I cannot escape it

I have an eating disorder and it follows me everywhere.  I am in my eating disorder and my eating disorder is in me.

Sorry.  I know I just wrote this very uplifting thing about the race I’m going to run, and how I’m actually going to eat so I can be strong enough to run.  However, it is true, I have this ED and it follows me everywhere and it will follow me around Cambridge when I run the race, right through the finish line.

I cannot separate any part of my life from it.  Puzzle turned four a couple of days ago.  I have told you this.  Well, I can’t just have Puzzle’s birthday.  I have Puzzle’s birthday and anorexia.  I can’t just have Thanksgiving.  I have The Thanksgiving Anorexia Nightmare.  Every little thing is an issue.  Still.

Even riding the bus.  I get looks.  A lot.  Especially when I sit down on the seat and don’t take up much space.  Trust me, it’s an issue.

I can’t be me without my eating disorder.  Just can’t.  Without my ED, I am a fake me.  Because it is a part of me.  Because it was such a big part of my life, my past, my present, and yes, my future.  It follows me everywhere, and I expect it always will.

So when I go out into the world, and try to be with people, and pretend that I do not have anorexia, that maybe I’ve “recovered,” or that I am just “skinny,” I fall flat on my face.  I feel fake.  Synthetic.

If I pretend that I do not have this ED, and try to fake it, relationships eventually crumble because they are built on falsehood.  They are built on the lie that this ED does not exist.  It follows me and I cannot pretend that it does not.  It is like trying to hide your nose.  There is only so much you can do.  You can walk around with a mask on, but people won’t see you that way.

Of course I do not walk up to strangers and say, “Hi, I am anorexic!”  Of course not.  But I am tired of being half a person around some of the people in my life, including my brothers and some of my friends.  Because if you do not know me with my ED, you do not know me.

Do YOU know me?

20 days till the race!

The Winter Classic 5K is December 19th in Cambridge, MA, and I plan to run it.  I have 20 days to get ready.

This means I have to eat.  Have to.  For the next 20 days, I have to eat well.  No more restricting.  Period.  I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to recover from the eight or so days that I restricted last week.  Maybe another week.  I don’t know.

I am not restricting now.  I can no longer afford to do this.  I never could afford to do this.  Starving yourself has no benefit.  Nada.

If you want to lose weight and be ridiculously thin, think again.  Anorexia does not mean thin.  Anorexia means hell.  Anorexia lives with you night and day, follows you into the shower, to the library, onto a bus.   When you are anorexic, you are always hiding, scheming, planning, counting, calculating, obsessing…never dreaming…and there is never a future for you, because anorexia leads you down one road, and one road only, and that road leads to death.

I am not saying you have to go all the way down this road.  Many do not.  But if you are considering this path, DO NOT ENTER.  Just don’t go any further.  Stop now.  You don’t have to starve yourself.  Stop while you still have a choice, and choose another path, a firmer, stronger way to live.

To get ready for this race, I have to eat a lot.  I have to eat enough to support running as much as I need to run to stay in my best shape.  I run 5K about every other day.  Sometimes, more often.  I am learning to run outdoors as well as on the treadmill.  I run between 4.7 and 4.8 miles per hour, right now closer to 4.8.  I need lots and lots of food to do this.

I plan to run tomorrow, and resume my usual schedule as best as I can, now that I’ve stopped restricting.  I will give you a full report.  Promise.

Just another manic cooking spree Sunday

Hi again!  I’m back!

Yesterday took me by surprise.  I woke up at 2am.  Wide awake.  Walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge, closed it, opened it again, closed it.  I made myself a cup of coffee and started my day.   I decided to cook up some food.

The celery needed to get used up.  I spread cream cheese on celery sticks until much of a bunch of celery was finished, then chopped the remainder and put it in a container.  I put the cream cheese sticks into a container as well.  I cooked up some rice.  I mixed up some tomato soup with rice and beans.  I made bulghar cereal with milk, walnuts, and sesame and I forget what else.  I made tuna salad and added the chopped celery and walnuts.   I walked to the convenience store in the freezing cold to buy more eggs, salt and pepper, and bananas.  Did I need these things?  No!  It was 4:45 in the morning.  Surely, I was manic.

It didn’t stop there.  I boiled the dozen eggs.  I used some rice and made rice with chopped apple, walnuts, spinach, and I forget what else, with curry.  I mixed up yogurt with brewer’s yeast and wheat germ.  I made egg salad and added the rest of the chopped celery.  I steamed some potatoes, and made a huge batch of mashed potatoes.

