Category Archives: Orthorexia

Postpartum Take 2

I had another baby.

A year after our first baby, we welcomed another baby girl. It’s been a whirlwind journey. I had visions of continuing this blog after the first baby, but took an unplanned hiatus. I didn’t have anything to say some days. Other days I had so much to say, I was too overwhelmed to know where to start. Every time I tried I couldn’t find the words.

I wanted to express what it was like to be pregnant, to give birth, to become a Mum, to breastfeed and raise a baby while trying to beat ED into submission.

I hope to tell those stories from not one, but two pregnancies now. I made it through both of them without restricting or bingeing or purging. They were both so different and I can’t pretend that I was ED free entirely because the running dialogue in my head throughout reminded me that in the shadows it was lurking there, in the bright moments, the extreme joyousness, the overwhelming and the trying times, I was never far from it. Even now it dogs me.

I will begin again to speak of it. I will tell the story, the dark parts that I wish my daughters will never know.

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Obscenity


After a day of restricting and over exercising, I came home and cut up vegetables for dinner: half a cauliflower, a cucumber and some cherry tomatoes.

An hour later I mentioned to my boyfriend that I was still hungry.

“But you ate an obscene amount of vegetables for dinner,”He told me.

Obscene. Not “a lot” of vegetables or a “huge amount”. Obscene – like it was offensive or appalling, because it isn’t already hard enough to eat when you have an eating disorder.

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hey fatty…

This is how I wake myself up: 

 

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Finally

5lbs down in 6 days. I have a stomach full of pills and coffee and emptiness. Finally…

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Hidden Epidemic

Hidden Epidemic

I like this article because it talks about how no one thought she was sick because she never dropped below a size 4.

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Eating Disorder Presentation

Eating Disorder Presentation

Today is the day I have waited for, for (almost) a decade. An eating disorders clinic gave a presentation to the staff at the ballet school. It was to raise their awareness of EDs and give them signs and symptoms to look for in students. Since I have worked there I have been appalled at how ignorant teachers in this professional ballet school are towards eating disorders. Their lack of concern considering the industry they are in and the outright denial has sickened me. They don’t know anything and they don’t care enough to educate themselves.

Perhaps because of my history of EDs, I am passionate about helping our students. Many times I have been irate because I have mentioned a student that I am concerned about and no one has taken me seriously. I would prefer our students didn’t have to suffer our collective ignorance. I think many of them have because we have not had the resources (knowledge, counselors etc) to help them. I am glad that so many of our staff have never suffered an ED, but I am angry that even though they don’t know what it is like to have one, they haven’t bothered to learn anything. Lately there has been an epidemic of EDs spreading through the school and residence which prompted this sudden action.

This long-awaited day finally arrived and we gathered in studio 5 (the one with the fat mirrors) to watch the presentation. Right before we went in, one of my co-workers who refused to come upset me (read my last post). She used to have bulimia, briefly and told me that she doesn’t have patience for EDs. “I don’t know how to deal with it. They must just get over it.”
I think there are a lot of unresolved issues on her part.

I was quite wound up by the time I went in. I knew I would have questions and answers, but I also didn’t want to give away how much information or knowledge I have because of my own ED. I was alarmed at how bad I felt sitting there and hiding the truth of the extent of my ED from the rest of the staff. When the facilitator described symptoms of Anorexia or Bulimia, I squirmed. She talked about looking for callouses or scraped knuckles (Russell’s sign) and I hid my hands underneath my notebook. A few of the staff know a very limited amount about my ED. I avoided eye contact and took notes. I wondered how many of them might put two and two together as she listed most of my behaviours out loud and on a power point while describing signs and symptoms to look out for in students.

Most of the time I listened to the staff ask their stupid questions and tried to keep my mouth shut so I wouldn’t shout at them which is what I felt like doing. A few times I had to interject with what I knew to be pertinent to ballet, dancers and ED in order to clear things up for the facilitators as the rest of the staff were clueless. I managed to avoid a few arguments where I would basically have to give myself away by saying “I know this because I do it…”

I didn’t learn anything that I hadn’t heard before, but I was glad to be reminded of a few things that I don’t always attribute to my ED. Anxiety disorder in bulimics can be as high as 75%. I suffer debilitating anxiety that has got a lot worse in the last three years and I never link it to my ED. She also said that the ED sufferer’s behaviour and reactions are complicit with their main form of ED. For example, bulimics are impulsive and over react. They explode in uncomfortable or negative emotional circumstances. I did find it ironic that this explanation was going on at work in front of my colleagues because I feel like this happens to me a lot. Daily sometimes. It actually upsets me that the size of my reaction is disproportionate to the situation.

I was also reminded that after five years of having an ED, the chance of a full recovery is almost nil no matter the age of onset. Imagine how I feel after 21 years?

I was most grateful for the moment when the facilitator explained that not everyone with an ED is excessively thin. Our staff are the kind of people who need to see a skeleton before they will react. In the past I have heard statements like these:
“She doesn’t look sick.”
“She isn’t thin enough to have an eating disorder.”
“Maybe she is just naturally that thin.”
“I saw her eating a sandwich/a pizza/an apple…”
“She is so fat she should get an eating disorder.”
The last one is always meant in a sarcastic, joking manner to be funny.
Disgusting.

I thanked her for finally explaining that ED has its own logic and not to try to use logic on someone who has one. I hope the staff keep that in mind. If I have to hear “she should just eat something” in reference to my students ever again after today, I might just bite someone.

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10 Days

10 Days

My 24 hours of madness spiraled into ten days instead. Who could have seen that coming?

Me.

For ten days I didn’t go to the gym, binged endlessly, purged unceasingly and drank too much. Why? There are many reasons: stress, anxiety, a third-life crisis, ballet, relationships, weight gain, pain… At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I did it because it is what I do. I tell myself I am ‘in a funk’, ‘depressed’ or my favourite, ‘relapsing’ because it covers all manner of sins. My existence has become a joke.

“I want to know how you eat six plates of pasta and stay so thin,” my roommate says half jokingly, half seriously. She is a nurse. She knows my ‘history’ of ED. I have been wondering how long it will take her to figure out that my ‘bubble baths’ are a euphemism for puking sessions.
“I am not sharing my dirty secrets with you,” I laugh and hope she gets the hint.

Later that night we share a bottle of wine while a bad Jennifer Aniston movie plays on Netflix in the background. She brings up eating disorders again and now she is referencing herself.
“You need to admit to the eating disorder you have, but don’t acknowledge,” I insist.
She has talked about how she doesn’t starve or purge but how she does restrict on purpose or binge from time to time, eats in secret and over-exercises. I educate her on Orthorexia, EDNOS, Binge Eating Disorder, Night Eating Syndrome and Compulsive Exercise. Her eyes get wider.
“I don’t think you can ever really recover from an eating disorder,” she muses. “What do you think?”
“I think God can heal you, but that doesn’t mean he will. How many people do you know who have prayed for healing from cancer and never got it? Some people just get sicker and sicker and die no matter what they do.” I respond. “But I do believe you can be totally free even though I never used to believe it. I just don’t know that it will be me.”

This week she is on the cabbage-soup-and-run-excessively diet. I am on the eat-everything-I-can-see-and-barf diet.
“We should be studied,” I declare as we eat our Dairy Queen Blizzards and sip wine together.
She laughs. I laugh. Tomorrow is another day.

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