Category Archives: Money

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.
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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In the last few days I have been trying to bump up my (vegetarian) protein intake. I feel like my poor muscle tone and lack of energy might be related to not having enough protein. I think it goes without saying that ED affects both those things anyway. I had hoped that having more protein in my diet might prevent my extreme hunger which leads to deadly binges.

Here is what I ate today:
Breakfast: vegan protein powder in quinoa milk, grapes
Snack: carrots and cottage cheese
Lunch: quinoa with tomato, cucumber, onion and avocado
Snack: tempeh, savi seeds
Dinner: Steel cut oats, cinnamon, peanut butter, honey

This was a lot of food/calories for me for a day because lately I have been restricting and purging or abusing laxatives. Who knows what caused the sudden health kick….I am too tired to question ED. I did do three hours of ballet class (dancing not teaching), but the time in front of the mirror did not help my hatred of my body.

Work was stressful. There was more drama in a long line of many dramatic episodes. I did the best thing I could and left although I was almost certain I was going to go home and binge, but today turned out to be a kind of orthorexic day instead. I went to the health food store and dropped an obscene amount of money on some healthy foods.

Here is a list of some of the things I bought:

  • green tea powder (matcha)
  • goji berries
  • hemp hearts
  • chia seeds
  • coconut oil (for my hair)
  • mustard
  • coconut yogurt (no dairy, no soy!)
  • ginger
  • organic dark chocolate
  • assorted veggies
  • egg whites (I mostly have vegan protein in my diet but sometimes have dairy)
  • hummus

And of course more of my new ‘safe’ foods (although peanut butter is bad because I like to binge on it):

  • quinoa milk (more protein than almond or rice milk, not as controversial as soy)
  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • honey
  • peanut butter
  • savi seeds (Sacha Inchi Seeds…..incredible! If you haven’t tried them, you must)
  • vegan protein powder (I like the Vega brand)

I came home and stocked my cupboards with my hippie, vegetarian food; made a sensible meal; caught up on some work and most importantly didn’t binge. For some reason I was able to justify the calories.

Do any of you vacillate between extreme ED and “healthy” eating? Please share your thoughts or your favourite foods!

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Just Another Fat Day

Just Another Fat Day

I went shopping for pants last night after splitting my (fat) pants last week. I wrote an article about it because it was so traumatic.

Do you want to know what else is traumatic? Shopping for clothes when you have ED and when every day for the last twenty years has been a fat day. I grabbed my girlfriend and went to my favourite store where I ran around like a maniac and grabbed a handful of items. Part of being completely crazy is my refusal to try clothes on in the dressing room. There is nothing worse than staring at my fat and cellulite under white, strip lighting whilst trying to wriggle my ass into pants that won’t go past my calves. The reason that they won’t go past my calves is because I refuse to buy pants in a bigger size than the size I want to be or deem acceptable.

Last night that size was 26. I found a pair of black skinny jeans that were a size 26 and took them home. Once at home I had to perform some acrobatic manoeuvres in order so squeeze into them. Luckily they were made of stretchy material. Once I got them on, I went to sleep in them in the hopes that by this morning they would fit rather than look like they had been spray painted onto me. Did I mention that I am crazy?

I wore my new pants to work today with a looser blouse to disguise my gut that was seeping over the top of them. Unfortunately, I caught sight of myself in the studio mirrors and it was not flattering. I think I am in denial about the amount of weight I have gained in the last two months. I can see it but I can’t accept it.

I have gone 48 hours on vegan protein powder, fruit and a lot of coffee. I have thrown in a handful of popcorn for good measure. After work, despite the tightness of my pants, I drove to the nearest store and filled up on binge food. Better luck tomorrow on my latest starvation kick.

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The Co$t of ED

Yes, I am talking dollars and sense cents. I spent some time calculating how much money I spend on feeding (see what I did there?) ED. It is alarming.
Here is a snapshot of 48 hours in my life in where I spent a ridiculous amount of money on binges (all purged afterwards, of course):
$50 at a health food store:
potato salad
3 boxes of granola
rice crackers
power bar
yoghurt covered raisins
chocolate covered ginger
$20 at drug store:
2 bags of cheese puffs
1 huge slab of mozzarella
Lindt chocolate
$14 at Indian Lunch Buffet:
All you can Indian veggie food and naan….
4 plates later……
2 rice puddings….
$23 at cafe
Egg white omelette with veggies and cheese
matcha latte with skim milk
sunshine bar
$40 at health food store:
2 pieces of veggies pizza
2 containers of pasta salad
2 pieces of vegan carrot cake
2 bags of rice crackers
$55 at grocery store:
more granola
cheese buns
veggie chips
2 x hummus
iceberg lettuce
egg whites
Because of my deteriorating financial situation (I bought my first condo 2 months ago), I have decided to start counting something other than calories: cents. From now on, I carry a small amount of cash on me, no credit card and am hoping that watching my wallet might also help decrease my binge purge episodes. I want to fly home for Christmas and I am determined not to squander all my money on ED. It is a pity that when I get into that cycle, I feel like I am on drugs and it is almost like being high while I shop. There is no logic, reason or rational at work to stop me. There is a lot of remorse afterwards as I heave up all my regret and check my bank balance.
Can any of you tell me what ED has cost you financially? Food, therapy, medical bills, gym memberships etc…..
I know that it costs us all so much more than money but that is a post for another day.
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