ED Assessment Part 2: Family Therapy

I was diagnosed with anorexia binge/purge subtype today. 

I was shocked (and it showed). I consider myself bulimic only. The case manager commented on my shock asking why I felt I didn’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis of anorexia. I have her the “I’m not thin” argument and the “I eat” argument. 

The case manager delivered the diagnosis in front of my boyfriend. He was required to go to the family part with me. I have been distressed about it for weeks. 

He sat next to me and held me hand. I couldn’t look at him. I hung my hair down or hid my face with my hand. The case manager told me it might get uncomfortable when she asked for “delicate” information. There is nothing like admitting to the severity of your ED as your boyfriend sits there only having known very little. It was awful to recount being raped and abused by my ex husband. I had never told him about the sexual abuse. 

Afterwards he was confused at how the questions they asked were the same as last time and didn’t really seem to go into us as a couple. I didn’t get to voice my concerns about our situation with the children. 

I did get to rehash my childhood. I recalled my father kicking my 2 year old brother around the garden like he was a rugby ball. The tears started then and I stopped them. Had I started crying, I would never have stopped. I tried to detach. I was agitated. The case manager commented on my obvious agitation.

She asked if I felt I had an ratings disorder. Yes. She asked if I felt I needed help. No. When she asked why I argued that I wasn’t sick enough and that my ED is manageable. She didn’t buy it. 

Afterwards, my boyfriend couldn’t read me. He had come to hold my hand expecting tears and waterworks. He didn’t know why he was there or his role – nothing was directed at him. He is still analyzing it hours later. I love him for it all even though I didn’t want him there. 

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Labelling

Christian Bulimic Ballerina White African Fat Vegetarian Warning label: Crazy

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Massage and Probing Questions

I saw a massage therapist yesterday to deal with 2 ribs that are out of place.

“If you are uncomfortable at any point, just say so and I will stop,” he instructs.

I don’t know how to tell him that people with ED are always uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable in my skin, lying naked underneath a blanket, wondering how awful my cellulite is as he squeezes and rubs. I am uncomfortable that someone is touching my fat; that the bones I long for are buried under layers of flesh. I am uncomfortable as his hands find thighs that are too big. I suffer repulsion on his behalf that he has to touch me.

He keeps up an incessant chatter. The conversation turns to me: where am I from, what do I do. The usual. Thankfully he doesn’t comment that I am too fat to be a ballerina.

“Do you have kids?” he asks. I don’t know if this is just conversational or not.

“No,” I don’t bother explaining that I live with someone who has two because that opens a huge can of worms. It is so complicated that I don’t want to rehash the story of my boyfriend and his children. (Although I “mommy” them, I am not officially their step mother. Apparently you can’t be acknowledged as any kind of mother until there is a ring on your finger and a piece of paper to prove it.)

“Have you ever been pregnant,” is his next question.

“No,” I respond wondering how strange it is of him to ask that of me. It would mean that I had suffered a miscarriage given that I just told him I don’t have kids. It seems an unlikely conversation to have a with a complete stranger, despite how intimately his hands were touching my body.

This came 48 hours after my colleague asked me on the weekend if I was expecting a baby. Why is everyone asking me if I am pregnant, if I have ever been pregnant or in the case of my girlfriend straight up telling me “it is your turn to have a baby. You are going to miss your window and regret it.”

My boyfriend already had 2 accidental kids. I don’t want to be the person he has a third accident with. I am having enough trouble wrapping my head around being #3 as it is. It isn’t special. It isn’t something that I feel excited about. There are a lot of comments and jibes about pregnancy and kids made in our direction. I don’t enjoy being the butt of the joke because he already had two kids with two different women. No one seems to stop and think how it makes me feel. No one acknowledges how hard it must be for me to be in such a situation and want my own children. He makes jokes about it too and it destroys me just a little bit more.

The only conclusion I can draw from any of this is that I am fat.

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Boyfriends and Lies

I think I made my boyfriend suspicious last night.

