Finally came a point I could, and do use my energy in activities besides myself. I have been promoted with two raises at my job in the past year. Like any anorexic, this mental disease is something I wake up with every morning. My choice is to FACE IT and ACT as soon as I roll over in the morning. The other option? To give into the evil demons that haunt my head with horrible body image. Never again will I allow myself to head down that beaten path. I will speak up before I slip, and I will fight myself ten ways to Sunday to make sure I stay level headed. I’ll be the first to admit it is ridiculous and disgusting for a 24 yr old to have once seen truth in the thoughts my mind has hounded me with. In a way I can compare it to bipolar disorder. There were 2 sides to me, one that tells me I’m ugly and fat and the other that I try to bring out ALL THE TIME now. With each passing day it becomes easier and almost like second nature.
As recovery gets easier with patience, rest, and teaching myself to revert control to other aspects of my life besides food, I am not all the way there yet and there is plenty I still need to actively work on. I am often flourished with ideas and thoughts of this exciting new life. A fast paced, carefree, and gung-ho way of living. But that feeling soon passes because for some reason I am afraid to experience the life I think about. It makes me incredibly uneasy knowing that I can’t predetermine my destiny, that I don’t have the next step already in sight. This leads up for the inevitable. My seemingly distant anorexic thoughts will return at these times. Suddenly my mind needs to take control. I can’t possibly live life day to day without plans and control. I just want to look at people and scream, “I’m trying! I’m eating! What more do you want from me? Why won’t things get better?!” I want to tell them I’m jealous they don’t have my problem. I want to know why they don’t act like I do. You know how people say “I’m going to go out on a limb here…” that implies they have no idea what the consequences of their actions will be, and they still do it! This boggles my mind. I don’t work like that.
And then there is our incredibly uneducated diet-oriented society. Have you ever taken note that the more we diet, the more we exercise, and the more drugs doctors prescribe, the SICKER and fatter our world is getting? Talk about ironic. Our society is tolerating and treating obesity and diabetes like it is going out of style. The statin industry is a multi-gazillion dollar industry. Did we have these problems before the advent of vegetable oil, massive sugar consumption, wheat and pre-packaged food? No. We are tolerating, and through bogus unhealthy diets we encourage malnutrition as a way of life. When we stop eating real food, we start getting sick- go figure. If you lose weight on a low fat diet your doctor will fall head over heels in congratulations (most likely because he is puzzled at how you pulled it off). This leads to times when anorexia and other eating disorders are disregarded because the weight-loss obsession is normal.
So how does it play in to recovery? I have a lot of OCD tendencies, and a personality set up to despise criticism, and strive for the perfect choice every time. This plays out well sometimes, but other times it leads me back to rituals, to the “same old Mal” and I am caught up in games before I know it. It is all very overwhelming. How do I decide where to make the perfect choice? Which routines are healthy and which are obsessive? Let’s stick to basic principles first. I wake up at 6:45 a.m. everyday for work. This gives me enough time to shower, dress and do my hair. This is normal. I also have a habit of eating dinner no earlier than 7p.m. This is disordered. My mind is locked into the fact that dinner will not and cannot be eaten prior to 7 p.m. The clock should never run my food habits or determine my hunger. My stomach should be the only perpetrator in that decision. Having one food ritual leads to many more. I will find one food, and eat it every single day. I’ll be totally convinced and locked into this compulsion. When I was bombarded with counselors and nutritionists who told me no movement, no exercise, sit on your ass and eat I knew right away that conventional treatment was not for me. I was 21 years old and they were treating me like a 5 year old. It probably appeared at the time I was acting like one, but everything about an eating disorder is so, so very real and selfish.
As soon as I found myself unable to even eat because I literally was so overwhelmed with anxiety that I couldn’t choose, I decided to start my recovery on my own. I am able to choose now. I eat meat, organs, butter, eggs and dairy and that is it. I can choose form the variety of meat available, but for now, limited choices works, and understanding the sensations my body produces from healthy good meat is essential to getting better. I need still a large quantity of food and yes, I hate that part. But I am able to do it. It’s not about food now because I am using the elimination of any thought provoking, mind provoking, and glucose provoking substances. This leaves me with learning to deal with my control freak nature. I have made it my own personal responsibility to be accomplished at learning to eat, learning to be satisfied, and learning to not fear sitting around- even being lazy. When I am responsible for recovery, I have a sense of control over it. If I fuck it up, well guess what? It is all my fault. I hope my future encompasses the ability for me to reintroduce vegetables in small quantities to me diet. In my mind there is nothing particularly important in vegetable, but they do make the plate more palatable. I am not there yet because the thought of broccoli and cheese sends me into binging fantasy land. But one day I will be there. Recovery does seem to take your whole life. Sometimes you feel like your getting no where and other times you realize just how far you have come.
It’s a lonely, hard road, and though people walk it with me, they can never walk it for me; nor should they. I think the entire world had just about given up on my recovery when I started eating only meat. My goodness, where would my vegetables comes from? You can’t possibly have bowel movements without fiber! And my vitamin C and everything fruits and grains provide! They thought for sure I was headed on a one way track back to anorexia and in the hospital. Well, I proved them wrong, and I proved conventional wisdom wrong. I have gotten blood work and believe me I am healthy. This is what works for me. Will I ever feel I have enough control to expand my diet beyond meat? I don’t know, I am not there yet nor is it in anyway necessary for me to do so. But I do know we each have our own paths in life, paths we think are easier or more difficult than our own. However the chips may fall in my future, I am right here, right now, and I can always choose to go somewhere different and try something else. But I feel this is recovering the person I lost from anorexia, bringing the glow back to my skin and personality, and allowing me to make decision for myself in life and live my life with the freedom from food addiction. If you aren’t a sufferer but a concerned parent, friend or acquaintance, please understand the process is slow. No steps should be taken before one is ready. No big changes should occur because you or someone else feels they are necessary. Recovery is up to the individual.
An eating disorder is not my choice. I never “chose” to become anorexic; it just sort of happened. I can’t explain it. For years, I chased after the “why”, hoping that if I could untangle the reasons behind my illness, then I could solve it. I’ve learned that there is no “why,” and that anorexia and eating disorders don’t make a whole lot of sense. Actually, no mental illnesses make much sense but eating disorders are in a world of their own because they are so misunderstood. Parents, friends and sufferers need to know that eating disorders are not enabled by some conscious choice. There are no real causes that have been pinpointed besides that fact that many areas of the brains of disordered eaters are way off the equilibrium of everyone else. Think of a cancer patient. You can’t possibly ask him or her the cause of their cancer. It’s not something they wanted to happen. Why don’t you ask them if they wanted “just a little tumor” so they can have “just a little chemo” and then get back to me with their response. Being underweight and malnourished is not anorexia. You can be overweight and malnourished. I was born with chemical imbalances due to bad genes, there is no denying that and it is in no way my parents fault. There is no controlling this part so as usual I blame myself anyways. Stress and anxiety has been the base of everyday life for my dad as long as I have known him. He, like me, does not deal well with change, with spur of the moment ideas or plans, and deals with his stress, worrying and anxiety in his own way. We have some of the same habits, all distorted but all that we understand and calm our minds. I know there is a hereditary factor to anorexia, and I do believe I got mine from him. Still though, it’s not his fault. The right environmental influences set my up for anorexia.