Awesome machine

I can do so many things.  I can think straight.  I can write.  I sleep soundly.  I wake up feeling great.  I love others.  I nourish my body.  I care for my dog.  I can choose foods wisely.

My body parts work together brilliantly.  See how each part is connected.  See how the veins run back and forth in my arms, veins that carry blood around my body.  See how my teeth sit in my mouth, ready to do what they’re supposed to do.

My body is an awesome machine.  I can walk for miles.  I can even run now.  I have energy.   I have a spring in my step.  If I fall, which is rare, I jump back up again quickly.  My skin is clear and my hair is shiny.  I appear younger than I am.

I care for my body.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to it.  I want to give it all the nourishment it needs.  I do not want to starve it anymore.  I do not want to be mean to my body…ever again!

 

Happy Halloween!

Tonight, Puzzle and I walked around Watertown with our costumes on.  We were dressed as prom queen and date.  That is, Puzzle was the prom queen and I was her date!  Here’s a photo of Puzzle in her prom gown, designed and crafted by Debby Donovan of Sew Special Design:

Puzzle, Halloween, 2010

I’m sure many people saw us parading around, and probably some even took photos of us!  We  had a blast!

What is it with bus drivers?

Today, I was boarding a bus and the bus doors slammed on me just as I was passing through them.  WTF?  I pushed them open and stepped inside.  The bus driver said, “Sorry.  You are so small that I didn’t see you.”

Three times, buses have passed me by, then stopped about thirty feet past the stop.  All three times, the bus driver has said,  “You are so tiny that I didn’t see you standing there.”  After this happened the third time, I wised up and waved when the bus approached.

So I am invisible.

If I am invisible to the driver, why do I have to pay a fare, anyway?

If I am as skinny as a bus pass, can I pay with myself?  That would make me only worth $1.50.

At least if I am invisible, people on the bus would quit staring at me.  Once, someone on the bus actually made a comment to me directly.  I didn’t hear all of it.  I was listening to my headphones.  I’m wracking my brains right now trying to recall exactly what I heard.

People make comments all the time, both behind my back within earshot or to my face.  It’s not polite.  There is so much talk about discrimination against people who are overweight.  There is so much talk about the worshipping of thinness in Western society.  There is no recognition of the disgust people have toward extremely thin people.

The point is, very overweight people–well, heck, very few people tell themselves, “I’d like to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be overweight.”  Many very overweight people tell themselves they’d rather not be overweight, and if they had a chance, they would exchange their bodies for normal weight bodies.  I’ll bet no one tells themselves they’d like to have the health problems they might experience as a result of being overweight.  However, I’ll bet there are overweight people out there, in particular people who are ever so slightly overweight, who are perfectly happy with their current weight and have no desire to change it.  I wish I could be happy with my weight, whatever the scale says, and that it was a healthy weight for me.

Do people wish themselves anorexic?  You bet plenty of foolish people are wannabees.  Idiots.  They can’t recognize a nightmare when they see one.  Sometimes, someone tells me, “You’re so tiny,” and it makes me feel good.  That’s sick.  Sometimes, someone makes an unfeeling remark about my body size and it hurts like crazy.  Even concern about my thinness…it can come off hurtful.  Or comments on healthy  weight gain.  “You look so much healthier…”  Ugh. Obviously, I should feel good about this but I don’t.  (I would love it if someone told me my legs looked very muscular, though.)

Bus drivers should leave their comments off my body or I will break the fare machine.  I’ve had my share of your remarks.  I will slide my skinny arm right into the card reader.  That should screw it up real good.  Promise.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.

I am strong

I went back to my friends.  They welcomed me.  Something happened and I felt in my heart that they needed me back with them and I went back.  I have not forgiven.  It will never be the same.  But I am getting comfortable with them once again.  I am trying to be supportive and loving.  And funny.   It is okay.  I get tearful thinking about the whole mess, even now.

I got my period.  Much as I hate getting it, it was necessary.  When your weight is low, your ovaries stop producing estrogen, and that’s why you don’t get your periods.  Without estrogen, your bones deteriorate fast.  So I was glad to get my period because it means I have estrogen in my system, and my bones are still strong and won’t break very easily.  My periods had essentially stopped, and I was worried, and I am glad to have them back, or at least one for now.

