31 August 2010


My husband has left me. Because of my anorexia. Because he couldn't handle it. It was too much for him.

I understand. It is too much for me. He said he would consider getting back together if I got better. Right now my heart aches. I miss him so much. This house is not a home without David. I don't know how to live here without him.

I hurt so much. I feel destroyed.

Anorexia has destroyed everything. I have learned too late . . . I hate anorexia with all my heart.

I miss him . . .

30 August 2010

Anger rising

I woke up this morning feeling as if my insides were being twisted by a malevolent force. I could feel all the food I ate churning and bubbling, a caldron ready to explode. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom, hating myself and food and anorexia and all of life.

I ate like a normal person on Sunday. Then I punished myself by taking a handful of laxatives that night. What goes in must come out, right?

I am getting so sick of this. The time wasted either sitting on the toilet or trying to count each and every calorie I consume. The time spent on the scale, silently begging it to not show a triple-digit weight. The time spent sick to my stomach and sick at heart because I have failed once again.

The unrelenting pursuit of thinness.

I will never be thin enough. I read about Marya Hornbacher and her lowest weight of 57. I ached with jealously. I will never be that thin. And that hurts. Then I wonder . . . How did she do it? Could I . . . Maybe I could learn how by reading her book.

I look at the innocuous white scale, its flickering numbers ready to bring me joy or despair like a desperate gambler at a roulette wheel. Round and round the numbers go and where they land nobody knows.

And where it lands is never the right place. I hate the number no matter what it is . . .

I want to pick it up and hurl it across the room until it smashes into a billion pieces.

I look at the tiny pink pills that I slyly, quickly swallow so David doesn't see me. Yet I know laxatives don't really rid your body of calories, but instead depletes you of fluids and gives the illusion of weight loss.

My mind circles desperately, the Ana voice telling to just stop eating. You are a pig. Fat pig. You would be better off dead than the way you are now.


It never stops. I want to scream as loud as I can — Dear God, save me! Save me from all this. Take it away. I can do nothing on my own. Only You can deliver me from this ongoing nightmare.

And I fantasize about taking a sledgehammer and smashing it into the scale which has ruled my life for years.

Then I become afraid.

Who am I besides someone fighting anorexia nervosa? Who am I besides my weight? Who am I besides my body size?

My doctor asked me to think about those questions and come up with some answers this week.

I see nothing but blankness right now. My thoughts are too filled with little pink pills and a white scale. My thoughts are too filled with what more can I do to rid myself of more weight. I look up tips. Karen Carpenter took extra thyroid pills and used syrup of ipecac. Hmm...I have thyroid pills. Perhaps I should double the dose.

I draw back, afraid.

And my anger at anorexia grows.

I am so sick of this. When will I be free? When will I allow myself to be free?

For it is I who locks myself in the golden cage and throws away the key.

Back and forth ...





Dear God, please save me before . . . the possibilities are infinite.

24 August 2010

Anorexia, the old woman and me

I travel each week two hours one-way to see my eating disorders specialist. Rarely do I see other patients coming or going. (I suspect it is set up that way.)

But last week, I did my usually sprint into the office to grab the bathroom key before my appointment and was stopped short. By a very old woman, leaning against a walker and talking with Dr. S's secretary/office manager/all-around wonderful person.

I was a bit flustered by her being there. Is she a patient? Is she someone's grandmother, paying a bill or arranging for an appointment? Dear God, don't let her be a patient! She must be 80; she should be home surrounded by her loving grandchildren and great grandchildren, baking pies and cookies — NOT battling an eating disorder!

I did not ask Dr. S about her (and I know he wouldn't be able to tell me anything.) BUT had I even mentioned her age, I know he would have said, Of course people in their 70s and 80s battle eating disorders. Or something like that. Since I also knew this deep down, but did not want my knowledge confirmed, I didn't say anything.

I don't want to face the reality that an elderly woman could be battling anorexia or bulimia. I don't want to know that on so many different levels . . .

I haven't been able to get the stooped, elderly woman out of my mind. Was she a patient? No, that's not possible. She was too old. WAS she anorexic? Bulimic? Was she still fighting her demons? WHO WAS SHE???

I know I'll never know.

Sometimes I think of my own situation. I am 45 and still struggling with anorexia nervosa. I am still trying to climb my way out of a relapse. After gaining some weight at a PHP this summer, I've lost most of it and am only maintaining.

Each day I try to eat more to gain weight. This past week has been back and forth. I'll eat well and then panic, swallowing a bunch of laxatives and watching all my efforts go down the drain. Other days, I try to eat what feels a little safer and only add a few hundred extra calories.

Then the war starts in my head. You are getting TOO FAT! See that huge stomach and thighs? Feel that pudgy waist? You are a BIG FAT LOSER?

Get some laxatives and cleanse yourself of all this dirty food. Then go back to the basics. Eat as little food as possible. YOU ARE FAT FAT FAT! Everyone around you thinks that. They just won't tell you — yet.

You don't need food and you don't deserve food.

But eating less is not healthy. I need to be healthy in order to complete my graduate classes and have some sort of a future. To have a life with my husband. To enjoy the fullness of living.

