked down and hated my body and what it has become; rounder, feminine and softer.

But I want to get better.  I ate the foods and drank the Ensure Plus necessary to gain weight starting in September, and I was so determined to do it after my husband left, to prove I could recover and we could still have a life together. I moved forward in faith each day, and felt the promises of tomorrow whisper, you can do this.

But then there is guilt.

Why do I deserve to live when so many others have died from anorexia?

The guilt eats at me, tells me I haven't suffered enough and I don't deserve to eat nor recover. Why is anorexia like this? Why is it the only disease that tries to entice you back to it? Why does it make you feel guilty for becoming better?

Today I decided to eat less. And I have. Is that supposed to be the great accomplishment of my day?

I can still move forward. I must move forward. But right now I am frozen.

Frozen by guilt. 

Frozen by fear.

Frozen by anxiety.

Frozen by anorexia. 

Frozen by the thought relief could come soon.

(But what type of relief? Which will I chose? I have thought about the woman who died of anorexia all day. What were her hopes and dreams? Was she surrounded by loved ones at the moment of her death? Did she once dream of recovery? When did it become too late? What does all this mean to me?)

The part of me that wanted to die, that developed anorexia in the first place, thinks why not?

Survivor's guilt (living with anorexia)

Guilt fills me

The thought of
young woman

By anorexia.

I ask myself
Why do
continue to live?

While others die?

Feeling cheated
of the
meant for


29 September 2010

Dear Anorexia . . .

Dear Anorexia,
You made me
and my
W O R L D.
Leaving me with
n    o    t    h    i    n   g . . . . . .

for years,
when you started to fade away
my fingertips would
reach out,
grasping for you

Anorexia is thy name
And I was thee.

My soul and yours
a hazy mixture
Unable to be part of

You did serve
A purpose
Or two

Protecting me
In a strange and

Anxiety calmed
Depression staved off

(For a while, anyway
It was never a permanent

It is so hard
To let go
even now

Your voice still screams
You don't deserve
to eat
You don't . . .

But I know there is
option of returning to you

In order to live,
I must allow you to

It is time
to say good-bye.

Your usefulness
Is gone
All you can bring me is

And I have already cried
so many t
because of you . . .


I want

The arms of my
husband around me
Not your snakelike



The smile
that you tried to

My thoughts
are becoming
of your interference

And I am beginning
to finally


25 September 2010

Forgiveness, grace and anorexia

Tomorrow my husband will return home for good.
I have a lot to forgive. But perhaps not what people think.

My doctor says to me, "You left him first." This was very hard to take, particularly right after David left. I came home from class, his things gone and the house stripped bare of his artwork. I didn't need to read the note he left. The bareness echoing through our home told me what had happened.

Anorexia had driven him away.

Anorexia nervosa is a strange disease. It can kill you and the logical part of my mind understood that. But it is so seductive. There was just something about feeling empty, airy; bones protruding and stomach concave that just drew me in time and time again.

I was unable to give up anorexia. I was afraid to give up anorexia. I didn't know any longer who I was without the disease.

Anorexia also is a disease that fights back. The more I've tried to recover this month, knowing that was the only path to any kind of life and any attempt to salvage my marriage, the more I've eaten and the harder I've worked, anorexia has been at work, too. Insidious, sneaky; planting unwanted thoughts and fears into my brain.

It just doesn't get it. Anorexia isn't welcome here anymore.

It was only through the grace of God that I was able to eat when I was lonely and doubtful that I could either recover nor regain my former life. That life seemed so far gone . . . I really felt I had lost everything.

So why did I keep going?

Grace showered down on me, covering me in God's love and caring as I struggled to escape anorexia's grip. I prayed every day for release, to please this time allow me to escape. It really has felt like a prison sometimes.

God heard me and made it easier each day to nourish myself, to try and bring myself back to life.

With grace comes forgiveness. First I needed God's forgiveness for a slew of broken promises. Promises that I would stop abusing laxatives. Promises that I would stop starving myself. Promises that I wouldn't cut or do a multitude of things to degrade myself.

Promises broken. And yet God forgives me each and every day.