Does this sound like fun to you?  Whether it does or not, let me tell you: it wasn’t.  Too much energy, way, way too much, is very uncomfortable.  I get agitated and uncomfortable in my body.  I don’t know what to do with all the stuff in me.  I’ve never taken speed, but it was a bad speed trip as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, okay, the last time I posted here, I was deeply depressed.  What happened?

I got manicky.  It’s called mood swings.  They say mood disorders can be very, very unpredictable.  I say it’s like being batted around in a batting cage.  You have absolutely no control over it, no real choice.  And in my case, it affects my eating.  My eating disorder and my mood disorder are intertwined.

I have stopped restricting.  Sort of.  Trying not to.  It’s hard.  I’m doing pretty well with it, just not quite up to 100% yet.  But I’m getting there.

What happened was this:

Five in the morning on Black Friday.  Thirty-six degrees out.  I decide to head over to the gym.  Am I nuts?  Yes!  It is still dark out so I have to take the long way around.  It takes about 25 minutes to get there.  And the gym is closed when I arrive.

So what do I do?  Any normal person would just turn around and go home.  No, not me.  I am standing there for not 20 minutes, not 30 minutes, but an hour and a half, waiting there, with wet feet in the freezing cold, waiting for the gym to open so I can run 5K on the treadmill for 40 minutes.  Yes, I am nuts.

So finally, the gal lets me in, and I’m on the treadmill, running.  One mile.  Two miles. 2.25 and I poop out.  That’s nine out of the 13 laps I normally do.  Yeah, I’d been restricting.  Why am I not putting two and two together?

Next day: only six laps and then I poop out.  Wow, lots of pooping going on here.

Isn’t my body trying to tell me something? So I went home and ate.

Maybe it was eating that caused my mood to switch around suddenly.  Probably.  Life sucks.  You feel shitty and that makes you not eat, then not eating makes you feel shitty.  Great.  So I ate, and life sucked anyway.

I had to call Dr. P after a time, when the high didn’t go away.  I didn’t want to bother her on the weekend but I went ahead and made the call.  I’m glad I did, because she also thought it was the right decision to call her.   I had to take two milligrams extra Risperdal last night.  And I slept a long time and I am fine today.

Yeah, I have to stay out of the kitchen today.  No more cooking.  Now, I have to eat all the stuff.

It is clear to me now

It is clear to me now why I am restricting, but I don’t know what to do about it.  I know this makes absolutely no sense, but bear with me.  I am trying to get revenge on my T for leaving, so I am starving myself.

I am hurting myself in order to hurt her.  Logical, right?

Absolutely not.  But this seems to be happening.  I am hurting no one but myself.  I am disappointing her and nothing I can do, no amount of starvation, will keep her from leaving me.   No matter how little food I eat, the office where she works will still close on December 2nd and she is getting laid off.  My last appointment is Tuesday.

She is leaving me and leaving me and my hungry body behind.

My body cries out for food, for nourishment, for love.  My body yearns to be cared for.  My body has been kicked around long enough.

I promised my body I would never be mean to it ever, ever again.  I have broken that promise.  I have broken other promises as well, that I cannot mention here.

Most of the time, I am deeply depressed.  I cannot bear it and I feel as though my own mind is torturing me.  Occasionally, I peek through all this and can see something, some hope, and everything seems okay for a moment.  Like when I walk Puzzle, or when I run.  I listen to music real loud and feel joy for a few minutes, and I try to grab hold of it but it is gone.

It is Puzzle’s birthday today.  Today, I am thankful that I have a wonderful, healthy, happy 4-year-old dog who loves me.  She is crazy and walks so fast.  You’d think she had a fire bomb behind her.  We move like the wind when we walk.  Yesterday, for her birthday present, I gave her a two-hour walk.

We felt strong.  We moved–fast.  I listened to two Dar Williams albums.  I hadn’t had anything to eat all day.  Near the end of the walk, though, I suddenly felt fatigued and nearly lost my balance twice.  I didn’t fall, though.  I came inside and eventually had a bite to eat.

Yeah, I finally ate.  Thanksgiving Day.  Half a banana.  Then later I ate an orange.  That was it for the day.   No turkey.  No stuffing.  No pumpkin pie.  Oh, yeah, I also didn’t spend the day with my mother (thankfully).   I think I’d rather eat two pieces of fruit for Thanksgiving than eat all the trimmings with my mother.  Eating disorders do that to you.

So to my therapist, I say this: I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with you for the past two years.  You have helped me tremendously.  I have told you already that therapy kept me above water during the darkest days of Anorexia Hell.  I will not go back there.  You are a great therapist.

Thus saying, fuck you.

