I’m not done sleeping yet, just thought I’m pop in and say hello. My last entry was at 11 last night.
I peeked out the window and it’s fairly white out there, but not as deep as they predicted. I’ll be wearing snow boots to walk Puzzle, though, and to get to church.
I received an e-mail overnight from someone at church asking if I was coming to the newcomers’ breakfast on November 6th. I have known about the event for a while, and have wanted to go. I will be thrilled to be there…but…breakfast? Food? How am I going to deal with that? Especially breakfast food. What will they be serving? How am I going to handle this? Maybe they will have some sort of fruit salad I can eat. Probably a huge buffet. I don’t have to put syrup on anything. I should just relax. No one is going to look at me funny if I just eat a little bit. If I worry too much about the food, I won’t enjoy the people. I’m there to meet new people and learn more about the church. I can do this, and I will.
So much for positive self-talk. It’s 4:30 and I have a headache again. I’m going to go get some more sleep. Probably take more aspirin, too. I’m so glad I’m capable of sleeping now.
At the moment that I am writing these words, I have not binged for about sixteen hours.
This has not been “by the skin of my teeth.” This has not been “by sheer willpower.” Over and over I walked into the kitchen and looked at the food. I stared at each item. I noticed how it smelled. I imagined its flavor. I imagined stuffing it into me.
Then, I was repulsed, and turned away.
The food has been sitting there untouched. Most of it I had stashed in the refrigerator, because those maintenance guys were going to show up and I didn’t want them seeing any food sitting around on the counter. Granted, they wouldn’t have suspected a thing. But paranoia had told me to hide it. It’s still sitting on the refrigerator shelf.
It’ll sit there and in a bit, I’ll take the stuff I deem as useless, unhealthy “junk food” out into the hall for the neighbors to take for themselves. What remains is food that’s healthy to eat.
The nutritionists at the eating disorders hospital tried to convince me that there are no “bad foods,” that is, I should get the term “junk food” out of my head. I don’t agree with this. Some foods have no nutritional value. Why eat a piece of candy when you can just as easily eat a piece of fruit?
But I’m getting off-topic here. Let me tell you this: I have not been bingeing. While I was writing what I have written so far of this article, another half hour passed. Sixteen and a half hours now.
I went to bed, tired. The new medication, Desipramine, makes me more sleepy at night than I used to be. I have been taking Desipramine for three nights. Tonight will be the fourth night, and I will be doubling the dose. Ever since I started taking it, I’ve been sleeping well. Actually, that’s pretty amazing considering that for a month, I slept two or three hours a night. Tonight, tomorrow night, and Monday night, I’ll be taking 50 mg. Then Tuesday night and from then on, I’ll take 100 mg and that will be my dose I assume. Desipramine, in my case, is supposed to be helping with three of my problems: sleep, depression, and bingeing. Dr. P explained that even after the first dose, my sleep would be improved. Then, after about ten days, the medication would help my depression and bingeing. She said, as she was writing out the prescription, “This medication tends to work.”
For reasons unknown to anyone, I have always responded to medications much, much faster than most people. Some doctors have told me, “No, this did not happen to you because nobody responds to x medication that fast.” Please, asshole doctor, do not take my miracle away from me.
After one night of good sleep, of course I felt better mood-wise, and felt that I had come out of a fog, though the bingeing was just as bad. That was Thursday, the day before yesterday. Thursday is my day to go to therapy, so I went. My therapy session went okay I guess. We did DBT, which, I must say, isn’t really helping me much. I’m going along with it because my therapist insists.
She let me cry some. This is a horrible disease. I don’t understand how anyone can have binge eating disorder and hold down a job or go to school. I have only had it for a couple of weeks and already I am completely non-functional and not doing my ADL’s (showering, brushing my teeth, getting undressed at night, wearing clean clothes in the daytime, laundry, cleaning house, brushing my hair–none of these). That’s what I told her.
That’s what I told my primary care physician, Dr. K, yesterday. She examined me, took my blood pressure and other vital signs, listened to my heart and felt around and listened to my intestines. She asked me a bunch of questions and asked me if perhaps I wanted to go to the psych ER to be evaluated for hospitalization. I said no. She sent me to the lab for blood work and said I could contact her anytime I needed to over the weekend if I had concerns. She said she would contact me right away if anything urgent showed up in my blood. I didn’t hear from her so I assume there was nothing urgent. I came home.
