Ana and Me

I’ve been away a while.

I suddenly find my life taking a turn in a direction I never imagined it would go. Well, maybe not so suddenly. I think this has been a long time coming, perhaps even from day 1. I now find myself having to work 60-80 hours a week to make ends meet. I don’t have a fun budget. I don’t even have extravagant life goals anymore. All I want is to be able to work only 40 hours a week to make ends meet.

Somewhere in my past Ana and I met. Somewhere in my past Ana came into my life and I never really realized that she was never going to leave.

Eating disorder recovery is portrayed fantastically. Girls and boys post pictures of their sad skeletal frames next to more current pictures where they’re sporting big smiles and big muscles and expensive Lululemon sportswear.

It’s been nearly 10 years since my diagnosis and here I am, sitting in the cold, watching all of my money go toward gas and student loans and rent. My friends from my school days and at work either think I’m all better or don’t know about my past at all. Recovery and my predisposition to obsess over calories has taken over my life whether I’ve been aware of it or not. And somewhere in that time I lost a lot of things really dear to me.

It doesn’t matter what I look like. As long as I’m stuck in this recovery cycle I’ll never get anywhere. No one will ever love me. I’ll never go anywhere in life.

The problem is I don’t know how to get out.

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Reminder to Myself

Remember the spaghetti straps, butterfly barrettes, and collar bones? I do. I remember wanting so much to look like that. Those girls were pretty. They were popular. Nothing bad could ever happen to them. They got the guys. They had all the friends. They had the big house with the red convertible on their sweet sixteen, and a mom and a dad and an annoying younger sibling that at the very worst teased them slightly.

That was what I grew up with. The 90s aesthetic and teen television comedies on Disney Channel and ABC Family. All I wanted was to fit into those super tiny spaghetti strap dresses that hung off of their slim bodies like an oversized t-shirt. Whenever I tried i still had that belly pooch sticking out and my collar bones where no where to be seen.

There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to be stick thin. I can’t blame the media alone or the way I was raised. It’s a combination of everything and my weird mental imbalances that keep me from being satisfied with anything about myself. Today it’s not about collar bones and spaghetti straps but the booty and crop tops. But there is still that part of my mind that wants spaghetti straps and collar bones.

I often forget that there will always be that part of me. I let it swallow me up and I end up pulling myself out magically, having the same epiphany over and over again. “I am more than my weight. I need to focus on making my body as strong and healthy as it can be and the shape will just come with it naturally.” And then my life becomes more hectic and I stop blogging and then one day I remember again those words above. But the important thing is I’m still eating. I have replaced food restriction with free time restriction. I work around the clock. At 50-60 hours a week I still cannot afford to pay all my bills. So I don’t grocery shop. I do little things at work for quarters to buy the trail mix out of the vending machine with. I drink teas made with soy milk and eat a couple bananas for breakfast if I have any. And in the back of my mind some 90s teen is calling to me in her velvet spaghetti strap dress and a million butterfly clips in her hair.

So some days I say fuck it and eat extra chocolate because I decide that being a twig is overrated and unnecessary. And other days I eat a spoonful of peanut butter for the entire day both because I’m too poor to afford food and because those collar bones are calling to me.

Every day I’m still fighting to remember those words above. “I am more than my weight.” And every day I get a little bit closer.

 

What am I Worth

Yesterday I had to go shopping for professional clothes, and a dressing room I was in had a mirror in the front and in the back so you could see all angles. I noticed some extra rolls under my bra strap on my back in between trying on blouses and blazers and completely and utterly broke down.

In 6 years of my recovery I have not learned how to judge my worth on anything other than my body’s size.

I’ll admit that my life has gotten incredibly stressful in these past few months. All of my clothes still fit perfectly, so I didn’t notice until I saw the reflection. And the question is, if my clothes still fit fine, my measurements are normal, my heart rate is still low, why is this a problem?

Like I said, because I still base my value on how much I weigh and how much fat I have.

Eating a normal amount was a struggle. Learning what to eat, how much to eat, how much to exercise, what I like, those were all struggles, but I overcame them. The biggest struggle of all is accepting myself as who I am exactly how I look.

But I’m not going to just sit back and let this keep happening. I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl. Enough is enough. I have a college degree, a real adult job, a fur child, my own apartment and car. I cannot carry this burden throughout my entire life. It has to stop and it’s stopping now.

Considering I’ve been actively fighting it for 6 years I know it’s not going to be easy but I have hit my breaking point. This is the last hold Ana has on me and it’s time to say goodbye to that bitch for good.

#cut out toxic people 2016

NEDA Week ’16

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Even after being diagnosed almost 6 years ago I still am a little surprised when I find out how many people deal with eating disorders, especially people I know.

I’ve never kept quiet about my disorder. I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of. It shouldn’t be hidden. Keeping it secret only feeds the stigma around eating disorders, which prevents people with them from getting the help they need.

Even my specialists treated it like a joke. My therapist rarely talked about it, my dietician called me fat, and my specialist would look at the number the nurse wrote down on my chart after she weighed me, and would tell me to stop exercising and he’d see me next week. They barely looked at me.

My family didn’t take it seriously, so I dropped out of outpatient care to get them to stop making jokes and spent several long years fighting, and I still am.

I don’t know what the correct way to support someone going through recovery is, but I know that I didn’t receive it. Eating disorders are serious. They are the most deadly mental disorders, and I get to fight mine¬†every single day. It’s gotten easier than it was a few years ago, but it’s still there.

Eating disorders are real and very serious. 1 out of every 3 people diagnosed will die from complications caused by eating disorders. And the rest of us that survive live a weird, food obsessed life.

