Category Archives: laxatives

Which Way To The Buffet?

 

I went to Olive Garden for the first time this weekend with my boyfriend, his kids and his parents. They have bottomless pasta bowls. Danger Alert. It’s like taking a bulimic to a buffet. They don’t know my issues and have only seen me eat veggies and hummus so they don’t know that it was a bad idea. I was so excited it was awful.

First came the endless salad and bread sticks. I munched my way through as much as I could even though Heath’s dad warned me against filling up on bread. I informed him casually that I have no problem eating seven bowls of pasta at a time. He didn’t believe me. I asked the waiter what the record was as I ordered my second bowl. He wasn’t sure but he was amazed when I ordered my third bowl and then impressed when I was on my fourth one.
“Usually we can tell the people that are going to eat seven bowls because they have a certain body type,” the waiter mimed a fat person. “They are not usually your size.”
I laughed as he went to get my fifth bowl.
“We won’t judge,” he said
“I will,” Heath’s dad said. He kept shaking his head as I out ate everyone at the table. My boyfriend is 220lbs and couldn’t finish a second bowl. It was embarrassing for me that I was so out of control.

Eventually the waiter asked if he should bring another bowl. I explained that even though I could eat more, we had to leave because the children wanted to go. He brought another one anyway.
“To be fair you didn’t say you were full, ” Heath observed. “You just said we had to leave.”
Some people don’t understand that when you are eating your feelings you are never full.

The whole family was incredulous that I had managed to eat that much. I’m always surprised especially as I had warned them. I forget that although binges are normal to me, they are not to others. I wasn’t particularly proud of my behaviour, but sometimes I am out of control in front of people which is scary. I usually save that kind of eating for when I am alone. No one needs to see that. I felt distressed and repulsive. I wish my boyfriend hadn’t witnessed it.

We took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese and as soon as we got there I went to purge. The family looked for games and I looked for a toilet. No one even noticed I was gone. Later on my boyfriend found me while I was looking for water “Too much pasta?” he asked with a smile, not noticing the post-purge signs.
I shook my head, “no, I feel great.”
I couldn’t explain to him that the pasta was never going to stay down. Nothing freaks people out more than purging does. Anorexia is acceptable if horrifying; bulimia is downright disgusting. Sometimes I wish he just knew. He showed up unexpectedly at my house on the weekend and there was an empty box of ex-lax on my nightstand. He knows enough is wrong, but I like that he doesn’t ask any more.

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We Are Broken And Can’t Be Fixed

“Any idea what happens if you grind up laxatives with an enteric coating before taking them?”

“No idea. I’ve tried dissolving them in hot water to make them work faster.”

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Things My Eating Disorder Stole From Me

Things My Eating Disorder Stole From Me

1. My childhood.
The day that you wake up and realize you are fat, is the last day of your childhood. There are no more cakes at birthday parties or ice creams for dessert. There are no more bottles of ice cold coca-cola with your brothers on a Saturday afternoon. You are fat and even at 12 your grandmother will tell you that you must stop eating these things and begin to watch your weight. So will your ballet teacher. They will advocate lettuce leaves, skim milk and deprivation. You will believe them because you always have and it will become your new mantra. A life of denial begins at ten years old, before you are old enough to realize what is happening. One day you will wake up and not be able to remember what your life was like without ED.

2. My Dreams
I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to get married and move home and have children. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to travel and take photographs. I wanted to help orphans in Africa. I wanted to live an extraordinary life.
For three years at ballet school when I was in training for dream number one, my eating disorder was so out of control that I spent more time focused on food than on dancing. I thought by being thin I would have a better chance at being a ballerina. I starved, binge, purged, experimented with diet pills and swallowed laxatives like they were the elixir of life. I became an exercise addict and pushed my body to breaking point. Fatigue and malnutrition led to multiple injuries, illnesses and time away from dancing. I was so exhausted that I survived class on a combination of pain killers and sheer determination. I passed out in the studio multiple times. I woke up with a bulimia hang over from purging ten times a day, every day. Eventually I broke my foot before I even graduated from ballet school. My weight had ballooned. Four years later I had my first surgery. My bones were weakened from years of anorexia. The doctors didn’t want to say that it was the eating disorder that caused most of the injuries, but they didn’t have too. I already knew. Now at 31, I am wait-listed for three more surgeries on my foot and both knees. I move like I am old, because my body is unforgiving for all the years I abused it. It has harboured grudges against me in the form of chronic pain.

