Moderation

When I was growing up, my mother told me often that “everything in moderation” was good for me.

Perhaps she could already see my extremities even then. As a Libra (represented by scales), I am perpetually amused that my life is not balanced at all.

Today I ate 2lbs of mini cucumbers for breakfast. I was so hungry that it felt like I would die from it. I woke up full of bile and acid.  I binged and purged my way through uncountable amounts of food last night. Never full enough to be satisfied; never empty enough to be loveable. To look at me you would never know. My fat rolls negate any signs of illness; the cellulite and stretch marks blind everyone to how sick I really am.

I left ballet untouched by my overdose of vegetables and raced wildly for dinner. Obsessed, demented, focused: all I could think about was tofu and rice. It is all I want to eat at any given time. It is on my safe list. Sometimes I can almost justify it.

I start eating and cannot stop. I register that I am full and continue to shovel anything-drowned-in-soy-sauce and acceptance down my raw, sore throat. When I am done, the panic sets in immediately. What have I done? What was I thinking when I imagined not throwing this back up? I pay and run from the restaurant like I am fleeing the hordes of hell. My demons keep pace.  I have about half an hour before I am meant to meet my boyfriend at home. I drive with purpose – agitated –  run inside and start purging the calories that are sloshing around my insides. The relief is instantaneous. I have minutes to spare before my boyfriend is home. I wipe my face, fix my makeup.

I find a bottle of wine and settle outside on a beautiful, end of summer evening. No one will ever know. Too empty, too full…all I know is it is not enough. I am not enough.

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Alive But Not Well

Thank you for all your lovely comments and for checking up on me. I will get back to all of you individually when I am feeling better. I have recovered from the trip to emergency, but I haven’t been doing well with my ED. I promise an update when I get a chance. In the meantime love and peace to all of you and, above all else, freedom from this tyranny.

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Emergency Again

Friday started like any other day and ended with me being rushed to emergency.

I woke up and groaned, clutching my head and stomach. I was in agonizing pain. Another post-purge hangover. Another pizza box on the floor; a visible reminder of my poor decisions the night before. I had starved so much and then snapped and binged in the middle of the night. I got up eventually, revived myself and went about the day as usual  – work, coffee, restriction.

That evening my boyfriend and I went to a dinner party at his friends’ house. I drank nearly a whole bottle of wine with dinner which is not unusual for me. Somewhere towards the end of the meal, I started to feel unwell. The rest of the night is a blur and what I know of it in detail, has been relayed to me by my boyfriend. The friends started a fire outside for us to sit around and that is when he says I began to panic and be agitated. I went upstairs to purge dinner and quickly realized that I was in agony. My stomach hurt and even after purging, I felt like I couldn’t stop vomiting. I felt like I had been drugged. I lost track of time. I went upstairs and threw up twice more which I only told him about when he put me in the car after he realized that something was wrong with me.

He drove me to the hospital in the middle of the night. I cried hysterically and kept asking him to pull over so I could vomit. I crouched by the side of the truck sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating. He kept putting me back in the truck and eventually I started throwing up uncontrollably in a vehicle moving at 120 kms/hr. There was vomit everywhere: all over his truck, all over him, in my hair and smeared across my face and clothes. I was too far gone to care.

He tells me that when we got to emergency, I opened the door, stepped out and immediately collapsed face down on the ground. He checked my pulse which was faint and ran inside to get a nurse and a wheelchair. I came too when he picked me up and put me in the wheelchair. I don’t remember passing out. I continued crying hysterically as they wheeled me in. I was confused not knowing where I was or how I got there. I had lost track of time. He told me 4 hours had elapsed since the end of dinner and that was the last thing that I could remember clearly. Everything after dinner remained blurry and even now, I can only remember snippets of the evening.