I was coming to dead ends trying to find eating disorders groups. I was coming to dead ends trying to find nutritionists. It was getting frustrating. But I realized one thing: I really couldn’t be at home. I wasn’t coping. I needed to go somewhere and get some intensive eating disorders treatment. I needed to find someone who could take care of Puzzle while I spent 60 to 90 days in an intensive program. I had a few ideas as to where I could find such a person (long story).
I’m not sure what time of day it was that I began my search. I may have gone to bed and then woken up or napped or whatever. I went to EDReferral dot com and went down the list of places. I went state by state starting with Alabama. These are ritsy, ritsy places that take insurance. Well, yeah, they accept everyone unless you’re on public assistance. I called one place that used to offer some kind of sliding scale or (supposedly) free care, but I guess I was mistaken. The cost of 30 days of care was $14,000. Even if you’re rich you don’t have that kind of money, because you’ve already spent it on your kid’s college education. I kept trying. I e-mailed places, offering $40 a day. I can’t even afford that, but the part of it I can’t afford will go on my credit card.
Meanwhile, something weird was happening to me. I hadn’t binged. Time went on and I still didn’t binge. Two, three, four hours passed. I slept. I got up. I wrote some more e-mails. Six hours, eight hours. I slept until I’d had enough sleep and felt rested.
I got up. Not only was the urge to binge completely lifted from me, but I actually wanted to take a shower. Last time I took a shower, two days ago, I stopped partway through undressing, ran into the kitchen suddenly, and binged. Today, I took a shower just as I have all my life.
I ran the water, got it to the right temperature, and stepped in. I started bawling while I was washing my hair. I let the tears come, and they mixed with the shower water and the shampoo. I suddenly realized I was talking out loud. I suddenly realized that I was praying, thanking God. I haven’t had the ability to pray since my relapse began and I was convinced that I had lost my faith and completely lost my belief in God. Well, it was happening.
I kept on praying and talking to God long after my shower ended. I wanted to go to church, and just sit there for a while, and I called over there, but no one was there and I assumed that the building wasn’t open. That’s okay. Tomorrow’s Sunday.
The search through EDReferral dot com is over. I had gotten as far as California and I don’t need to go any further. None of the places called or e-mailed me back. I’m not surprised, actually.
I assume that I’ll be on that plane to London on November 14th. I had thought I was going to have to call the trip off. But it’s actually going to happen. Of this I am certain.
This is atrocious and discriminatory. I was told that Medicaid follows suit.
My only choice is to find someone who offers services on a sliding scale. I am broke from purchasing huge quantities of food that I binge on, and I can’t afford to pay much. My credit card bill has gone through the roof.
I haven’t eaten a normal meal for a month. I have either restricted or binged.
I have been on a non-stop binge since Saturday.
I have been told to join a group. I called the two group organizations that Dr. P recommended. Neither has phoned me back. The nutrition people my therapist recommended don’t take my insurance, and of course Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover, anyway.
Today, just now, actually, I contacted three nutritionists that specialize in eating disorders. I found these people online. I left detailed messages. I hope they call me back today. All three offer sliding scales.
I am waiting for a call back from Dr. P about a referral. She says she knows of someone.
In about an hour, I’ll be seeing Dr. K, my primary care physician.
I called my brother today to wish him a happy birthday. He says he’s been trying to reach me. I guess he’s talking about September. I have received no phone calls from him for a month, and I think he called only once in September. Happy birthday, Phil.
I slept well. Thank you, Desipramine. I got up. Walked Puzzle. Lay down and slept some more. Never mind the bingeing part.
I am not bingeing at this exact moment. I am writing to you. I am safe from it for now. Sometimes, I am in the middle of something, and I suddenly stop, and next thing you know, time has passed, and I don’t know what has happened, but I have binged. Sometimes, an hour has gone by that I have lost track of.
Today I had to empty my trash. The trash reeked of food wrappers. I was ashamed to walk down the hall the short distance from my apartment to the trash room. I wore my long winter coat to cover my body, so no one would see me. I hid my face.
