Yes, I use a lot of words.

So mostly I’m starting this because I need a place to ramble that isn’t Facebook or LiveJournal. FB doesn’t let me use anywhere near enough words (and making notes instead is a pain), plus there are people there who don’t need to be reading about my eating disorder. Or maybe they do, who knows, but given that some of them are just entering puberty, I don’t want to be reinforcing the “body image as self esteem” thing that our society dictates. LJ has too many people who I just don’t want involved in this, and it’s easier to create a new space that I can use as a focus than to create yet another filter and try to manage everything there and worry about what I remembered to filter and… bleargh.

Anyway. So I’ve been battling this eating thing much more actively than ever before, for several weeks now. Initially dropped about 20 lbs – now I’m hovering steady around 270, which is frustrating. It makes it difficult to want to start eating again, I want to see those numbers continue to fall. And yes, I know full well that weight that falls off while I’m starving myself won’t be weight that stays off, it still feels like the only way to get it off in the first place.

But it’s hard. Especially since my doctor put me on Xanax for a while, to get my anxiety under control. Without the anxiety running so very high, it’s really hard to restrict calories to that degree – which, I suspect, is rather the point. 😉 So now it’s a new battle between my brain and my body – before, it was a battle to eat when the thought of adding calories to my existing fat was so disgusting to me that it literally made me nauseous. Now it’s a battle to restrict the calories and not fall back into compulsive overeating while my body has gone back to announcing that it’s hungry.

But I think I’m getting ahead of myself, here. I have never had a good relationship with food. Our parents very carefully educated us about alcohol, drinking in moderation, the dangers of drinking too much, let us have sips of their wine, etc – and I never had the teenage rebellion urge to go out and get drunk just because alcohol had been restricted in the home – since it hadn’t been. However, what many other parents do with alcohol, my mother did with sugar. Junk food was evil, not allowed in the house, I was ashamed to admit that I’d had any at friends’ houses, etc. Everything was home-made, whole-wheat, and I recall not liking the taste – to this day, I want to order white bread, even though I’ve finally grown to like whole wheat, just because it was NEVER allowed, and I greatly disliked what *was* allowed. Snacks were restricted pretty closely, and usually fruit and vegetables – which would normally be a good idea, but I did (and still do) constantly crave protein. So I could eat all of the carrot sticks she offered and still be hungry. Then came life with a teenage brother – adolescent males are BOTTOMLESS PITS. It’s really amazing how much he could eat. Mom always made (and served) large portions, and we were definitely encouraged to clean our plates – we didn’t get the “starving children in Africa” level of encouragement, but it was just what you did. So I learned to eat a lot, and eat it quickly.

Then there’s my mother herself. I strongly suspect she’s got some sort of eating disorder of her own. She is also obese, still quite a bit heavier than I am, even with all of the weight that I’ve gained – I’m a 2-3X, she’s a 4-5X (last I knew). As we got older and food restrictions got looser (probably because they were busier), Mom would get the chocolate-covered raisins from Costco and suggest that we share a bowl as a snack. I was soon insisting that I get my own bowl, because otherwise I wouldn’t get any – but of course that wasn’t allowed, because it was too much sugar and I was being greedy. Greedy? I would be lucky if I got 1/4 of the bowl we were to be splitting. I wanted to eat them slowly – suck off the chocolate, savor the raisin – while she was devouring them by the handful. So again, I had to learn to eat quickly, possibly even more than I wanted, if I wanted to get my “fair share”. Living at home after I left college, I learned to hoard food that I had bought for myself because otherwise it would be eaten up before I ever even opened it – developing lovely habits like hiding potato chips in my closet, eating in secret after they went to bed at night.