I have not been in this good physical shape since 1999.  I eat well and take good care of myself.  I am strong and fit.   My legs carry me long distances.  My muscles are firm and I use them well.  In 1999 I woke up every morning and ran for a half hour, hopped into the shower, and went on with my day.  Now, I can almost do that.  I can run a mile without much effort.  Around .7 miles, it is pure joy.  I am sweating and I feel like there is no limit to what my body can do.

All this eating has paid off, apparently.  I continue to eat, and eat well.  I take vitamins, too.  The vitamins make a difference.  I care for my body.  I am gaining weight, slowly.  I have gained nearly 5 pounds.  I do all this willingly.  My hair is shiny.  My mouth has a fresher feel to it and my gums don’t bleed spontaneously anymore.  Only as recently as August, I was staggering around in my apartment, barely able to walk, and now, that is inconceivable to me.

You can’t take your body for granted, ever.  I am lucky to be alive.  I feel so much joy, zooming around Watertown twice every day with Puzzle like two little maniacs.  I feel free and powerful.  The world is mine and I can do anything.

Now that I want to live

Now that I want to live, I ended up scheduling a routing mammogram for December 6th.  I called and scheduled it just yesterday.  I told my therapist that I had done this.  We ended up getting into a discussion about mammograms.  I think she “got it,” though.  The mammogram was very overdue.  I hadn’t bothered to go in because I figured I would die of anorexia well before I would die of breast cancer, anyway, so it would be senseless to get tested for it.

Now that I want to live, I have stocked up my freezer with meals for the month of November, National Novel Writing Month, when I won’t have much time to cook.  I have written my outline the novel I am going to write.  I can hardly wait for November to begin.

Now that I want to live, I am able to look back and remember that not long ago, I believed I would die before the year was up.  I believed that I would either starve myself to death or die of some faster method of suicide.  I realized that I would not be able to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  I knew I was not getting enough nutrition to be able to concentrate well enough to write an entire book in a month.

For over a year, I constantly fought to avoid hospitalization.  I’ll never forget the sinking feeling I had the first day I came onto the “unit,” seeing that it looked just like the psych units I’d been on.  After that, I fought even harder against force-feeding.  I lied and cheated to stay away from the hospital.  And for that reason, I kept my appointments.  I missed appointment meant a “pink paper” to the hospital.

Once, I asked my T what my prognosis was.  She said, “Without treatment, you will die.”  By the time August hit, I knew that no “treatment” would help me.  And I was right.

Now that I want to live, I do certain things to make sure I stay living.  The main difference is that I am no longer starving myself.  This radical shift has not yet sunken in.  I am so accustomed to planning out how I am going to starve myself, counting calories (very few of them), struggling to get up the energy to hide the fact that I am starving myself, and trying to keep from passing out.  This took up an unbelievable amount of energy and time.

I guess I feel freed up now.  Freed from deprivation.  You know, the very first time I became anorexic in 1980, I lived in a tiny, cold apartment.  I mean, really, really tiny and really, really cold.  The landlord told me to tell him if it got too cold, and he would turn up the heat.  I didn’t say a word.  It got down to 50 degrees in there.  I am not exaggerating.  It’s damn cold in Vermont and that winter it was something like 20 below at night, maybe lower.  All I had to do was to open the electric oven, and turn it on.  It would have warmed up that tiny apartment in five minutes.   I never did that.  Nor did I say anything to the landlord until I saw the 50-degree mark.  Then, I told him, meekly, “Could you turn up the heat a bit?”  He had no clue.

Now that I want to live, I am freeing myself from deprivation.  I am freeing myself from the requirement to be perfect.  I am gaining weight.  Not a lot, but a little bit at a time.  I am freeing myself from the drive to be thinner and thinner, allowing myself to be visible once again.

I am not saying that I totally like this.  I do not like gaining weight.  I panic thinking about it.  I panic thinking about coming up from under water and rising up above the surface…becoming visible.  Who wouldn’t?  You can actually breathe above water.  Real air.  You don’t have to hold your breath anymore.  Imagine that.

