Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Let's thrive

This post is for those girls and boys, those broken down women and men, the ones who think the way I used to think: that recovery is impossible, unnecessary, unattainable. That recovery is quitting, tapping out, giving up, giving in. I used to think recovery was for losers. Hacks. Sell-outs. Weaklings. The ones who weren't special or elite enough to reach their goals.

That was my disorder talking.

Does it sound familiar?

That is the voice of your disease.

By definition, disease is not a good thing.

I used to think that I could never recover, but I realize now, that's only because I didn't want to recover. I didn't want to be healthy. I thought healthy meant ordinary and there was nothing I could think of that I wanted less to be. The trouble is that those thoughts were not my own. My anorexia (and later my bulimia) made the decisions for me. I didn't want to recover because I thought there was no life after anorexia. I couldn't see a way out. I thought I'd carry my disease around forever, dragging her around like a corpse everywhere that I went. It was exhausting. And it was killing me. I realize now that there is life after anorexia. Better yet, there is only life after anorexia. Those years I spent sick were not living. I was only existing, and just barely.

I want to thrive.

If you are one of those people who thinks recovery is impossible or unattainable, I challenge you to reconsider. I challenge you to ask yourself what you have to gain by staying sick versus what you have to gain by getting well.

It's like that old cliche I've heard my entire life and never understood until now:

"You are what you eat."

Do you really want to be nothing?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fighting Anemia

It has been some time since I actually planned out my meals. I know that for many people, meal planning is an essential part of recovering from an eating disorder. Some people swear by it. For me personally, it always seems to do more harm than good. Once I see all of that food written down on paper it becomes real. And I don't want to eat it, so I end up eating even less. For me, it's better not to count calories. It's better not to take inventory of everything I'm eating. It triggers the eating disorder and makes me feel miserable.

Since I've had all of these problems with dizziness, I've really tried to get a handle on my anemia. The doctor said that though I am anemic, he doesn't think it's the culprit that's causing all the dizziness. However, getting more iron into my body might help to alleviate some of it and it might help to make me feel better overall. I hate taking any kind of pills or drugs, vitamins included, so I don't want to take iron supplements. I already take multivitamins and B-12 supplements and I can barely remember to take those. My solution to iron deficiency is to make a conscious effort to incorporate more iron into my body naturally by eating iron rich foods. I know that there are two types of iron our body needs: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron comes from meat and is absorbed very easily by the body. The problem is I'm vegan so I'm lacking heme iron. As for non-heme iron, it is found in vegetable form but it needs vitamin c in order to be absorbed by the body. Though I do eat many foods that contain non-heme iron, and though I do get plenty of vitamin c, for the last few days I've been consciously eating more iron rich foods than I might normally eat, or at least in higher quantities. In order to do this, I've been loosely following a meal plan. Here are some of the iron rich foods I am making an effort to eat more of:

Soybeans, Black-Eyed Peas, Barley, Tofu, Lentils, Chickpeas, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins, Spinach, Broccoli, Bok Choy.

Though I already enjoy all of these foods and eat them regularly, I am trying to make sure I eat at least one of them with every meal. So far, the meal planning hasn't made me nervous but I haven't committed any of it to paper. It's more of a mental dietary guideline that I'm keeping loose and unstructured. The minute I get too meticulous and calculated everything falls apart and my eating disorder kicks into overdrive. I'm not going to let that happen.

I'm hoping that eating more of these iron-rich foods will make me feel better. It's a little early to tell since I've only be concentrating on it for the last few days. For dinner last night I made a barley tabbouleh with fresh parsley and mint. Tonight I had "tacos" with black beans and black-eyed peas. I also made some granola with raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, oats, and almonds that I've been snacking on throughout the day. I guess that I have nothing to lose here. Being vegan, I have to be extra careful to make sure all of my nutrient needs are met. It's time I take control and be the healthiest me that I can be.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I'm still sick. I'm tired of writing about it. I'm sure everyone who reads my blog regularly is tired of reading about it. I am, at least, making progress. The only symptom that remains is the dizziness, which was, of course, the real problem all along. It is becoming less intense, but it's still there. I have a few more days of antibiotic left. I'm just praying that once it's all gone the dizziness will be gone too.

I have been battling my eating disorder pretty hard since last night. My boyfriend and I ate a late lunch yesterday though I ate a lot less than he did. Once it was time for dinner, he wasn't hungry at all and I was only slightly hungry. He made a comment about how full he was and that he didn't want a big dinner. He said maybe he would only have a banana. He was kidding and he said it without really thinking. He thought it would be funny, but it really wasn't. He wasn't trying to be inconsiderate. Regardless, it gave my eating disorder the idea that it would be okay if I didn't eat dinner. So I kept saying that I wasn't hungry and that neither of us had to eat anything. We ate a late lunch. Let's just go take a nap. Let's just go to bed early. I'm not hungry. I'll eat a big breakfast in the morning. Let's just not have dinner. I'm not hungry. Maybe I'll just have some soda. I'm tired. I'm going to go to sleep.

Finally he told me I was rambling like a crazy person and that of course we were eating dinner. By then I was totally exhausted. It's so draining. I don't think he understands. I was surprised, and I think he was too, at just how easily those anorexic thoughts pop up in me even after all of my time in recovery. We ended up eating dinner, but I know that without him I wouldn't have. He is so crucial to this process. As thankful as I am, that scares me. I can't depend on him to make me eat. I have to learn how to depend on myself to do the right thing too.

As for today, I ate a healthy amount of food, but I had all sorts of negative thoughts about my body. I wore a tank top and every time I passed a mirror my arms looked so huge and fat and disgusting. Each time I had those negative thoughts I was bummed out for thinking so poorly of myself, but it didn't stop them from coming. I immediately started scheming up diet plans and unrealistic exercise goals to help me lose weight. Lose weight? I hadn't done that in a long time. Suddenly the idea of it seemed so fresh and real and attainable. Like it used to. I know that it's a stupid idea. I know that my arms aren't fat. But even if they were, why should it mean so much to me?