But I also must forgive myself. For too long I have blamed myself for developing anorexia. I have blamed myself for what my illness has done to my husband, family and friends, and I have since apologized to those who loved me.

But I left out one person. I haven't apologized to me for what anorexia has done.

I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for hurting myself, one of God's creations. I didn't deserve that kind of treatment, and I will try to treat myself better each and every day. For out of loving myself will I be able to give love to those around me.

As I sit here, my last evening without my husband at home, I think about forgiveness and grace. I forgave him a long time ago. For my doctor is right; I did leave him first. I left him for anorexia, shutting him and everything out until I didn't believe there was anything else. I do not blame him for leaving; in fact, it was probably the most loving act he could have done even though it hurt like hell for both of us.

It will take a long time to heal. I am only at the beginning of recovery. Anorexia continues to scream its lies at me; sometimes as just mere background noise, sometimes loud and obnoxious taunting about my newly gained pounds.

Anorexia whispers, You can be thin again. Thin Thin Thin ...

I was thin; I was skeletal. I am becoming slender and healthy. By no means am I overweight and that is one of the worst lies anorexia keeps throwing at me, as if it will make me return to it.

I won't.

As I told my doctor the other day, I had already decided I would either beat anorexia this year or kill myself. I don't want to live another year like this one. Plummeting weight and the all-pervasive wish to just die, die of anorexia because there felt like there was no hope of escape. I was smothering and I knew my body and soul couldn't take much more.

I will keep moving forward, toward life and laughter and my true love back with me again. The anxiety is sometimes so strong it feels as if it will consume me, and the call of anorexia is still seductive, but . . .

I will keep moving forward.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home." John Newton, "Amazing Grace" 1779

15 September 2010

De-romanticizing anorexia (Ten Days)

"Many miles many roads I have traveled / Fallen down on the way / Many hearts many years have unraveled / Leading up to today." Madonna, "I Deserve It"

I sit here and think that in ten days, you could be home and real life can begin again. I have been half frozen without you. I have been cold and lonely, and I have cried many tears while on my knees begging God to bring you back to me.

But . . . I have survived. I have not sunk into despair nor have I turned to anorexia for solace. I have fought hard and emerged victorious with each bite of food and drink of Ensure Plus.

I have survived, and at times even felt joy and happiness. The wind and the sun have blown through my hair, the fading warmth of fall a promise of a better tomorrow. I am able to dream again, and in those dreams are you and I, one once more, healthy and happy and content, learning and loving and growing in this life.

At first, I railed against this separation. That is lessening as I realized that each one of us face many things throughout the years, and this is what God has chosen me to face at this time. It has hurt and has made me cry and become angry, and perhaps that is what I needed to do.

At first, I was angry with God. I didn't really understand and I was caught in a maelstrom of emotions and pain as I contemplated a future without you.

Then hope was offered. I began to believe we would have a future together. I didn't know when, and that was hard, but with each kiss I felt your love and longing, and remembered your promise.

Now I am beginning to understand why I needed to go through this. I needed to learn I could survive and recover from anorexia, that I have the internal strength and that it won't kill me if I only draw upon that strength and fight back.

I needed to learn that recovery from anorexia nervosa is a lifelong process. I will constantly need to draw upon my strength and resources to fight and overcome this inexplicable and evil disease.

I have survived. No one can ever take that away from me. Anorexia cannot take that away from me. This part of recovery, this victory, is mine.

This doesn't mean I don't need nor want your support. It will be ... My breath catches in my throat and my heart races as I think of it ... for us to be together again, to hear your encouragement as I continue to move forward in this journey.

But in the end, it is my fight and I will need every ounce of internal strength to win. Anorexia is a formidable foe and doesn't give up easily. But I will recover and learn to laugh and dance and love myself again.

For too long, I gave up fighting for myself. I started to believe I really couldn't recover and that was okay. I began to believe lies, lies that told me I was not worthy nor able to recover, lies that said I didn't deserve to eat, lies that enticed me to forever become thinner. Lies that I allowed to define me solely based upon a number on a scale.

