I am starting a new notebook. It is time. I am writing it on the changes that have occurred in my body, mind, and spirit as a result of starvation over the years. If I were to list these, how long would it take to read this list aloud? I cannot imagine. To write this list will take longer than I plan to spend writing this first entry.
The initial effect of starvation occurred on July 1st, 1980, the day of my first diet. What I experienced was Starvation High, a phenomenon that every anorexic knows, or so I assume. Yes, starvation does produce a high. Not only that, but I was thrilled to start my new diet. I had been waiting for this moment, counting down the days. You see, I started the Diet to End All Diets–not that I called it that–when I moved to my own place, all by myself, for the first time ever, after living with a family, working as a nanny, a job I wanted very much to leave–why? Because…I wanted to lose weight so badly, and felt that I could only do this if I could break free of this family. How stupid…and yet….
And the most recent effect of starvation to date (I am writing this May 29, 2011) occurred during a binge. I binged–no, not on chocolate cake–but on raw vegetables. I have missing molars (this I will discuss at a future time), so I should be chewing raw vegetables very, very carefully. Better yet, I should be cooking them! Instead, I ate them very, very quickly. The effect: I ripped up my gums pretty badly. I don’t know if I’m going to have to call the dentist or not. Probably I will, if they don’t heal or get infected.
Of all the mental illnesses, eating disorders are the most illogical. Perhaps anorexia is the least logical of all. Who, in their right mind, would starve themselves to death just because they want to be thin? What kind of sense does it make when an emaciated person looks in the mirror and sees a fat person? Why would anyone want to be ridiculously thin, and wish to be even thinner? Why would a person still starve him/herself, thinking the mounting health concerns simply didn’t apply in his/her case? Why would anyone who lives for thinness slowly kill her/himself? Why am I writing this, and still starving myself even though I am fully aware of all of these contradictions?
Perhaps this notebook will be about all of these contradictions. Because over the years, I have watched my body change. I have watched the alterations that resulted from starvation and other behaviors related to my eating disorder, and still, I didn’t stop the behaviors. I have tried, at times–actually, much of the time–to stop. Now, I don’t think I am even trying. Now, I don’t think I really care or want to stop. I feel like I am at the end of the line.
I have had this eating disorder for 31 years. Maybe it’s time to call it quits. Maybe it’s just too late for me. I don’t know. I know this condition isn’t going to magically go away, and it isn’t going to go away completely–ever. Even if many of my symptoms disappear, by some wild chance, I will always be looking over my shoulder, because it–my eating disorder–follows me everywhere.
At this point, the physical changes are happening rapidly. The changes seem to be varied and fairly severe symptoms that have required medical attention. I have been hospitalized. I have to get weighed and get my vitals signs taken, and occasional blood work done. I see my primary care physician once a week to get weighed, and each time, some issue related to a medical condition comes up, some question I have to ask her, some body part I must show her. I am shocked and dismayed and angry and ashamed and have a host of other extreme emotions about all of these medical conditions resulting from long-term starvation over the years.
Mostly, I am deeply, deeply depressed. I feel that I am failing and that my life is over. It is hard to believe that starvation, that once caused elation and a “high,” now causes me so much grief and despair. This is another contradiction. Or maybe it is a way that starvation has betrayed me. Tricked me. Fooled me. Broken its promise to me. Lured me into a trap that I cannot escape.
Can I free myself from this trap, pry open the claws and pull myself out? Surely, I will be terribly cut up and wounded from its jaws. Will someone or something free me? Will I be able to reach my cell phone and “phone home”?
Where, oh where, is home, anyway? Is it near or far? Is it a place of comfort? Is it inviting? Does it lure me? Does the earth envelop me there, cool and moist, soft and deep?
I don’t think so. I live, I live, I am alive. I want to live–ridiculously thin. This is my life as I know it, as I have known it for a long, long time–a given. I have been enveloped in my current relapse for three years now, and whether my life will go on as it has been unfolding for three years, or if it will change…well, time will tell.