I have to keep reminding myself that I am beautiful the way that I am. I am worthy. I used to be broken, but I'm not broken anymore. I'm in repair and I am worth fixing. I am in recovery and I am worth recovering.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Letter to my Eating Disorder

I’m sure you already knew this was coming, but just to be clear, I’ll spell it out for you:

I will no longer plan my life around your schedule. I don’t care what you think or need or require. I am tired of putting your needs first. I require freedom from you. I will continue to think and act for myself. You are no longer a part of this equation.

Consider this a break up letter. What you want and what I want are two very different things. Yes? You are concerned with keeping me obedient, quiet, small, scared, frail, dependent, alone, miserable, sick, malleable, anxious, sad, weak, manic, frightened, muted, controllable, naïve. I am concerned with keeping me me: strong, safe, happy, independent, alert, active, healthy, vibrant, sharp, radiant, productive, unafraid, trusting, capable. We are not on the same page. Lets face it—it will never work out this way.

So stop calling.

I don’t want to speak with you or hear from you. I don’t want you popping in unannounced to criticize me for this or for that. You have no right to tell me what to do or what to eat or what to think or what to feel. Now, I’m sure it will upset you when you see me going on with my life. It will kill you to know that I am happy, but please, just keep quiet. It’s none of your business. You are my past. There is no place for you in my future.

It’s over. We’re over.

Can I put it any more clearly?

If we see each other in passing, please be prepared for me to ignore you. I will not be cordial. I will not ask how you are doing. I don’t care how you are spending your time. I don’t want to hear about whose life you are currently destroying. I just hope that she will also see what a parasite you are: what a ridiculous waste of time and energy.

So this is goodbye.

I would thank you for all the memories, but frankly, there are none. You have been deleted. Erased. Forgotten.

I can’t hear you.

You aren’t even a whisper.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New meds

Not a lot has happened since my last post. I'm still sick. I can't tell if the dizziness is subsiding or if I'm just learning to live with it. I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic the doctor gave me. I'd taken it for 4 days and kept getting worse. I developed a fever, I had chills, body aches, sweating, nightmares, hot flashes. I started to hallucinate. I felt this overwhelming sadness everyday around 3 pm (which was six hours after taking the medicine). I was getting migraines. I was itchy and nauseous. My heart was racing. My lips were cracking and bleeding. I was shaking uncontrollably. Not good.

So now I'm on a different antibiotic (since yesterday) and it seems to be working okay so far. The headache and dizziness are really all that's happening. I'm up moving around finally. I've done laundry, dishes. I even made dinner last night for the first time in over a week. I'm still not well, but that's real progress. Unfortunately, reading and typing and all that still makes me dizzy, so I'm trying to keep it to a minimum.

My eating disorder has been sort of on the back burner through all of this. I haven't been eating normally just because I've been so sick. My appetite has been horrible because of the medicine I was taking, but it seems to be returning slowly. There were moments when I was glad I didn't feel like eating, especially since I learned at the doctor's office that I had gained a few pounds. I realized, of course, that feeling that way was wrong. That's the way it works. For me, the eating-disordered thoughts haven't stopped coming (though they are much less frequent). I've just learned, for the most part, to ignore them.

I hope this new medicine will kill the infection without killing me. I am SO tired of being sick.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Doctor's Orders

Oh my goodness. It's been a rough couple of days. This is the first time since Wednesday that I have even been able to look at a computer screen without becoming so dizzy I nearly pass out. Still not sure if I'm trying to do too much too soon.

I finally went to the doctor despite all of my reservations. He said that I had a horrible sinus infection and ear infection which caused the dizziness. He also ordered a blood test which showed that I had anemia, something I already knew. He gave me two different prescriptions, one of which (I found out after taking it three days) made the dizziness even worse. I literally thought I wasn't going to make it. Everything was spinning, without relief, constantly. When I left the clinic and went to have my prescriptions filled, I was so confused and out of it. Everything was spinning around me. All these people and sounds. It all became a blur and I wasn't sure where the pharmacist was and where I was or which direction to walk. I guess it was from having my blood drawn without eating. My boyfriend had to hold on to my arm and lead me around like an elderly person. The dizziness has increased and decreased and increased again. I am still dizzier than normal, but I'm on an antibiotic and hopefully that will fix it.

I am stressed out because I haven't been able to write or read or do homework. I can't even watch television without making the dizziness worse. Basically, I've been lying on the couch like a corpse since last Wednesday staring at drawn window blinds. As far as eating goes, I've had zero appetite and I found that was one of the side effects of the medicine. I also found while I was at the doctor's office, my eating disorder really made itself known. Something about being in that environment with the nurses, the hospital sounds, the poking and prodding, the drawing of blood, the sensation of stethoscopes and sterile floors and white paper drawn over the examination table-- something about it made my eating disorder try to come alive. When the nurse weighed me I wanted to tell her about my anorexia and that it was better if I didn't know my weight. I hadn't weighed myself in months. But my ED kept me silent. Not only did I see how much I weigh, she also called it out to me before she wrote it down on my chart. I had gained 7 lbs. Needless to say, I didn't feel great. I spent the entire time sitting in the examination room waiting for the doctor thinking about how I could lose weight. I didn't have to lose that much, but I at least had to lose those 7 lbs. That would be enough? Right? Luckily, I recognized this logic as the logic of my anorexia. I've been fooled by that trick too many times.

I'm starting to get a little dizzy from the computer so I should probably stop writing. It's also time for lunch. Appetite or no appetite, I know that it's best.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Giving in

Still not feeling very well, but thank you all for the well wishes. I'm thinking of giving in and seeing a doctor tomorrow. It's going to be more money than I'm able to spend but I can't live with this constant dizziness. I barely made it out of bed today. My appetite is starting to get slightly better, so that's good news. And the fever wasn't quite as bad today. But the dizziness was worse, so there's really only one option here.

