Might as well get to that one, hey? I’ve been avoiding it, I will admit. This is not pleasant to talk about, and it seems I do it all the time…Not that I’m complaining. Usually how it happens is that people will ask me how I’m doing. When I respond with “fine”, I usually end up getting more questions aimed at me, questions that normally have to do with eating disorders. Anorexia, my rituals and habits, what I eat, how I eat, how much I eat, etc. Yes, it can get tiring, but it means people are learning. When they ask questions like “So what is that doing to your organs?” I know that my answer is helping them learn about something in our society that simply has not gotten enough air time and has most definitely been put to the wayside when it comes to understanding what this monster is, and what it’s all about. I feel the same way about any other illness. We can’t make quick judgement, or any judgement at all until we know some true, straight facts about what is going on in that person’s life at that point in time. None of that bullshit thinking we’ve got this shit figured out because we saw something on TV or on Dr.Phil or some shit like that. It’s important to know what’s going on out there, and trust me, the people burdened with such illnesses may probably not only appreciate the fact that you are interested in learning about how they must live their life, but will likely be pretty pumped that you are willing to learn and understand their disorder as a whole. You’re educating yourself. It’s a good thing.
Anyway, I figured I would maybe do a day in the life type thing here. What I need you to understand is that I am nearing the shit storm of my recovery (if I have not made it there in a handbasket already). This is the point in therapy where most people drop out, and I understand it. I mean, this is a fucking nightmare, I am not going to lie. I can’t count how many times a day I want to give up, or play in traffic, or throw my plate across the room and yell “I QUIT”. I can’t count, but I know that it’s a lot. I don’t quit though, for several reasons:
A)If I relapse, it’ll just make the overall process longer, more painful, and far more annoying
B)My friends and family will be very, very sad
C)I will be very, very sad
D)I will have to start over. Doing this once is plenty enough for me, thank you.
What I think I’m going to do is take you through a day. Not a good day, not a bad day, just… A day. The bad days are really fucking bad, I won’t even begin to describe it here. Like… Friday was a bad day. It involved tears, strong words, yelling, and screaming (and I mean screaming). I cried, mom cried, we both just kind of broke down. It happens, and it’s going to happen. But it’s like a game… I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize, that prize is good health, eventual happiness…My life back. I miss it. I don’t want to seem complainy, but I miss being confident, self-assured…Happy.
End bullshit gushy moment. Back to business.
7am – Awaken (this is negotiable. I don’t sleep much, maybe 20 minutes at a time, so my wake up time is usually far before this, I just lie awake for most of it, until the sun starts to peek in). Wish I was dead. Look at clock, decide I might aswell get the day started so I can get it over with. Look at my list of things to do that day. This list includes things I’ve written down that can keep my mind busy. It also includes times for when I am going to eat (remember, I am still eating mechanically, as I don’t really get hungry at all) and what I am going to eat that day. Shudder. It’s probably an increase day, or maybe I’m just shuddering for the fact that I’m fucking tired of stuffing my gullet with food (at least, that’s how it seems). Roll out of bed, do something with rat’s nest that is my hair, weigh self.
Frown at scale
Weigh self again. Feel fat. Dismiss thoughts of cutting out breakfast or snacks that day. Weigh self again. Accept whatever number I see, remind myself that my relationship with gravity means shit all, and that my body needs to retain water in order to repair itself (I will probably gain at least 5 pounds in order for my heart to even begin to fix itself, it’s mind blowing), so I can’t possibly be getting fat. Go downstairs. Sit. Read.Wait.
8am – Alarm goes off. Time to eat the first half of my breakfast (large meals are impossible, so I often find myself splitting them into bits). Awesome. Roll eyes and haul self out of chair. At this point I’m probably wrapped in one or two blankets with the heat jacked. Before I can think about it I grab a piece of fruit and a nutrient shake. Consume. Feel disgusted with self. Fight urge to vomit. Tell ED to fuck off, this is what’s making me better and I have to do this, I have no choice. Return to chair, family is getting up by now.
10:30am – Alarm goes off. Fuck sakes. I don’t want to do this again. Prepare second part of breakfast. Usually some eggwhites, yogurt and a slice of toast (which I’ve started adding butter to). A family member is usually ready to eat with me if it’s the weekend, so that makes things easier. They talk to me throughout the meal, so I can take my mind off of ED, the food, the feelings of self-loathing and disgust. Now that my brother is off of school for the break, he often joins me. We get to spend some time together. It’s nice.
Consume meal. Fight urge to vomit or weigh self. Pop gum in mouth. Chew. Forget. Wait.
Between this time and lunch I do whatever I can to occupy my time. I clean, read, do laundry, blog, do yoga, sometimes I’ll run errands but with it getting really crowded in stores and with my new found social anxiety since becoming sick that has been happening less and less. I often go for a walk if it isn’t too cold out, sometimes I go to school with mama to help her out with the kids.
