Friday, June 22, 2012

ED Talks #6: Whatever It Was, It Was Awful--Anonymous

I don't know if what I had can be classified as an eating disorder. I just know it was something wrong. When I was 11, I had an awful case of stomach flu. I puked for 3 days, and my little child body had never been through such trauma. After that my mom couldn't get me to eat for a couple of days. It was either the shock of the sickness on my body, or my newly acquired anxiety that appeared when my hormones kicked in before puberty, but it was all I could do to drink water. I was terrified of ever throwing up again.

I was beginning what has been a lifetime battle of anxiety. EVERYTHING made me anxious. If my stomach had any food in it at all when anxiety hit, I would feel instantly nauseated. My fear of vomiting like that horrible-awful flu, spiraled out of control. So I started controlling the anxiety-nausea with starvation. YOU CAN'T VOMIT WHEN YOU HAVE NO FOOD IN YOUR STOMACH. I was already tiny. My body fit right into my family genetics, we are thin people. I would've been thin anyway, but I starved myself. If I had to eat anywhere that wasn't my home, I refused to eat a thing. I went to a few restaurants with my family over the next few years and would trigger an anxiety attack, and I would end up vomiting ANYTHING I had eaten for dinner at the restaurant, in the restaurant bathroom. And thus created a fear of all restaurant food. (Funny thing is, when I ate alone, there was no fear, and no vomiting occurred.)

My fear of public eating began when I was in 6th and 7th grade. I don't know what it was. I can't say if it was an eating disorder, or severe anxiety with a food/vomit phobia. NO IDEA what it was. All I know is, at least every single one of the people in my life, have witnessed me feeling sick after I eat. My parents thought I was anorexic. I would refuse to eat more than a scoop of mashed potatoes sometimes because I didn't want to puke. There were times in Junior High, and High School that I ate nothing more than a piece of bread one day. On my prom date, I ate lettuce, at the nicest restaurant in town. All the girls were curvy and scarfing down steaks. And I was nibbling lettuce because I was so nervous, I didn't want to puke and be embarrassed. Those were the days my anxiety was around every minute of every day. The weirdest thing is though, I was 4.0 student almost every quarter of school. Our bodies are amazing things, they are resilient and keep going even when they have nothing to use. This is why I think eating disorders last as long as they do in some people. We can really hold it together and think we appear just fine when EVERYONE knows you have a problem.

I never thought I was fat. I hated how thin I would get when my already skin and bones frame was being starved. I played volleyball my freshman year of high school, and I survived practices but sometimes I'd go home and just feel like I was going to pass out. I didn't have enough fuel in my system to to be an athlete. I became a cheerleader, and sometimes my anxiety lessened, but I had a major anxiety attack during a weekend away game and my cheer advisor was worried. I wouldn't eat, and I kept puking, and crying. I was so ashamed when people saw me like that. To see how worried they were for me, made it even worse, so the panic of getting sick in public formed. I controlled this even more by starving myself further.

This continued up until about 2 years ago. I thought I was fine all through college, but every time I went on a date, I either pretended not to be hungry (even when they could hear my stomach growling) or I ate potatoes and veggies. You can't get sick off of those things. You just can't. All of my dates worried about my health. Some became my boyfriends, and either loved how thin I was, or worried a lot. They had no idea that I pigged out in solitude at home. Home was a beautiful place for me. It was a place where nothing triggered anxiety.