I hate going to see the doctor...

but I know it's for the best.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Still not feeling well. I've been exhausted all day. I had a horrible headache from the moment I woke up and I had body aches like I have the flu or something. About 3:00 I had a fever and awful chills. I've been lounging around on the couch with my cat since then sleeping on and off. I'm wrapped in a big fuzzy white robe. My cat likes how soft it is.

I didn't feel like cooking (or doing anything else for that matter) so my boyfriend went out and got pizza for dinner. They forgot to leave the cheese off of my half so I had to pick it off. My appetite was horrible today. I didn't feel like eating at all, but I managed to eat breakfast and dinner. I've been really really thirsty.

I'm going to bed early. Hopefully I don't wake up at 3 in the morning wide awake.

That always happens when I go to bed before 11 pm.

I still don't know what's wrong, but hopefully I can sleep it off.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dizzy, dizzy

Today wasn't the best of days. I've been terribly sick and I can't even begin to explain why. I wrote a post a while ago about how incredibly dizzy I've been lately. It's more than feeling light-headed. It's completely incapacitating. It went away slightly but has come back full force. I went to a nurse practitioner a few weeks ago and she told me it was a sinus infection. I took the medicine she gave me to no real avail. Sometimes I hear noises that sound like the ocean inside my ear. My mother thinks it's because there's fluid in my ear. She spoke with my doctor (whom she works for) and they seem to think it could be something more serious like diabetes. Yeah, that diabetes. Years ago when my anorexia and bulimia were both wildly out of control, the same doctor gave me a pamphlet about the connection between eating disorders and diabetes. I guess there's a correlation. And I guess it was her way of warning me, but what was done was done. I guess it makes sense-- you go from eating nothing to eating a lot, then throwing it up and eating some more. It has to totally mess with blood sugar levels. It must disorient everything. This is another shining example of the bad things I've done to my body in the name of anorexia and bulimia. I hope that isn't what's going on, but I have noticed that the dizziness becomes most unbearable about an hour to an hour and a half after I have eaten. At that point, there's nothing else I can do besides lie down and close my eyes. I've also noticed a numbness in my toes and fingers. A week or two ago, my toe was numb for over 36 hours. It freaked me out. Talking about this is freaking me out even more. I initially thought it had something to do with a vitamin deficiency because I'm vegan and a very picky vegan at that. I don't know anymore.

I guess the only solution is to see a doctor, but I don't have medical insurance and I still haven't found a job. The last thing I can afford right now is another bill to pay. I could drive to my usual doctor back home but that's 9 hours away. They would see me at a discounted rate, but it still costs money to drive my car that far. Not to mention, I'm too dizzy to walk. I don't think I should be driving.

I think I'm going to try and get some sleep. I'm tired of speculating. It only stresses me out.

Okay, okay. I'm not getting worked up about this.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

I'll feel better tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

If it isn't obvious from the quote in the title, I just saw Eat, Pray, Love. This is not a post about the movie or the book (I recommend both, the book more so than the movie. Isn't that always the case?) This post is about ruin. This post is about transformation. This is a concept I've been thinking about for weeks, since I read the book of essays by Eula Biss. I had an entire post devoted to it. Gilbert says "“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation” and Eula Biss says, "there is always some promise in destruction." I agree with both.

My eating disorder was certainly destructive. It certainly left my entire life in ruin. But would I be the person I am today without it?

I would never wish an eating disorder on anyone. I know that most people can't even begin to imagine how serious they are--how destructive. How deadly. Anorexia is contradictory in the eyes of society. On one hand, the overly thin are glamorized and idealized. On the other hand, they're ridiculed. The point is that people are judgmental and fickle. If you're too fat they'll tell you to slim down. Once you get too slim, then they'll tell you to fatten up. I've been on both sides of the spectrum and I wasn't happy at either. Unlike a lot of people who develop anorexia, I was slightly overweight when my eating disorder began. I wasn't obese, but I wasn't thin either. By the time anorexia was finished with me, I'd lost 80 lbs. I was a skeleton. I was sick. I was dying. And it still wasn't good enough for anyone. The people who used to say I was chubby now said I'd gone way too far, as if it was their place to decide how I should look. Now my weight is somewhere in between. I'm not overweight and I'm not underweight. I'm tired of being pulled in either direction.

Like anyone else who has overcome an eating disorder or any other major struggle, I'm not left with bruises, I'm left with scars. Some of them are deeper than others. But they will all heal. I have never been content with myself. I wasn't happy when I was chubby. I wasn't happy when I was skinny. I didn't love myself high and I didn't love myself low.

Here is to balance.

Here is to contentment. To courage. To strength.

I am thankful for all I've been through because it's brought me where I am:

Somewhere in the middle between healing and happiness.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Anorexia and Aging

Lately when I look in the mirror I have been dissatisfied with more than the shape of my body.

I feel like I'm beginning to look old.

I'm only 26, and I know that sounds young comparatively, but it sounds very old to me. I've found a few stray gray hairs. I feel like I'm starting to wrinkle. I hate when I go to the market or to a store and the younger (but not that much younger) cashier calls me Ma'am. Ma'am? Me? Is 26 that old?

I am on a journey of love and self-acceptance. I will love myself, my body, my face no matter how it looks or what amount of space it occupies. But that doesn't mean it's easy. I thought weight and curves and body shape would be the most difficult things to accept. I didn't consider aging. So, it makes me wonder, how do anorexics deal with aging? Do they experience the same thoughts and emotions other women feel when they age, or is it harder somehow because of so much time spent feeling worthless and not good enough? It's a question I certainly can't answer.

