Tag Archives: binge eating disorder

Overheard

I was standing in line at the DMV and the lady next to me was renewing her license. She was asked to look over her information.

“It’s correct except I don’t weigh 50kgs anymore.”

My ears started flapping, but I prevented myself from turning to stare at her. No one wants to be gawked at like a freak on a Tuesday afternoon.

“Ok how much do you weigh now?”

“I think, maybe 60kgs?”

She doesn’t look self conscious. She doesn’t giggle shyly or hang her head ashamed. No one can say for sure, but to an onlooker it seems like she gained 10kgs and that is just fine. Normal. Unremarkable. Not noteworthy.

I have never put my correct weight on my driver’s license. I always lowball – within REASON.

At ballet school we were taught to subtract 10lbs from our actual weight when asked for an audition. As a rule of thumb I have continued to do this because it seems REASONABLE. Reasonable to lie about my weight because no number is ever really acceptable.

Today I went to get a cup of coffee in the mall and a shop employee was hob nobbing with the barista. No one can say for sure, but she looked like she was afflicted with the rex. I had admired her skeletal like arms as she handed me my coffee with trembling hands and a smile that lit up her pale, hollowed out face.

The shop employee was showing the barista his lunch. She looked at it like a maniac. Like she was fascinated and revolted at the same time.

“I’m not going to eat all of it now,” he informed her and her co-coffee worker. “I guess I’m telling you so that you don’t laugh at my fat ass.”

The other barista comments on how she likes to tell herself she will save food for later and then eats it all in one sitting instead. I’m stirring my coffee slowly, deliberately eavesdropping.

The rexy barista hasn’t moved. She is in the same spot still transfixed by this lunch that has wandered in to high jack her shift.

He gets his coffee from skinny and skinnier behind the espresso machine and looks at his lunch with unbridled delight.

“I’m only 15lbs away from my goal weight anyway.”

I pick up my coffee and stroll out into the banal abyss of mall. I take my extra 15 pounds of “baby” weight with me. My extra 15 pounds of sleepless nights, more calories for breastfeeding, anxiety, bad day with the babies, hormonal, postpartum, non exercising excuses, sneaky glasses of wine and a few too many chocolate binges of baby weight.

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Undefined

I am triggered by everything:

A photo of dancers I used to idolize when I was 16 and starving, desperate to be even half as skinny as they were and still are. I scroll past them. My brain does a double take. I back track. I scrutinize their emaciated arms, their collar bones, their sunken cheek bones. They are all smiles, superior in their anorexia, mocking me. Twenty years have gone by and they are still thinner than thin.

I see my reflection in an unsafe mirror…so that’s what thighs and hips and stomachs look like after two babies in quick succession – well mine anyway. A vast, mass of undefined lard, rolling and oozing and overflowing, fleshy like raw dumplings, doughy like unbaked bread, ever expanding…never ending. Never ceasing to amaze me in horror to fascinate me as I stare. “Is that really me?” I don’t recognize myself, this untamed, unmanageable, out of control lump. I don’t fit into my clothes or my brains neatly, compartmentalized boxes: bulimic ballerina has been replaced with fat stay-at-home-mum. Fat, frumpy, fleshy, unfit to be a mother or an anorexic.

I read an ED memoir a friend lends me. I stop. I put it away on a shelf where I cannot see it. I pick it back up a week later. It makes me remember that I used to purge just as easily as I breathed. After this long, would I even notice if it crept back in? If I slipped a couple of times that were more intentional than unintentional? After all, there are days where I seamlessly substitute my calories as I go. Latte? No, americano. Vegan mayo? No, mustard. Salad dressing? Not necessary. More pasta? No, more veggies. Two slices of toast? No, three quarters of one slice is more than enough for breastfeeding two babies. I shake so much, so often from hunger. I don’t get any thinner.

I don’t want to think of the other bad days where I unintentionally eat two muffins instead of one. When I eat half a bag of chocolate chips and then wonder why I’m carrying this “baby weight” 7 Months later. I’m surprised when these things happen. Half a packet of digestive biscuits later I am unsure where I went wrong. But I’ve never pretended to know so why start now?

