April 21, 2010

It Is Time

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 pm by eddejae

I have been working up the courage and emotional energy all day to tackle what I think is the one thing I have yet to actually confront, and it something I hope to conquer.

It is something I am deeply ashamed of.

It is my eating disorder.

I’ve gone through cycling phases of accepting it and denying it, giving in to it and fighting it. Yet it wins, time and time again, in one form or another – anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.

In one form, I restrict calories and I over-exercise. At one point a few years ago, I managed to keep my calorie intake down to about 800 calories while working out 3 hours every day and abusing laxatives.

When I was 16, I stopped eating almost entirely. I weighed less than 90 pounds.

At other times, I have gone on eating binges and then purged through throwing up or taking laxatives and diuretics. In both cases, I would go on an extreme diet until I felt I had compensated for the calories I had consumed.

Now, I’m on a constant binge/diet cycle. I will keep my calories below 1,000 cal/day and exercise at least 60 min/day for a week at the longest. Then, my body gets depleted. I start having cravings and urges to binge, and my body is exhausted. So I binge for a day, two days, maybe three or four, depending on my emotional state. The more depressed I am, the more likely I am to binge. Then, after I’ve had enough and I feel awful about myself because I’ve gained 5 pounds or so, I go right back on a strict diet to lose what I gained – promising myself I’ll never binge again. But I always do. The cycle has repeated itself a hundred times at least.

My whole life is centered around food. Counting how many calories I’m consuming, how many I’m burning, how long it will take me to lose a certain number of pounds. I have a goal weight in my mind, and I never, ever get there. I’m never good enough. And because of my binging episodes, I always feel like a failure. I begin to feel like that’s all I am. A failure. I have no self-control.

Of course, I know that my binges serve a bigger purpose than merely satisfying physical craving. They have become a coping mechanism, even an addiction. For the moment, it numbs me. Anxious? Eat. Depressed? Eat. Lonely? Eat. I have often felt like food was my only friend. It’s always there. Always something I can count on. Always comforting. And you know what else? It protects me from relationships. As long as I am putting on weight, as long as I am uncomfortable with my body, I am kept from putting myself out there; I am not at risk of being hurt; no one can touch me; no one can love me… and… no one can leave me. I am alone, but I am safe. If I feel bad about myself, I don’t socialize. If I don’t socialize, I don’t have to feel anxious and self-conscious. It is a vicious cycle of self-harm and self-hate. I eat to hurt myself. I eat to soothe myself. I eat to punish myself. I eat to reward myself. I eat to keep from cutting. I eat to keep myself from putting myself in a situation where I could be taken advantage of by men. I eat to avoid social anxiety. I eat to stay put. I eat to stay in my comfort zone. I eat so I don’t have to FEEL. It numbs me to the world. It is my drug of choice.

But it is ruining my life.

Eating too much or not eating enough. Never a middle ground. Never a balance. Just extremes. It becomes a game I play with myself. It’s something I can control. It’s something I know. As long as I focus on calories, on exercise, on making lists of things I can and can’t eat… I feel like I’m in control. It is a coping method. When everything else is chaos – my emotions, my social life, my family, my mind – that one thing can stay consistent. It is a true obsession that is all-consuming. Not a minute goes by that I am not thinking about what I’m going to eat next or how I can keep myself from eating when the hunger pangs come.

Listen to my body? I don’t know what that means. I live my life by the clock and by calories. “At 10:00am I can eat 150 calories. I can’t eat again until 2:00pm at which time I can have 200 calories.” These thoughts are at the foreground of my mind almost constantly. You’d think “Eat when your hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry” would be simple, self-explanatory. Not to me. I don’t know what that means. My body and I don’t communicate much.

I constantly compare myself to other girls. Girls on the street, girls in movies, girls in magazines. Any girl. And I usually come up short.

My clothes are old and ragged, because I refuse to buy new ones until I’ve reached my weight goal. Even when I’ve lost weight, I wear baggy clothing to hide my body.

People throughout my life have told me “You’re so beautiful!” or “You’re a perfect size”… I’ve never been able to believe them. It’s so hard. I feel like I should… I want to believe those things about myself… I want to believe I am beautiful and perfect and worthy of love. But as long as I am not my ideal weight, I can’t believe it.

I don’t know what made me like this. Maybe the sexual abuse I experienced during my childhood. Maybe the destructive messages from the society and the media. Maybe influences in my life growing up. Maybe I’m just a perfectionist. I don’t know.

I hate looking in the mirror. I disgust myself. I wish I could love myself. I am so jealous of girls who are comfortable with who they are and what they look like… I envy that freedom.