I have neither showered or brushed my hair or washed my face. I took off my shoes last night when I went to bed, but didn’t take off anything else. I changed my shirt this morning. I brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink is clogged with soap scum. I have called the Housing Authority to unclog it. I am ashamed to allow them in.
I will write this and then maybe go back to bed and sleep some more.
I saw Dr. yesterday at 3:10. Meanwhile, I was still bingeing all day despite my fears that my stomach would rupture. I slept on and off, digested my food a little, and then binged again, slept and binged. It was almost as if I was trying to make myself die a horrible death like the woman pictured in the link I sent. I felt as if this was the end.
I went to see Dr. P. It looks like I officially have binge eating disorder.
Let me tell you this: This disorder has got to be the most miserable disorders on the planet. My life sucks beyond belief. I cannot live with it much longer. I simply can’t. The suicide rate for this must be incredibly high. I know in the past I tried to take my life once because I was so hopeless about the bingeing.
At this point I am putting my life at serious risk every time I binge. The risk increases over time. For me, because of my medical circumstances, this illness is just as fatal as anorexia nervosa. It was very difficult getting the information via Google. I had to do an incredible amount of searching through various medical papers and eating disorders organizations’ research websites.
I have done bingeing to the point of extreme stomach distention since the age of 22. Every time this happens, some of the blood vessels in the stomach get cut off, and the blood flow to the stomach stops. Some of the stomach dies. So bits of my stomach are probably already compromised. Continuous bingeing without vomiting can cause little tears in the stomach. This is a much worse situation and much more likely if the person has gone through periods of starvation, restricting, or fasting. The stomach, with tears in it, eventually rips. The likelyhood of survival? Next to nil. The tears can be detected via an x-ray. I’m not sure what the treatment is, if these tears are found. I don’t know if there is a treatment. Today I will ask my T if I need this x-ray.
I feel like when I was 80 pounds and starving in July, they should have just let me die. The life I have had ever since has not been worth living.
Dr. P and I outlined a plan of action, which I relayed to my T in an e-mail when I got home. Dr. P wants me to see a nutritionist and get on a meal plan. She wants me to get into a group, and gave me the names and numbers of two group organizations she wants me to call. She feels that we need to tackle the sleep problem. I have been getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night. We need to tackle the depression problem as well. She put me on Desipramine. This medication helps bingeing, sleep, and depression. I will be seeing her again in two weeks. The medication should take effect in about ten days, but it will help with sleep sooner than that, maybe right away. I noted that she didn’t want to put me on any medication that would cause appetite increase or weight gain, such as Remeron.
I filled the prescription and came straight home. I did continue to binge and sleep, binge and sleep. I took some Desipramine last night. The stuff tastes nasty. I slept a little better. I plan to go back to bed and sleep some more. I will try to get a full night’s sleep.
I have woken in the night and had a little water. I haven’t been bingeing in the night.
Last night was very scary. I put in a call to Dr. K this morning. She said she didn’t think my stomach would rupture. She said I would throw up before that happened. I fear that it will happen, though. I told her I have never thrown up. I think that if I was going to throw up from stomach overload, it would have happened sometime in the 31+ years that I have had this illness. She said it’s a good think that I have put in a call to my T, and that I am seeing her tomorrow. I am seeing Dr. P today at 3:10. Dr. K said that this is reaching “crisis proportions.”
I feel that they should have let me die when I was 80 pounds and starving. I was ready to die then and at peace with it. This new life is hell. I would so much rather be starving myself than this.
I have received a few e-mails from the Winter Classic 5k people reminding me to sign up. It’s hard to believe that it was less than a year ago that I ran the Winter Classic 5k 2010 on December 19 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It seems like light years away. I found the post I did December 23, as soon as I could muster up the energy to write about my experience running the race, and I thought I would re-post it now, for history’s sake:
MY FIRST 5k EVER: THE WINTER CLASSIC 5k, AN ACCOUNT BY JULIE GREENE
Tonight, I felt like giving up. I was at wit’s end with myself, my eating disorder, and the world. I wanted to hide and never be seen again. I had to shower, but did not want to take off my clothes and have to see my ugly body. So I kept my clothes on. I cried some. I felt very, very cold. Eventually, I called Frank.
“Julie,” he said, “you just ran a 5k. You didn’t give up then. You didn’t stop running, did you?”
