There is always hope.
Deprivation. Depravity. Some days I cannot tell the difference.
I am in a constant state of denial. Denying ED. Denying reality. Denying myself.
Denial is now a way of life. In the anorexic mindset, it governs all thinking. Today I cannot nap because I must work out. I will cut short time with friends to go to the gym. Gym, my new church where I can worship at the alter of thin. I am there on the treadmill with stress fractures or migraines. Whatever the physical limitations or agonies, they must be denied. I cannot talk on the phone because I need to purge instead. I cannot go out for drinks because I ate a box of laxatives.
Daily life is just deprivation and denial rolled into a calorie-free, fat-free, fun-free existence. Every morsel has been pre-planned, pre-approved. Celery is a staple because carrots had too many carbs. Bananas have been replaced by apples have been replaced by clementines. Rice cakes and non-fat cottage cheese are the baguette and brie that I dream of wolfing down with the glass of wine I cannot let myself have. I wake up salivating for vegan protein powder to quell the hunger pangs. Every stat is punched into a calorie/fitness tracker. Numbers that determine my worth. I am 467 calories under my allowance for the day. I go to bed hungry. Dinner has been denied. Again. I promise myself that tomorrow I can eat whatever I like as a reward. Tomorrow never comes.
When I am “enjoying” myself on a “day off”, the denial is so ingrained that I don’t even flinch. The waiter takes my order at lunch, “no mayo, substitute the fries for salad with the dressing on the side and no dried fruit or candied pecans, please. Oh and no bacon either. I’m a vegetarian”
My friends are so used to it that they don’t flinch either. “Sorry to be difficult,” I apologize for the freak that I am. “Candied pecans are just fat bombs,” I explain. They don’t care anymore.
I am amazed when people butter their toast, or put sugar in their full-fat latte. Any excess that can be trimmed has long since gone from my diet. Eggs are eaten as egg whites only, if required. Cookies in the staff room are passed over without an acknowledgement. Mayonnaise is devil food. Soda is a river of fat I will not wade in. Candy is from the childhood that I lost to anorexia.
After lunch comes Starbucks where I am the pro at denial. I could get a gold medal if removing the fun from a treat was an Olympic sport. When I am not drinking black coffee which I don’t even like, I crave a warm, milky, sweet drink.
I have created a calorie deficit on purpose so I could splurge if I allowed myself. The reaction is automatic.
“Can I take your order?” the cute, chirpy girl behind the counter smiles at me.
“A non-fat, unsweetened, green tea latte.”
I want a Venti. A Grande would be a compromise. “I’ll have a tall, please.”
“Would you like whip on that?” I must have grimaced uncontrollably at her.
“My bad, no whip on this drink! Would you like something to eat?”
Chirpy behind the counter has turned into one of the demons that haunts my dreams. “No thanks,” I snap and go browse something that won’t attach itself to my ass. I am mean when I am hungry.
“Have a chocolate,” my co-worker offers. I mentally punch him in the face. I didn’t squat and lunge my self-loathing away today just to ingest it in the form of an act of kindness.
“Let’s go for cake,” a girlfriend suggests. I mentally query if she is my friend or satan sitting on my shoulder.
I drink my green tea and exhale.
Deprivation. Some days I mistake it for control. Or perfection. Some days it gets lost in the depravity of bulimia instead. Today might just be that day.
There are things, odd things, that only make sense to us.
Here are some of my personal ones:
1. I know laxatives only cause water loss. I eat a few boxes of extra strength ex-lax after a B/P just to be sure.
2. If I cannot eat an entire cake, box of cookies, giant bag of chips or an entire vat of ice cream, then I cannot be bothered. I won’t eat a slice of cake and keep it down. This makes no sense as eating an entire cake and purging it probably leaves behind more calories. Ditto for all the pots of pasta I consume. Why eat one plate when I can eat seven?