He commented at dinner that I had eaten more than everyone at the table. When I got up to get seconds he said, “are you still hungry?” I asked him to stop talking about what I was eating and how much. He responded that he didn’t know when it was ok and when it wasn’t ok to talk about it. He said sometimes I do it (I use it to deflect) and he didn’t have a script to follow.

I didn’t bother explaining.

I went upstairs while him and the kids were watching a movie, ran the water in the bathroom and purged dinner. It took longer than it should have. When I came downstairs, he raised an eyebrow at me questioningly. I smiled and ignored him.

I ate more later on and then went to throw up again. I opened the bathroom door and he was standing right there, looking like he was walking to the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I wanted some water so I was going to the kitchen, but now I don’t want any.” he went and sat back down on the couch. It was weird. Maybe I was just reading in to the situation.

I have another part of my ED assessment this week called “family therapy”. He is supposed to come and I have mixed feelings about it. I feel bad not being open with him about what is going on, but so much of what is triggering is to do with our relationship. One thing that is really upsetting me is that I feel he isn’t being honest with me. I feel like he is lying or hiding the truth about him and one of the mothers of one of his children. When I confronted him about the inappropriate messages they send each other, he tried to deny it. Then he got that scared look like he had been caught out and began trying to talk his way out. When I asked him if I could see the messages, he started to panic.

I never saw the messages in the end. I have a feeling they will have magically vanished by now.

I never ignore my gut instinct when I feel like a man is not telling me the truth. So far, i have never been wrong. I was hoping this man would be different to all the ones that came before him.

I am actually that dumb.

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Do You Have Bulimia?

I went to the hospital to have a cyst removed last week (yes, another hospital trip). The doctor looked like a mad scientist: matted, sticky out hair, retro glasses, bad teeth all complete with lab coat and stethoscope.

He was just as odd as he looked, but completely harmless. He asked a barrage of questions while examining me. They always go in the same direction: where are you from, what do you do etc. Both usually stump people. Once he knew that I taught ballet he went on a long, eccentric, meandering soliloquy about ballet. Out of nowhere he looked at me, “did you have bulimia?”

I looked startled. I realized I had nothing to lose by telling him the truth. “Yes. I did.”

“Ah, but you’re better now? You’re alright.” I couldn’t tell if he was asking a question or stating a fact.

“I’m fine,” was all I replied. I don’t look sick so why would I explain to him that I am still purging regularly and restricting when I am not overdoing the “healthy” eating or the wine-free-for-all diet.

“Bulimia…it can kill you,” he muses shaking his head. “That will kill you.”

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Girl Code (And More Dumb S**t People Say To Me)

Everyone knows that you never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Girls especially know that this is a code you don’t break no matter how obvious it is.

Today a colleague at ballet asked me if I was pregnant while patting my stomach. She actually thought it was acceptable to pat my belly and ask if I was expecting a baby. I looked at her in horror. I told her that was a terrible thing to ask someone.

“Why?” she seemed surprised that I was upset.

“Do I look pregnant?” I responded.

***This is the worst part. Brace yourselves***

“I don’t know,” she answered.

I. Don’t. Know.

Well I am obviously fat enough that she thinks I’m pregnant. The sad thing about that is I have actually lost weight lately. That there was all the encouragement I need to keep purging, exercising and restricting.

The tragedy of the whole day was when I relayed the incident to a friend and they said to me, “well if she knew your situation, she wouldn’t ask.” Meaning that my boyfriend has already had 2 accidental children with 2 different woman and our lives are negatively impacted by it every, single day. Said friend then said this: “It’s not like you want to be the third woman to have his child.”

No, I do not.

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Post ED Assessment

They weigh me – backwards, of course.

They take my blood pressure: lying down and then standing up. The nurse watches me as standing up gives me a head rush and raises her eyebrow as I put my hand out to steady myself.

They check my urine for hydration levels because of all the purging.

They do blood tests and look at my electrolyte levels…because of all the purging.

They check my teeth and my throat…again, because of the purging. They poke me and prod me, feeling my stomach, listening to my heart.