Maybe not all people live with it forever, but I know I will. It’s a learning process. But I’m ok. Every day gets a little easier, and maybe there are some back slides, but they don’t go as far as they used to anymore. I hope that others who are just starting their struggle know they aren’t alone, and that those who are seasoned in our battles know that, too. We are not alone, and one day we will hit that point where we can say recovered instead of recovering.

Disordered for Life

I got my body fat percentage measured last Saturday. It turns out I’ve got a lot more fat on me than I thought.

And I thought it wouldn’t bother me. I thought, well I’ll just focus on gaining muscle. It’ll be fine.

But then what the trainer said just started to eat away at my brain. “For health reasons you want to be about 2% lower at minimum,” is approximately what he said. Which means I’m chubby. Which means that no matter how hard I try, it’s never good enough.

But I don’t know how to lose weight. Because I’ve been trying to lose weight for years and I never seem to actually be able to do it. I mean, I’ve lost 10 pounds since January which is nice for me since I only weighed ~120. It rounds out to less than a pound a month, though, and aren’t you supposed to lose ~1 lb/week? How do you do that?

My goal for the start of 2016 was to bulk up, but now I think I need to lose more weight. About 5 pounds. Maybe 10. But odds are all that I’ll lose will be muscle and end up at a higher body fat percentage than before, so I’m freaking out.

It’s a stupid thing to freak out about but I’m freaking out nonetheless.

Have I so permanently destroyed my metabolism that I can never lose fat? My nutritionist said I was fatter than she expected when I was in outpatient care. The trainer said I wasn’t that tiny when I was diagnosed with anorexia.

And here I am, over 5 years since the start of my recovery, and I feel no better off now than I was back then. I don’t know anything. I know that to be healthy, with my family’s random unexplained heart issue, I need to get down in body fat, but I don’t know how to do that and it’s extremely upsetting.

Back to Where I Started From

I’ve been noticing my body a lot more lately.

I’d made a decision last month to focus on nutrition and exercise for health’s sake and not my body’s appearance. My body will follow and be where it needs to be if I take care of it. And I did that. But then school got busy and my intake has dropped drastically.

So, this morning I decided I should take my measurements since I hadn’t since I finished Crush60. I found out that my waist and my hips are the same as they were over 5 years ago before I started my recovery.

And I don’t know how to feel about this.

I am 15 pounds heavier than I was when I started my recovery, but I was 16 pounds heavier last week, and 17 the week before that. I’ve been steadily dropping 1 lb/week because I clock in around 800-1000cals/day. And it’s not on purpose. Well, for the most part. Maybe. I could be in complete denial. I don’t know how my brain works. I will check my intake around 6 or 7pm, realize it’s low, feel my stomach growl, and do nothing about it, so it might be intentional. I always say to myself, “I’ll try again tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better,” and then I wake up and go through the same motions.

It would make a lot of sense if I was relapsing major. I’ve been searching for a post graduation job, trying to finish all of my final quarter assignments, working my current job, volunteering, NaNoWriMo, blogging, weekly vlogs, trying to pick up Japanese again, trying to make my Pure Romance business work, looking for a place to live since I only have a month and a few weeks in my current apartment, figuring out how to move all our stuff (kinda just want to set it all on fire), trying to figure out what the fuck I want to do with my future, and all the while the Actor has his show going on so we never see each other and he’s too busy with rehearsal to help out or job hunt himself. So I’ve got a lot going on, and I do think that not eating would save a lot on groceries so we would have more money to help with the move since we can’t work official part-time hours and the Actor clocks out early a lot of the time…

That took a very sad, stressful turn.

So, I don’t know if I am relapsing or not. I like to think I’m healthier now than I was 5 years ago, but my intake is still low and I’m still exercising every day, so just because I’m 15 pounds heavier doesn’t mean I’m any better off.

But I don’t know what to do from here.

I’m hanging out with friends tonight. There will be wine and food, and I think I’m making cookies so that there will be something vegan I can eat, but after that I’m unsure as to what to do. I wish I was financially stable enough to seek help, and I wish I lived somewhere right now that would be able to provide me that help, but since none are true… I guess I’ll just sit here and carry on like normal?

Educating the Masses

I had an interesting experience yesterday.

Okay, it was actually really boring.

We had some down time at work before a massive hour-long rush, and we were talking about health and seasonal affective disorder because we’re actually getting some rain right now. I mentioned we should all be taking vitamin D sups and how sun lamps can help, too.

Someone commented that I know a lot about health and asked why.

I told them I ended up having to go to the hospital a lot a few years ago so I took it upon myself to educate myself on all things health. They asked why I ended up at the hospital so much.

So I told them.

I’m anoretic (the term for someone who has been clinically diagnosed with anorexia).

“What? So, like you just didn’t want to eat? Why?”

But it goes so much deeper than that. I didn’t want to eat because I was afraid of food. I was afraid of what it would mean if I ate and gained any weight. I was addicted to exercise and the rush that came from sitting around at lunch time and successfully ignoring hunger cues while everyone else ate. It didn’t make sense but it was me.

And I realized that I know so much about health and eating disorders, but so many people know so little. I get so wrapped up in my own knowledge that I forget that it’s not common knowledge.

Our American Protestant work ethic keeps us too busy with our jobs to learn anything else because we are defined by our career rather than who we are as a person and how we treat others.

I have often wondered when my eating disordered past would stop being relevant, and I think it’ll be a while before that day comes. Because I want to stop the stigma that creates insensitive Halloween costumes like Anna Rexia and so that when people hear that someone they know had an eating disorder they don’t just question why you didn’t want to eat but can understand a little bit better the struggle that came from that and the potential life-long effects you now have to live with because of what the disorder took from you.

I am far from those days of struggling on the daily and crying in corners to hide from food and fat and weight, but I am no where close to stopping bringing light and attention to this disorder.