I am in a bad space

I would like to starve myself to death.  After only a day or so, I wouldn’t be able to think straight, and I wouldn’t be capable of taking care of Puzzle anymore, so I wouldn’t be able to starve myself outright, for Puzzle’s sake.  But I crave starvation, I desire it, I feel that it is something that I deserve.

I no longer want recovery from anorexia.  I never wanted to gain weight in the first place.  I am gaining only to please “them.”  But not really.  It’s all meaningless–the food, the cooking, the eating, the grocery shopping.  It doesn’t mean I am getting better.  It’s all show.  It’s all a game.  Sure, I love cooking.  I love talking about food.  I actually eat it–sometimes.

I see Dr. P tomorrow.  Will I tell her this?  Probably not. We have 20 minutes.  About long enough for her to ask if I need refills, then I leave the office and walk back into the world.

I am afraid to tell her too much.  I don’t know if she’ll say, “This is normal,” or if she’ll say, “You have to go to the ED hospital.”  Or if she’ll say nothing at all.

I feel like I always have the ED with me.  I am always thinking, “I am anorexic and I am marked.”  I am always thinking about new ways to starve myself and how I can get away with it.  It is on my mind constantly.

It is to the point where I do not even want to see my friends.  I was planning to see some friends in New Hampshire on the 7th, and now I’m not certain that I’ll go, because the ED has been so troubling to me.  I have a college reunion coming up in February in Port Townsend, and I wonder if I’ll make it to that.  I just want to hide.

And when my therapist mentions that word, “progress,” I feel like such a cheater.  What progress?  She believes what she wants to believe.  At least that’s the way it’s been for the past few weeks.  Someday, all that will blow wide open.

Having an ED sucks.  Don’t ever get one.

Proofreading This Hunger Is Secret

Most people find proofreading a tedious task.  Right now, though, I’m enjoying it.  My friend Teri is also going through the manuscript and finding various types of errors that I hadn’t picked up on: missing punctuation, repeated words, misspellings, and the like, but not too many of these.   This Hunger Is Secret was originally my master’s thesis, after all, and I made a point of keeping errors at a minimum when I handed in my thesis to begin with.  It has gone through a couple of revisions since my graduation.  (Hey, it’s been almost exactly a year since I graduated!)

Meanwhile, I am going over the manuscript yet another time.  I am still finding little inconsistencies.  For instance, in my chapter, “At the Crossroads,” I stated that the program went on field trips that lasted all day Wednesdays.  Then I stated that the doctor came on Wednesdays to see patients.  Wait a minute.  This couldn’t be right.  How could the doctor see patients if everyone was out on a field trip?  No, actually, when I searched my memory, I realized that the doctor came on Thursdays.   Did it matter?  Not really, but a careful reader might notice this inconsistency.

I did a couple of other things.  Since submitting my manuscript to Chipmunka, I had revised my chapter, “Breakfast,” and had come up with two different versions, to use as possible stand-alone pieces.  One of these I had designed for a reading I gave.  I decided to substitute one of the new versions–with minor adjustments–for the original version in THIS.   The differences are subtle, but Teri confirms that the new version is tighter, and an improvement over the original.  And yes, she caught a spelling error in it.  Thank you, Teri.

Another thing I did was to reverse the order of two of my very short chapters.  In one chapter, “Kohlrabi,” I mentioned the character.  In the second chapter, “A conversation from the past,” I introduced him.  Doesn’t it make sense to introduce him first?  Not necessarily, but in this case, it was a no-brainer.   When I revised my short chapter, “Kohlrabi,” it was no longer a stand-alone, for many reasons, not just because of my reference to this character.

These were the only real structural changes, if you could call them that, that I made to the manuscript during this proofread.  I couldn’t resist.   You would never know that I did these at the last minute.

This brings back memories of late April and May, 2009, when I made last-minute additions to THIS and even changed the title right before the deadline, before mailing it in to my advisor, Darrah Cloud, and my second reader, Beatrix Gates.

I am reminded of my starvation days back then, of my intense fear that my therapist would hospitalize me right around the time that I was completing my thesis.   After a particularly harrowing therapy session, I called Darrah in a panic, and told her what my therapist said, that she might hospitalize me, and that I should probably do something about getting the current version of my thesis in, though there was still a bit of time before the deadline.