I want to be free.

I want to be free from this obsession, from this self-hate. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to starve myself. I don’t want to binge. I don’t want restrict my activities and even fail to reach my potential because of this heavy baggage I carry – the baggage of weight that is so much more than just physical. It is mental, emotional, spiritual. My whole identity is wrapped up in my body image. I just want to be free.

Many of my nightmares have to do with how I look and my shame about my body.

I am so tired of it.

I need help. I’m crying for help. I’ve kept all of this inside for so long. It’s been my secret obsession. It can’t be secret anymore. I need support. I need help to overcome this. Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of engaging in anorexic behavior again. This is a major part of the reason I had a complete breakdown last night… I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would do ANYTHING to be skinny, even stop eating completely. And if I couldn’t… Well, I don’t want to go that place in my mind. I had stumbled across some pro-anorexic websites that were very triggering. Did you know that there’s an entire Facebook community of individuals deep in their eating disorders that support each other? It’s terrible. They post pictures of skeletal models and encourage each other not to eat. It’s terrifying. And yet it was strangely alluring… I don’t want to become that.

I’m afraid. I’ve lived with this obsession over food and weight so long, if I let go of it, I’m afraid I will feel a void… which leads me to believe that I must replace this obsession with something else. But what? And how do I stop the obsessive thoughts? How do I start accepting myself for who I am? How do I become happy with my body?

For most of my life, I have equated thinness with happiness. I need to change my thinking. But how? How do you change something that feels so ingrained in your soul?

How do I live… REALLY live… without this fear, this inner ache, that drives me into these self-destructive patterns?

I want to be free.

I have to set myself free… Thus far I have been determined to make the disorder, the cycle, work for me. I now realize that is has done nothing but destroy me. It has not brought me anything but pain and misery.

No one else can do this for me.

I can’t live with this anymore.

It is one of the last things I have to cling to, but I have to let it go if I am to be truly healthy.

I will overcome it, no matter what it takes…

Dear God, please give me strength…

And so it begins…

(This song describes exactly how I feel right now about all of this. I don’t know what I would do without music to help me express what I cannot…)

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

I don’t know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how I’ve changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I’m OK
And for a moment, for a moment I find hope
But there are days when I’m not OK
And I need your help
So I’m letting go

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

You should know you’re not on your own
These secrets are walls that keep us alone
I don’t know when but I know now
Together we’ll make it through somehow
(together we’ll make it through somehow)

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

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4 Comments »

  1. Cassie said,

    I can relate to your experiences of bingeing and purging and being unhappy with your body, as I struggle with bulimic behaviours. Especially with the bingeing, I use it as a coping mechanism too. I’ve been cutting for six years and only started to binge/purge about two years ago, but I find bingeing even harder to stop than cutting.
    Recognising your ED and admitting this as a problem is a huge step to take though, so well done on that. Hopefully now that you have recognised this, you can get the help that you deserve to overcome your ED. You deserve to be free.
    Take care,
    Cassie

    • Edde said,

      I meet with my therapist tomorrow and I plan to let her know all of this. I’ve hinted at it but she doesn’t really know the magnitude of it.
      Thank you for your comment Cassie ❤

  2. 2tightlywound said,

    I truly felt like I was reading my own thoughts when I read through your post…

    “My whole life is centered around food.” –Totally me. I am always thinking about what/when/where I’ll be eating next, and afterward, all I think of is the guilt I feel from eating. I read cook books, plan meals, watch cooking shows, knowing full well that I will never make any of this food that I think about. It’s a sick obsession, but I don’t know how to break it.

    “And you know what else? It protects me from relationships.” — I avoid going out with people if there is any possibility that food might be involved. And the more I isolate, the deeper I fall into my ED. And I also know that it’s not attractive to be so skinny, so losing the weight gives me an excuse as to why no guys are interested.

    I won’t buy new clothes either. I have two sets of clothes– one for when I’m at a “healthy” weight, and one when I’m not.

    Comparing myself to other girls is a constant problem for me. Especially in the cafeteria at school, I compare what is on my tray with every other girl. And I get really bad food envy, regardless of what I’ve chosen. Either I wish I had picked something that I actually wanted, or I wish I had the willpower to choose something with less calories.

    And I could go on and on, because like I said, you basically wrote out my thoughts. So just know that you are not alone, and I am here if you need support! I believe we can pull through this.

    • Edde said,

      Thank you so much… It’s good to know that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one with this obsession that seems all-consuming at times. Thanks so much for being there for me. Love, Edde


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