2:00pm – Alarm goes off. Slap forehead. Fucking lunch time already. OK, fine. Stomp to kitchen, bring book or magazine if no one is home to eat with. Lately I’ve been preparing food in advance for lunch so when this time of day comes I can actively see there has been food prepared so |I’m less likely to skip it. It’s just a matter of heating it up and eating it. This makes things a hell of a lot easier. Food prep is a nightmare. Usually my lunch consists of something almond milk and oatmeal based. Lately, to get essential fats in my diet I’ve been brave and have started adding nut butters. A tofu protein shake often accompanies this meal.
Settle at table. Push away guilt and shame. Consume. Fight urge to vomit or weigh self. Tell ED you’re winning. Chew some gum. Wait.
My family starts arriving home around this time, so at least I have things to do, people to talk to. I had been saving my Christmas wrapping to occupy my time during these hours. Sometimes I have a small snack in the afternoon, like veggies and dip, or a yogurt. It all depends on what time dinner will be that evening.
6:30pm – Alarm goes off. OK. Let’s do this thing. Usually I cook something with mom. We often eat the same thing, which makes me feel pretty included. I try to eat with my family as much as possible, so dinner time is usually the prime time for that. Dinner usually consists of a grain (rice, couscous, quinoa), veggies and an animal protein (normally poultry or fish).
Take a deep breath. Consume. Harv High fives me. I’m Winning. Stay focused.
Sometimes mom and I go to yoga, depending on what day of the week it is. Often times I see a good friend of mine. We watch movies and we spend time together … time AWAY from ED (he’s a wonderful friend, truly. I’m seriously thankful that we met).
9:30 or so – no alarm goes off, but I’ve been watching the time. One more snack to go, and you’ve got this day licked. Grab an apple and pop a small bag of popcorn. Consume. Smile. No more food until tomorrow.
You did it.
I shower. For the remainder of the night I lie awake, or sleep in 20 minute intervals. Often the stomach pain that has been bothering me all day is getting worse by now. The poor fucker has been working itself ragged all day digesting food that ED doesn’t want there. Sometimes I’m in so much pain I can do nothing but curl up in bed. Other times it’s tolerable. What I’ve outlined for you was probably a better day than most. The bad days, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t even want to think about. It’s horrid. There is so much self hate, so much fear. I mean, today I put on a pair of pants that fit me and promptly felt as if I was a fat cow. I guess it’s because I’ve been wearing yoga pants for the past 3 or 4 days and wearing denim that fit felt a little different. Either way, Stupid thoughts like that go through my head all the time. Especially when eating.
“You don’t need that”, “that’s going to make you fat”, “you slob, what if someone saw what you were doing right now?” (i.e.: eating food), “you’re ruining all of our hard work”, “you are a failure”.
The torment is endless. But yet, I eat. I work through it. I clean every bit of food off of my plate, because right now, every calorie counts toward getting better. Many times I’ll look at Mom and say “Do I have to?” before gesturing to my food. At times I disgust myself, but these thoughts are quickly stamped down. I can be a rational being. I can separate myself from ED.
I often think about it this way. ED is my head. I am my body. When I eat, it’s like they sit on either end of the table where my rational self is forced to sit in the center like a child between two dysfunctional parents. This fight is WORTH IT. It has to be. That’s what I keep reminding myself. This hurricane I live through every day, it’s going to go away sometime in the future. I will be a healthy individual, inside and out. It’s going to take a long ass time, but I’ve got some sort of strength I find in tiny places at just the right time.
A few days later…
It’s been a few days since I’ve started this post, and I’m revisiting it because I needed to take a step back. Things got bad, and I needed to get away from ED, get away from my own head, and get away from the torment. It doesn’t all go, but I can keep myself busy enough to push it back for a little while. I am so determined for this shit to get going that I would pretty much do anything for a guaranteed crack at ultimate awesomeness and a look at my future recovered self. Since starting this post I have had many strong days (save for yesterday, where many tears were shed over food and I failed to meet my caloric intake for the day. That and the fact I would have been begging for that knife if you gave me the choice between eating and amputating my own arm ). I will consume 1750 calories today if all goes well (meaning that I can force every last morsel into my mouth through ED’s constant barrage of negativity). I’m almost at the low end of a normal caloric intake, and it’s terrifying. I got hungry for meals a few times. That was scary too. It was the first time in a very VERY long time that I responded to hunger signals with food rather than exercise, or a distraction in order to starve and get that high I had been waiting for. It was a big step. The pain should start to subside soon… I haven’t lost weight, I haven’t gained weight… I’m fluctuating 5 lbs overnight. All of this water/repair weight is frustrating, but I’ve just got to let it be. This is going to be the norm for a while. The daunting thing, however, is knowing that I must eat to maintain weight, then on top of that eat to start bodily repair and eventually to GAIN weight. I can’t wrap my head around it. Not yet, anyway.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do about Christmas. I’ll get to work on that survival post. Probably today, considering I’ve devoured yet another novel and I’m out of things to read (being able to read for pleasure only twice a year blows, so during breaks, novels become a regular thing. By regular I mean I spend almost every waking moment fucking reading).
So there you have it. A look into what I go through on a daily basis. It isn’t the same for everyone, but this is my story, so I guess that’s what you’re all stuck with for the time being, at least till I start writing about issues that irk me again (most recently a children’s book entitled “Maggie Goes on a Diet”).
Stay strong, keep kicking ass, and Happy Holidays.