I was always a solid kid. I look back at the pictures now and I do honestly understand that I was nowhere near as fat as I felt like I was, but I also just don’t have a slender build. Were I to actually be a healthy weight, I still would not be anything like the “ideal” in our society – even a more realistic ideal than the Barbie look. I have large bones, broad hips and shoulders, and when I get strong, I don’t get long, lean muscles – I get sturdy, solid ones. So I always felt fat even when I wasn’t carrying excess weight. I’m somewhere around 5’8 1/2″ – 5’9″, and I weighed 170 lbs in high school. That’s overweight according to the height/weight charts – but the doctor I’m seeing now would be quite pleased to have me at 170, given my build. The doctor I was seeing at the time wanted about 10 lbs off of me, to put me at 160 – which is within “normal”, according to the charts. Who knows how much of that was the charts and how much was my actual body composition. At that point in time, I was eating what my parents fed me at home (very little power over what was offered), usually having a candy bar or something every day or two at school, and dancing twice a week, doing a strength-training class at the YMCA twice a week, and taking PE at school – I was pretty active. However, the details of the activity and exercise of this story will be in another post because this one was getting ridiculously too long. Suffice it to say that my weight has increased, plateaued, increased, and plateaued throughout my adult life, culminating in me clearing 290 lbs (I don’t know by how much – I know that my last weight was 290 and I gained a bit more before it started dropping). At that point, I found out about the Master Cleanse. There is all this hype about how it’s not a fast, it’s so healthy for you, it has all of the nutrients you need, people have been on it for a year or more with no ill effects – honestly, I don’t believe it. I’ll pretend that I do, and I’ll pay lip-service to the story, but frankly, I think it’s a fast. And I know what fasting does to your metabolism. And I didn’t care. Being that close to 300 lbs, with cravings that were out of control and even exercise not helping (see next post), something had to be done. So I went on it. And it was horrible and hard and I hated it – but it worked. Some weight came off right away, my cravings went away (for the first time in my entire life), and I finally started losing instead of gaining. I dropped a total of 40(ish) lbs over the next several months, down to 250. Still WAY too big, but going the right direction. And then it started creeping up again. I am now up to a total of 5 hours a week at the dance studio, over 4 days, some high intensity cardio, some strength, some a blend of both – and yet I got on the scale on January 13th and I was back up to 286 lbs. And at that point, I just snapped.

I’ve flirted with eating disorders before. There have been short periods of mild bulimia – but never severe, and never for long. This time – I just quit eating. I couldn’t *quite* turn my appetite off, but I was only eating about 500 calories a day. My anxiety was high enough that the hunger wasn’t an issue. I knew I was hurting myself, though self-harm was not the intent. And I got on the scale the following week and was 276. Ten pounds in a week! It was heady. Within 2 weeks, I was down to 269 – nearly 20 lbs off. But it was getting harder. I was getting hungrier. And my basic common sense was SCREAMING by then that this was not the way to go. So I finally made an appointment with my doctor – which brings us back to the start. The Xanax is nice – I’m sleeping more (except when my freaking cat is in heat and won’t let me) and the anxiety is definitely down – but that means that I’m more aware of the hunger and less able to restrict calories. Which, as I said, is very likely a large part of the *reason* that she put me on Xanax… But there is still a huge part of me that is convinced that this is the way, and the only way, to get the weight off, so it wants to restrict – and it sees a normal serving of food as a major binge at this point. So I’m restricting less – but I’m purging more. Which is not a good trade off. I probably have more blood sugar, since some will absorb between eating and purging – but it’s hard on the stomach, the esophagus, the teeth… and of course the electrolyte imbalance it causes is hard on the heart, though my doctor has me adding salt and lemon to my water to help counteract that.

What I ate yesterday feels excessive to the part of me that wants to starve down to thinness. It was significantly less than I normally eat in a day – and feels rather like I’m still restricting. When relayed to others, they say it sounds like a healthy amount for someone trying to lose weight. I really don’t think I have the strength to restrict that much for as long as it would take to get the weight off. I’m kind of out of ideas. Waiting to hear back from my doctor about possibly scheduling an appointment to discuss nutrition and weight loss – called her 3 days ago with no word. Spent 2 days ago restricting like crazy and purging what I “couldn’t” restrict – I suspect there’s a part of me feeling abandoned and acting out, there. At work today (where the scale is – my weight is still hovering around 270) – I had two pieces of (low-fat) sausage for breakfast. Oh, and an Emergen-C packet, I’m sure there are some calories in there. It’s nearly 2:30 pm, that’s all I’ve eaten so far. Some days are better than others… This doesn’t seem to be one of them.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deirdre
    Feb 13, 2011 @ 00:40:01

    Thank you for sharing. Even though we’ve been friends for so long, I haven’t _really_ known this part of you. I still love you, and am glad you trust me enough to include me. You are not in this alone!


    • shalora
      Feb 12, 2011 @ 20:01:47

      FWIW, I haven’t really known this part of me either. I’ve flirted with eating disorders before, but *never* like this. Believe it or not, for all the obsessing I’ve done with you over my weight, it’s still a far greater obsession than I’ve ever let show. Not sure exactly why now, but something cracked a few weeks ago and now it’s just all spilling out…


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