You know, when they make Diet Coke, they force the bubbles into the water.  They actually embed the bubbles into it so that the Diet Coke will be fizzy.   The bubbles aren’t there naturally and they don’t want to be there.  It takes great effort to get them there and keep them there.  That’s why there’s a cap to the bottle and that’s why it has to be screwed on tightly.

Did you know that Diet Coke has a shelf life?  Even without opening it, Diet Coke doesn’t actually last that long.  Maybe six months before it–yeah, dies.  Have you ever tasted Diet Coke after it went bad?  You don’t want to.  I mean, don’t.  It’s nasty.

There’s only so long you can keep those bubbles in there.  It takes an incredible amount of effort to keep them contained.  If you stop the deprivation and open the bottle, the Diet Coke will soon enough lose its fizz.  If you don’t open the bottle and just wait, the Diet Coke will eventually die.

To open the bottle, or not….You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this….

DRINK THE DAMN DIET COKE!  IT’S DIET, AFTER ALL!

Because sitting here and contemplating a bottle of Diet Coke, and watching the fizz, or non-fizz, as the case may be, and not drinking it, is what I am talking about.  Deprivation.  How many times in the past six months did I cook huge meals, only to freeze the entire thing and not take a bite?  Sometimes, I would cook several dishes in one night, and freeze them all.  My freezer got very, very full.

And now, my freezer is very, very full, but for a different reason: preparation for the future.  Not dying.  Living.  I plan to be alive and writing in November.  I plan to be very, very busy.  And I’ll have lots of food to keep me alive.  It’s all in the freezer.  Really.

A single-serving of thick-cut oats: my current cooking method

I know I previously posted my method for cooking a single serving of thick-cut oats, but here’s my current tried-and-true method.  I will provide a link at my previous post to this post so people googling it will know.

Put 1/4 cup thick-cut oats in a 2-cup glass measuring cup
Add water to 3/4 cup (suggestion: use filtered water)
Add 6T dry milk, stir.  Put in the microwave, cook on HIGH, covered, for about a minute, watch closely.  When the mixture boils, stop the microwave.  Then, heat it on the very lowest setting, covered, for 50 minutes.   Go give the dog a very long walk.
When finished, add 1t butter, a small amount of sunflower seeds, a handful of raisins, and 2T wheat germ.  All these things you are adding are optional.  Stir.  Add a tiny bit of water until the oatmeal is the right consistency for you.  Stir quite a bit.  Stir more.  Eat.

Not starving myself: Day 27

It’s been 27 days since I’ve restricted.  No longer do I feel weak and starving.  No longer do I feel so unsteady on my feet that I have to lean against a tree while waiting for a bus for fear that I will fall over.  No longer do I worry about fainting.  I don’t carry Gatorade around with me anymore.  I used to keep some handy to drink in case I was about to pass out.   I never left home without it.  Sometimes, I carried it with me from room to room, around the apartment.  I even kept one by my bedside.  It has been 27 days since those times.

Do I miss the starvation?  I remember before, when I was forced to eat, I craved starvation the way a baby might crave milk.  I wanted it back.  I wanted to throw eating out the window and get my pacifier back.

I’ll never forget the day I got out of the ED hospital in March, the second time I was there.  I took a bus home.  I had a suitcase, a blue rolling carry-on suitcase.  I remember getting off the bus at my intersection, and crossing the street, dreading my arrival at my building.  I hoped no one would see me enter.  I trudged up the front steps.  Some neighbors were on the porch.  They seemed to scarcely notice me, but I knew they could see my new fat.   I wished I had two hands free so that I could hold my jacket tightly around me, hiding myself.  Safely in the hall, I whisked to the end, hoping I wouldn’t be seen.  Okay.  Nobody.  Good.  I was safe.

I hid after that.  I was ashamed of the weight I’d suddenly put on.  I was mortified at the new body I had.  I knew everyone could see that I had gained.  I was so embarrassed, so ashamed of myself.  I had told a couple of the neighbors, the ones who saw me leaving with a suitcase and inquired, that I was off to see a friend.  Well, that friend sure fed me a lot.

Clearly, whatever happened to me at the ED hospital was not something I was ready for or able to accept.  Now, I am eating willingly.  I do not crave starvation.  Starvation is 27 days away.  I am able to accept eating.  Will I also be able to accept weight gain?

