Humor doesn’t fix everything

So, I have shifted from limited eating to overeating. I am miserable. I keep hoping to feel better, but with every bite, I hate myself a little bit more. It could be hormones. It could be meds. It could be any number of things, but it isn’t funny.

So, why do I make jokes about it?

I make jokes about a lot of things that make me uncomfortable. It is my way of dealing with things. It’s painting a smiley face on that picture of rain that’s torn in five pieces. It doesn’t fix it.

In this case, it makes me feel worse. I find myself joking about all that I eat, because I am ashamed of my intake. I tell my parents that they would be doing fine financially if I would just put down the fork. If I could just say no to pop tarts, my world would make sense. Then I correct it and say the appropriate thing of “Oh, but they’re so good.” No, they’re not. I have never really cared for pop tarts.

I make fat jokes. I say cutting things to myself like, “With my expanding waistline…” When someone says they lost weight, I comment that I found it. The barista at the hospital asked me right after New Year’s, “Did you get thick over the holidays?” I laughed and agreed and quickly offered my excuse of prednisone. Why did I need an excuse?

You may be asking why I am bothering to write about all of this. I am not sure, except that I feel like I am fatphobic. Not toward others… Funny thing is that nobody else is required to live by my standards. I am accepting of all bodies, just not my own. I sit in public places and read blogs and watch people and how they eat and drink and express themselves. I am jealous of those that seem so self-assured. I do not know their problems, but I envy their drinking a beer before dinner. I envy their enjoyment of tira misu and baklava and cake. I envy their smiles.

When I go out with friends who truly understand my struggles, we drink coffee only. I regularly get mocha lattes to remind me that I deserve good things. But, then I have some friends who want cake and cookies. I go along with it, because my disease makes people uncomfortable and people like to eat. They think I am better if I eat. Why not let them believe the lie? Truth bomb: I don’t like eating around people. I don’t like eating with coffee. I have taken to eating in secret because I am ashamed of my interactions with food. If I eat in front of you, it is because I want you to be happy, not because I want to.

I pretend and make jokes to hide how distressed I am. I cry about these things a lot. I cry a lot. And that’s okay. I would tell anyone else that it is okay to fear the changes in one’s body, but I have to be this stalwart anchor for the world… I am holding everyone else in place while I am hiding below the surface. My smiley face is making me miserable.

Better? or Worse?

This week has been rough. I have had random delusional thoughts (Thanks Bipolar I). I have struggled to take my medicines. Eating has been next to impossible. Then, when I do eat, I have engaged in behaviors. I am not proud of myself for this week.

I was honest with my therapist about my delusions; it was the first time I told him about them and it was very shame producing. Out of curiosity, what is the best way to share with one’s providers that you wonder if they are providing you with placebos? Also, that you think they want you to kill yourself? I don’t think there is a way. Also, no matter how your therapist handles it, whether in jest, kindness, or direct confrontation, you are going to feel like crap. At least, I did. My therapist did all of the above and my logical mind agrees with him; my doctors and pharmacy are not giving me fake pills, but I am frustrated by my lack of progress.

My doctors assure me that it will get better. My therapist says maybe it is the nocebo effect. I think I am beyond help. I smile when people ask how I am. I lie about what I am doing. In truth, I sit around a lot. I am scared to leave my house most of the time. I am overwhelmed by the simplest of things. This is not new to my situation; this has been going on for years. I’m just good at smiling.

Societal Pressures

I have noticed a few things over the past few weeks. One: nobody has control over my body but me. Two: my body needs care if I am going to be successful in my life. I have also noticed that body image, weight gain, weight loss, food choices, even drink choices, and clothing all make this dynamic impact on how one can expect to be treated. That last one should be bunk.

So, over my years of working in random fields, nothing brings a group of people together more than talking about weight problems. Despite a history of anorexia and 20 years of dysfunctional eating patterns, I think I am actually doing really well. I have dealt with food shaming, body shaming, clothes shaming, and even shoe shaming (I do love my heels). I am still alive.

Needless to say, I have been thinking really hard about all of this and how to respond. It is disgusting-very disgusting-when you think about it. So, how does one change it?

I hate to say it, but I am not sure there is a way to change it. I go to doctor’s appointments and there are magazines about cleanses and eating healthy and how to impress your mate and such. There is so much pressure on people to be these perfect creatures that are so capable of looking ideal and helping the world one perfect encounter at a time.

As my body has changed over these past few months, I have found it increasingly difficult to accept societal pressures. I’ve also started reading more and realizing that I am so much more than a number on the scale. I am so much more than my meal plan. I am so much more than my diagnoses. If I were to be really honest, I like feeling smart again. No, my body isn’t the size I wish it were, but I have a brain.

I have a brain. I am thinking about bigger issues now. My mind isn’t a running scoreboard of calories, carbs, proteins, and sugars. When that is running through your mind, it is incredibly difficult to do anything worthwhile.

So, why does society make it so important to eat and look a certain way?

This is a huge question and one I am not really sure how to answer. Perhaps, it is a return to the ideas of the 20s and 30s where people were judged for their physical attributes. Seriously, eugenics happened. People were imprisoned and sterilized if they did not fit the standards of society.

Let’s think back to the recent past where we are just now starting to recognize different forms of intelligence. I know people who believe themselves to be incredibly stupid if they cannot write or read very well. Let’s ignore their mathematical, engineering, spatial intelligence, and just basic living skills. Why don’t we say that parents are super heroes? Their abilities to manage tiny lives while also taking care of themselves, their jobs, their bills, their house, EVERYTHING… Well, that takes a lot.