Sometimes people guess that I am younger than I really am, but as the years accumulate, that happens less and less. When I turned 26 (this past March) one of the girls at my old job told me happy birthday. I said to her, full of sarcasm that I thought was evident, "Yep. I'm finally 19". She said, "Oh my gosh. I turned 20 last month". It made me laugh (partly because this girl is very sweet but not particularly bright) but I know that I don't look 19. And I shouldn't want to, because I'm not 19. I'm 26. What's wrong with looking 26? Why do I feel the need to look younger? Why does it matter how old I look?

Why does this matter to me?

I could blame it all on the ills of society, and though I don't think society is completely blameless, I know (but am hesitant to admit) most of my issues stem from my mother. I love her more than anything, but she has never had a high opinion of herself. She has never had any self-confidence or real self-worth. She's in her sixties now and I hear her say things about botox and face lifts and microderm abrasion. It's been that way my entire life. She was never able to accept the fact that women age, meaning, she would age too. And she has never displayed positive attitudes toward food or weight. She told me my entire life that she only ate to live, she didn't live to eat. She hated the taste of food. She ate food only because it was necessary, only because she had to. What kind of child can grow up in that kind of environment and not absorb some of it?

I never wanted to admit she may have played a role in my eating disorder. She always told me I was beautiful. She told me weight didn't matter. Looks didn't matter. It's what's on the inside that counts. And though I know she has always believed that I am beautiful and worthy and capable, she has never thought those things about herself. So how could I believe her? How could I understand the importance of loving oneself when she very obviously did not love herself? She loved everyone but herself. And I have followed her lead.

I don't blame my mother for anything. I don't blame anyone for anything. It's not about blame for me now, it's not even about forgiveness. I'm past that. I'm at peace now and I'm ready to heal. My mother is my best friend. She is inspired by my recovery and she's glad I'm finally starting to believe all the positive things about myself that she has told me my entire life. Maybe we can do this together. Maybe she can learn to love herself too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." Oliver Goldsmith

Today was another seemingly uneventful day. It's Saturday which means my boyfriend was home today because he wasn't working. We ate breakfast together. Things seemed normal. We drank coffee and watched television. He read the paper. I called my mother. Before I realized, it was after 11 and he was in a bit of a hurry for us to get out of the apartment and run some errands. In the mania of rushing to get ready, I didn't eat lunch. He had soup while I was in the shower. I was home free. I could have taken the time to say, hey, I need to eat something. Because in my head I acknowledged that I should eat something. Instead of eating, I grabbed a diet soda and we headed out the door.

When we got home we decided to walk to the gym. I burned a lot of calories and by the time we got home I was so hungry. By then it was almost time for dinner so I started cooking. By the time dinner was ready, I was at the point of not being hungry anymore. But I ate anyway. I made myself.

I realize skipping lunch was wrong. I just recently started eating lunch again. Until this summer (in May, to be exact) I never ever ate lunch. Now I do it daily, even if it's something small. Obviously, I let my eating disorder win one battle today. Even if it was only a small victory, I yielded. And I lost.

But not all was lost.

I won the next one.

Eating dinner made me feel much better and stronger. In the past, skipping one meal automatically led to skipping the next. Why eat lunch if I didn't eat breakfast? And if I skipped those two meals, why bother to eat dinner? I used to be so trapped in that vicious cycle that I wouldn't eat for days and days and days. I used to think those were "perfect" days. I see now how wrong I was. How sick I was. How sad I was. How desperate I was.

I don't have to feel that way anymore.

If anyone is reading this, you don't have to feel that way either.

Friday, August 13, 2010

There are things in life far more dangerous than calories.

Though I feel as though I eat healthy foods for the most part, there are still foods, even this far into the recovery process, that continue to give me anxiety. Here is a (long) list of foods/drinks that still make me nervous, but that I'm learning to live with:

Sugar: Sugar, throughout the duration of my eating disorder, has been one of the most fearful of foods. Only now am I in a position to think about it logically. I know that there are only 16 calories in one teaspoon of sugar. Even in a tablespoon there are only 46. There is no fat in either. So what’s the big deal? I’m not gobbling up sugar by the cup full. What’s the danger of adding 46 calories to my coffee in the morning? 46 calories. I’m not afraid of you anymore.

Peanut Butter: This one has been the scariest food for me hands down. I have avoided peanut butter like the plague for the last 6 years. I did, one day a few weeks ago, have a peanut butter sandwich. I ate it, but the nerves were still there. The issue I have with peanut butter is that, unlike sugar, there are approximately 95 calories per tablespoon and 9 grams of fat (depending on whether or not it is salted). The problem is that one tablespoon of peanut butter doesn’t go very far. For a proper peanut butter sandwich, I would prefer at least two tablespoons. This would make the caloric intake closer to 200 (in peanut butter alone) and fat grams would be close to 18. Frankly, this still scares me. But it doesn’t stop me. I have eaten peanut butter since my recovery began and lived to tell about it. I didn’t gain a billion pounds. I didn’t fall off the face of the universe. The sun still rises and sets. Peanut butter will not kill you. Unless, of course, you have a peanut allergy. Those things are pretty serious. The point is that peanut butter, like anything else, is fine (and delicious) in moderation.

“Ice cream” / Dessert (vegan, of course): Being vegan, it is difficult and rare to come across a delicious and animal free dessert. This doesn’t bother me much since I don’t generally have a sweet tooth. I consider myself a good cook, but a horrible baker. I don’t like measuring ingredients. I like to cut corners. Subtract things and add something that wasn’t called for. The results are always disastrous, and sometimes inedible. So the only time I encounter a proper vegan dessert is in a good vegetarian or vegan restaurant and I, due to my dessert fear, am always hesitant to try them. I know there is sugar involved (much more than a tablespoon). And, in a restaurant setting, it’s hard to know just how many calories and how much fat something contains. Luckily, that’s a good thing. Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to my favorite Veggie/Vegan restaurant and had a wonderful meal including blueberry pie and soy ice cream. Even though it was so so delicious, I muttered aloud I wonder how many calories this has. My boyfriend said, “Zero. “ I smiled and we both ate in peace. Just like with peanut butter, the world did not come to a screeching halt.