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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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Maybe Moving On Or Getting Back to “Normal”

I finally got tired of my reflection. My boyfriend posted photos of us from a weekend away on social media and someone had the audacity to ask me (not-so-subtly) if I was expecting. I know I have put on weight since the miscarriage. I am guesstimating 7-10lbs from how I look and how my clothes don’t fit. Honestly, I am too terrified to step on my scale until I have dropped some weight.

After the weekend and the hurtful comments, I looked at my pudgy arms in the mirror while I was applying eye liner. They have become soft and shapeless like my heart after I lost the baby. “Enough,” I told myself. “It’s enough now.”

I’ve been back to gym 3 days in a row. There was no shoe shopping involved or sandwich motivation (where I buy myself food for going to workout). I felt more energetic, less depressed. Perhaps this was the turning of a corner? I don’t want to get my hopes up too soon. I have found that this grief knows no end; some days I am fine and others I am broken.

I have binged once and purged once. I have actively restricted a few times. I knew that eventually I would get back to “normal”, but so far it hasn’t been so vicious. Part of me wants a healthy body to have another baby and part of me just wants my agony to show itself in bones.

The truth is, one day I was pregnant and my life had changed forever. A few weeks later I was no longer pregnant and my life could not go back to what it was before. There is no normal after that.

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Apathy, Indifference, Whatever…

I have not really had much to say about ED in the last 2 months. Here is why:

I had a miscarriage.

I haven’t been able to talk about it.

When it happened, I lost my appetite and didn’t eat for a week. I cried and sobbed and drank myself to sleep every night for a month. I binged a few times. I ate “normally” and I just existed for the last little while. I had experienced weight gain after the miscarriage, but not during the pregnancy – I wasn’t far enough along. I hated myself for what happened and of course, I blamed myself for what happened.

My boyfriend was supportive and loving and caring. He put up with the snot and sobbing and staring into outer space like a zombie. He comforted me every night while I fell apart. He held me when I woke up screaming from nightmares about dead babies. He flew my mother here to help me cope (yes, her being here had nothing to with my birthday so I feel even shittier about being ungrateful). He ran me bubble baths and tried to shield me from adverts for diapers or someone giving birth in a movie.

For two months I have been depressed. It is a kind of depressed that I have never known before.

In the beginning it was hard enough to function while dealing with the physical repercussions of the miscarriage. I lost so much blood and was in so much pain. I was physically weak and exhausted. It was all-consuming. I couldn’t think about anything else except the baby we might have had. Miscarriage is common. I read all about it. I read everything I could. It still didn’t prepare me for what I went through or how devastated I am.

Now, a couple of months later, the physical symptoms are gone and I am left with a hollow in my heart. I would have been 16 weeks along today.

ED has barely featured since and I am not sure why. I still think about it. I stare at my much heavier reflection at ballet and am repulsed. I have to squeeze into my size 6 pants and it upsets me, but I don’t do anything. I eat in terms I can only describe as “normal”, keeping in mind that I don’t know what normal is. I am not actively starving, bingeing or purging. I am drinking a lot. I seem to have become apathetic and indifferent to food. I am unconcerned with anything except trying to get through my day with my sanity intact. Work has been overly stressful and dramatic. My boyfriend and I have had some more relationship turmoil (as usual revolving around the mother of his youngest child). We continue to not move forward. At the end of the day, I cannot cope with any of it. I cannot deal with anything.

I have been trying to get back into a gym routine over the last few weeks. I have little incentive or motivation to exercise other than I know endorphins are good for depression. I just don’t really seem to care and I cannot make myself care. I have thought about going to see a counsellor. On that note, I dropped out of my ED treatment that I was in. There didn’t seem much point in going.

So I have nothing to update on the ED front. I ate cucumbers and hummus at work today. Last week when my anxiety over our relationship was much higher, I ate nothing. Tonight I ate 2 bowls of pasta and didn’t purge. On the weekend when we went on a happy family vacation, I ate 3 meals a day. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.

When my coworker announced her pregnancy this week and her due date 10 days after mine would have been, I hid in my office. I feel a numbness. Other than being depressed, I haven’t felt much else except the inability to cope. My anxiety has been escalating lately over work and relationship stuff and that usually sends my ED into a frenzy, but I have barely reacted if the truth be told. All I want to do is sleep. I don’t mean kill myself because I have no suicidal tendencies at all. I just want to sleep for a very long time.

