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.
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.