Tag Archives: relapse

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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Catching Up With Life

It has been 2 months since the miscarriage…actually more, but I try not to count the days since my baby left.

I finally went back to the ED recovery program and saw my case manager today. She had started to call to see why I had disappeared. I filled her in on the miscarriage and she suddenly understood why I had taken a hiatus from my life. She acknowledged the severity of my loss and the depth of my grief. She actually had some powerful thoughts to share with me. It made me glad that I had gone back because I really do like her.

I was ready to shut my case file and to tell her that I am wasting her time. I wanted to tell her that right now I cannot focus on ED recovery because I cannot function. She came to that conclusion without me having to say so. She was in happy disbelief that I am not actively bingeing or purging or restricting. She told me that without a doubt, the loss of the child I wanted has refocused my mind onto what is really important for me. Blaming myself aside, she said that being able to give up ED behaviours the instant I knew I was pregnant, told her that I was ready to leave this part of me behind for a greater cause. As far as she is concerned any step forward is progress.

As I sat there and wept, she told me that she felt God had sent this baby to save me from my ED. She said that the spirit of this baby was here to make me well. She said that baby would say to me, “mum, I need you to be healed for me”. The more I thought about it, the more profound it seemed.

At the end of our session she gently reminded me to make new appointments with the team at the clinic and to continue to see the doctor, dietician and psychologist regularly even if I felt like my ED was in limbo. More importantly, she offered to help support me through this and to leave the ED out of it if all I want to talk about is my baby. She told me to allow myself the right to grieve: to be alright with being sad or tired or depressed, to be fine with not wanting to go to the gym and go shoe shopping instead, to make peace with the fact that this is a process I have to go through instead of fighting against it.

I went there today to thank her for her time and to walk away and instead she gave me an incredible gift.

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Anything but gym

Lately I have developed a loathing for going to gym which I have never really had before. I am so disinterested in it. In fact since the miscarriage, I have lost interest in a lot of things I used to care about.

This week I avoided going to the gym by using every excuse I could think of:

  • I’m tired
  • I’m depressed
  • I think I’m getting sick
  • I should put in more time at work
  • I feel sad

On several occasions I got into my car to go to work. Once I even ended up at my gym. I parked my car and walked into the mall instead of the gym. I bought two pairs of shoes. I bought lunch and a coffee. I walked past the gym, got back in my car and went back to work where I ate my feelings.

I just don’t care anymore. My size and weight are distressing to me, but not enough to do anything about it. I lay in bed the other night not wanting to do anything. I don’t want to go to work or see friends or make plans. I just want nothingness; the absence of everything except perhaps a book and a bottle of wine.

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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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Words Of Wisdom From A Stick Insect

I shop at a very expensive yoga clothing store. As a ballet teacher, I wear that type of clothing 6 days a week for work and get a special discount there because of my position.

A few weeks ago I had a gift card to said store and went to buy a new yoga top and pants. I don’t try things on there. I just grab them in a size 6 and they fit***

I got home and put the yoga top on and it looked awful. The built-in bra didn’t cover my boobs – it fit in the band around my ribs, but the length of the material was just to short to comfortably cover everything and not squish them awkwardly. I was disappointed as the top looked pretty on the hanger, but I knew a size 8 would be too big around the ribs so I went to return it and get my money back.

“What was wrong with it?” the stick insect behind the counter asked as she rang through my exchange.

“It just looked lovely on the hanger but horrible on,” I responded without going into detail about how a 6 fits in the ribs, but doesn’t have enough material to contain my boobs.

She looked disparagingly at me, “yeah you do have to have that certain body type for this top.”

I think my jaw hit the floor.

She kept looking at me.

“Well obviously I just don’t have that body type,” I responded incredulously.

She smiled in mock sympathy, “I know what you mean.”

I took my money and left in disgust.

*** I used to be a size 2 or 4 in this store. Barfing at my own fatness.

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Business As Usual

I want to say something profound, but there is nothing new.

I have gained weight.

I am starving.

And bingeing.

And purging.

And dying.

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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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Wedding Weekend

We went away for the weekend to a wedding for my boyfriend’s cousin. We had the children with us and all his family had traveled there. After a lot of drama involving the mother of his daughter (she thought that she should attend the wedding and I didn’t), we managed to go too.

Road trips are hard for people with eating disorders. There is no routine, there are few ‘safe’ foods and lots of triggers. I was already high on anxiety from the drama by the time we left. I anticipated someone in my boyfriend’s family would make a comment about the little girl’s mother or make one of their stupid pregnancy jokes in our direction. Before we even left, I was on guard and expecting it.

Nothing happened. Nobody said anything dumb. We had a great weekend. We stayed with friends and drank wine and took the kids swimming.

At the wedding I had my heart set on a slow dance with my boyfriend. It was all I wanted. The night went on and on with no chance of it happening as we chased the children around and spent time with his family. His daughter takes up all his time and attention. It is just the way it is. When she is around, his son and I barely get noticed. I had a feeling that I was setting myself up for disappointment by fixating on the one moment I really wanted: a slow dance in his arms.

I do it all the time by setting my heart on something: a romantic date, a weekend away together, him coming home with me to meet my family and of course, an engagement ring. I leave in a week. There is no chance now that I am going home with a ring on my finger.

As the night wore on, I ate more (pasta, potatoes, bread, lasagne – all good for anxiety relief) and drank more and eventually went to purge it all. When I came out of the washroom by boyfriend was standing there looking for me. He had been looking for me for some time.

“Where else would you expect to find me?” I replied in tipsy honesty.

“I should have guessed,” was his response.

Normal people would have been on the dance floor.

By the time he came to get me for the last dance of the evening, his daughter was half asleep on my lap. Her needs trump my needs. I wasn’t going to move a sleeping child so I could go dance. I went back to the hotel and cried in the bathtub instead.

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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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