A couple of nights ago, I had this nightmare: I was gaining.  I am gaining now, but in the dream, I was gaining and kept on gaining and gaining, until I was obese.  And there was Dr. P, cheering me on, telling me how good it was that I was fat.  She relished in it.

So I woke up, terrified.  I got out my calculator, and my journal, and looked at the figures.  I see my therapist twice a week.  Each time I see her, I’m about .2 lbs heavier.  At this rate, I’ll weigh roughly 160 in a year.  So Dr. P will be very happy.

I freaked.  I skimped on my meals.  I skipped two snacks.  I walked Puzzle five miles.  Still, I did not starve myself.  I just got scared, that’s all.  I’m still scared.  I have gained four and a half pounds and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.

I’m comfortable with the amount of food I’m eating.  Clearly, I don’t need to increase anymore.  I was eating very little when I was starving myself.  Now, I have more than doubled my intake, possibly tripled it.   I have a lot more energy now, and I feel good about that.  That’s why I walk Puzzle a lot.

Whenever I walk Puzzle, I think about how happy I am.  I think about how lucky I am that I am able to walk on two feet.  When I walk Puzzle, I remember a time when I was walking her, and I needed food very badly.  I feared that I would pass out on the sidewalk.  I saw two people outside a house, just standing there.  I told myself that I should beg them for food, tell them that I am starving and need help.

I didn’t.  I walked on.  I went home and fed Puzzle.  I probably didn’t think twice about whether I would feed her; it is a given.  I would not starve Puzzle.  Why did I starve myself?  I went to the refrigerator and drank Gatorade so I wouldn’t pass out, then collapsed in my computer chair.  Another day.

Whenever I walk Puzzle, I think about how happy I am, and I shudder thinking about the hell this year has been.  I shudder thinking that I wanted to die so much that I had resigned myself to it and posted on my desk are instructions to whoever finds me dead.  These instructions are still there.  I don’t intend to remove them.  I walk Puzzle and I wonder how it was that I went from wanting to die to wanting to live.

When I walk Puzzle, she is a “dog on a mission.”  She is always finding new places to sniff, new garbage to eat, and new ways to pull me over.  We walk by the fire station every day, usually twice a day, in Watertown Square.  If the fire guys are out, they usually shake their heads at us, and whether they are shaking their heads at crazy Puzzle or crazy me, I’ll never know.  We move like wildfires, the two of us, I with my headphones on, and she with her head very close to the sidewalk.  The other day, she ate a dead bird, just like that.

Maybe I’m on a mission, too.  Walking and walking Puzzle.  Where am I going?  Where will I end up?  What will I have to face next?  Will I be able to handle the next step?  Walking Puzzle and feeling the joy of not starving myself–and now, wanting to live.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.

I do not want to be seen

As it turn out, yesterday evening, as I was walking Puzzle, I was thinking that I couldn’t be happier, and I was hoping that I would remember October 2010 as the happiest month of this year (unless November and December were happier).  I felt like celebrating.  I walked with a spring in my step.  Puzzle and I walked for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been walking Puzzle an awful lot.  I admit I’ve been exercising compulsively.  I noticed it especially this morning.  After our long walk yesterday afternoon, we walked another hour and fifteen minutes this morning, about all my bad knee can take.  I think in the past week, we’ve covered over 15 miles.  (Twice that if you count the fact that I see double.)

What I mean by exercising compulsively is not the hours walked or distance covered, but how I walked.  Like this morning.  I felt like I had to walk those extra blocks.  When I put on Puzzle’s leash to go out, I felt compelled to walk as far as I could.  I felt that I was walking not to give Puzzle exercise so much as to burn calories.  Nonetheless, we had a blast.

In a way, I know one reason why we did it.  I was kinda pissed.  Over something really, really stupid, some little interpersonal thing that has nothing to do with anything really, just my friends who left me back in early August, a little thing came up that hurt my feelings.  I don’t know why I let it do that.  I should just let them go, but I continue to let these little things bother me.  So I exercised compulsively.  I suppose there could have been worse things I could have done.  Lots worse.  I could have bought a bottle of booze and gone drunk driving, and to make things worse, I don’t have a car, so I would have had to steal one (or a license–so watch out, world).