To be less afraid and less anxious.

My mind is constantly this war zone. I sometimes feel as if I am going to shatter in a million different pieces, literally implode upon myself until I'm nothing but a pile of broken dreams and promises. No future.

Then I think of the old woman. I imagine I am her . . .

The year 2050. I am 85. Hopes of recovery are long gone. Counting calories and losing weight has defined me for decades. I am told I am too thin, but I don't believe it. I still could stand to lose a few more pounds. My gaunt face looks at the doctor's face and I laugh.


This is the most important thing about me. Everything else has faded, sucked into the black hole of anorexia. There is nothing left. I never finished graduate school. I became too weak and had to drop out. I've been living on odd jobs and finally, at some point, disability. My husband has left me and I have few friends.

I am alone.

Dear God, please let her be somebody's grandmother. She can't have an eating disorder. She doesn't have anorexia or bulimia. Maybe she was friends with Dr. S's secretary and just stopped by. Maybe she was there to thank Dr. S for the recovery of her granddaughter or grandson.

Can she?

20 August 2010

Not My Fault: Erasing the Stigma of Eating Disorders

I was honored to be asked by Sandy at A Glass Half Shattered to write an guest blog post. Sandy is currently in recovery from borderline personality disorder and also struggles with depression and anxiety. She is an awesome writer devoted to both her recovery and erasing the stigma of all mental illnesses.

My guest post, Not My Fault: Erasing the Stigma of Eating Disorders, explores further the differences between having an eating disorder and other illnesses and the stigma still attached to eating disorders. It is my hope I can perhaps show people that eating disorders are real illnesses and that the estimated 11 million people who struggle with these disorders deserve the same compassion and understanding given to others. The post is not meant to evoke pity, but instead create a dialogue of understanding.

I also would encourage you to explore Sandy's blog — you will come away with a better understanding of the day to day life of someone struggling with BPD and you might just relate to much of Sandy's life.

14 August 2010

What if I had . . .? (The myth that anorexia nervosa isn't a real illness)

What if I had cancer?
What if I had suffered from several strokes?
Suppose I was unable to walk because of MS?
Or my hands were so twisted from RA?

Would you then encourage my husband to leave me because I'm sick? That he should abandon me when I need him most? That my rock and anchor should just throw fourteen years of marriage because you said so???

I'm glad you listen to him and allow him to vent and I understand you think dealing with a wife with anorexia is so hard for him.

But did you ever ask how I felt? Were you even concerned that I almost died this past winter, that I am still struggling? Did you ever call me to see how I was doing, or is gossiping like two old women all you are capable of? Are your relationships so dry, so empty (I know at least two of you are in very empty relationships; ones on their deathbeds, as a matter of fact) that you have to interfere with mine? At least next time have the guts to say what you think to me. After all, I don't even weigh 100 pounds; I surely can't hurt you.

Being betrayed by several people close to me won't heal. I must pretend to my husband I am fine. After all, he was very reluctant to tell me that several people have said to him they wouldn't stay with me. I should bury my feelings. I asked and I received, and I wasn't happy with what was there.

A world of disposable vows. Forever means nothing. "Love is patient, love is kind" and all that crap. I am such a dreamer; an idiot to believe love can conquer all.

When do I get to be free of anorexia? When I die? If I recover? Never? And what about my heart, which feels shattered right now . . .

Funny thing is, each one of you call yourself a Christian in some way. But I suppose you would have left the beaten man by the side of the road; after all, you are a Samaritan and he is a Jew and why would you help someone so different from yourself?

Did you know that anorexia nervosa has a 25 percent death rate? The highest rate of any mental illness, and higher than many physical illnesses? Do you know how hard it is to kick? Do you have any idea what it's like to live steeped in anxiety, trying to crawl your way back once more toward recovery? The last thing I need is a Judas or two in my midst.

But you go ahead and smoke your cigarettes and drink your twelve-pack and pontificate about how I can't seem to get rid of anorexia and why would anyone stay with me. But maybe I wonder the same thing about you . . .

10 August 2010

The lies of Proana

My mind feels as if it were split in two by anorexia. Part of me is pulled toward eating less and losing weight. The pursuit of thinness feels so strong, ready to pull me under. But is it really being thin that I want? I don't think so.

People say I am too thin now; losing more pounds feels rather pointless and yet . . . I look at pictures of those who are young and thin; fake photos to draw me in and trap me. I will never look like that. It is a lie. I won't tiptoe between raindrops nor walk across snow-covered fields with nary a footprint.

The Lies of Proana

Il Faut Souffrir Pour Etre Belle
  (One must suffer to be beautiful)
Welcome to the world of fantasy
Where slender young women
float through life
untouched by the ravages
of their starving bodies
wasted minds.

Did I ever believe any of this? Do I still? Is my mind torn in two? As I struggle to eat, both believing I need to lose weight and then seeing the truth, I wonder whose mind is it, anyway? Who is in control here and am I that easily manipulated? Or am I sometimes drawn toward this fantasy world because I find it too hard to escape the reality of anorexia? I wonder ...