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The “V” Gene

“Hello giant,” a coworker greets me at ballet. I am wearing some sky scraper heels and trying unsuccessfully to hide the 10lbs I have gained since June.

“Please don’t remind me that I have giant genetics,” I implore him.

“Oh you have the “V” gene,” he says giving me a salacious look. “V for voluptuous”

My jaw drops in horror.

“Don’t say that to her,” another co-worker interrupts. “She thinks voluptuous means ‘fat’.”

Well we all know that’s what it means.

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Reality – 1, Expectations – 0

We were supposed to leave tonight for the long weekend. I had us booked into a log cabin in a more remote part of the mountains, far enough away to be secluded. It is perfect weather to be snuggled up in a wood chalet with a fire and a bottle of wine. I had longed for it, imagined it, anticipated it and planned it – down to the menu for the weekend. I had even fantasized that my boyfriend would take advantage of our first romantic getaway, and our last time together before I leave for 5 weeks, to propose to me.

Instead, my boyfriend is out drinking somewhere and I am home in my pajamas: bingeing, drinking, barfing and bathing. The bitter disappointment was too hard to swallow

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Check Up

Yesterday was a check up with my doctor at the ED treatment centre and a meeting with my case manager/counsellor.

I am weighing myself every day at home: 137lbs and not losing. Even after 2 days of not eating from being sick, the scale wouldn’t budge. After restricting then bingeing and purging for a while, the scale has refused to give. I stared in horror at the numbers and the scale stared back mercilessly. I am determined to lose at least 7lbs before I go home. I have 3 weeks.

The doctor and nurse did the medical part first: weighing (backwards of course), blood pressure lying and standing (cue dizziness on standing), heart rate, urine test and a review of my blood work. The doctor asked about why I had been in emergency this week (which you can read about in my last blog post). She asked if my eating had improved, worsened or stayed the same. I told her it was worsening. Then she asked if things were stable at home and I told her that that had worsened too.

She didn’t say much. She asked me to try eat more during the day. Just like that. As if it is easy and/or possible. “Try have a snack earlier than noon. Try eat something between ballet classes. Try to remember to eat after class before you drive home. Eat before the gym. Eat after the gym.”

Eat, eat, eat.

I do eat. That is my problem.

She asked if I had cut down on my alcohol consumption. I told her I had, drastically.

“Why?” she had to ask.

“I want to lose weight before I go home next month,” no point in lying about my real motives for giving up something I love.

“Is that the only reason you’ve cut down your drinking?”

I smile at her, “yes. I like to come home and drink. It takes the edge off the stress of the day and the fight with my boyfriend and crying children and whatever else ails me.”

She makes notes. She doesn’t respond.

After the medical, I met with my case manager. She asked about if my boyfriend was going to be part of my family therapy.

“Is this someone with whom you are going to be spending a large part of your life,” she enquired.

I nodded, “until last week I thought that was the plan. Now I am not so sure.”

We get into the fight we had. I tell her about my expectations and demands. I tell her about how I perceive my boyfriend to cope by avoidance.

“It seems he has a soft heart, that he is very loving,” she comments. I cannot disagree with her. “You will have to accept that he most likely won’t change. You will have to decide what you are willing to tolerate to be in this relationship. Ask yourself ‘do I love this man despite his circumstances. Am I willing to be with him, to choose to be with him knowing that this is how things are?'”

Sometimes if you shut up and listen, you learn things. She had some interesting perspective on our relationship. She confronted me about the “solutions” I offer my boyfriend when I put my foot down and demand boundaries. She reminded me that no one likes being told what to do by someone else all the time. She talked about how I was clear and straight forward and goal orientated. Isn’t everyone with an ED? Then she said this: “it seems to me that you are similar. He copes through avoidance and you do too with your eating disorder.” I had never looked at it that way. She talked about my pattern of self sabotage and of pulling the plug on relationships even when I love them. She said in that way I managed to avoid everything by ending things.

She gave me some things to think about. I feel like some introspection and soul-searching will go a long way to helping me change and grow in this relationship. I am not a nice person. I am intolerant and impatient. I have high expectations in a relationship. I am demanding. I am resentful and unforgiving. I thought yesterday how it would be to be my boyfriend, to be treated without grace for the past mistakes I had made. it was rather soul-destroying, the realization that I can treat someone I love so poorly.

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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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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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