I ended up sending Darrah my .doc files, and the converted .pdf files.  It seemed to be an impossible task.  I was so, so hungry, so starved, that I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing.   Everything was a fuzz.  And the added threat of hospitalization made the mental confusion all the worse.

I did come up with a newer version of my thesis after that, and did safely turn it in, early in fact.  I graduated.  I made it, ED and all.  It was a joyous time.  Not a cloud in the sky.  But I was so cold, so very, very cold that summer.

I still get cold easily.  And some people think that now that I am eating, I am “over” my ED.  Huh?  I am ruled by this stupid ED.  Now just as much as ever, maybe more.  I just eat.  Go through the motions.  Maybe that’s all I can expect of myself right now, just eating for Puzzle, for my friends, for my treatment team.   Eating because I cannot go back.

But wow, do I ever miss starvation.  You’d think that I would be happy to see it gone.  I am not.  I miss the feeling of a totally empty stomach.  I miss hunger pangs.   I miss feeling weak and starved.  I miss putting off eating until I can’t stand it anymore.  I miss eating as little as I possibly can.  I miss the suffering, and the belief that I could suffer better than anyone else.

Some days, I feel ravenous.  I feel hungry all day long.  I feel like I could eat continuously.  This is my body needing to repair itself from all the deprivation.

Other days, I feel no hunger.  I have to force myself to eat.  Or I forget to eat.  These are the days when it gets tricky.  It is getting like this more and more.

I am not saying that I am going downhill with my progress.  I seem to be gaining weight right on schedule.  My hair is even growing back.  It is very, very noticeable.  You can see the extra hair growing in all the way across a room.  The new hair is very soft and healthy, as far as I can tell.  There are many other changes that I am noticing, all proof that I am eating well and taking better care of myself.  I wouldn’t be growing hair back if there wasn’t a truly dramatic change in my lifestyle, would I?

It is very strange that the threat of death did not scare me into eating.  Why is this?  I kept on doing what I was doing until they threatened to put me back in the ED hospital.  Did I see this as being even worse than death?  In my sick mind, yes.

Summer moves on.  It is very hot here in Massachusetts, USA.  Better that than cold.  Maybe, by the time winter hits, I will have enough body fat to keep me a little warmer than I was last winter, whether I like it or not.

Delicious Stew – totally vegan – a recipe by Julie Greene

I put this stew together at 2am and it turns out to be about the best stews I have ever tasted.  Better than meat.  It came to me quite by accident and rather quickly and instinctively.

Here’s the story behind it:

Warning: a bit TMI.  Humor alert as well.  I decided to cook up a recipe distributed among friends I know on the Internet, a circle of women friends of mine scattered around the East and West Coasts who are very dear to me.  We were all sold on this recipe, which I can’t post here, because it is not original to me and I don’t want to plagiarize.

I used spices from the Harvest Food Co-op in Cambridge, MA, where they are sold in bulk and are very fresh, much fresher than what one finds in the supermarket.  Most of the other women were using supermarket spices.  My result: a very, very spicy dish.  The seasonings: 1-1/2 t coriander powder, 1-1/2 t  cumin powder, 1/4 t cayenne powder, 1 c cilantro, chopped, a teaspoon of salt, and two minced cloves of garlic.  I might be leaving something out, but you get the idea.  With super-potent spices…you guessed it…the result was powerful indeed!  Still, it was edible, for sure, as I can tolerate spicy food, but I would have been a little embarrassed to serve it to guests.

I awoke at 2am in shock.  What was this odor?  Oh my god!  Had I–forgotten to shower?  Everything–me, my sheets, my pillowcase, my nightshirt, my comforter, the air around me–reeked of BO!  How could I stink so bad?  Surely, this was a shower and laundry emergency at 2am!  I couldn’t tolerate my own body!  And my own bed!  Did I smell this afternoon, too?  I ran to check my shirt.  Sure enough, my shirt smelled of BO, too.  Everything smelled of BO.  Had I in fact ruined my bed–permanently?  Would I have to replace the futon?  Oh, no!

But slowly, I realized what the odor was.  I had embarrassed myself.  The smell wasn’t me.  It had gotten on everything, yes, but the smell didn’t originate with me.  It was the huge amount of cumin I’d bought, not huge really, but it seemed huge enough to do this damage; that’s for sure.