3. Mac and Cheese loves me.
4. If I can only love myself when I thin, then that must go for other people too.
5. If I don’t go to the gym I am a bad person.
6. If I am happy, I will binge. If I am sad, I will binge. If I am in love, I will starve.
7. Weight gain is a sign of failure of epic proportions. My ass is also of epic proportions.
8. Eating in public is wrong.
9. Cheese is always there for me.
10. I eat, therefore I am a fat ballerina.
Feel free to share your ED logic with me!
I just downed a bucket of pasta and am off to barf it up. I am sick enough to find humour in my eating disorder.
**Apologies to those who find this offensive. I believe it is better to laugh than to cry.
I rewarded myself for going back to recovery with a binge. This is known as ED logic.
“You actually look thin in this photo! What happened?”
Said photo was taken 10 days ago and this comment was from a beloved colleague who knows my struggles with ED and even worse, has battled her own eating disorder for 40 years.
“Men love a soft, sexy body,” from another (thin, ex-bulimic) colleague who also knows my issues.
“You should just embrace the body you have. You have curves! And boobs!” from my former friend who (yet again) is aware of my eating disorder – past and ongoing. Just FYI: curves + boobs + sexy = FAT.
All of these comments have been made to me in the last week. In the 21 years that I have suffered from ED, people have said countless stupid things to me. I feel compelled to write a book called “Things Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder, You Idiot”.
Some days I wish I hadn’t deliberately forgotten half of these silly, have-you-lost-your-effing-mind statements. I could make my fortune off them. Sadly, a lot of them are from the people who are closest to me who should just know better. I could say they are well meaning, but I don’t believe that they have thought it through.
“You looked much better when you came home 2 years ago and were 10lbs lighter. What were you doing then to be so thin? Can you do it again?” This gem is from (bless his heart) my brother-in-law. Two years ago when I went home so much thinner I was starving, purging and over-exercising. Yes, I can do it again. I am doing it again right now.
The kicker, (or should I say the kick in the teeth?) this week was from my recovery group when I announced to them that I was quitting recovery: “Well to be fair it seems like you don’t really want to get better. It’s like your self image is more important to you.”
You know what is the best thing to say to someone with an eating disorder?
Nothing. ED is busy talking to them already. Just walk the f**k away before you do some real damage.
Greetings from the
Cheesecake Cafe depths of my depravity.
I know I am on my way here before I am even coming. Decisions are made as though my body has been taken over by alien forces and I am propelled towards food like a moth to the flame that will, undoubtedly, kill it.
It is sinister. I sit in the studio, bereft, and as the girls whirl and twirl before me, I see dancing sweet potato fries and carrot cake. Orange. The theme of tonight is orange. My soul is on fire burning from the inside out. It sizzles like fat in a frying pan.
There is no one to take me out on this frigid, Friday night. I am 31 and perpetually single. No takers to fulfill the dream of husband, children and various assorted pets in a big house in Africa.
No matter. I take myself out for another bout of
dinner soul destroying. I do not look like I am alright. I am sure that I have that demented, half-crazed glint in my eyes when I spy cheesecake. My sweat pants are tucked into snow-ravaged boots and my hair (too thin from too many years of malnutrition and hypothyroid) is greasy and limp. Better days have seen me. Today is not one of them.
“Table for how many?” the hostess asks.
One fat, sad, lonely, excuse for a freak. I say it without venom: It is merely an observation of the reality of my wasted existence.
I munch my way through my disappointment, avoiding another evening in my empty apartment where my cats plead with me to find my sanity. They think it is there sitting on the couch with them. I know it sitting on Sunset Rock in the Savé Valley but I was 17 then. Too much water has flowed down the Zambezi since that point. There is no turning back even though going back might be possible and at this juncture, my only means of survival.
After I am fed, stuffed full and vomitus, I long only to lie down under the table. I want a tummy full of little, blue, ex-lax pills to soothe me to sleep. I could wrap my shame and loathing around me, blanketing myself in them and drifting off into oblivion.
It has been achieved once more through whatever means necessary.