I have learned since you have left that numbers mean nothing and that anorexia was really in control. There is nothing beautiful or graceful or delicate about being emaciated and starved. I have looked at the pictures, at my stripped-down arms and stripped-down body and no longer wonder why you were so afraid and frustrated with my belief that was an acceptable way to be and live.

But I wasn't really living.

I did romanticize anorexia, as much as I denied it. I was caught in a web and couldn't find the weapon to cut myself free. And therefore I moved forward, trying to escape and yet feeling so trapped ... I felt as if I were in a jail cell, left forgotten and broken, left to die.

Every morning I prayed to God to either release me or let me die. You see, I couldn't live with anorexia anymore. I wanted out and I believed the lie that only death would free me.

The lion's share of my anger has been directed and aimed at anorexia. It is evil and has destroyed so many lives. It took almost everything from me; body, soul and spirit. It has scarred our lives and me and for that I am sorry.

I struggle not to cry as I write this. It feels like it has been a long journey toward wanting to live and recover from anorexia. To move from one mindset to another in the space of two weeks is both exhilarating and exhausting, and my emotions have veered from despair to hope and everywhere in between.

It has been two weeks since you left, and each night I still turn and reach out for you. You are not there, and yet this morning hope entered my mind and whispered soon, soon . . .

And I smile. 

10 September 2010

A prayer and a promise

"My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior." The Magnificat

A prayer

Hear my cries, O Lord!

I will prevail only
With Your mercy
and kindness

Fill my spirit
With courage
and hope

Free me
From this evil
I fight every day

Surround me with your light,
and protection

Know that I am
your servant
And I glorify your name


It is only through the Lord's grace and mercy that I am slowly recovering from anorexia. It is very hard to eat sometimes, and there are moments when I want to give up. It is hard to eat meals, and oddly harder to eat alone than with others.

Each morning begins with breakfast of yogurt and granola, and recently some added pecans or walnuts for more calories and healthy fats. I now pray at each meal, a simple prayer that the food will nourish me and allow me to become healthy. I am actually hungry at breakfast time, and thus it is my favorite meal of the day.

My other two meals vary, usually a sandwich and yogurt or pudding for lunch and some type of pasta with meat and bread and butter for dinner. Then there is the three bottles of Ensure Plus and I have added a mid-afternoon snack since my metabolism is quite active and my weight gain will plateau if I don't add more calories.

I don't exactly count calories, as I find that still too triggering and reminiscent of the days I was enmeshed in anorexia, but I have a rough idea from years of constant vigilance over what I ate.

I am amazed I can eat the amount of food I have been eating for the past two weeks without major anxiety. It still feels as if anorexia has died within me, although the enemy (and that is what my doctor says anorexia is) tries to fight back and make me feel bad for eating "so much." I pretty much tell the eating disorder voice (I will no longer give *it* a name because it does not deserve one) to shut up and that I'm not going to listen.

I have to make sure I don't tell myself to shut up while in public. :) (I suppose I have done this a few times. I don't really care what people think.)

Another amazing thing is to step on the scale and want to gain weight. I plan on getting rid of the scale in the future, but right now with things still in flux I need to make sure I'm not losing. Dr. Sackeyfio told me today I could plateau or lose because of the additional stress and feelings I am going through, and that I will most likely need to add even more food/calories to my day.

I can do it. I am doing it. There are times I miss David so badly . . . But I tell myself this is the only way to any kind of life. He still is a strong source of support, telling me he is proud of me and celebrating with me when I had cookies with dinner just because I wanted to have cookies.

Then there is his promise — that if I stay healthy, we will get back together. Hope fills my soul each time I think of his words. There are times I am impatient and I want us to be together now.

Then I wonder . . . I have been battling anorexia nervosa for four years, and this is the third time I have made a concerted effort to become healthy. Maybe God wanted to make sure this was my recovery. Maybe He wants me to believe in myself; that I am strong and capable and able to do this.

And each day, I do believe more in myself. I still cry and feel lonely, and I might feel this way whether David was here all the time or not. Refeeding is a very emotional and lonely time, and there is no way out except for through.

"The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age . . ."