I had to get rid of this odor.  Otherwise, it would be permanent, or so I thought.  I figured Febreze was out of the question.  So I asked myself: What food could I boil up whose smell would mask the cumin?

Celery.  Definitely.  Cooked.

I chopped the celery into nice small pieces and put it in boiling waster.  Then I told myself: Why not make a stew?  I added the other ingredients.

Here are the ingredients:

2 stalks celery, sliced to quarter moons
2 or maybe 3 handfuls very small mini-potatoes, do not chop, peel, or slice
1 handful frozen carrot coins
About three fresh scallions
1 apple, cubed
1/4 cup whole barley
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 generous shakes nutmeg (yeah, I used supermarket brand)
2 shakes salt

Very simple.  Put all ingredients in a bunch of water, and boil for a long time, like ten minutes, then simmer for about a something like 45 minutes at least.  Mixture should be quite thickened once cooked, like a stew.  Allow to cool reasonably before refrigerating, so that it won’t burn your fridge.

I haven’t a clue whether this stew can be frozen or not as I haven’t tried doing so yet.

To see the rest of my recipes, click on the category, “recipes,” on the sidebar to your right.

How to cook a single serving of thick-cut rolled oats – instructions by Julie Greene

NOTE: I now make this oatmeal a little differently: Click here for new instructions, if you’re curious.

This is the best oatmeal I have ever eaten.  I have cooked thick-cut oatmeal nearly every morning, have experimented considerably, and have come up with these instructions that make perfect oatmeal every time.  Feel free to vary as desired.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup thick-cut rolled oats
Roughly 2/3 cup skim milk – varies according to how thick you like your oatmeal
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1/2 ounce raisins (one of those “little boxes”–I think it’s 3 tablespoons)

I would suggest using a pyrex 2 cup measuring cup with a handle if you have one, but you can use any 3 cup or quart size microwave  safe bowl to cook your oatmeal.  You will also need the type of microwave oven that has a very low heat setting.  My microwave has nine heat settings.  I use setting #1.  Microwave ovens vary considerably; use your own judgment.

Start making this oatmeal immediately when you wake up.  You will see why in a minute.

Place oatmeal in microwave-safe container.  Add just enough milk to cover it.  Place in microwave and heat on high for about a minute until mixture just boils.  Stop microwave as soon as it boils, and make sure it doesn’t boil over.  Then, set on very lowest setting, and cook for 25 minutes.

Walk the dog.

When you come back, the oatmeal will be very thick.  Be careful removing it, and set it on the counter on top of a hot pad so the counter won’t burn.  Stir in the remainder of the milk.  The mixture will then be very thin.  Place back in the microwave.  Heat on high for about a minute, as before, and stop the microwave as soon as it boils, then heat on the very lowest setting for another 25 minutes.

Take a shower.

Remove the oatmeal from the microwave.  The mixture will be somewhat thickened, but not quite cooked all the way.  Do not be alarmed.  Stir in butter, raisins, and sunflower seeds.

Do not skip this next step:  Stir for about two or three minutes.  Then, allow to cool, uncovered, for another three minutes or so.  Now, the oatmeal will be completely cooked!

Enjoy your breakfast.  Remember to chew the sunflower seeds thoroughly to get the full nutritional value.  A delicious breakfast is a great way to start the day.  I’m finding that out.

My sick mind will find any excuse

My brother set me straight yesterday.  You probably would have.  He is a physicist.  He said that no way would a mere 4-1/2 pound weight gain cause knee injury, even though it’s over 5% of my body’s weight.  Even though I gained it in three weeks.  He pointed out that I don’t spend every waking hour on my feet.  He said the knees are much more strained from climbing stairs than they are from a mere 4-1/2 extra pounds.  He explained this to me over the phone, in plain terms that I could understand, and said I was just making up excuses not to eat and to lose all the weight I had gained.

And so I considered what he had said and felt like a fool.

And I went over the past two or so weeks in my mind:  Hadn’t I been careless lately?  Hadn’t I carried more on my back, in a knapsack, than usual?  Surely, I had walked around more than I was accustomed to, considering that I didn’t walk around at all in May and much of June, given that I couldn’t support any exercise at all on what I was eating.  On Friday, I carried home a ream of paper, two large bottles of mouthwash, and a number of other items on my back, maybe a mile on a slight uphill incline.  Just my usual errands.  Why the heck I didn’t use a rolling backpack is beyond me.  That was probably the catalyst of it all.  Stupid me.