“Well, you just have to keep going on.”
“Then put something warm on.”
I did. I sat at the computer a while, feeling lonely, just thinking, feeling like a complete failure. How could I feel this way, when I had accomplished so much?
I am reminded of many of the times when I had accomplished great things in my life. Depression had frequently followed. Often, when a writer such as myself completes a major project, he or she becomes depressed. It is like letting a baby out into the world. You just have to let the child go and make her way into the larger universe.
So I went back and opened the file that Frank had sent me. He had so cleverly created this document: It was a listing of the 5k race results, with my name highlighted, with ribbons around it, and my photo next to it–the photo of me, crossing the finish line. And whenever I opened the document, I heard the theme from Chariots of Fire. I keep on going back to it, and opening it, and scrolling down to my name, and listening to the music, and crying, and crying, and crying.
I feel a great sense of loss now that it is over. An intense feeling of sadness. Over a month of building up my guts to do this, and a month of running 5k daily to get ready, and a week of a bad case of “nerves.” And then, 34 minutes, and it was over.
I am reminded of the stories about 16-year-old boys who go out on their first dates. Only theirs lasts less than 34 minutes.
I remember when I first decided to do this race. I first Googled, “How many miles is 5k?” I came up with roughly 3.1. The Winter Classic 5k was 3.12, so when I practiced on the treadmill, that was how much I ran. On the track, I ran 3.25, or 13 laps. But when I realized that I could actually run 5k, 3.1 miles, I Googled “5k races in Boston” and came up with the Winter Classic 5k in Cambridge, Massachusetts (which is right near Boston and one bus ride away from where I live) on December 19, 2010 at 10:30am. Perfect, I thought. Frank thought it was perfect, too.
I told a few people. Some were skeptical. “Are you sure you’re eating enough to do this?” they asked.
Yes, they had reason to be concerned. It had been only a few months since I had started eating again after a long period of self-starvation called anorexia nervosa. Surely, they thought, wasn’t I just finding another way to keep from gaining weight? But yes, I was eating enough, and gaining. Slowly. Bite by bite.
My therapist, too, was less than thrilled. She wanted to discourage me from doing this race. I had to reassure her that I would eat, eat, eat and that I was not “overexercising.” As therapy proceeded, she forgot about the race, and I stopped talking about it, only because I didn’t want her to bum me out about it anymore.
You see, I run for many reasons: I run because I find that I enjoy it. I run because running is being kind to your body. I run because running helps you live longer and gives you strong bones and builds your muscles and cardiovascular system, and every system of your body. I run because it improves my mood and my self-esteem. I run because it helps me feel better about my body, this vessel that I have treated so badly for so long.
For you see, I have had this eating disorder for 30 years. Sometimes, it has been very bad and other times it has been only there a little bit. But always, there has been this relentless desire to be ridiculously thin. It simply does not go away. I can choose to strive for thinness, or I can fight the urge to starve myself. At different times, it has gone either way. But the desire never stops. It is like running a race with someone following you–close behind.
Last summer, I only wanted to starve myself to death. I had no will to live. Then, I found Frank. Suddenly, I didn’t want to die. Frank and I started eating together via Skype. I gained back some strength. Whereas in August I was struggling just to walk across the apartment from room to room due to starvation, by October I was walking the dog for miles and miles, and my heart was filled with joy.
Frank encouraged me to try running, something I had done in my 40′s (I’ll be 53 in a couple of weeks) so I did. I found that because of all the walking I was doing, running came easily. Right away, I could run a mile. The next attempt I made at running, I ran a mile and a half, and then two and a half miles. The next time, I ran 5k, and have been running 5k ever since.
So when I found out about the Winter Classic, I made a point of running 5k daily. Even now that the race is over, I plan to run 5k daily, possibly increasing my mileage now that I am faster. I found that as I ran, my speed increased once every couple of days. It was amazing that this was happening. I kept turning the treadmill up a notch. On the track, my speed would increase on the third mile. I have logs of my daily progress in my journal. Sometimes, I timed myself. Other times, I didn’t. I tried out different music, and wrote about some of my runs.