Okay.  That was one thing.  Then I came home.  Paced.  Couldn’t get that little incident off my mind.  I wanted to work on my Nano outline but I was too distracted.  So then it was time to have breakfast with Frank via Skype, and I told him what had happened.  We both agreed that it would be best to just let it go and not let it affect my eating.

So I did my best.  Meanwhile, I was trying to stop my tongue from coming out of my mouth while I ate.  This, I had thought, was a bad habit.  I had thought I needed to break the habit now that I was eating in front of someone.  Bad habit?  Wrong-o.  It is Tardive Dyskinesia.  If you haven’t heard me talking about Tardive Dyskinesia before or don’t know what it is, look it up.  I tried to stop my tongue from coming out of my mouth while eating and guess what?  I couldn’t stop the “habit.”  It just won’t stay in.  Not only that, but my cheeks feel tense all the time, and I seem to swallow and tense my mouth.  This has just started today, though the tongue-while-eating habit has been going on for a while.  I just thought I was licking my lips to get food goo off of them.

This might be from lowering the Risperdal, and if it is, then it is temporary and will go away.  On the other hand, it could be from having taken Risperdal, a long-term effect, and it could be finally manifesting itself, and it may never go away.  In other words, my dears, this could be permanent.  Here forever.  Lip-smacking, tongue-sticking-out, etc.

I will never, never, never eat in front of my mother again.   Never.  She would come up with the nastiest things to say.  I know her.  Too well.  In fact, I don’t even want to see her ever, ever again.  I don’t want to be seen.

I don’t want to be seen.  I don’t want people to see me smacking my lips and tongue.  I want to cover my mouth the way I want to cover my skinny body.  Maybe I should cover my mouth with a bandanna, just tie it around my head.  Now, there’s a thought.  Or wear one of those masks people wear to keep their germs from spreading.  I am so afraid to eat in public, like at a restaurant.

“It.”  That’s what I’ve been calling it all day since it started.  “It.”

Okay, more bad news.  As they say, adding insult to injury.  I went to my T’s office to tell her all this, and she tells me the clinic where she is working is going to close December 2nd.  Great.  Just great.

Long pause.  Or there would have been a long pause.  But there wasn’t.

My T said that she was applying to work at another clinic, and was expecting to get the job–probably–and that I could see her there.  It is on the bus line, right on the bus line, a different bus, a longer commute, but very accessible to me.

I am truly honored that she chose to continue working with me.  She is “terminating” with almost all of her clients that she presently sees.

Why me, I wonder?  I guess she has her reasons.  I did not ask.

So we’ll see.  She should hear from the new clinic very, very soon.  All I can do is hope that they accept her.  They are waiting for references, and I told her that she could use Puzzle for a reference.  My T said, “But she’s only a dog.”

Only?  Only?

I told my T that Puzzle counted, because she wears handmade sweaters from Yours Truly.  I suppose, then, we’ll be getting some calls soon.  Or at least Puzzle will.

For those of you who were told that you would never recover from anorexia nervosa (repost)

Hello, I thought I would post this again!

September 24, 2010

For those of you who were told you would never recover from anorexia nervosa, that you would suffer from some sort of eating disorder for the rest of your life, this message is for you:

I was once inhabited by an Evil Being named The Thing.  The Thing ran my life.  This was some sort of psychotic phenomena that no one seemed to understand–including me.  The Thing lived in my head and caused me such misery that I could barely tie my shoes in the morning, or shower, brush my teeth, or wash my hair.  Sometimes, my parents had to care for my dog, Tiger, because I could not safely take care of her.  Much of the time, I could not leave my apartment, and I could not be left alone.  I was so confused that I would throw out valuables and burn things on the stove.  Sometimes, The Thing affected my balance and coordination, and it also caused memory lapses due to the fact that it was always interfering with my thinking process.  Mostly, it “scrambled” my thoughts, jumbling them up so that I could make no sense of them.  The Thing also was not without its human qualities.  It was a sadist, torturing me daily.  Sometimes, it told me to do things I did not want to do.  Sometimes, it told me to kill myself, with step-by-step instructions.

I suffered with The Thing for two solid years, daily.  After the first year of struggle, after constant battling with some of the doctors, who said I was “faking” The Thing, that is, complaining of something that didn’t exist just to get attention, I was exhausted, completely hopeless, and ready to give up.  There were no answers, none at all.