3. My Relationships
How many lies have I told to people that I love? Family, friends, boyfriends…
I always said that it was for their own good. To protect them from the things they did not need to know. In reality, that is my excuse to keep my shame to myself. There is sorrow in not being able to tell your mother that you are suffering, that you are in hospital (again) or that you are broken beyond repair. There is regret in the burden that I placed on my father who did not know how to save me from myself when I was just a child. I look at my brothers and keep a piece of myself locked away. They have already worried too much. I have already hurt them enough. The same goes for the friends who have stood by and watched me lost in the madness of ED. Some of them have loved me enough in spite of what I have put them through.
As for the men I have loved..they knew. All of them. Some knew more than others but it always came between us. Having an eating disorder and being in a relationship is effectively being in a threesome. I dedicate as much (if not more) time to ED. I am devoted to it. It was my first love after all. It has been the first thread that has begun the unraveling of many relationships.

4. My Memories
I do not remember any part of my life without ED as a frame of reference. When I recall an age, it is always overshadowed by how fat I was at the time, if I was anorexic or bulimic or “recovered”, or what number the scale yelled back at me.
Age 10 – anorexia begins, subtly at first. I am confused as to how fat I really was. Photos show me as average looking. My family assure me that I was not fat. I remember otherwise.
Age 13 – anorexic, as skinny for me as I could be, 50 kgs
Age 19 – bulimic, fat, 67 kgs
Age 23 – recovered but living on diet pills, fat-ish, 60 kgs
Age 26 – bulimic, the fattest I have ever been, 75 kgs (diagnosed with hypothroidism)
Age 29 – anorexic, thin-ish, 55kgs
Age 31 – bulimic, fat (again), no weight recorded for the devastation that it will cause.

It does not matter where I was living or what I was doing…in the phases listed above, I lived in Africa, Europe, North America; went to ballet school, performed, traveled; was married and divorced and none of it matters because only ED mattered to me. It is my first point of reference in my recollections.

I do not think of holidays and remember times with friends or loved ones frolicking on the beach or in the pool. Instead, I have memories of sitting in my jeans and t-shirt instead of in a bikini. I remember all the meals I did not eat or purged afterwards. I remember birthdays, weddings, parties where I was in a bathroom vomiting instead of dancing. In photos I can see my chipmunk cheeks – a sure sign of bulimia. I can tell the dark shadows beneath my eyes and pronounced collar bones of anorexia. I can see myself hiding my hideous body behind other bodies as we laugh and capture a moment. My memories are marred by ED.

5. My Identity
I don’t know who I am. I have come to think of myself as a bulimic or anorexic or a compulsive exerciser. Along with my memories that are defined by ED, so is my identity and therefore my self-worth. In times when I have “recovered”, I have panicked without ED. Who am I when I am not on a quest for skin and bone and perfection? Who am I without this illness? I have been sick for 21 years now. I have known ED longer than I was ever “normal” or “well”. I cannot remember life without this thing even though I know that once I was 3 or 5 or 8 and had not met ED. It came before I ever knew myself or who I was or who I wanted to be. It was part of me before I was fully formed. I don’t know how to be without it.

6. My finances
How much money can you spend on food, on binges, on diet pills or laxatives, on weight loss powders, gym memberships, appetite suppressants, having your drains unblocked, hospital visits, therapists, nutritionists, counselors, psychologists, recovery books, smaller clothes, bigger clothes, antibiotics, support groups and coffee?

7. My Health
I have hypothyroidism. I have a genetic pre-disposition, but the endocrinologist assures me that it was triggered by my ED. I gave myself a disease that makes me fat.
Migraines.
Bad teeth.
Mutiple breaks and fractures from weak bones.
Kidney problems.
Thin hair.
Bad skin.
Chronic exhaustion.
Insulin resistance.
Adrenal fatigue.

8. My Time
Life is short. Too short. Hours, days, months and sadly, years of my life have been lost to ED. Obsessing, exercising, eating, not eating, counting calories, weighing, measuring, crying, lying on the bathroom floor, vomiting again and again and again. Time: the most precious gift of all has been squandered for the sake of ED. All the places I did not go, the people I did not see and the things I did not do because I had to give my time to ED instead.

Please share with me the things you lost to ED that mattered most to you.

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Deprivation

Deprivation

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.”
“What size?”
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.

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Eating Disorder Logic

Eating Disorder Logic

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!

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Mac and Cheese and Remorse

Mac and Cheese and Remorse

My emptiness is unending.