Then my sick mind got to work.  Extra weight, true, that very well may have done it.  I began to obsess. I stewed.  It escalated.  Soon, I was in tears.  By afternoon, I could think of nothing else, and by nighttime, I was sobbing.  Kleenex covered my coffee table.  I cried myself to sleep.

Is this “normal” for a person who is just starting to eat regularly again?  Should I expect an occasional complete meltdown?  I have been told that tearfulness, and having my feelings come out and overwhelm me, is totally normal and to be expected, but this?  I don’t know.  What is “normal,” anyway, and should I even be concerned with it?

Did I handle the whole thing appropriately, or did I act like a complete ass?  No one heard me crying.  I think the neighbors couldn’t hear me, because the walls aren’t that thin, and they are hard of hearing; I know this because they turn their TV’s up to an intolerable volume (you should hear “The Price is Right”).   I threw the Kleenex in the trash–appropriate.  I relied on my friends for support–maybe appropriate, maybe not.  I would prefer if I had “turned to them,” not “relied on them.”  Okay, not appropriate.  I called my brother and blubbered.  He’s getting used to this.  No comment.

Through all this, I did eat.  I cooked and ate.  I took out my frustrations in the kitchen.  I made homemade pizza last night.  Appropriate.   I even cleaned the counter after rolling the dough in flour.  I used a pre-made frozen whole wheat dough that I bought at the food co-op.  Cheater.

Today, I’m kind of baffled.  Wondering about the future.  Wondering just how much more stupid I can get.  Wondering how much longer it will be before I can write again.  I waste one heck of a lot of time dealing with this disorder, especially now.

The matching “Varsity” hat nearly completed!

Well, I don’t need to get this hat done till the weather’s a bit cooler.  I plan to add a pom-pom.  I’m going up to NH for the day on Wednesday and plan to start LL Greene Dog Sweater #16 at that time, the Coat of Many Colors I think I’ll call it.  Eight colors.

I had a photo of me up here that I took with my webcam, but it photoed me backwards, and the J was backwards, so I took it off.

Just picture this

I have told myself that if my knee bothers me so much over the weekend that I have difficulty walking I will have to go to the emergency room and get a brace.  I don’t think it will even come close to that, but here’s what I’m speculating:

Skinny girl shows up at ER on crutches.  The triage nurse takes her vitals and asks what the problem is.   Girl says she can’t walk because her knee gives out on her.  Can’t put any weight on it at all?  I can still put weight on it, she says, but it is only getting worse when I do.

After waiting three hours, girl is brought into a cubicle and asked to undress.  I see–you are on psych meds…hmm…okay, what’s wrong with your knee?

I have been asked to gain weight.  My doctor told me to.  I gained weight.  A pound and a half a week.  My knee couldn’t take the weight gain.  It gave out.  I need a brace.

What makes you think there’s something wrong with your knee?

I can’t walk on it.

Okay, why don’t you walk over here.  Let’s see you walk.

I am in pain.

Can I weigh you?

I have gained a pound and a half a week.  My doctor weighs me.

You don’t look like you weigh very much.  Have you lost weight recently?

I have gained four and a half pounds according to the doctor’s scale, over a period of three weeks.

Would you like some food?  We have meals here.  You’re on psych meds.  Why aren’t you in a day program, anyway?

I no longer have symptoms of mental illness.  I am not here in this emergency room to be treated for mental illness or anorexia.  I am here to be treated for my knee injury.  I am interested in possibly getting a brace for my knee.  Is this possible?

Can I weigh you?

Are you going to treat my knee?

Do you have Ibuprofen at home?  Take that.  And don’t lose any more weight.  You might as well be invisible.

Girl leaves ER with prescription for super-strength Ibuprofen, which I think is the same thing as three tablets of over-the-counter Ibuprofen.  Invisible.  Yeah, sure.

One unfortunate consequence of weight gain

My right knee is starting to hurt.  Both knees hurt.  Last time I was weighed, I had gained four and a half pounds, and by now it’s five or six.  That’s like carrying around a six-pound knapsack–not only for a fifteen-minute walk to the library, but every waking hour.  My knees can’t take it.