Finally, a brilliant medical student, a man I truly respected, trusted, and liked more than the doctors at that point, took me aside, and we had a talk.  I think his name was Tarik.

“Julie,” he said, “I know you have suffered a long time with The Thing.  I know The Thing lives in your head and I know The Thing is real.  The truth is that The Thing isn’t improving.  We have tried everything.  You have the best doctors here, and we’ve tried the best medications.  You have mentioned before that you suspect you’ve had The Thing for longer than just this past year, is this true?”

“Yes,” I said, “I believe I’ve had some form of it for my entire life.”

“Well, then, what does that tell you?  Think about it.”

“Huh?”

“What do you think?  Look at your history.”

“That I’ll have it for the rest of my life?”

“Yes.  That is what I believe.  I know this is hard for you to hear, Julie.  I can only tell you the truth as I see it.  I know I am only a medical student, but I have observed you very closely, I’ve been in meetings with you, and I have discussed your case with the doctors.  I am telling you that it is now our goal to help you cope with The Thing, to learn to live with it from day to day.  Do you understand what I am saying?”

I began to weep, but did not hesitate to respond.  “I understand,” I said, “that knowing this, this information, which, by the way, does not surprise me, I need to make a switch.”

“Right.  Go on.”

I sobbed, “I don’t have to fight anymore!  I’m free!”

Over the course of the next year, we worked to help me cope with The Thing.  It was tough.  I got worse and worse.  I became despondent.  I could not live with The Thing, and The Thing was making increasing demands on me.  I began engaging in cutting behavior, and became severely suicidal.  For insurance reasons and complications, I was not hospitalized, but put in a “residence” on McLean Hospital grounds, a completely inappropriate setting for me at that time.

How does all this relate to anorexia, you’re wondering?  I’m getting to it.  Be patient.

Finally, when my suicidality became unmanageable at the residence, I was hospitalized for three weeks at a community hospital, and sent to a respite home.  There, I was finally given the individualized care and attention I needed to deal with my multitude of mental problems.  There were maybe three or four staff on during the day, and maybe four patients total living there.  I am not kidding you.  You could sit right in their staff office and talk to them.  I lived there for three weeks and then was sent home, and they cared for me at home for a total of 90 days.  In December, 1997, I still had The Thing and it was just as bad, but I was less suicidal, and that was the goal of the respite program, to help me live on my own again safely.  I was truly grateful to the program and the staff.

Later that month, I bought a computer that had Internet capability.  Remember dial-up?  I got used to that sound, and my phone was tied up for much of the day from then on.  No, I never became an Internet addict, but yes–I did make friends!  Through e-mail correspondence, I learned that I was capable of relating to other people in spite of The Thing.  I learned to make friends.  I learned to share.  I learned closeness.  I learned give and take.  I learned that I was capable of helping and supporting others.  And I allowed others to help me.

On my 40th birthday, January 8, 1998, The Thing left me, suddenly and unexpectedly, and never returned.

TO THOSE OF YOU WHO WERE TOLD YOU WOULD NEVER RECOVER FROM ANOREXIA NERVOSA:

It is 2010 and most clinicians believe that full recovery is possible for ANYONE.  Many who recover do not recover fully, this is true.  But this does not mean that anorexia is life in prison.

Anorexia is an addiction to starvation.  The theory of addiction is that you have it for life.  But look at it this way: I quit smoking cigarettes.  I don’t smoke.  Period.  It’s a simple as that.  I don’t suffer from being a non-smoker.  As a matter of fact, I enjoy not smoking.  I can walk fast without getting out of breath.  My lungs feel great.  I don’t stink of smoke.  My coffee table doesn’t have ashes all over it.  I’m not shelling out all kinds of bucks for packs of smokes.  And I’m going to live a lot, lot longer because I’m a non-smoker.  No, I don’t suffer from being an ex-smoker.  But am I “recovered” from the addiction?  What do YOU think?

IF YOU WERE TOLD YOU WOULD NEVER RECOVER FROM ANOREXIA NERVOSA, think again.  I was told I would never recover from The Thing.  It was a relief to me to hear this because I knew I no longer had to fight.  Have you quit fighting because of what you were told?  Have you been allowing yourself to slide deeper into your disease because you were told you would never recover?  Have you given up?