Cravings curl around me like ribbons, tendrils of temptation that offer a numbness this winter’s day cannot rival.
I am suffocating in the corner of a cafe. It doesn’t matter which cafe. They are all the same after a while. Nameless shacks of debauchery and gluttonous, wanton acts. Houses of so-help-me-God-I-will-eat-that-muffin-or-die. I choke down a grilled cheese and guilt. At the bottom of my leek and potato soup I find my sorrow, not my family. The pattern swirled on my mocha will swish through my ex-laxed insides mocking me. The sweetness it lends to my bitter desperation will not last past the first sip. I will drink it anyway

The hustle-bustle-here-is-your-carrot-cake-nonsense from the waitress is lost in my deafening isolation. The carrot cake and I stare back at each other begrudgingly. I already know how it will feel as it comes back up. The curdling, cream cheese icing will catch at the back of my throat and destroy my resolve. I am so low, even God will not talk to me.

Oh Lord, I beg. Save me from myself. Have mercy on me.

The mac and cheese answers me instead. It smothers my homesickness for a second but it is fleeting. So fleeting, it is as though I imagined it. I try again. Another mouthful of disappointment to cling to the ribs I can no longer count. It will coat the thick thighs that cannot be loved with a layer of fat and warmth and betrayal. They are unlovable, these thighs of mine. They have betrayed me. Or did I betray them with bread and longing and too much comfort-my-hopeless-heart wine? Steam rises off the mac and cheese, evaporating clouds of remorse. That is all that is left. Jammed into the corner of this kill-me-now-my-life-is-a-joke cafe, I watch it waft out the window. I wish I could follow it into that snowy January sludge like I used to follow my dreams when I thought they were worth a damn.

Free me, dear Jesus, from the despair that eats my soul but does not burn calories, I cry.

I am full of this emptiness. I am overflowing with it. It never ends.

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Quitting

Quitting

I have decided to quit my twelve step program. I joined Freedom Sessions (a Christian based 12 step program), in September 2013. At first I had a lot of (misplaced) hope. Like any other time I have tried to “recover”, I was full of enthusiasm and faith. Four months later, I have had no break throughs, miracles or epiphanies. My faith has worn thin and is fading fast unlike my lard arse which has continued to grow immeasurably as I have (somewhat) tried to give up ED.

The idea behind Freedom Sessions is not just recovery, but healing from the pain that causes you to use your drug of choice. Apparently Step 4 (the inventories) is the worst time to quit. We are supposed to get sponsors now and should be seeing results but, I have seen nothing except the inside of a toilet bowl as I heave up yet another meal.

I feel bad for making this decision but I have come to realize that God does not owe me anything. He certainly doesn’t owe me healing or the strength to keep going when I am at my lowest. He doesn’t owe me freedom from ED or the miracle of recovery that I have begged for. He doesn’t owe me thinness or sanity or both. And because I do not like being insane, I will stop repeating the same behaviour (going to Freedom Sessions) and expecting a different result (freedom). On the other hand, starving and purging will give me a result (of a kind), and for now, that is better than nothing.

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When Purging is Preferable to Sightseeing

When Purging is Preferable to Sightseeing

When I was in ballet school, I had a teacher who was a recovered alcoholic. He told me how when he was a famous dancer in a very well known company he had traveled all over the world on tour. He told me that he did not see the world. Instead, he sat in the bar of every hotel they stayed in and drank himself into oblivion while his fellow dancers went sightseeing. He has no memory of all the countries he has been to except for the insides of hotel bars and even those blurred into blackouts.

This man was a mentor to me when I was in training and we are still in touch all these years later. His success story is that he has stayed sober, married, had two children and become artistic director of a dance company of former addicts. I remember his story because it is so poignant for me. At the time I thought it was heartbreaking that he was such a drunk that he missed out on seeing the world because his life was controlled by alcoholism. I could see in him all the life he had missed out and even though I was deep in the clutches of ED, I did not know that the same would be true of me one day.

Cue this weekend. My company sent me to Montreal. I had never been before and had planned on going sightseeing. I put together an itinerary of famous landmarks, museums and art galleries. Rather, I ended up in my hotel room ordering room service and purging every night. On my last day I shared a cab ride to the airport with a dashing Frenchman. “Did you go out last night and enjoy the city?” he asked.
“No,” I replied searching for a lie that would sound plausible. “I had too much work to do.”
“What a great pity for you.”

What a great pity indeed.

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How Not To Buy Pants In “Recovery”

Last night I had the moment in recovery that always sends me running back into the arms of ED. I went clothes shopping.

