A few weeks ago I made myself throw up. I was dizzyingly nauseated and in pain, likely from a stomach bug. I didn’t want to sit with that feeling for hours. Who would? As I caught my breath in the stall and tried to make myself as presentable as possible, it occurred to me that most people would not have made that choice. Inducing vomiting is disgusting to most, and a punchline for some. For me, it’s a piece of my past that–forgive the pun–comes up now and then.
I’m pretty open about my eating disordered past. It’s not a secret that I struggled with purging type anorexia for years before entering into a serious recovery effort at 27. I had a serious relapse at 31, but since then have been squeaky clean as far as the ED police are concerned.
Unfortunately, that’s not the whole truth. I have the same thoughts and fears that I had before; I just don’t act on them. The disorder tells me that that’s because I lack willpower now, that I’m just a lazy slug who’ll just get fatter and fatter and… Whatever the reasons, I explain my state as dry anorexia. I’m not “recovered” (sober), but I don’t engage in the behaviors anymore. Sometimes, that’s much more difficult than it probably looks.
I was recently prescribed a medication that causes weight gain in 2000% of patients. Meaning that if you just engage in a conversation with a patient on this drug you will gain five pounds. Accordingly, I’ve gained about 20 pounds since starting. This has sent the disordered part of my brain (and a goodly portion of the “normal” part) into a panic. I think every day about the behaviors I used to engage in to lose or maintain weight. Things I know to be extremely dangerous, I fantasize about doing repeatedly.
I can’t do these things.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I love my job. I’m also in a fantastic relationship with a wonderful guy whom I love riotously. When you’re “in” this disorder (or any other in the category), you can’t have those things. You can’t even spare a thought for anything else. Up in the morning, hop on the scale, take a piss, get back on the scale, agonize over breakfast, skip it, run to work, distract yourself from buzzing hunger til lunch, eat half a yogurt, vom it up, wish you had a scale, oh God you’re definitely bigger than this morning… It doesn’t leave room for you, let alone anyone else.
Preventing a relapse, then, is as much for me as it is for the life that I’ve created both on my own and with my fiancé. I have so much to lose now, unlike in the past. It seems perverse and cruel that these thoughts could be triggered at a time when things are looking so amazing.
In 2010, I started attending EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous) meetings. They were tremendously helpful, and I’m grateful to this day for the support and camaraderie I found there. Tonight, I’m sitting at my laptop preparing to enter an online EDA meeting because I can’t tell if there are in-person meetings in my city. I’m not nervous, per se. I want this meeting to go well and be helpful. I want this to be a resource for me again. If I’m anxious about anything, it’s the idea that EDA here (or online) might not be the life jacket that it was back home.
I guess we’ll see.