Yes, I was told that I would always have symptoms of eating disorders.  I was told that I would never fully recover.  Do I believe them?  You bet.  It is absolutely necessary that I believe them.  Believing that I will never recover gives me a sense of security. I can stop fighting.  I can get comfortable.  I can relax into Anorexia Heaven.

I believed that I would always want to die of starvation.  I believed that that part of my anorexia would never go away.  I believed that if I wanted death, then I would die–soon.  But you know something?  It suddenly went away.  I suddenly stopped wanting to starve myself and suddenly didn’t want to die anymore.

I have hope in my heart.

IF YOU WERE TOLD YOU WOULD NEVER RECOVER FROM ANOREXIA, MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, THEY WERE WRONG.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.

Nano, continued

I am continuing to work on the outline for I am so Cold, and Hungry in My Soul. Most of what I’ve done over the past couple of days has been to further develop the plot.  By the next couple of weeks, I want to have a complete plan of exactly what I am going to write each day of the month of November, which is National Novel Writing Month.

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been that difficult for me to develop my main character, Megan, who is anorexic.  I know how people with anorexia think, seeing as I am afflicted with the illness myself.  A lot of the plot centers around what Megan would do if I put her in various situations.  Knowing the eating-disordered brain, I might easily guess how she might act, for instance, in a restaurant, supermarket, convenience store, or on a bus, because I know how I act in these situations.

But Megan is not me, and I am not Megan.  When people read novels, they sometimes think that the novelist is writing about him/herself, especially if the subject matter is close to home.  But this isn’t necessarily the case.  In my case, yeah, Megan is a lot like me. They say when you’re writing a Nano book, for the sake of time, you should write about a character who is first of all the same sex that you are, and also maybe the same age, in a setting with which you are familiar (the town where I live, in this case), and select a familiar topic as well, one that does not require a lot of research, because during Nano you only have 30 days to write and no time to run to the library, or even the Web, to look up a lot of stuff.

So Megan is a lot like me.  She thinks like me.  Actually, she thinks like a lot of people with eating disorders think.  She fears becoming fat.  She wants to lose weight even though she is already dangerously underweight.  She eats very little.  She is not scared by the health dangers of being extremely thin.

In the beginning of the book, and throughout the book, Megan continues to starve herself, and toward the end, she wants to completely starve herself to death.  She has no will to live.  She returns again and again to a man who abuses her.  She turns her back on those who love her, or allows them to leave her.  She closes every door to hope.  Almost.

My therapist once told me that an eating disorder is like a partner who abuses you that you return to over and over.  It is an addictive relationship.  My T asked me why my ED was so abusive to me, and I could not answer this question.  Although I do not believe I should personify my eating disorder, I can fairly say that I do have a relationship with my ED, and that it is abusive and that it is definitely seductive and therefore addictive as well.  So my T was right about that much.

The world of the deadly diet is indeed very seductive.  You go into your own diet universe with it, and it is a very private diet, your own secret.  You tell no one.  You stow away every pound you lose.  You step on the scale in secret.  What ultimately becomes starvation for you has a rhythm only you can feel, and you feel it all the time, even in your sleep.  And it’s damn hard to give it up.

I can fairly say I no longer want to die.  This has been a big step for me.  I am very lucky.  I feel like my life turned around just in time.  Like if I hadn’t found Frank, I would surely have continued down a very, very bad path.

I feel lucky that I am not in the hospital or dead.  I was surely headed in one of those directions, and wouldn’t have been able to do what I am doing today if my life hadn’t’ turned around the way it did.  When I think about Nano, I realize that if I hadn’t found Frank, I wouldn’t be even coming close to doing Nano this year, or next year, or the next.  Because you can’t write when you’re dead.  Period.

So as November approaches, and while I work on this outline, I ponder these things, and I ponder Megan’s fate.  I am lucky that her fate is not my own.  I can torture her, I can manipulate her, I can abuse her, I can kill her off.  I can do these things because that’s what writers do.  But I am not Megan.  And I am rather certain at this point that unlike Megan, I will eat, and I will keep on eating.  So there.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.