December 13, 2010

An Unfortunate Anniversary: 15 Years with an Eating Disorder

I literally just stormed upstairs to my room with tears in my eyes.  I've been under a tremendous amount of stress with the end of the semester and my husband just hit a nerve and it wasn't my pudendal nerve.

I've been living with an eating disorder for 15 years! ! !  I just realized that December is the month it all began when I was 13 years old.  Happy anniversary to me...

I was text book anorexic during middle school and on and off in high school.  I was a very restrictive eater.  There were so many things I didn't allow myself to eat.  I did always make exceptions for the weekends, but otherwise, I ate very little.  If I ate dinner with my parents and felt guilty about it, I simply vomited.  Of course that created an entirely different feeling of guilt.

In college I became very, very sick.  I got to the point where I didn't even like to allow myself water because it made me feel so fat.  After being hospitalized for gastritis and severe dehydration, coincidentally also in December, my therapist wanted to hospitalize me so I could get in-patient treatment for my eating disorder.

I begged her not to because I was in my final semester of college and I couldn't afford to miss school and not graduate on time.  We made an agreement that I would go to the student health center once a week to be weighed and if my weight went below 100 pounds I would have to go to the hospital.

I was very sick and a big part of an eating disorder is deceit.  I started stuffing my clothes with paperweights, bars of soap, drinking bottles to hide my true weight.  I can't stand to be deceitful.  It gnaws at me until I break down.  It was especially difficult in this situation because I was lying to two women who I respected and admired.  Two women who genuinely cared about me when I despised myself.

I eventually came clean with my doctor and my nurse, putting them in an extremely difficult position.  They didn't know what to do with me.  I should have been in a hospital, but I was so close to graduation that they agreed that keeping me from graduating would be more detrimental to my fragile health.

I continued the weekly weigh-ins, without cheating.  I kept my weight around 100 pounds and I saw my therapist tree times a week.

That's how I survived college.  Moving back home and having a slightly more stable and less self-destructive life helped, but I never got treatment for my eating disorder.  I continued to be a ridiculously restrictive eater.  I hardly had any food in my apartment.  I would eat a tomato or a piece of cheese for dinner.

I didn't start eating like a "normal" person until I started to get serious with my husband.  I started buying cereal, eggs, milk and cheese for him to have for breakfast.  When he moved in, we're started cooking together and eating balanced dinners.  I discovered that I loved to cook and I loved good food.

I started eating breakfast maybe three years ago.  I've even started eating lunch.  I prefer to keep it very small: a yogurt or a piece of fruit.  I was a "normal" weight. 

When I gained 30 pounds from the Lyrica, it was very difficult for me to handle.  I had never been heavy, but there I was having to buy all new clothes and try to make peace with my new body.  I was in a healthy, stable relationship.  I had a good job and a good life.  I couldn't completely self-destruct like I used to.  I started going to the gym and making healthier dinners to lose weight.

It took two years to get the weight off the healthy way.  I won't say it's easier to lose weight through starvation, but you do get results a lot faster.

The purpose of this rambling post is to say that my eating disorder has never left me.  I've experienced times of health.  I've even gone years without inducing vomiting.  But in times of stress or sadness, it's the first place I go.  I start fixating on my weight.  It feels like the only thing in my life I can control.

Naturally, in nursing school, I am under a lot of stress; and honestly, I don't think it's possible to get through the first semester at my school without experiencing some periods of depression.  We work so hard constantly.  There's no time for pleasure to balance out the stress.  We isolate ourselves from our friends and family in order to stay on top of all the material.

Tonight I awkwardly asked my mother to not bring cookies into the house or at least to hide them from me.  It's very uncomfortable for me to ask something like that.  I'm ashamed that I can't control myself, but it's the only way I know how to manage my eating disorder is to keep foods like that out of the house.

My mother said, "oh."

"Welcome to my Hell," my husband said.

"Fuck you."

"Stop that!  Don't talk like that at my table!" my mother cried.

I launched into a tear-stained tirade on how hard I struggle every day with my eating disorder.  I was especially hurt because I had told him the day before that I was having a lot of trouble lately.  I excused myself and put my plate in the kitchen.

As I went up the stairs I said, "why don't you try my 13 years of Hell?"  I was off by a few years, but I think I made my point. 

That brings you up to the present.  I've spent the last hour writing this on the night before my last final when I should be studying.  I'm nothing if not consistent.  My eating disorder is always the first place I go under duress and writing is my second stop.  I had to write this down.  I don't know if anyone had the patience to read this post, especially since it has nothing to do with vulvodynia or pudendal neuralgia, but I had to write it down.