Full fat “milk”: Okay, being vegan, of course that means no milk. Instead, I drink soy milk, but even then, I buy “light.” The caloric and fat content of milk and soy milk are sort of similar, though the levels in soy milk are less. I don’t know why I insist on still buying “light.” In all of my eating disorder induced mania, buying the full fat was an absolute offense of the highest order. But I don’t think like that anymore. I can think clearly. I can think for myself. I don’t give a damn if there is a 30 calorie/2 fat gram difference between regular soy milk and light soy milk. I am out, by the way. Next time I buy soy milk, I’m buying regular.

Olive oil/salad dressing: This is one that makes me cringe. Olive oil, my love. Disgusting on its own, but delicious to cook with. I never, deep into my eating disorder, used olive oil or any other type of oil. Then again, I didn’t cook back then. I don’t even think I’ll put the caloric content here and especially not the fat grams because I don’t want to think about it. I eat olive oil almost everyday now in some capacity, whether to sauté onions or garlic or to make a homemade salad dressing. It has become a part of my life and it’s better for me not to think of it. I don’t consume that much of it. It is okay in moderation. As for salad dressing, I make my own. I don’t count calories (in that or in anything). It’s sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. It’s working.

Wine/alcohol: I don’t drink very often and I never have. It’s always been something I could take or leave. Very rarely do I consume any alcohol other than wine, and even that is rare. I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner, though it’s something I could live without very easily. I used to not drink alcohol strictly because I was scared of extra calories. There are 7 calories per one gram of alcohol. By the time you drink a glass, it’s over a hundred calories. That used to sound very scary but I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. I learning that to me, every calorie used to count. Not anymore

Bread: I have always, even before my eating disorder, had a love-hate relationship with bread. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never had a sweet tooth. Instead I crave things like bread or nuts or chips or anything salty and delicious. Bread, as we know, is high in carbohydrates. Of course, the nutrient breakdown in bread depends on which brand and which type of bread you’re looking at. When it comes to toast or sandwiches, I prefer a nice multi-grain. I prefer 12 grains or higher—the more the better. I also love a nice fresh round of sourdough or a nice wheat baguette. I’m not even going to lie. Bread is delicious. I don’t even care how many calories are in bread. I like raisin bread. I like garlic bread. I try to eat it in moderation. I’m learning not to deny myself anything I crave. Bread is the best example of that.

Chips: Again, I love chips because they are salty. They are also fried. This presents a problem. My favorite chips are tortilla chips. In fact, tacos are my favorite food. Of course, I leave the meat out and use black beans instead. I make tacos like that once a week, usually on Saturdays. It’s one of my favorite meals, and, the way I prepare it, is pretty healthy. Regardless, chips make me nervous. I don’t deny myself, but I don’t let myself eat too many either.

Lemonade (with real sugar): I dedicated an entire post to lemonade and other drinkable calories a few weeks ago. I am learning to drink calories again. It’s summer. Lemons are delicious. Lemonade is delicious, especially if you add tons of fresh mint. I used to make it with a sugar substitute, but it’s so much better with real sugar. I don’t have to drink the entire pitcher. Even if I did, I would not balloon up. Trust me. There are things in life far more dangerous than calories.

French fries (and anything else that is fried): Okay, this is still a major struggle for me. I still do not eat French fries. Ever. I don’t even remember the last time I went to a restaurant and ordered French fries for myself. It has been years. Sometimes, if we go out and my boyfriend orders fries (this happened last week) I will eat one or two of them. I still am not able to eat a full order on my own. However, I’ve found a wonderful solution that is just as satisfying to me—oven baked fries! They are so much healthier and just as delicious. I eat them all the time. Oven baked onion rings are also delicious and healthy. I eat them guilt free.

What I realized while typing this list:

These foods still make me nervous, but I realized that I do eat all of them. I have eaten (or drank) every single one of them within the last month, some of them (like bread and olive oil) I’ve been consuming regularly if not daily.

This list of fear foods is growing smaller and smaller. 5 years ago my list was triple (or more) the size it is now. In fact, I was afraid of every food. I’ve made so much progress. Who knows, maybe 5 years from now there won’t even be a list at all.

The point is, food is only food.

Food is okay.

There is nothing to be afraid of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I was watching the Rachael Ray talk show today and one of the segments was about learning to feel more confident naked. Or, "Look Better Naked" is what I think it was actually called (it's a book someone wrote I guess). The book seemed to be pretty artificial and vain. It recommended spray tanning and correct posture--things to disguise your body to appear more visually appealing than it might actually be. But it made me start to think more about self-acceptance and body image--things I'm really working to get a grip on. I'm learning to love myself one step at a time. And I think I am learning to feel pretty good about myself for the most part. But naked? Boy, this complicates things.

If I struggle to love the way I look with clothes on, I don't know if or how I'll ever feel good about myself with clothes off. Is it even important? I guess I'd never thought about it before. I've never liked the thought of being naked. I spend very little time without clothes and that's the way I prefer to keep it. Part of it is that I just don't think it's proper. But beyond that, I've always been so afraid. Wearing a swimsuit is bad enough. But naked? No one sees me naked. No one. How terrifying.

Is this only terrifying to me? Or is this something everyone experiences?

It's not like I want to become a nudist or an exhibitionist. I'm not talking about sex at all. I'm just saying that I'd never considered on my journey toward self-acceptance that I'd have to accept myself as is, naked and flawed. Flawed I signed up for. But naked? How is that going to be possible? I have to love and accept all of myself. Isn't that the deal?

Isn't that the point?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Me vs. Diet Soda: Status Update

So, a few weeks ago I made a vow to free myself from my addiction to diet pepsi.

(Was it really a few weeks? My God, it feels like years)

I don't know if it is an appropriate comparison, but I understand why my mother has never been able to quit smoking after all these years. The problem (by her own admission) is not that she can't do it, it's that deep down she doesn't want to.