When I first started this blog in 2005 or so, I had just recovered, or was recovering from a devastating knee injury due to rapid weight gain.  Now, I foresee this happening again.  There is little I can do to prevent it from happening, except the obvious–well, yeah–#1 lose the weight–dumb–#2 stop gaining weight–more plausible, but not really, cuz then I’ll end up at the ED hospital and have even more rapid weight gain forced on me, and I’ll end up in a wheelchair again.   Right now,  I’ve been trying to strengthen my leg muscles, quadriceps in particular, because I know this is necessary to support healthy knees.  I have to have muscles to hold up my body.  I learned this from a physical therapist when I had my injury.  Physical therapy, by the way, didn’t do jack shit for the injury–losing weight cured it 100%.

So far, I have not developed a backache.  I am expecting one, though.  I had a terrible backache at the ED hospital.  Perhaps this was because they forced me to have a constantly overstuffed stomach.  That would give anyone very bad back pain.

I don’t know what to do about my knees.  I called my doctor, got her voicemail, but didn’t leave a message, just hung up.  My therapist is on vacation until Tuesday.  No use leaving her a message.  So I left her a message.   I told her about what I told you here, the short version.  I concluded by saying that if this continues, I will be on crutches or in a wheelchair in a month’s time, which is the truth.

Imagine that.

Barley and Lentils Casserole: A recipe by Julie Greene

I invented this about a week or two ago.

EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN CASSEROLE #1: BARLEY AND LENTILS

Ingredients:

1 cup dry hulled (not pearled) barley

1 cup dry green lentils

1 cup fresh coarsely grated Romano cheese

1 large clove fresh garlic, pressed

1/4 teaspoon fresh powdered ginger

1 stalk celery, diced 1/2 inch

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms

4 scallions, chopped medium

2/3 cup nonfat cottage cheese with pineapple

About 1/2 cup tomato soup or tomato and red pepper soup of your choice

About 3 tbsp whole sesame seeds

Cook the barley by boiling it with 2 cups water and then allowing to simmer on very low heat until done, about 45 minutes.  Cool in the refrigerator.  Cook the lentils in 2 cups water by boiling vigorously, uncovered, for three minutes, then simmer on low heat, covered, for 20 minutes until done.  Taste-test the lentils and make sure they are to your liking.  Do not overcook.  Allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together the lentils and barley.  Add the cheese, garlic, and ginger.  Mix very well.  Add the vegetables.  Fold in the cottage cheese, and add just enough soup to make the mixture hold together.  You may need more than 1/2 cup.

Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.  Distribute the mixture evenly in the pan.  Top with sesame seeds.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool, covered, for ten minutes.  Enjoy.

Shepherd’s Pie: A recipe by Julie Greene

I am going to start posting my recipes.  I just made this tonight.  I made it with marinara sauce, not soup, but I think it will be better with soup.  Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Pie

1 cup lentils

4 cloves garlic

5 potatoes

About 3 T butter

About a pound lean ground turkey

A small top of broccoli

2 or 3 scallions

4 or 5 mushrooms

About 6 oz non-tomato vegetable soup (cream of broccoli, mushroom, etc)

2 slices cheddar, or American cheese

About 3 T sesame seeds

Boil the lentils in 2 cups water for 4 minutes, lower heat and simmer 20 minutes with pressed garlic, add 1/2 cup water if needed to finish cooking, do not overcook.  Remove from heat.

Cut up potatoes, do not remove skins, and set over vegetable steamer to cook.  Keep over medium high heat.  Remove from heat when finished.

Begin cooking turkey in cast-iron pan, chopping up with spoon to separate.  Remove from heat when cooked.

Put potatoes into a bowl and add liquid from meat, and also add butter to potatoes.  Mash.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a 9 x 13 pan, coat with soup.  Add meat.  Cut the flowers off the small head of broccoli, and distribute evenly over the meat, then chop the scallions and also distribute over the broccoli.  Slice the mushrooms and do likewise.  Spoon the potato on top and spread with a firm spatula over the top so that it evenly covers everything.  Chop the cheese finely and distribute on top.  Evenly coat with sesame seeds.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Serve hot.  Serves 6-8.