Race day was rapidly approaching. I began to get very, very nervous. I practiced everything. I watched the weather obsessively. I wrote down what clothes I wore at what temperatures, and what worked best. I tried to pretend it was race day, and ran at 10:30 on the nose, waking up a the exact same time, eating the exact same foods I would be eating, and drinking coffee at the exact same time. It worked. I had it down. I knew exactly what to do.
I received an e-mail instructing me to go to the Asgard, a bar in Central Square, Cambridge, to pick up race materials, on Saturday, December 18th. Great. This would be my practice run. The commute over there. I took the same bus in there that I would be taking in on race day, the #71, and transferred onto the subway. Once I got off the subway, I found that I was walking in the wrong direction somehow, but got headed the right way, and found the Asgard okay. Fifty minutes. A bunch of drunken Santas walked out of the Asgard as I arrived.
The race folks were very nice. They handed me an envelope, a bag, and a white race shirt, size small. In the envelope is a hat that says “Winter Classic 5k” on it. Inside the envelope, I would find out later, are a bib with the number 167 on it, and a computer chip, which looks like an arm band. I assumed this was supposed to be worn on my arm. The computer chip is used to measure the time it takes to run the race. They also gave me some pins to attach the bib to my jacket. The envelope even had my name on it! It was official!
The night before, I had one last skype with Frank before the race the next day. He gave me his last words of advice, then we had a skype hug goodnight. We made plans that I would call him on my cell phone as soon as the race was over.
The one piece of advice I remember that just about everyone gave me was, “Enjoy yourself.” But this is something you can’t plan on. It just has to happen. I slept that night better than I have in a long, long time.
I awoke 40 minutes before my normal wake-up time, at 3:50am, not realizing what day it was. Suddenly, I knew. I am running the race today! I am running the race today! I am running the race today! I got up and got dressed. Brushed my teeth very, very well. Decided, contrary to plan, to have a morning cup of coffee. I took some aspirin. This was planned. At 6, I had a banana, an egg, and a glass of milk, and my vitamins. I checked the weather obsessively. At 6:30, I got ready to walk the dog, Puzzle. I brushed her teeth. We were out the door at precisely 6:45, and we walked our planned 35-minute walk, listening to the music that I had planned for that morning. I was wearing two layers of longjohns under leggings, legwarmers, silk socks under cotton socks, my race shirt, and the usual jackets I wear while walking Puzzle. For the race, I had planned to wear only the long-sleeve T and a windbreaker over it.
I came back in with Puzzle, fed her, and did the rest of our morning routine. My friend skyped me to wish me good luck. We spoke briefly. Then at 8 I had some yogurt with wheat germ and brewer’s yeast. There was a lot of waiting around and time to get nervous, but everything was so well-planned that I felt secure and reasonably confident that things would go okay.
I had my checklist, and went over it a number of times. Keys. Check. Kleenex. Check. Cell phone. Check. I had to make sure that whatever pocket I put my cell phone in, it wouldn’t bounce around while I was running. I tested this out and worked it out okay. Bus schedules. Check. Bus pass, called, here in Boston, the “Charlie Card.” Check. I checked and double-checked, and refreshed the weather.com screen obsessively. It was going to be about 36 degrees out at race time, or so I thought, 38 degrees at the warmest part of the day. Supposedly. But it was due to be a good bit colder than that at the time I’d be walking to the bus, so I made a trash bag with holes in it, and I decided that I’d wear this to the bus stop. Smart thinking: it worked perfectly.
At around 8:45, I got ready. I had to work fast. I pinned the bib to my jacket, then pulled the plastic bag over me, and I was off. I walked–fast–to the bus stop, arriving at 9:03. The bus was due to leave at 9:10, but I knew it would leave a minute early. This was planned. It did.
As soon as I got on the bus, I took off the plastic bag. I unzipped my jacket’s armpits, and took the caffeine pill I’d packed for myself, and at my race food: a half peanut butter sandwich, a banana, and a small amount of orange juice. All planned. All written down. I even had a reminder beep on my watch tell me to do these things. The bus was nearly empty, and arrived in Harvard Square four minutes ahead of schedule. I disembarked, and headed for the subway. Here, a street musician was playing, but I had no time to give him money, because the train arrived just as I got there. One stop, and I exited the train, and had arrived in Central Square.