I know I am getting off-track. I am just so surprised by society lately. I have been somewhat disgusted by the forceful impetus of society toward a perfect body and person. I know that was not my original fall into the trap, but it does affect me now. I remember the compliments of being size X and people telling me how great that was and how controlled I was. I had a teacher ask how I did it. I just shrugged my shoulders.

You know, I never really believed that I was good enough because I was never thin enough, I wasn’t at the top of my class, I’m not published… The list goes on and on of all these reasons that I am not quite good enough. What does that even mean? Good enough for whom?

I exist and that makes me good enough. I help people. I smile and joke and try to help others smile. I think I would make a great comedian. There are all of these fabulous people in the world that don’t fit the societal ideal and we want to praise them when they lose weight, bash them if they wear the wrong thing, or tear them down simply for being human and having a bad day. Where is our humanity?

How soon is it that we return to a society that will sterilize those that are deemed unfit? How soon is it that we return to a society that completely ignores the issues faced by its individuals? We have the #metoo movement and men are worried that they are going to be accused of some wrongdoing. The movements are made to raise awareness of how big the problems are. What can we do to make a change? How can one person make a difference? When will we realize that we are enough?

Blind Weigh?

I nearly died last year. I am blessed to be alive. I have to recognize that the eating disorder does not help me. I have to recognize that there is more to me than a number on a scale.

I was at the dietitian last week and we opted not to weigh me until I had decided between open or blind weigh. I’ve weighed myself twice since then. I recognize that my weight is not the enemy, but it is difficult to be “okay” with my weight, since it has been the enemy for about twenty years. So, the question remains: open or blind weigh?

I want my life to be about so much more than my weight. Obviously, there is more to life than a number on a scale and my life is not measured by how much I weigh. Unfortunately, my brain says this is a difficult new rhetoric to believe given that my treatment team wants to weigh me every two weeks and recovery involves stabilizing food intake which can be monitored through weight.

So, if I blind weigh, I have to agree and fully commit to not weighing myself between sessions. If I open weigh, I have to agree and fully commit to not adjusting my behaviors between weigh-ins. At this point, I am wondering why I did not try out for the football team in high school and try to suffer a major injury that would make weigh-ins nigh unto impossible? Just saying…

I have to identify what is more important to me: knowing my weight and crying about it every two weeks, or focusing on how I am improving my life and embracing my goals. While this may seem like an easy decision… I really want to know my weight.

I have to take into account, however, that my life has improved so much without the steady knowledge of that number. I am reading, writing, not alienating my friends… I am even thinking about goals beyond losing weight: something I would have thought impossible two years ago. Sure, I had hopes of doing something with my life, but I could do that at (insert impossibly low weight here) pounds, right?

What I have to accept is that I will lose everything if I go full-scale back to my eating disorder. How can I counsel my patients on the importance of choosing life over addiction, if I am addicted to a number falling on a scale? How can I tell them that one time of using can kill them when I am tempting fate by restricting and purging?

I nearly died last year. I am blessed to be alive. I have to recognize that the eating disorder does not help me. I have to recognize that there is more to me than a number on a scale. I have to stop making comparisons between my body as it is now as to how it was number of years ago. That does not help me. It just makes me feel miserable and takes my mind away from my goals.

So, the choice is pretty clear: blind weigh. It scares me, but not as much as death from choosing the lower number. Again, the choice is poetry, not pounds. My life is worth more than a number on the scale. I’ve got things to do.


So, while I am gaining weight and dealing with body image issues, it occurred to me that I am thinking more clearly than I have in about eleven years.

I am striving for normal, but it really is just a setting on the dryer. Every day, I hear my patients say that they just want to be normal. I am there too. I want to wake up and be happy with my life. I am tired of struggling. I imagine everyone is tired of struggling. I do not have it worse than anyone else. We all have our own private struggles. God never gives us more than we can handle, but I think God must think I am a super hero, or something, because… SERIOUSLY?

Total transparency…

I have a hormonal issue right now. Basically, my body thinks I am either pregnant or have just given birth. As a result, I am hungrier and a little more emotional than usual. The doctors are stumped. My gynecologist says it’s my medicine; my psychiatrist says it’s not my medicine; my family doctor ruled out pituitary tumor… So, there is nothing that can be done. The medicine used to treat this problem would render my bipolar medicine useless. So, I am stuck with the appetite of a pregnant woman and the weight gain that goes with it. No end to this problem is in sight.

By now, you have realized that I am really struggling. I have been dealing with so much and this lack of solution makes me feel trapped and out of control. The other night, I just laid in bed and sobbed. I feel as though I will just keep gaining weight and will never be happy with my body again.

This is my anorexia talking.

So, while I am gaining weight and dealing with body image issues, it occurred to me that I am thinking more clearly than I have in about eleven years. I have been finishing books and remembering what they are about; I am even reading multiple books at one time. I am writing so much. I have entered two competitions in the past month. I have intentions of entering a third by the end of this month. I feel motivated to change. I have hope for a future outside of my health problems.

When I consider all of these things, my body’s weight gain seems pretty insignificant. It bothers me and bothers me even more that I am limited in exercise by my dietitian. While my anorexia says that I am fat and will never be happy again, I am going to take pleasure in the fact that I never thought I would be reading like this again. I never thought I would be writing again. I actually see a future in literature, or journalism for myself. I am going to make it.

I need to also be thankful that it is not a tumor; it is not breast cancer; it is not some disease that renders me disabled and unable to complete basic tasks. While I struggle with a variety of diseases, my health is not compromised to the point of dysfunction. It was last year, but I am stronger now because of my overcoming that round of anorexia.

I do not know what my life holds for me. I don’t know what today holds for me. I can only greet it with open palms and do my best to be a beacon of hope for others and remind myself that I am worth recovering and have value to the world. I will keep going.