They admitted me right away.  The nurse took my medical history and I asked my boyfriend to leave the room so that I could tell her honestly about my eating disorder.  I was too embarrassed to have him hear the disgusting details of my life. She reprimanded me and told me I was most likely severely dehydrated with an electrolyte imbalance. She made note of the starving, bingeing, purging (including vomiting blood) and laxative abuse. She sent the doctor in a while later and my boyfriend left the room as the doctor questioned me. He instinctively knew that if he stayed, I wouldn’t tell the doctor the truth when he asked about my medical history that they nurse had just taken.

The nurse began a barrage of vital checks (blood pressure too low; heart rate too high), urine samples (not pregnant), blood work (elevated liver enzymes consistent with drinking alcohol) and stomach x-rays (inconclusive ? gallbladder). They hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of anti-nausea medication, re-hydration solution and an anti-anxiety drug. The entire time, my boyfriend didn’t leave my side through the small hours of the morning. He held my hand while I cried as they put needles in, covered me with warm blankets to stop the shaking and told me that I had to let him take care of me because he was not going anywhere. I was so distraught and was conscious of the fact that I didn’t want him to see me in this state.

After almost five hours, they discharged me from hospital and let him take me home, but not before another long lecture from the nurse about my ED. She told me I needed help and warned me of the danger I was in. She said that tonight could have been a close call if my boyfriend hadn’t had the presence of mind to rush me to the hospital. She reminded me that heart attacks from electrolyte imbalances are common in bulimics and many of the symptoms that they couldn’t diagnose they believed were complications from ED.

My boyfriend drove me home and it was almost 5am by the time we got there. He put me in the shower and washed vomit out of my hair, all the while holding me up because I could barely stand. Somehow, I knew without him saying, that he loved me. The next day I was weak and disoriented. He lay next to me and asked about my ED. My heart pounded as we had the conversation I hoped we never had to have. He asked about how much I was purging and what he could do to help me. I lay there feeling numb and overwhelmed. He told me he wanted me to be well because he was falling in love with me and wanted to grow old with me. The things about me that I thought would make him run didn’t. The man wrapped his arms around me instead and kissed me.

 

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Dating and Disorder

 

I am vomiting blood in a restaurant bathroom.

I shake from purging hard and fast and only realize it is time to stop when I see the tell-tale, bright, red swirls.

My boyfriend sits at the table, hopefully unaware of what I am up to, even though we have discussed my eating disorder at length during dinner. I have been as honest with him as I can without giving him details. So far he hasn’t asked for them. We have just enjoyed an Italian meal: bread, pasta, more bread and wine. Everything about our evening has been romantic except the disgusting amount of food I have consumed in front of him. I clean myself up, rub the teeth marks off my knuckles, smooth my hair down. I return to the table and smile at him. He raises an eyebrow at me, but he does not ask.

I am grateful that he has not got upset with me. We have only been dating a month and he has had many opportunities to fight me on my disordered behaviour, but he hasn’t. He tells me it is because I warned him not too. He says if it wasn’t for that warning he would have said something. I tell him that I am a lost cause – not to bother.

“I’m still going to try to feed you because I care for you,” he informs me. “Even if you refuse to eat.”

“I always feed the people I love! It’s how I care for them,” I reply. “It must be the Italian in me.”

“Except for yourself.” he says.

“What?”

“You feed the people you love, except you won’t feed yourself.”

I nod. I am not on the list of people who I love.

 

We have many conversations that touch on the subject and sometimes he is very forthright.

He asks about rehab. “Why did you drop out?”

“Which time do you mean?”

“Oh you’ve done this more than once?” he shakes his head, reality dawning on him as we leave a grocery store with celery for me. I have made him take me shopping for celery at 10pm and he has obliged without a fuss.

“I just don’t care any more. It doesn’t seem to matter after 22 years. I don’t want to be recovered and gain weight. I don’t even want to be this size. I can’t stand it,” I babble with an honesty that surprises me. I have never shared so much so soon (or ever) with anyone else before. I wonder if not hiding from him will be better or worse for our fledgling relationship.