Wow, it was colder than expected! Jeez! I was wondering if perhaps I should have put on more clothes. Perhaps it would warm up, though. Weather, especially in New England, is very, very hard to predict. Apparently, the other racers were surprised by the weather as well, or so I found out when I reached the Asgard. People were shivering and rubbing their hands together. But everyone was in good spirits. I tried to talk to people. But nobody wanted to talk to me. People knew each other. Everyone had someone–a friend, a fellow racer, a spouse–someone else to hang out with, and didn’t want to bother with me. So I just hung around and picked up bits and pieces of information when I could. Mostly, I wanted to know where the bathrooms were, and if there were lines for them. I learned that there was a heated tent at the start/finish line. So I wandered over there, and found the tent to be cozy enough. I used the latrine. I had brought my own toilet paper, just in case they had run out of it. I figured I’d think of all possibilities. My major concern was that I didn’t throw my gloves into the latrine by accident.
Announcements on the loudspeaker indicated that the race would start in ten minutes. People seemed to ignore this and mill about. I knew where the start line was, but I didn’t know where to go. Some of the people didn’t know, either. I would have followed everyone else, but no one was going anywhere. At the last minute, I tightened my shoelaces, and tested them out, adjusted them again, tested them, and was satisfied. Another announcement indicated that the race would begin in five minutes. Finally, a formation was beginning. I figured out where the end of the line was. I wanted to be near the end of the pack, where the slower runners were lining up.
How would the race begin? How would I know to start running? I stood there, jogged in place, stopped, jogged in place again, and waited. Then, suddenly, people started running! A horn honked! We were off! At some point, I crossed the start line. I was racing! I was racing! I was racing!
The race starts and ends on Sidney Street, but most of it is on Massachusetts Avenue, between Sidney Street and Harvard Square, Cambridge, and back. I think I had to run about a quarter mile before getting onto Mass Ave. At this point, I was beginning to warm up and get into a rhythm. I am familiar with this “warming up” phase from my frequent track runs, when I run awkwardly for the first lap, and gradually gain confidence over the course of the next few laps. But this was a race. This was different. I wasn’t listening to music. All I heard was the slap of the other runners’ shoes on pavement, and the honking of horns, and panting breath, and occasional conversation. This was a race.
Would I finish last? At first, many people were passing me, and I worried a little that this would be the case. I stepped up my pace a little. Soon, I was passing others. Eventually, I passed more people than passed me. By the end of the race, many people whom I had passed were alternating running with walking. But it didn’t take long before I stopped thinking about whether I would come in last or not.
No, I wasn’t thinking about that. I wasn’t thinking about anything but what was ahead of me: the road. I wasn’t thinking about my dog, Puzzle. I wasn’t thinking about Frank. I wasn’t thinking about food, or calories, or how much I weighed. I wasn’t worrying about my eating disorder, that silently follows me everywhere I go.
I did, in a fleeting moment, remember, that there was a time that I wanted to die, and now I am running this race, running to celebrate living.
But the road was ahead of me, and I had to concentrate on it. Every bump. Every crack. Every little nuance. Because tripping could mean falling. Falling could mean getting injured, breaking a bone, even. Concentrate, concentrate.
And at once, I was only thinking of that. I had no body. I had no legs. I had no arms. I had no feet. I did not feel them. There was only the road ahead of me. I was totally focused. Zoned in. My eyes were fixed on one spot ahead of me all the time. I never looked back.
And I knew I was speeding up. It was early on that I felt this. I began to feel my body zooming, the way I race around when I walk Puzzle, faster than I knew I should be running ordinarily…but this is a race, I kept telling myself, this is a race! It’s okay to go fast! I felt the ground go by underneath me the way it has never moved before. I felt my muscles propel me the way they have never done in the past. This is a race! It’s okay! And as the race moved on, I moved faster and faster.
I began to recognize the streets. We were coming back to Central Square and near the end of the third mile. The race was almost over.
I didn’t speed up when I realized this. Not at first. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t, that it wouldn’t make much difference if I sped up or not. But this is a race, and people speed up at the finish line, just to get to the end faster, I suppose, and because they get caught up in the excitement. As it was, I was caught up in excitement tenfold. So I sped up along with the others.
As I neared the end of the race, people along the sidelines were clapping and cheering! For me! I could hear them! Step by step, I bounded down the road toward the markers, and crossed the finish line.