It is so easy to believe the lies of proana. The women pictured look flawless — smooth, delicate skin, slender bodies and glossy smooth hair. Who could resist the allure of these images?
Proana says all you have to do is not eat. Of course, not every one of these websites actually say you must starve to achieve this imaginary life. Starvation is sometimes just a whisper behind the positive posts of eating less and exercising more; of ways to avoid food and how much better you will feel the less you eat. 

Some proana sites go further, trying to make starvation sound virtuous; a state to aspire to:

 "Starvation is fulfilling. 
Colors become brighter, sounds sharper, 
odors so much more savory . . ."

LIES! I wish I could reach through the website where I found that and shake the person, yelling You are starving, that's why things seem different and strange. Starving!!! Lies which help perpetuate the downward spiral of so many women. More fulfilling??? I remember in some of my worse restrictive times I would suddenly get an urge to snatch food from someone eating in front of me. The smells and imagined taste almost were too much. And yet part of me was (is?) susceptible to this and it scares me.

The other, healthier part of me wants to break free of anorexia forever. I am tired. Tired of counting calories. Tired of worrying about every single bite I put in my mouth. Tired of fighting with my mind all the time. I struggle to maintain some semblance of a normal life and at each turn, crouching in every corner is anorexia.

Tired of thinking about a life without my husband, a life without love and joy.

The anxiety is the worse. I wake up afraid of everything. Having sex with my husband. Food. Getting out of bed. The fear that I will amount to nothing. Eating. Not eating. Facing the day. Taking a shower and deciding what clothes to wear. Completing assignments.

Nothing is untouched by anxiety. Nothing.

The other day my husband told me he was leaving unless I made a real effort toward recovery. I thought I was. I was thinking about what I needed to do, writing about it, trying to work through the fear of eating and gaining weight.

I felt I was making an effort. I was thinking about it; doesn't that count for something? Of course, I also was talking about not gaining anymore weight and possibly losing more. I feel fine, I said. Why can't I stay the way I am? Why can't I just accept I have anorexia and live with it. I could give up treatment and let things happen,

What did I expect? For David to say, sure that's fine, being under one hundred pounds is perfectly okay by me?

I'm such an idiot sometimes. I cried more that night than ever before . . .  I promised to do better and I do truly want recovery. It's just so hard and I'm not as strong as people seem to think.

Last night, I told my doctor I want one of two things — either anorexia to kill me or to be free. Anorexia nervosa purgatory just isn't working for me.

Then I had an — epiphany? A revelation? Maybe a word from God, I don't know. I suddenly thought, What if I just stopped worrying and started eating like a normal person? What would happen? Would I literally explode? Would it kill me? Or would I start becoming the person I was, only better? 

I think of the past and dream of the future, thinking of the possibility of a rich and normal life . . . 

04 August 2010

Eat to live (defying the illogical voice of anorexia)

Eyes wide open
But is it enough?
The mirror would not lie to me this morning. I was dressed for this hot and humid Michigan weather, wearing a skimpy blue sundress with lace trim that I always felt cute in.

Not today.
My arms looked wraith-like; thick, ropy blue veins stood out as if ready to burst. My clavicle and my collarbones were predominant as I gazed in the mirror. I looked stripped to the bone, and it was not a bit pretty or beautiful.

I jumped back in horror. I didn't stop to think at first that I was recoiling at my own reflection. Then it hit me and I started to panic. I thought, "I'm going to die. I'm going to die of this disease." It felt like the end.

I've been told I don't take this illness seriously enough. One friend - who has been there herself - tried to break through my self-imposed apathy aided by extra medications and/or alcohol. She said any plans I have for graduate school, the possibility of changing programs and perhaps doing something I feel is worthwhile; all of this means nothing if I'm dead.
I thought she was being melodramatic. I feel okay. I'm not at my lowest weight. I am eating a little each day.

(Spiraling downward; fear and joy mixed as the numbers continue to decrease.)
But something broke through.

She's right. Nothing will matter if I am dead.
And yet ... I need a reason to live. I need meaning and happiness and joy, unapologetic joy in which my soul feels to its depth.

I'm glad this morning frightened me. I went back upstairs, changed into a T-shirt to cover the parts I could not stand to look at anymore, and continued to think.

Anorexia is a vicious circle. The less you eat, the less you feel. Then the less you feel, the less anything matters.
I know food is the answer. I keep repeating it - in order to live, to be able to fulfill my dreams, I must eat.

Then my mind whispers, wait one more day. Surely one more day can't hurt. I know this is not logical. Each day I restrict my food intake does hurt. Each pound I lose will make it harder to recover once I ... once I break free.

The voice of anorexia is illogical in its essence - don't eat. Starve yourself. You need to lose more weight. You really aren't that thin; everyone is exaggerating. You can never be too thin. Never too thin ...

This flies in the face of all human logic. And the more weight I lose, the more I become intwined with anorexia's twisted logic until my own voice is drowned out.

I have to find a way out. I am starting to feel trapped again. I wonder if it will ever stop ... or will anorexia's voice echo in my mind forever?