They turn the heater on because I am freezing in my hospital gown. What a cliché. All the patients here are freezing, shivering, wasting away.

They give me endless papers to fill out. I have to rate my quality of life with ED, my body dissatisfaction, my mood swings, my anxiety, food obsessing.

They ask questions. They ask more questions. I go through the last 20 disordered years, dredging up stuff I have buried under tonnes of pasta. At one point I cry unexpectedly. I minimize and deflect. I confess to feeling guilty for wasting time and resources that could be better spent on other people. I admit to being embarrassed that I am not thin enough or sick enough to be here. I tell them that I honestly don’t believe this outpatient program will “cure” me.

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Take Me Away 

Sitting waiting for my ED assessment for treatment. 

I don’t want to be here. 

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Treatment Assessment

Today I got CT scan results from my doctor after a cancer scare 2 weeks ago.

I don’t have cancer.

We thought it was worth celebrating. My boyfriend took the kids and I out for ice cream tonight. On the way there he commented on my “increased appetite” lately and stated that I never “eat this kind of crap”. I told him I was just enjoying celebrating not having cancer, knowing full well that I would be purging dinner and ice cream while he was bathing his daughter.

Tomorrow I have my first assessment for an outpatient treatment program. It is triggering in itself because I am not sick enough to go and I definitely don’t look sick. I have also been enjoying some new found weight loss since I returned to purging a few weeks ago. I won’t want to give it up which means that treatment is a waste of everyone’s time (not just mine) and a waste of resources that could help someone who actually has a chance at recovery.

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Unlovable

We go to the wedding today. I wear 2 different outfits: one to the ceremony and one to the reception. I don’t eat all day so that I might look vaguely acceptable (to myself or perhaps some passers by). My boyfriend doesn’t look at me, or notice me, or comment on my apprearance. Given the horrible things he said a few days ago when I was trying on dresses for this event, maybe it is a blessing – you know the kind they say come in “disguise”.

I starve and I primp and I preen. I paint my face and curl my eyelashes and spritz and tease and my legs are tanned and my collar bones are glittered. I brush and comb and fuss and tuck and pin and change and inspect and criticize and adjust and ruefully accept the outcome. We arrive at the ceremony and he says a blanket “you guys looks snazzy” to all 3 of us. Snazzy…the epitomy of compliments. The truth is he only has eyes for his daughter. When she is around, his son and I cease to exist.  I get compliments from his friends at the wedding. Complete strangers talk to me in the washroom telling me they like my dress or hair. One woman hugs me and uses the word “gorgeous”. My boyfriend barely acknowledges me. He is disconnected, preoccupied and I am just the maid who had fed and cleaned and dressed and delivered his children to him while he has been drinking with his friends. 

He takes his daughter “for a walk” which is code for calling her mother. I sit at a table for ten fat, repulsive and alone, staring  into my appetizer, looking for love. After the briefest pretense I walk away from the table and in my high heels and lace and pearls and curls, I toss back up the disappointment. There is not enough wine to soothe my discontented soul. 

His daughter is sick and whiny. She takes up all our attention. There is no time for “us”. There is no hand holding. There is no smiling into each other’s eyes. There is no dancing at this wedding. I hold her and she fidgets, unhappy. He holds her. She cries for cupcakes. No matter what we do, she is fractious. We are home by 10:09pm on a Saturday night. I wanted to slow dance in his arms and dream of our wedding which we both know (but won’t acknowledge) will never happen. The kind of things you do when you are only 9 months into a relationship. I wanted the overflow of love and happiness from this union to flood out hearts. But there are children to take care of  and his stomach is upset by the Indian food (which I hear about in graphic, unromantic detail), so we go home. I pour myself wine in the kitchen, take out the flower from my hair while my boyfriend puts his daughter to bed. His woefully neglected son comes to me in the kitchen and tells me that he feels like we don’t love him. I wrap my arms around him knowing exactly what that feels like and hating myself for not being able to stop him from feeling it too. 

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