When it comes to diet sodas, I don't want to.

They're so delicious.

I need them.


Ugh. This is harder than I thought it would be.

The good news is I haven't slipped yet. I have just wanted to. I have cut the number of cans I drink back by quite a bit. Most of the time I only drink 2 per day now: one as soon as I wake up in the morning and another sometime after dinner. There have been a few days that I drank three. There was one day that my boyfriend and I went out to lunch and I ordered a diet soda, drank it, had a refill, and drank that before either of us really thought about it. For the most part, I've been doing much much better.

But sometimes it's so tempting. Sometimes I dream about drinking like 10 in a row rapid fire. I have never done that before, and it sounds very unappealing to most of you I'm sure. And I wouldn't actually do it. I just worry sometimes that I'm trying to cut it out too quick. The point is, this is much much harder than I thought it would be.

I told my boyfriend in the grocery store today that I thought I was going to give up and go back to drinking as many as I want.

It's not alcohol, I said.

It's not a hard drug.

It's soda. Right?

He gave me the look he gives when I've said something ridiculous.

Okay, you're right, I said. I can do this.

Then we got to the soda aisle and diet pepsi was on sale. The sale of the century: three 12 packs for 10 dollars PLUS an extra 12 pack for free. That's 48 sodas for 10 bucks. Insanity. Who could pass that up?

Not me. So I bought four 12 packs.

But I'm going to stick to my plan of drinking two per day.

Who knows-- if I can stick with it, maybe eventually I'll cut back to one per day.

But I have to want to.

Yeah. I'm working on that part.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I went on a job interview today. I am so broke. It's not even funny. My boyfriend has been paying for everything since we moved here. He has a good job, but the money doesn't go very far without me contributing at all. And frankly, though I appreciate him so much, I hate depending on other people. I like taking care of myself.

That's a very new concept for me--independence and self-sufficiency. For most of my life, especially when my eating disorder was at its worst, I wanted someone to sweep in and take care of me in every way, not just financially. I wanted someone to force me into treatment. I wanted someone to make me get better. I didn't know I had the strength to do it on my own.

But maybe I didn't do it completely on my own.

I've already said how much my boyfriend helped me during the recovery process. But I think my religion played a major role. Before I was anorexic I didn't really go to church. I believed in God then, I always had. I went to church a couple times a year since I was a kid. Sometimes it was only once a year. But I never had a problem believing.

I started going to church regularly with my mother the summer before my eating disorder began. It was a very surreal experience. I felt something powerful and peaceful there that's hard for me to explain. It was something I had never experienced at church before. I came back the next Sunday and the next. I listened to the sermons. I was moved by the hymns. I felt, for the first time in my life, that I was a sinner and needed to be saved.

As my eating disorder began, the people in the church were the first to show genuine concern. They watched me shrinking and knew something was wrong. They knew that I was broken. And I know they prayed for me honestly and earnestly. Oddly enough, my eating disorder brought me closer to God. Not because I was anorexic and needed something new to cling to. I just feel like maybe he stretched out his hand to me when no one else would. He understood me like no one else could.

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone. I know religion is a sticky subject for almost everyone. Whether you believe in God or not, I think many stories from the Bible apply to recovery. Becoming saved is a rebirth. It's a stripping of the flesh and a celebration of the spirit. It gives the chance at a new life-- a free life. A life where the sins from your past don't matter.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

I feel like God gave me the strength and appreciation for life to want to recover. I feel like he makes a path for us and gives us our own free will to choose right from wrong. I think I chose right.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A binge without a purge

It feels like I have eaten all day long. I woke up feeling completely ravenous. I had a good breakfast: coffee with soy milk, raisin bread toast, some blueberries, and a banana. Two hours later and I was starving again. I nibbled on pasta salad I made the day before. A few hours after that and I was still hungry. I made a little salad with all the left over veggies I happened to have in the refrigerator. All of this before dinner time. This is so not like me. When my boyfriend got home he wanted dinner. There should have been no way that I'd be hungry. But I was. So I ate some fresh corn on the cob and a little bit of sweet potato I roasted in the oven. He made a sandwich but I didn't. After dinner, I had a vegan cookie. And it's 11 pm and I just ate some pistachios and some dried cherries. I have been completely insatiable. It feels like the old binges I used to have when my bulimia was out of control. Except I didn't throw up today. I didn't even want to. I didn't even think about it.

I'm not angry at myself or upset or worried about calories. I'm no longer afraid to admit that yes, I'm human. I get hungry. Hunger is not weakness. Humans need food to survive. When I am hungry, I will eat. It's how God designed us. I'm just not sure why I was more hungry than usual? I didn't deny myself anything. And yes I ate more than I normally do, and arguably more than I needed to. But so what?

I thought maybe it was boredom. I've heard some people eat when they're bored, though that's never something I've had a problem with. I was here all alone all day. Normally that leads to me eating less, not more.

Whatever the reason, it was bizarre.

I don't feel negative. I'm not sad. I don't have a reason to be. In fact, I'm rejoicing.


Because I have accomplished so much.

I eat enough.

And I don't make myself throw up anymore.

I can't even begin to explain how mega this is.

How proud I am of myself.

I used to be proud of myself when I didn't eat.

And now it is quite the opposite.

Funny how things we think are set in stone can change so dramatically.

And funny how change can feel so good.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The epiphany of the century

When I went to bed last night, I crawled under the covers and stared up at the ceiling. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was smacked with a major revelation.

Since my eating disorder first began, I always assumed it was my body's twisted way of coping with the death of my father. (We were very close. I loved him more than words can even begin to express. He died only a year before it all "began").

But last night I realized:

My eating disorder was actually my way of NOT coping with the death of my father.

That's why it still hurts so much. That's why it's impossible to visit my childhood home. That's why I try to run away from it all. Because I've never properly dealt with it. I've never moved on.