I know this is completely illogical.  I know it is not your fault that your office is closing and that you are being laid off.  I know it is not your fault that you cannot keep me as a patient.  I know the circumstances totally suck for not only myself, but both of us.  I know that I am not the only one that is unhappy about what has happened.

How dare you leave me behind.  How dare you abandon me.  How dare you do this thing to me.  Because I am starving before your eyes.  I am dying out.  I am disappearing.  You can hardly hear me calling out to you anymore.

Soon, we will part.  You will go on, I will go on–probably.  Depression never lasts forever, they say.  This one has already lasted a damn long time–for me.  Mine generally only last a day or two, though they are very intense.  Then life goes on, and I suppose it will, eventually.  I see no end to this, but maybe there is one, somewhere, somehow.  I just hope the end of the depression comes before the end of me comes.

It is Puzzle’s birthday, as I have mentioned already.  She is four now.  Four years ago, I brought home a tiny delicate fuzz ball that could barely hold her head up, and called her “Puzzle.”  Four years ago I was just returning to Goddard College after a break, starting off at the Port Townsend campus for the first time after spending two semesters at the Vermont campus.  For the first time, I took an airplane to Seattle while Puzzle waited for me in Massachusetts.  There would be many, many such trips, and each time, I knitted a new sweater for Puzzle on the plane.  I have now knitted some 17 or 18 dog sweaters, all for Puzzle.

I have a dog sweater in progress, called the Cover Girl Sweater.  It is made of very difficult yarn, called Shakespeare yarn.  I say difficult because it breaks easily, very easily.  All I have to do is to tug it the wrong way, and it pulls apart.

I may not be Shakespeare, but perhaps I’m a little like this yarn.  Perhaps I break apart a little too easily.  Perhaps I need to be stronger, more resilient, sturdier.  Maybe I let little things bother me too much.   You know, even Shakespeare yarn can deal with the bobble stitch, in which six stitches are created within one stitch on the needle, worked over and over, and then stitched together back into one.  That’s a lot of stretching.  Maybe I need to bend and stretch a little, fragile as I am, to accommodate a few extra stitches.   Even Shakespeare yarn can be made into a dog sweater–for my wonderful dog, Puzzle.

And you know something?  Shakespeare yarn is beautiful.  You wouldn’t believe how lovely it is.

In my therapy session with my new therapist, I hugged myself and cried.  I hugged my body.  I held my body and wept for all the hurt I have caused it.  I wanted to hold it and never let anything bad happen to it again.

I came home and cursed my body.  Denied it.  Beat upon it.  Stepped on it.  Kicked it.  Wished it gone.

Does this make any sense?

No, eating disorders make no sense.  Puzzle does.  And I love my four-year-old-today dog.  So somehow, I will hold onto that love, be with her, and survive.

I promise.

**********************

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.

A two-time NaNoWriMo winner!

I should feel wicked proud of myself.  But right now, I’m not.  I’m really, really depressed.  I feel worthless and ashamed.  Ashamed of the freak that I am.

Our college reunion (Goddard PT) is coming up and right now I don’t feel like going.  Too ashamed of myself and embarrassed to be there.  I know everyone is kind and forgiving and loving but that won’t make me kind and loving and forgiving to myself.

The only time I feel decent is when I run, so I run a lot.  It is the only way I can keep this depression in check.  I wonder how much longer this will go on.  I wonder how much longer I will have to keep running away from it.

I promised myself I would stop being mean to my body.  Did I keep this promise?  No!  I should just chop off my head because it does me no good.  If I chop off my head, I would lose about eight pounds….maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea.  Guess I’ll keep my ugly  head.

Today is Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for.  I should be happy and thankful, but instead, I want to jump into a ditch and get buried by a tractor.

I think I will go back to bed now, and sleep.  Maybe get some rest and wake up feeling terrific.  Yeah, sure.

I don’t know if I believe it or not

I called my therapist to leave a message, and surprise, she answered.  She is not normally in on Mondays.  In fact, she is never in on Mondays.  She said that this depression is likely to pass very quickly.  She was quite certain.  I’m not sure if I believe her, but she is a person that I have come to trust.

My heart is heavy, Part Two

I don’t feel much better today.  I got plenty of sleep though, more than usual.  Walked Puzzle, listened to good music the whole way (Ffran May), which was a good thing, and it was a bit of a relief from the depression I feel, but it is still intense and hard to bear.

I have often been reassured that depressions always end eventually.  I cannot jump out of it right now to see this.  It is such insanity not being able to see the truth, the logic.  I have also been told that people who are depressed have blinders on.  Knowing this well-known expression does me no good.