And that was it. They asked us to hand in our computer chips. I took mine off my arm and put it in the bucket. I went and tried to stretch, but there was really no place to lean on. Then I noticed how tired my muscles were. This was no ordinary run! I realized that I had run fast, possibly the fastest I’d ever run 5k. Not knowing what to do next, I wandered into the celebration area, where people were already lining up for beer.
Beer? After a run? Really? The eating disorder in me thought about the calories in beer. I tried to find water, but couldn’t find it. A woman offered me a sports drink I’d never heard of. “Try it,” she said. “It replenishes.”
“It’s made of pear juice. It’s like Gatorade.”
“Really like Gatorade?”
What I meant was…well, you can guess. I took the can, reluctantly. And at once, when no one was looking, I glanced at the label, and looked at the calorie count. Yes, I admit it, I did just that. And then I drank the stuff.
I was thirsty.
I began to ask around about race times. Apparently, there was a list posted. After a lengthy attempt to find the list, I finally did find it, and searched, and searched, and searched for my name everywhere, and not finding it, began to suspect that something had gone wrong with my computer chip. So I located the van where they were tallying the times, and inquired.
“Are you sure you had your chip attached?” the guy asked.
“Yep, I’m sure,” I said.
“Where did you have it attached? It apparently didn’t register.”
“I had it on my arm.”
“Oh, you were supposed to have it on your ankle. The reader only goes up to your knee. Anything above that doesn’t register.”
“My ankle? My ankle! No one told me! There were no instructions! I thought it was supposed to go on your arm!”
“Sorry. But do you know your time? Did you time yourself?”
“No. But I’ve got a good idea. Thirty-four minutes. Can you write that down? Can you write me in? Can you? Please?”
So as it turned out, I got written in. I will never know what my actual time was, but I’m certain that it was around 34 minutes. That’s just under 11 minutes per mile. Not bad, considering I’m almost 53 years old. I’m sure Puzzle is proud of me.
I phoned Frank, but I couldn’t reach him. I guess he had stepped away from the phone at that moment. But I left a message letting him know that I had finished the race, and how happy I was.
I checked the bus schedule. I had only a couple of minutes to get to the bus, so I ran for it. And made it to the bus stop just in time. I called my brother while I was on the bus home. He races, and he was very proud of me. I told him that I was very surprised at how fast I ran. “Julie, no one runs slowly in a race,” he said. “So, when are you doing your next one?”
And now, a few days have passed. I have run a couple of times since the race. My legs feel good and my body feels strong. I feel that I can now run for longer periods and longer distances. I feel confident about my running and the soreness has worn off.
Perhaps now, as I write these words, and relive the experience, I realize what it all means now. The first 5k for me meant more than just my first race, but a celebration of all the things I can do. After all, I earned my master’s degree, didn’t I? And how many books have I written? Aren’t I also a mental illness survivor? Haven’t I knitted 17, yes, 17 sweaters for Puzzle, and I love her oh so much?
But mostly, I eat, and eat enough, and care for my body, and honor and cherish it and celebrate all it can do. And this is why I run this race.
And yes, I’m thinking about my next 5k.
You know, I haven’t read the article. I just went and found it, highlighted it, copied it and pasted it here. I keep thinking of all the tragedy that followed. I just can’t believe the turn my life has taken.
Those of you who have been reading my blog this past year know about the hospitalizations, heartbreak, It, starvation, and everything else that started up almost immediately after the race.
Things were really okay for a couple of months about a year ago, though, and I shouldn’t lose sight of that.
I am going to make an appointment with Dr. P for sooner than what I have scheduled. I believe that I am severely depressed. I didn’t really know it but now that I think about it, it seems pretty obvious. So I’m going to ask Dr. P what can be done with the meds. It would be nice to get some sleep, too.
Okay, the list. Not in order of importance. Just as they pop into my head.
I do have a few friends
I have a great treatment team
I go to church
I have a book published and it’s coming out in paperback soon
I have a roof over my head
I am not in the state hospital
I am going to London
I have two college degrees
I have written five books
I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs
I don’t cut myself
I do not have any intention of killing myself by overdosing or any other form of rapid and violent suicide
(I made this last point clear to my T today)
This was supposed to make me feel stronger. I don’t know how I feel.