I focused all of my energy into my own eating disorder. Most people agree that anorexia is about control. If I couldn't control the death of my father, then I could control what I ate. I could control my weight. I could be perfect. Then, of course, I realized all too late that perfection is unattainable and I couldn't control anything--that I was very much trapped under the weight of my dependence. And nothing was resolved.

And six years later, still nothing has been resolved.

I could occupy all of my time thinking about food. I could spend all day long starving myself and reveling in my misery. I could hate myself. I could feel sorry for myself. I could count calories like nobody's business and work out until my joints ached. I didn't have time to think about anything else--especially not how much it hurt not having my father around.

So where does that leave me now?

I feel like my father and I need to come face to face, metaphorically speaking. I need to sit down and talk with him. I need to go to his grave, sit down upon the earth, and do some serious soul searching.

I realize recovery is about more than freeing myself from my eating disorder. It's about freeing myself from all the sadness and darkness and pain that I'm harboring.

I can't get better until I accept he's not coming back.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I have been feeling sick lately, though I don't think it's related to the eating disorder. About a month or two ago I started getting very dizzy. I had these awful headaches and I was so dizzy and nauseous that I couldn't do anything but lie in bed. I was diagnosed with "Benign Positional Vertigo" as a teenager and I've learned to deal with frequent dizziness, but this particular dizziness was different, and much much worse. The doctor said it could be anything from stress to an inner ear problem. Eventually, she said it was a horrible sinus infection. I was skeptical and still doubt that was the real reason. When I flew to and from Los Angeles in June the condition worsened-- something about the elevation in the air craft I suppose? Normally my ears will adjust to the elevation on their own, but this time they wouldn't pop and it became very painful. Eventually the dizziness stopped and I've been back to normal. Until last night. I went to bed very late and was feeling that same horrible dizziness. The minute my head hit the pillow the room started to spin. I got very nauseous. I went to the bathroom and threw up. It wasn't self-induced. It wasn't bulimia. It was none of that. It was just honest-to-God sickness. After it was over, I fell asleep but I was dizzy all day today. And my head hurts a lot. I can't figure out what is causing all of this but I'm so tired of it. It has to go. I think maybe it could actually be stress. The three times I've had serious problems with this were all at stressful times: 1.) Leaving Las Vegas and moving across the country (literally!) to Virginia, 2.) Flying to Los Angeles for school (okay, that's not very stressful. I've done it several times. But the dizziness flared up majorly while I was there), 3.) And now with all of the job hunting I'm doing. Interviews, applications, resumes.

Basically, I'm frustrated and I don't know what to do. Is it related to diet? A lack in a nutrient? I'm Vegan (and a very bad one at that. I refuse to eat seitan or tempeh or textured vegetable protein or anything else that even slightly resembles the texture of meat. I don't even like tofu unless it's blended up in a smoothie or baked into a cake). Basically I just eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans/legumes. I know I'm missing a ton of essential vitamins and nutrients. I can't even remember to take a multivitamin half the time.

I probably should see a doctor but I don't trust them and I don't have medical insurance. I'm tired of speculating about what is wrong, but I want it to get better.

I also got word today that my nine year old niece broke her hip. Another reason to be stressed out.

Regardless of whether or not the stress is causing the extreme vertigo, it's definitely not good for me. I get stressed out so easily. My boyfriend calls it "panic mode." He does a wonderful impression of me that is only slightly amusing. I have to learn to relax.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I had a rocky day today with a lot of unwanted frustration. Immediately my gut reaction was to not eat. Usually, when I'm stressed or sad or angry or upset, the last thing I want is food. I start devaluing myself which leads to lots of unhealthy and triggering thoughts. Next thing I know, I'm refusing to eat. And then someone in my life is trying to make me. And then we argue. Someone cries (it's always me) and I give in and eat after all.

But that's not what happened today.

I didn't let the frustration get to me. I came home and ate some chips. Yes, chips. Not rice cakes or fat free crackers or soy puffs. Real chips. Fried. Fattening. Delicious.

I didn't even think about it really. I was hungry. It was too early for dinner and too late for lunch. So I had some chips.

This might not sound like much to anyone, but for me it's a very big deal. The even bigger deal is that I didn't throw them up.

That doesn't mean I'm going to start eating chips and unhealthy foods on a regular basis, simply because I try to live a healthy lifestyle. It's honestly not even about the weight, but for the sake of what is necessary for taking care of my body.

But it reminds me that the old adage I used to disagree with so much may be true after all (at least as far as food is concerned).

Everything is okay in moderation.

Today was another good day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rain, Recovery, and Andrew Marvell

I saw something this evening I hadn't seen in a very long time: a real, honest-to-God, magnificent summer thunderstorm.

We don't exactly have those in Las Vegas. It only rained a few times in the years that I lived there and on those rare occasions there was only a sad little drizzle of rain (it is the desert, after all).

I had forgotten how beautiful it is when the sky opens up and the rain comes pouring out. The thunder. The lightning. The wind. The crash of air against air. And that feeling after when the black sky dissolves and the sun comes out again as if nothing happened.

Without dragging you (too far) down into the depths of a cheesy metaphor, there is something calming about that. I reveled in the storm's beauty. And for a moment I was afraid when the television flashed that someone near the airport had reported a small funnel cloud. But my fears passed when I saw the sun come out. The earth was covered in water. The road I had been driving on just a few hours prior was completely flooded. The news station showed people evacuating an elderly lady from her flooded car. Thousands and thousands of people in our city are without electricity. It had the same effect on me as each time I see the ocean-- it reminded me how small we all are, how short our lives are, and how fragile.

We have no promise of tomorrow. All we have is the moment. This moment. That's really all we can count on--this very moment that we are existing.

Why spend it miserable? Or angry? Or afraid?

Or jealous? Or scared? Or insecure?

