I can remember wanting to fall asleep, but my brain was acting to incredibly weird, it would not allow rest. As I use to doze off, I would be shocked by what felt like an electrical zap in my brain. I could hear it, and my head would shake and I would be awake once again. It seemed like my brain was going in and out of consciousness.
I agreed to see a doctor, and go talk to a school counselor who saw my situation as to much for her, so we added on a psychiatrist to that. Immediately I was given Zoloft (I swear they throw that stuff at anyone these days) which lasted about a month at which point I threw the container out and said screw that. The stuff made me even more depressed and made me hate myself and stress even more than I already did. I saw the psychologist and counselor for about a month. Everything going on was becoming a little too much for me to handle. I dropped out of college for a second time and took a leave of absence from my job which I never returned to. Doing that was the hardest thing I have done, I had quit. I have NEVER been one to quit at anything and in one day I quit school, as well as my job.
Therapists. Psychologists. Doctors. Counselors. I tried them all. I made my appointments, and then I kept my appointments. I went into the doctor’s office expecting to be told how to stay exactly how I was, but get better. Does that make sense? I wanted my control; I wasn’t willing to give it up. But I wanted to please everyone else and get healthy. When I admitted I needed help and needed a doctor, it was like a pitfall in my stomach. I was ashamed, disappointed, and fearful and my heart was pounding. Well, my first visit with the doctor, I had told him I was coming in for a physical and a checkup. I got weighed upon getting there, and was told “wow your skinny.” I just shook my head. Then in the office I got my blood pressure, heart rate etc measured and. when the doctor was done checking me out I was told you’re healthy as a horse.” This made everything about asking for help a million times harder than it ever was. At **lbs and standing close to 5’8, I was healthy as a horse, huh? You just wait and see. I felt like a failure of an anorexic. I couldn’t get my life in control, hell I couldn’t even be good at what I thought I controlled! After expressing this visit to my mom, I decided to go to my priest and seek help and guidance. He hooked me up with therapists and counselors and a nutritionist. I saw them all. My nutritionist advocated low-fat high-carbohydrate eating. This is everything I was, and still am against. I thought she was a lunatic in the first place for telling an anorexic that low-fat yogurt is better than full-fat, and that margarine is better than butter. Since I was positive I out-know ledged her in the field of nutrition and she was harking conventional wisdom at me, I never saw her again. My counselor wanted to depict every part of my life, from childhood to the present. I was so frustrated with sharing stupid details of a life that never went wrong, and talking about a family that got along. There isn’t anything wrong with my family. Nothing ever CAUSED me to become anorexic. It just sort of happened. I know I was seeking control of my life. I know I wanted to lose weight. People do things like this everyday but they don’t become anorexic. I don’t think there are but a handful of counselors who realize that anorexia is a brain disease, a mental disease. It took me forever to accept this. Just like bipolar disorder, and just like schizophrenia, anorexia is caused by a brain chemical imbalance. The imbalance has been there my whole life so it is nobody’s fault that I became anorexic. I “had the gene” for it you could say. When the environmental factors of my life were set up as they were, I was sucked in, total control and obsession.
That was all she wrote, I’m going to be living with the disease the rest of my life. That I cannot change. What I can and have been able to change is my weight, my attitude, and my ability to fight the horrendous thoughts I once focused on. I know all this now because of my desire to understand and research the disease. I have yet to meet a therapist who understands, and a counselor who does not want to depict my life and blame the disease on my parents. It seems they want to fix the food. The food is not the problem. No amount of food is going to cure a brain disease. Let me back track, no amount of food is going to magically get rid of the disease once it is present, however understanding the needs of the human body will keep an eating disorder at bay. When I was ** pounds at my lowest, the problem was not my weight and it wasn’t about losing weight. It was the desire and sick obsession with having that control. It wasn’t the number, it wasn’t the salad, it was all control. Weight restoration is a huge part of recovery, but treating the disease based around food is a fast track to relapse. I needed to re-learn hunger, re-learn food and re-introduce myself to food with a fresh start.
I had an un-easy, to say the least, relationship with food. What made me literally laugh in the face of one of my doctors was when she told me to start eating “just a little bit more” and “one extra bite” is a start. Ha-ha. Are you kidding me?!?!? You are telling someone who has been counting the bites, calories and crumbs down to the decimal of a calorie for the past year 3 years and “just one more bite” is not the biggest deal in the world? That would lead to a 100% loss of control. If I did that I would never ever in a million years be able to stop. Oh the panic involved, it’s ridiculous. There is no “extra bite.” It seemed like even if I spilled my guts out to someone, they still had no idea or understanding of how to help. The best decision I ever made was to take matters into my own hands, and search for what worked for ME. Every eating disorder is different and no one recovery method is going to work for everyone. In my eyes, the last thing that “causes” and eating disorder is the media, pictures etc. None of that contributes in my opinion, to an eating disorder. However, low self esteem, anxiety problems, decision making problems, and a loss of control on a once comfortable aspect of life- all sets one up who is pre-disposed to a brain chemical imbalance for an eating disorder. I could have taken control in different ways, but since I was already on a diet, I took it to the extreme. I could have become a binge eater or a bulimic, but I dove face first into anorexia. Throwing up has always grossed me out and scared me. Binge eating is the biggest fear I have in my life. If there is a phobia for binge eating, please add my name to the list.
One thing I have learned about doctors, nutritionists and therapists. They are always looking at you as a victim, trying to dissect your life, and blame problems on family circumstances and tragedies. While this may work for some people, nothing traumatic has ever occurred in my life. My family has never been particularly loopy, and there are no “scars” from bad events happening. Sure, I’ve fallen out of a tree, and I’ve been pushed in a bonfire. Hell I’ve even been struck by a car. However, none of that impacted or persuaded an eating disorder. What people need to realize is that the controlling obsessive aspect of an eating disorder is just that. The thoughts and rituals need to vanish; that is recovery. Telling someone they need to eat 4500 calories a day to gain weight is still a ritual. I will tally; I will occasionally meet the goal but NEVER surpass it. It’s still a mental game then, and it does not get any better. It actually gets worse. I fought the doctors. I thought for sure I was smarter than them, and could always win. I went into appointment after appointment convinced they had no idea the game I was playing, the lies I was telling, and the absolute disregard I had for their help. There is fear of so much food, so much variety; it is overwhelming. In a nutshell, it does not work. No amount of food will cure anorexia. No amount of skewing possibly traumatic events will cure anorexia. Will power, trust, confidence and self identity as well as acceptance cure anorexia.
I tried therapists, I tried doctors and I tried nutritionists, but not until both my parents made it a point they were not going to let me die. I am their only daughter, and their love is never ending. I can not for the life of me imagine what it is like or what one goes through watching their own child purposely starve themselves, and purposely disclude themselves from everyday life. At my worst times I practically lived in my room by myself. I sat in there, thought about food, tallied up numbers and counted portions. There was an extreme amount of thought and numerical values going through my mind on a constant basis. I had rituals, repeated day in and day out. I had a thing for the blender at the time. I ate once a day but used the blender nonstop for about a year. I concocted this calorie free sugar free ice drink in the blender. I was so incredibly attached to the blender it is so shameful to look back on now. I think about it now as I type and realize how much of a ‘nut’ I must have looked like. I must have gone through twenty blenders in this time. The frozen drinks kept me full and the sweet taste from them kept me satisfied. Every time I was forced to eat, it was like watching the sand pour through a time capsule. I wanted it to be done. I wanted to get to overanalyzing and overestimating everything I had eaten.
image from allposters.com