01 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 1 — Change


What does change mean to me?
I thought about this all day, and I keep coming back to the fact that my life has been filled with incredible changes during the past four years.

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I didn't care if I lived or died. My life revolved around weight and calories and unrelenting self-hatred.

Today I learned that I no longer have the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. And I've been thinking about all the changes I have made for recovery to become a reality.

Two years ago, I entered a PHP in the Midwest. I was not a proponent of recovery. I went solely as an attempt to save my crumbling marriage. I did not really want to recover, but I was good at trying to pretend that I was.

Going back further, sixteen years ago I was preparing for my wedding. I did not know then that I would be caught in the horror of anorexia nervosa. I was a normal weight, and honestly, I didn't even try to lose weight for my wedding.

Soon that would change.

We moved to a thriving college town, where I pursued my dream of being a writer. I enrolled to complete my second bachelor's degree (my first was in psychology, ironically) in English/Imaginative Writing. We perused practically every restaurant, and I felt free to enjoy food and drink.

I went on to build a career as a respected journalist and writer, covering everything from government to the military. I was overweight, having gain some pounds both because of a medication and the inevitable marriage-induced apathy, but I was happy. I was in love and I was writing, and that was all that matter.
Then some people insinuated that I was fat.
Then I became ill with an unknown illness that would not be diagnosed for years.
Then the war in Iraq started and I had to write about young men who had hopes and dreams, but came home in pieces.
I listened to their families' sorrow and I fell to pieces.
Quietly, inside. I was unable to express my horror at the ravages of war, and therefore began to wage war on my body and psyche.

I was sick and I was afraid and I no longer could eat without fear. There was the fear of fat, but that wasn't really my real fear.
My real fear was of life.
I could no longer engage in life, because to do so would be so painful.
I would have to feel/see/know about the young dead men and their grieving families.

All of this began to take a toll on my marriage. I sensed that we were becoming unraveled. The loss of intimacy. No longer sharing jokes. Indifference.
The indifference hurt. I struggled to hold onto what was in the only way I knew how—by starving.
Starving became my voice, the voice that spoke words that felt unspeakable.
I could not speak of the horrors, of my fears; I could only starve.
You see, it really wasn't about being thin.
It was about survival.
Survival through starvation.

How can I describe how things fell spectacularly apart??? How can I convey any of this, when I was lost/buried/drowning?
For a long time, I feared change. I was no longer the woman I used to be. The woman who packed her bags and moved away to complete her degree, determined to make something, anything, of her life. The woman who married and moved away, and then worked hard to achieve her dream of writing.
The woman who was unafraid of change, who didn't feel threatened by change.

However, anorexia nervosa did change me...but for a long time, it was change for the worse.

I became selfish. Uncaring. Self-absorbed. Mean.

I was caught/stuck/drowning.
And oblivious to it all.

I did not want to change. I did not think I needed to change.
What, me sick? I DO NOT have anorexia. I am just thin. Thin....Thin...Thin.

And the words echoed in my soul, mocking me.

One day in August 2008, I walked into the office of an eating disorders psychiatrist. I didn't want to be there. The first thing I thought when I looked at him was, How the hell is this man even going to understand? How is he going to understand that I am afraid? That I want to die?
He gently asked me some questions, and then looked at me and said, "You are dying."

That changed me.
That penetrated the ice of anorexia.

It took a long time to change from that person who was dying, body and soul, to the woman I am today.
Many changes came my way.
I left my job and started graduate school.
I was hospitalized for anorexia eight times in four years.
My marriage fell apart; my husband and I separating.
I then fell into alcoholism and drug addiction, necessitating intervention from my psychiatrist.

There have been many positive changes.
I have been working hard at recovery.
I have decided that I am a strong, intelligent, awesome woman.
I have changed how I view myself and others.
I have moved forward onto an unknown and scary path, alone and yet not alone.

I embrace it with all the strength I used to embrace my illness.

Today I learned I no longer have the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.
My identity will change.
From one of an eating disordered person.

To one who is fully, joyfully....alive.


Arielle Bair (Becker) said...

That is a lot of change. And you have learned a lot...so that now you are able to really live! :-)

Jenn said...

you have been through so much and you have come out so much stronger because of it! the changes you have made have strengthened your spirit and there is no stopping you now!!! ; )