Sitting on the porch after the storm had ended, the words of Mr. Andrew Marvell meandered into my brain for the first time in a very long time. For those of you who aren't familiar, or maybe have forgotten, (I think people read Marvell in high school? I know I did. Then again in college. I was an English major.) Anyway, he was one of the metaphysical poets who wrote a very famous Carpe Diem! poem called "To His Coy Mistress" in which the speaker tries to convince the object of his affection to sleep with him because time, well, it's fleeting.

But it really is. All sexual innuendos aside, the words I remembered tonight from Marvell's poem were:

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near

And then the final couplet:

Thus though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run

I have been thinking a lot (not just since I began recovery, but mostly since I started this blog) about how fleeting time really is. It may seem a clichè or vapid or unimportant concept to consider. Yes, it's been thought of since the beginning of time--when Marvell was writing in the 17th century, before, and after. Why? Because it's true. We need to make the most of the short time we have on earth. Maybe this doesn't hit home for anyone else but me. I have wasted so much of my life.

Not anymore.

It's time to start living.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recovery means Life

I used to avoid recovery, even when I knew anorexia was killing me and had to come to an end, because deep down I thought recovery meant failure. I thought my eating disorder, as much as I knew it was wrong, was what made me special. Recovery meant normal. Normal meant boring. Normal was everything I tried my whole life to distance myself from. Normal meant mediocre. I couldn't think of anything worse.

But I've realized recovery doesn't mean boring.

It doesn't mean normal or mediocre or bland.

Recovery just means healthy.

How can I be spectacular and different and unique if I'm dead?

Anorexia = another statistic.

Anorexia = death.

Dead means dead.

Dead means it's over. No more chances. No coming back.

But with recovery comes hope.

Hope means good things will come.

Recovery means energy.

Energy means I can do all the things I want to do.

Recovery means promise.

Promise means a chance to be all the things I want to be.

Recovery means life.

It means more than life.

It means to be alive.

Unique. Special. Free.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why recovery is worth it:

In recovery, you realize your body is special.

You are worth saving.

Life is too short to be miserable, sick, and hungry.

Food has a purpose. It fuels your body to give you the energy to live.

You will remember what it feels like to hope and to dream.

If you're healthy, you can actually begin to make them come true.

When you're free from your eating disorder, you are free. Your thoughts are your own.

You don't have to answer to anyone.

You don't have to lie to people or live a double life.

You don't have to feel guilty.

You don't have to hate yourself.

Food is not the enemy. You don't have to be afraid of food.

Your hair will stop falling out.

Your stomach will stop growling.

You won't be light headed.

And you won't gain a hundred pounds.

Eventually, you'll stop fighting with the mirror.

You will begin to trust yourself.

You will begin to take care of yourself.

You will begin to love yourself.

You can start over.

It's not too late.

You are worth saving.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I am capable

Tonight was a challenge. My eating disorder and I went head to head. And I won.

My boyfriend is out of town tonight on business and he won't be home until late. His job is feeding him (he's at a conference) so it was up to me to eat dinner (not to mention breakfast and lunch) on my own. For the last two and a half years that we have lived together, I've never been able to skip dinner because he would never let me. In the past, as soon as he (or I) would go out of town, I would revert back to my old ways and fast until he came back home. Tonight, my eating disorder made it's presence known. He's not home. It's just you and I here. You don't have to eat dinner. You don't have to eat anything. This is our chance. Skip it. Let's not eat and say we did. Then you can skip breakfast tomorrow morning too.

Thankfully, I was smart enough not to listen. It was a definite challenge because I haven't been put in this position in a while. It was very tempting to give in. It could have been what I used to call "a good day" meaning a day with no food. I realize now that there's nothing good about it. So I made myself a delicious spaghetti dinner with squash and lots of fresh vegetables. And I proved to myself that I don't need a crutch to lean on. I don't need anyone to make me eat. I can trust myself to do the right thing. I am capable.

I used to feel so guilty cooking for myself and eating alone (or eating period, but especially eating alone). I always felt like I didn't need to eat--that my body was different from everyone else's--my body didn't need food. I see now that not only did it need food, it wanted it.

I hope if anyone reading this is thinking about not eating today that you'll reconsider.

You need food. It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you a failure. In fact, it makes you quite the opposite. It's okay to feed yourself. And it's okay to enjoy it.

You deserve it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Recovery Process

I spent the day feeling fat.

It is funny how even pre-eating disorder, when I was at my heaviest weight (still much heavier than I am now), I don't remember feeling fat this often. Back then, I was only self-conscious of my body around other people. I thought that they would judge me or think I was fat. Now, I continue to feel fat and unattractive even when I am the only person around. Thankfully, these feelings come and go. They are much less frequent than they were before I started the recovery process. I call it the "recovery process" as if it's something I have applied for and am now waiting to hear back from. I make it sound very business like and very clinical, but that's not my intention. For me, recovery has been the complete opposite. It has been full of life and emotion (though not always good emotion). I have avoided doctors because I don't trust them. I have avoided proper therapy and conventional eating disorder treatment (partly because I don't have health insurance and it's terribly expensive). So, I've had to go at this on my own for the most part, but I think it's working out okay. I've been asked before how recovery works. It's not easy to describe. It's as if my eating disorder controlled my every thought and every action for so many years, then, as time went on, it slowly began to fade away. I don't want to make it seem mystical or supernatural. I fought to get rid of it and I'm fighting still. But I feel sometimes like I couldn't be anorexic again even if I wanted to. I feel like it's no longer inside of me. Other times I know this isn't true, like today, when I sit around calling myself fat and thinking I need to stop eating and go on a diet.

The truth is, I'm not sure how recovery works. I don't know why some people recover and others don't, why some people relapse more often than others, why it takes more time for some people to recover than others. I am figuring it out as I go. I just know that the life I live now is much healthier and freeing than the life I had when I was sick. That wasn't living at all. That was dying. I feel like my thoughts are my own again. It's very liberating. I don't like being told what to do.

That's all I know.