Being Honest with Myself

When I was in my sophomore year of high school I was in a Radio Broadcasting class. I had stared it in the second semester even though it was a year-long class, but I caught up on what I had missed in the first semester in the first two weeks of class. We were given more than enough time for our radio projects so I had some free time in that class along with access to a computer. My mom had asked me out of the blue a few days into the semester if I thought I had an eating disorder. The thought had never occurred to me to I told her the truth when I said no. But that was all it took to set the wheels in motion. During that class when I wasn’t editing or interviewing I was googling “eating disorders” and “anorexia” and looked up what mayoclinic and those other websites had to say about them. At the time I fit nearly every single one of the criteria listed.

Extreme weight loss – I didn’t think so, but check
Thin appearance – People told me every day, so check
Abnormal blood counts – when I was tested, check
Fatigue – check
Insomnia – for a long time
Dizziness or fainting – not lately
A bluish discoloration of the fingers – I thought they were just like that
Hair that thins, breaks or falls out – I thought all hair falls out
Soft, downy hair covering the body – I didn’t get that far
Absence of menstruation – yep
Constipation – tmi
Dry skin – I thought that was just normal for living by the ocean
Intolerance of cold – when was I not
Irregular heart rhythms – I consider my heart to be irregular now that it is normal
Low blood pressure – yep
Dehydration – not too bad
Osteoporosis – don’t know, never tested
Swelling of arms or legs – no

Refusal to eat – always
Denial of hunger – I stopped feeling hungry a long time ago
Afraid of gaining weight – always
Lying about how much food has been eaten – always
Excessive exercise – always
Flat mood (lack of emotion) – always
Social withdrawal – still
Irritability – still
Preoccupation with food – still
Reduced interest in sex – tmi
Depressed mood – still
Possible use of laxatives, diet aids or herbal products – haven’t had the chance

Except for those that say “still” and “always” I don’t fit into those things anymore. At the time I thought, wow, I fit into pretty much every single one of these. Maybe I really am sick. Now that I haven’t lost weight and I’ve got my period back and all of those other things I feel like I’m okay. I feel like I got over my eating disorder. I feel like I don’t deserve to call myself “anorexic” anymore because I’m not according to the criteria. According to the criteria now I’m pretty okay. None of the physical signs are there anymore, and the emotional ones could just have to do with my depression.

But I have to be honest with myself. I know that even if I don’t physically fit the criteria I still am anorexic. I am still terrified of gaining weight. I try to think of ways I can eat less all the time. I don’t know if my exercise is excessive, really, or if that’s just what I have to do now because I’ve gained muscle mass and need to keep it up. Or maybe it’s still obsessive. I’m in college and have made maybe 3 friends. I spend most of my time in my room on the internet instead of hanging with people in the lounges. Just today I denied that I was hungry when I could feel it burn in my stomach.

I am still anorexic. I still have a problem, just like I know I always will, but sometimes I stop and think, “I don’t have that many symptoms. I’m fine.” But that’s a lie and I’m starting to know it.

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2 thoughts on “Being Honest with Myself

  1. As with an addiction, an alcoholic is always an alcoholic. The absence of alcohol doesn’t mean the addict is cured, it just means they aren’t drinking. Someone who is allergic to nuts all of a sudden is no longer allergic just because they don’t consume nuts anymore.

    In recovery I didn’t like referring to myself as anorexic because I didn’t fit the weight criteria, so I said I was a recovering anorexic. But either way, I knew I always had the ED even if I wasn’t practicing the behaviors and showing the symptoms.

    We only really manage our symptoms in recovery, because as soon as we stop managing them, the ED is always there.

  2. The ED is always there, gosh darn it. When I was your age, mine was just beginning to surface, and no one recognized it for what it was. It helps to put a name to it, and to know that other people understand what you are feeling. Unfortunately, fighting it is still difficult.

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