My life is an endless montage of things gone awry. Like having a cyst rupture and proceeding to be nauseous for days and finally vomiting my guts out after a day of sitting absolutely still to avoid vomiting. I just wanted some Dr. Pepper. Well, the porcelain god wanted it more.

So, on Monday, I was going to the coffee shop to rev myself up for therapy. Yes, I thought some additional caffeine before the latte that I drink in therapy was necessary. I was walking out to my car when it drove off, squealing its tires, and leaving me standing there in shock. Someone stole my car. Seriously!?!? I ran out back, told my dad and he ran up the hill, got in his truck and tried to pursue. I called the police, filed a report with the sheriff, filed a claim with my auto insurance. All very calmly. I can be calm. I might have had rapid-fire speech at one point. I was trying to get my license plate number and talk to the insurance and I was frustrated. Did you know that you need your license plate number to get your license plate number? Luckily, the sheriff’s office was able to obtain that information, because I could not. Also, the joy of my phone calls came when the adjuster said that the thief took it because he was cold and would likely abandon it once he reached his destination. And my doctors think I am delusional. She then proceeded to tell me to have a “good day.”

It is two days later today and it is still missing. I have given up on being positive and for the people who say, “It’s okay”–it’s not okay. He also took my house keys and we had to change the locks. I jump when I hear a doorknob rattle. I am grateful that I wasn’t hurt and that no violence happened, but this sucked.

I saw my doctors afterward and they want me to consider more therapy. My struggles with reality and stress management are proving to be far more difficult than anticipated. My lack of structure and my weariness are also stressors. I try to think of ways to fill my day, but am overwhelmed by every task. I suppose it sounds as though I am throwing myself a pity party, but truly life is a struggle right now.


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.

Avoiding Relapse

If I had given in to my action urges, I would have berated myself either for doing it, or not doing it well enough. I would have thought that I had wasted all my hard work and continued my spiral of bad decisions. Black and white thinking at its best. 

Avoiding relapse when you are struggling with strong emotions is difficult. This week has been difficult. I am struggling with so many emotions and trying to stay motivated to keep going. I wanted to quit treatment this week. I wanted to give up fighting for the life that I know I deserve. My eating disorder wants me to believe I am useless and will never amount to anything. My eating disorder tells me the only way I will find freedom is in the porcelain god of the bathroom, or the downward spiral of the scale.

Meaning does not come from dysfunction. Meaning comes from overcoming dysfunction. I like to be validated for my efforts, but I am a private person and really who wants to congratulate you on doing the simple and ordinary task of feeding yourself. With this in mind, I must validate myself. Every time that I do not give in to the voice of my eating disorder, I am achieving victory.

Last night was a struggle. I wanted to give into the eating disorder and wreck myself. I wanted to drink a bottle of wine and stop thinking. I wanted freedom from the voice telling me that I was nothing.

Yet, I knew, as much as I tell my patients, that it would not make me feel any better. As the AA saying goes, “One is too many, a thousand is never enough.” If I had given in to my action urges, I would have berated myself either for doing it, or not doing it well enough. I would have thought that I had wasted all my hard work and continued my spiral of bad decisions. Black and white thinking at its best.

My favorite coffee mug has a quote by Liam Linisong. “A year from now, what will you wish you had done today?” I will wish that I had made the right decisions and stayed focused on my recovery. It is a daily process.

I ran across writings from about ten years ago last night; I was surprised at how much I had changed, how far I had come. I don’t want to give up. If it means that I have to seek a new purpose every day, then I shall do that. If it means that I have to argue with my eating disorder on reasons to stay healthy, then I will do that.

My eating disorder wants me to die. She came to me in a time of fear and self-loathing. She was to be my saving grace, but she made me sick. She made me loathe myself even more. She whispered hurtful words in my ears and pushed me to damage myself.

I never would have believed it, but I am a fighter. The fact that I am still alive means I still have purpose. There is no meaning in dysfunction, only in overcoming it. I want to keep going. I want to provide others with a hope that recovery is a possibility, but has to be taken one day at a time.

Keep looking for poetry. Ignore the eating disorder that measures your worth in pounds. I will never satisfy my eating disorder, but I can seek out satisfaction from a life worth living.

I will keep fighting.

The Journey of a Thousand Bites

The truth is that I am sick. I have to accept that and it is something that I have to accept sometimes daily. Just because I don’t fit the image of one who is caught in the throes of anorexia, my body is still damaged by it.

I am starting this blog to engage myself and others in the recovery process. My disease is anorexia, with a smidge of bipolar I and a little bit of PTSD… Add a sprinkle of panic disorder and a cup of OCD… That is my mezcla of diagnoses and my things to overcome.

Recovery is an every day process. It is not a straight path from problems to success. It’s more like a roller coaster with ups and downs and twists and turns and you puke halfway through the ride, ruining your favorite sweatshirt… Recovery is like that, only life long.

There are some who argue that you can be fully recovered. I wish that were true. I thought I was. Well, I had decided that I had everything under control and stopped the plan, thinking I didn’t need it anymore, because I was cured. Mental illness no longer had a hold, so I started pantsing life. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t care. I had convinced myself that I had it under control.

Funny thing about mental illness and any addictive behavior: you always think you have it under control until the one morning that you realize it’s controlling you.

I have been back in recovery for about eight months. I have fought that I will just be better when I lose a few pounds. I have argued that I don’t need to eat that much. The fact is, my arguing is getting in the way of recovery. My biggest argument is that I have too high of a BMI to be at risk. As so many people say, “I’m not like those other people who are sick. I’m different.”

We all say that. We are different, but our disease affects us the same. When I see my peers from treatment, I am immediately struck by the idea that they are still super thin and gorgeous and I am just in this category of not really sick. The truth is that I am sick. I have to accept that and it is something that I have to accept sometimes daily. Just because I don’t fit the image of one who is caught in the throes of anorexia, my body is still damaged by it.

I almost died last year.  I knew it was only a matter of time. I was incredibly depressed and was ready to die. On reviewing my labs: I had prolonged QT (my heart could have stopped), I went through refeeding syndrome (It went undiagnosed until I actually started seeing a medical doctor about my health–I was in denial of lasting damage), I lost  two percent bone mass, and my electrolytes are still trying to get in normal ranges.

I tell you these things not to say that I am sick, but to show that I am sick, despite looking well. I am an addictions therapist and I realized today that my recovery is not something for me to get through. It is something that has to be lived. I tell my patients this all the time, but I was caught in this idea that I can follow the plan until I am well and then do my own thing. I did that already and here I am again. It is time for me to own my recovery as what I want, not just what the doctor ordered.

My point of this blog is to focus on living life to the full (poetry), not measured by a scale (pounds).