I have a terrible habit of only ever buying pants when I am in starvation mode and can squeeze into a size 4 or 2. (Size 0 has never been attainable for me.) Last night I (rather stupidly) thought that I could handle buying a pair of size 6 pants. I thought I was being realistic although I was not brave enough to go and stand in a changing room in the store and look at myself. Instead, I got them home and they were so tight that I immediately lost my mind. I cried, I cursed, I mouthed off at God for not understanding that I cannot be this fat and maintain recovery.

I ate half a box of ex-lax, binged on quinoa salad and vegan coconut macaroons, ate the other half of the box of laxatives and went to bed mad, sad and distressed. I cannot deal with this excess of flesh. I cannot deal with barely fitting into a size 6 where six months ago I swam in my size 4 pants and purged until kingdom come. I panicked last night. I did what I always do when that fear overwhelms me. I broke down and abused myself for being a failure.

The only thin, almost non-existent, silver lining is that I did not purge last night even though it was all I wanted to do. I did get up this morning (after being up all night thanks to ex-lax) and went for a run, continuing on with my 5k training program. I got a migraine almost instantaneously and have spent the day in excruciating pain, both physical and mental. This anguish knows no bounds. I want to be well. I want to be thin. And not just any thin, but the thin that I believe to be beautiful: bones.

On a lighter note, never wear your new cream coloured pants to work after consuming a box of ex-lax the night before. Just in case……

I should have more faith. I really should, but not today. Maybe tomorrow?

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(Dis) grace

Do Not Retreat in Disgrace
I am a disgrace. I am a disgrace to my eating disorder and to my religion. How do they co-exist?
I have been in one of my (many) phases of recovery. They just sort of happen sometimes. I eat well (maybe slightly orthorexic) for a few weeks. I still purge from time to time but, it is all relative. Last week for instance, I purged four times. In relation, I used to purge as many times if not more per day at the height of my bulimia. I still consider that week to have been in recovery.
After a few weeks of being in recovery, the same pattern occurs. I start feeling heavy. I hate the sight of my fuller reflection. I feel out of control. I am hungry, starving all the time and I am eating constantly. Yesterday I ate a banana, a protein shake, oatmeal, an apple and a quinoa salad. I was still ravenous on the way home after yoga so I ate three veggie patties and another banana. I was disgusted with myself, but I didn’t purge. I sat there trying to tell myself that it was alright, that I was getting better and stronger and fitter. What I was really getting was fatter.
My thighs are a disgrace. Today I took a long look in the mirror before work. It distressed me. I ended up teaching ballet in studio 5 which is notorious for it’s fat mirrors. I was distraught at the sight of myself. How is it that just a few weeks in recovery mode can make me balloon like this? I teach ballet everyday; I go to hot yoga everyday; I even started training to run 5k everyday and I just get bigger and bigger.
This moment always comes when I am in recovery: the realization that I cannot do this. I cannot bear to be this size. I cannot stand to see flesh where there were bones before.
As if to reiterate how fat I got, I went out with a girlfriend for brunch on Sunday.
“You can borrow a few of my dresses if you like,” she offered. “After all we are the same size. I finally gave up and went up to a size 8.”
I sit there speechless, stunned. I wear a size 4. I have for years. Sometimes if I starve long and hard enough, I can squeeze like a sausage roll into a size 2. I have not worn a size 8 since I lost 40lbs after I was given thyroid medication for my hypothyroidism about 5 years ago.
My friend sees me as the same size as her. Not only is she a size 8 but she just gave birth 3 months ago and is still carrying a lot of baby weight. I love her. I think she is gorgeous. I never for one moment thought we were the same size. Perhaps if she sees me that way, then it is the truth. Perhaps I am the one who cannot see properly. ED sufferers are always told that they see themselves as bigger than they actually are. I feel like I actually have a pretty good idea of how big I really am.  Now apparently, my friend sees me as bigger than I am. She wasn’t being insulting. She genuinely meant it. Maybe I got that big and didn’t notice because my pants still fit.
Anyway, her comment has haunted me all week. I made it three days after that without giving up and today was the last straw. The heaviness consumed me. I left work early and went to a coffee shop. I got a latte and a cheese panini. I went to the grocery store, bought a box of a laxatives, greek yogurt and granola. I sat in the car and in my hurry to open the granola the bag ripped and it went flying all over the car and all over me. I sat there like a lunatic, covered in granola and cursing. I thought perhaps God was trying to say something too me. I stuffed half a box of laxatives and all the food down my throat. I followed it with the rest of the box of laxatives. I went to hot yoga and nearly vomited from exertion and the excess of food in my stomach. I disgust myself. I never want to eat again. I never want to be recovered again. I know better. God tells me better. I can’t believe it.
I am a disgrace.
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