The worst of this food problem came when I sunk into a pit of depression after a breakup 3 years ago. Normally my anxiety would go away once in a seemingly secure relationship, but when a breakup hit, it would go nuts and I wouldn't eat much at all for a few weeks (one time I blacked out on the stairs at my college and caught myself from falling down them.)  This particular breakup had been a relationship that had taken me to the extremes of what I had experienced of "love". We talked about getting engaged. And then he left. I think he knew I was too sick still to be in a healthy relationship. Things would appear in how I handled life, whether I knew I showed that I was mentally ill or not, people always saw that I was unhealthy in someway. The day he said "we need to talk, I'll come over later" I panicked the whole day, and by the time he showed up at my house I was vomiting. I was so ashamed. I knew I looked awful to him. A big mess of a person. He told me we just weren't right for each other, even though I was amazing. I didn't eat for 2 days. Then for the next 3 weeks I emptied my body of all of it's nutrients from 5am until 7am... every single day and then went to work. I lived off powerade, mashed potatoes, and soup. And each day I would start over so empty and frail. I couldn't even smile. I didn't have enough energy.

My friends all worried and told me to go to the doctor. I denied all their claims of being unhealthy, but we lived together. They would find me in the bathroom every morning, looking defeated and hopeless. One night I attempted to drive to my parents' house. I had reached the lowest point of my depression. As I got on the freeway to make the 200 mile drive, I knew I should not attempt it. A voice was screaming in my head to get off the road. But my depression took over and I kept driving. I had to stop every 30 minutes to use the bathroom. I would pee about 3 or 4 drops, I had nothing left to let out. For the past 3 days, (forgive me for being so open)... I had clear water coming out of me instead of poop. It looked like clean water. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't admit I was hurting myself. I had to alternate driving arms because my arms kept going to sleep from holding the steering wheel. At about mile 160 I stopped and looked in the mirror. I looked like a zombie. My skin was gray, and my eyes looked black. They are normally blue. My hair was a freakish mess from having the window down the whole time. The air flow kept me awake. I didn't see myself anymore. I tried to cry, but I was too dehydrated. I said a prayer to God to not let me die that weekend, I really thought I was on my way to death's door. I walked back out through the gas station and people looked at me with shocked faces. And then I got back on the road. 40 minutes later I got to my parent's house. My mom took one look at me and said, "YOU DID NOT TELL ME YOU WERE THIS SICK."

I fell on to her couch, and immediately fell asleep in all my clothes and shoes. I woke up the next morning and she made me drink a quart of water with salt or something in it. Homemade Gatorade. Then she took me to the doctor. He took one look at my face and said, "I don't even need to test you to see if you're dehydrated." And then he gave me 2 IV's. I was so ashamed of myself. But I knew the only person who wouldn't judge me was my mother. I felt safe with her. When we left the doctors office my cheeks were pink. After that I spent 3 months pretending I was better. I was eating, but not much. But I wasn't emptying my body. However I was crying at least once a day, and miserable. I felt like I would never be normal again. I finally sought out a therapist. When I first visited her I weighed 108. I am 5'7", so that is NOT a healthy weight for my frame. We spent 2 years together changing the way I think. I still see her because I love her, but I don't need to go anymore. She has given me a clean bill of health. But still lets me come because she knows I want to. I now weigh 130 lbs. I have never weighed this much in my life. But I also haven't had an anxiety attack in 8 months. Apparently everything I eat now, stays on me. And I eat regularly, and I eat anything and everything. I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH! I love to cook now too. My favorite is spicy food, I never used to be able to hold this stuff in. It's so amazing to see what our bodies will do if we stop hurting them.

I don't know if it can be classified as an eating disorder, but I'm sure it was something terrible. I am so thankful now that I despise the feeling of hunger, instead of feeling like hunger means I'm in control. I'm in control now because I can talk myself off the emotional ledge before I ever get into anxiety attack mode. I have never felt stronger, and more healthy in my entire life. It's sad that it took being almost 30 years old to become this way. But I'll take it. I am never going back to that girl. I refuse.

1 comment:

  1. to have eating disorder symptoms and accusations thrust upon you like that! I am so sorry-- I had a friend who was sent to an eating disorder clinic by her parents, even though she never had an eating disorder. To be around that environment, and to be associated with these things--I would imagine some things begin to rub off.

    Anyhow, you are a strong woman! So glad to hear of your healing.

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