My body still feels strong.  Physically, I felt just as healthy on my run yesterday as always, and this morning had the usual strength to walk Puzzle as I usually do.  It is only deep in my mind that is not right, not happy, not joyous the way it was.  Erased.  Gone.  Totally.  Like it was never there to begin with.

Looking at what I have going for me, really, this makes no sense at all.  No sense whatsoever!  Eating disorders make no sense and everyone who goes through one has this contradiction growing in them they cannot get rid of.  Some have it for life.  I suppose I am one of these people, who cannot stop wanting, and sometimes actively striving, to be ridiculously thin.

The other day, I was at the gym near a mirror, and I saw how I looked.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t look so good.  I was happy, though.  At least that.  I don’t know what happened between then and now.

I promise I’ll work on this.  Really.

I suppose

Today is Sunday.  I have therapy on Tuesday.  I suppose I’ll be going into therapy, no smile on my face, probably in tears as I am now, or just unhappy, because I see no end to my grief.

My therapist will assume that this has to do with her leaving.  But it has to do with something else entirely.

She will ask me if I am eating.  I am not looking forward to answering this question.

My heart is heavy

Something happened, and I don’t want to tell you what it was, so don’t try to guess, either.

I just don’t want to go on eating.  I have been crying since I got up at 3:30 this morning.  I did go for a run, 13 laps.  My body felt strong but my mind was deep into a desperate place.  Somewhere into the 10th lap I forgot where I was.  That was about when Tom Petty’s “Here Comes My Girl” came on.  I think I was happy about 20 years ago.

I came home from my run and walked Puzzle and cried.  I am crying now.

About 20 years ago I was very immature and didn’t know any better but to be happy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have grown up.

That would put me around 32.  Jeepers.  I even had zits then.

My Therapist is Leaving

This we foresaw but didn’t know was definite.  Now, it is almost a certainty.  My T is not going to be able to continue working with me after the end of the month because the clinic is closing, and she’s been unable to find another clinic position.

This is turning out to be a sad month.

My Nano book is sad.  I am sad that Nano is over.  I am sad that Frank isn’t right here right now, that I have to rely on the computer all the time instead of being able to touch him for real.  I am sad that winter is coming.

I am sad because throughout Nano, I was reminded of last year’s Nano, when I starved myself, and went deeper and deeper into Anorexia Hell.  This is what Summer in November is about.

Summer in November is also about the body. I am sad because still, after all these years, I feel such hatred toward my body.  I feel sad because of the way I have been treated by men in the past, bad, bad men.  I feel sad that my feelings of hatred toward the men that have hurt me in the past sometimes poke at the deep love I have for Frank.

I am sad because without my starvation, a big part of me is gone.  I am sad because I have to say goodbye to being ridiculously thin.  I am sad to give up one helluva lot of “stuff” to do with all that.

I am sad that at one point I was about to turn my back on Puzzle and everyone who knew me.

I am sad because not long ago I believed deep in my heart that there was nothing before me, just darkness, and now there is light and life–everything!–and I have to deal with all this time before me–what do I do with this new life I suddenly have?

What DO I do with it?  When I turned 40 and the Evil Being called The Thing left me, I immediately wrote a dumb novel (at least I wrote it) and then went back to school and finished my degree.

Well, what have I done?  I wrote the novel.  Probably one that isn’t as dumb as the one I wrote when I was 40.  Now….well, I have written a number of books now.  My first novel isn’t even listed in the sidebar.  It was called, Tilting The Thing. Yeah, I wrote about The Thing.  Couldn’t resist.  It took me eight months to write.  I wrote for about seven hours a day.  For godsakes, what was I doing those seven hours?  I wasn’t working nearly that much on I am So Cold, and Hungry in My Soul. I guess the combination of eating and having an MFA pays off.  And the “deadline” factor of National Novel Writing Month.  But what next?  What goals can I set for myself?

And I don’t mean “mental health” goals, either.   I mean real life goals like running this 5k race (it’s the “Winter Classic 5k” in Cambridge, MA on December 19th).  I mean like revising manuscripts, getting more stuff published, getting This Hunger Is Secret out there (once it comes out in paperback), maybe getting back into stand-up a bit, too.

Let’s keep the mental health goals in therapy and let them stay in therapy.  I am a real-life person, and life isn’t therapy.  I do not center my life around my therapy or what happens in my T’s office.  I try not to depend too much on my T.  But to tell you the truth, it is going to be really, really tough to say goodbye to her.

This month is like a chapter ended for me, saying goodbye to so many things.  It is fitting that the month should end with Thanksgiving.  My mother invited me over for the holiday.  I refused.  I’d rather spend it skyping with Frank.  I don’t know what we’ll eat, but I’m sure it’ll be halfway decent, and I’ll be thankful enough.