“But I like you just the way you are. Maybe it will help that I like your body and that I care about you,” he looks at me a little bit too seriously. I look away. I can’t hold his gaze. I cannot tell him that no matter how much he loves me, I will never love myself. I am embarrassed that he knows about my disorder; I am not even remotely thin enough to justify it.

 

We go to the gym where he coaches fighters and he wraps my hands so that I can take a boxing class. My hands shake and I cannot stop them.

“Are you shaking from hunger or because you are nervous?” he steadies them with his hands.

“Don’t ask that question. I’ve been hungry since I was 10.”

 

I am standing in the grocery store aisle staring at rice crackers for a painfully long time.

“What’s the dilemma? Which flavour to get?”

“Calories,” I whisper. “Calories are always the dilemma.”  I feel my chest tightening. It is hard to breathe. I feel anxiety rising as though I am going to have a panic attack right there at the thought of consuming them. How do I explain to him that rice crackers have that effect on me without sounding like I am batshit crazy? I have already told him I am crazy. I even explained which special brand of crazy.

 

Another night we lie in bed after I get out the shower dizzy and nauseous. I haven’t been eating much unless I have been bingeing and purging. I try to control my breathing. My stomach hurts; I feel excruciatingly unwell.

He looks concerned. “Are you light-headed and dizzy again?”

I nod.

“Because of the H-word?”

I don’t understand him right away.

“Because you are hungry?”

“I’m always hungry,” I confess. “The degree just varies.”

He wraps me in his arms and holds me. I want to cry. At some point I know this will come between us. How long will he date me and tolerate this disorder? At what point will he look at me and hate me for who I am, the way that I have done since forever?

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How Not To Fall In Love

 

“You’ve lost weight! Are you in love?”

In love. Yes, I am in love. I am in love with a certainty that leads to starvation and then not just with the idea itself, but with the empty, gnawing feeling of it. I am in love with the notion of fading away because I am terrified to be present instead. I am in love with the knowledge that my demons will spare me the heart ache of being consumed by this relationship. Indeed, they will consume me until there is nothing left to love. Not for him. Not for me.

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A Day In The (Dysfunctional) Life Of

 

8am

Coffee, thyroid medication.

9am

More coffee, an hour at the gym with my foot in a cast.

11am

Celery and hummus.

1:30pm

More celery, more hummus, more coffee.

My coworker sits in my office and lectures me on eating (while he eats). He informs me that I will never have to wear a tutu and pink tights on stage again and therefore I should enjoy food. He mentions that I should get over my issues and I disagree telling him my demons keep me company.

“What do you want me to eat?” I ask as I shove celery down my throat and try not to gag.

“Bread,” he gestures with all of his Russian passion in the direction of my collar bones which seem to upset him. “It is so light; there is nothing in it.”

“I love bread so much. I dream about toast,” I confess like my soul depends upon it. It seems wrong to admit this; like I am betraying the wilting celery that is trying to nourish me.

“You need to eat some bread,” he is pleading with me now. “Good, grainy, dense bread.”

He is the devil. I shake my head as if to remove the picture of bread from my mind. He is always trying to get me to eat.

4pm

Dinner at a friend’s house: 4 plates of food, wine, cake. I sit at the table and start to sweat. Panic.

I will die of this feeling. I am out of control after restricting all day.

While they make coffee and dessert in the kitchen, I purge. The relief is instantaneous.

7pm

Fast food drive through on the way home from dinner:

2 veggie burgers, onion rings, 2 family size fries (to fill the hole in my heart where there should be a family). I sit in a parking lot as the rain pours down and I shake. I have found love on a Wednesday night. There is ketchup and comfort at the bottom of the brown, paper bag.

7:30

Purge, purge, purge.

8:30

Bubble bath and a conversation with my boyfriend on the phone: “I’m taking you out for your favourite Italian on Sunday night. Do you want to go on a picnic on Saturday? Maybe we could go to the mountains…I have some wine for Friday.”

I can hear the calories we are going to consume. I just want to lie in his arms and close my eyes and never eat again.

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