On the bus and four and a half gained

I took the bus to see my mother.  She needed help with her computer.  It takes a full hour and a half to get to her place, because she lives in the far end of her town.  I think it’s a 20 or 25 minute drive by car, traffic depending.

I always bring a snack to eat on the bus: gorp and juice.  I water down the juice and bring it in a large bottle.  Gorp is very portable.  It’s also called trail mix.  It’s high in calories and good energy food.  I get the kind without chocolate in it.

I sat next to a very large woman.  She appeared to weigh over 250 pounds, though I am not a good judge of weight.  She was barely five feet tall.  She took up a seat and a half.  I only needed the remaining half seat.  So I sat.

Why did I feel so strange taking my gorp out of my pack and eating it?  I didn’t want to eat gorp in front of this large woman.  I didn’t want to eat anything in front of her.  Why did I have such a prejudiced attitude–I, who criticized others for having biased opinions in my previous entry here at this blog?  Was I–in my mind–being cruel to this woman, judging her, making assumptions–what was I assuming, anyway? Was I assuming anything?  Was I assuming that I would make her uncomfortable by eating gorp–or anything–in front of her?  Was I afraid that she would judge me?  Was I thinking she was thinking: “She will get fat if she eats that!”  Or–“Look at her, eating that fattening food and not gaining weight!”  Maybe, on the other hand, she was lost in thought and would hardly have noticed I was eating anything at all.

The large woman got off the bus at the mall and I never saw her again.

Then, I ate my gorp and drank my juice.   People got on.  No one chose to sit next to a skinny girl eating gorp and drinking juice.  Their choice.

I arrived at my mother’s exactly on time.  She offered me food.  I turned her down, saying I had just ate.  The truth.  I went straight to her computer, installed Flash, which took ten seconds, and figured out what has been baffling her: she clicks on something in her e-mail, and a new Firefox tab opens.  Once the new tab opens, she no longer sees her e-mail on the screen.  She thinks her e-mail has disappeared, and that she can no longer get into it.  This has been baffling her for at least a year.  I explained to her the basics of Firefox, that you can click on the tab and bring its contents to the forefront.  I explained how to x out a tab, and how to click on the plus sign to bring up a new, blank tab.  I demonstrated.  I said, “Next time your e-mail seems to disappear, do THIS (I demonstrated) and it will come back.”  I am instantly a miracle worker.

As I was leaving, my mother commented on my weight.  She said something about my tiny waistline.  It wouldn’t have hurt except for the fact that she was so specific.  Not for long, I thought.  I am waiting for her next comment: “You’ve gotten rotund!”  Trust me, even if I’m still skinny next time I see her, she will say it.

Back on the bus.  The ride home.  I was hungry.  I am always hungry.  I ate my second dose of gorp.  I have gained four and a half pounds in three weeks.  I brushed  my hair aside, and in so doing, I noticed my cheek had more flesh on it than it had three weeks ago.

As I write this, I feel my cheek again.  No kidding.  This is not my imagination.  I must indeed be a miracle worker.

Pretty darned stupid

When you think about it, anorexia is dumb.  I mean, when I look at my body and see all the bones–my rib cage showing, all the bones showing in my chest, my skinny arms and legs, my wrinkly stomach, my shoulder bones sticking out, my armpits caved in, all my face bones sticking out–jeepers–why did I do this stupid thing to myself?  I look damned ugly like this.  I must gross people out who look at me all skinny like this.  It’s so damned unnatural.  I look like a freaking skeleton with a bit of flesh on it, a couple of muscles, and skin.  At least my hands look normal.

People comment.  For godsakes.   “Sorry, I didn’t see you there.  You’re so tiny.”  Or, “There’s more room for you here than there is for me.”  I don’t say, “You’re fat,” do I?  Reverse fat discrimination.  They think they’re making me feel good for being super skinny.  People are supposed to feel good if they’re thin.

I also get stares.  Or rude comments on the bus.  Comments from people who are going to be rude anyway.  They just say it out loud because they are rude people.  “Look at her.”  “Too skinny.”  “Don’t you eat?”  And when I don’t answer, “I asked you a question….Guess she doesn’t talk.” By the time I hear them, I am deep into a book and don’t care.  Or at least I think I don’t care.

So why was I trying to make it worse?  Did I actually like being ugly, being bony, having this and that stick out, having very little flesh?  Once, a long time ago when I was anorexic, I thought I had a lump in my breast, and it turned out to be a rib.  I actually went and had a mammogram of it.  I was 38 years old.

I don’t restrict anymore.  I miss it something wicked.  I miss having an empty stomach all the time.  I miss the discomfort.  I miss feeling weak.  I miss wondering how long I can last.  I miss the challenge of it.  I miss thinking that I’m stronger than other people because I can tolerate hunger better than anyone.  Truth is, I wasn’t very strong at all.  Anorexia zaps you of one heck of a lot of strength.

I got weighed at the doctor’s today.  I have gained a total of four and a half pounds.  That’s nearly five.  I’m supposed to feel great about this.  Before the appointment, I hated myself for gaining weight.  I kept telling myself how horrible I felt over it, and how I regretted this weight-gaining business, how I never should have agreed to it in the first place.  After I stepped on the scale, though, I felt proud, though, for making it through another week.  Oy.

This ED is very powerful.  Everything in me is fighting against this.  I feel sometimes as though I am barely staying afloat.  I feel as though I need a lot of support around this.  I don’t know where I am anymore.  It is all brand new.  Wow.

The reading was a success

I consider the reading at the Summer Slumberfest to have been a success!  Immediately after the reading, I received feedback from three people who said they could understand me perfectly via the stream, and that I read clearly and passionately.

My preparations were extensive.  I spent a long time getting the piece together, making appropriate cuts and making certain that it fit within time guidelines.  I practiced a number of times, but the out-loud reading didn’t need extensive work, as it came together rather easily.  This section of “Walking the Line” has a flow that lends itself well to reading aloud.  David and I got together via Skype ahead of time to make sure everything was okay technically.  It was complicated on his end to get the broadcast just right.  I can’t begin to imagine all the work that went into the Slumberfest project.  You can still view it at

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/slumberfest

until 12pm Eastern Time, 9pm California Time.

I didn’t have a chance to turn on my recorder, but after thinking about it, it would work out better if I recorded directly into my webcam, anyway, so I’ll do that. It won’t be nearly as exciting as a live recording.  I’ll try to get it posted on here for everyone to hear.

I am very proud of myself for giving my first public reading of THIS since my announcement of its acceptance for publication!  Yippee!


NOTE: The Reading of This Hunger Is Secret tomorrow is at 8am tomorrow Eastern Time, 5am California Time

Summer Slumberfest is an all-night event.  Yes, I will be reading at 5am California time.  That’s 8am Eastern Time tomorrow.  See the previous entry for the link to the online site where my reading will be streamed in.

Public Reading of This Hunger Is Secret–Watch Online Tomorrow 8am EDT sharp

I am reading from This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness at the Summer Slumberfest tomorrow at 8am Eastern Time.  The event will take place in California.  It is mostly an in-person event, but I am being Skyped in, as are a handful of poets and writers from all over the country.  The event is coordinated by poet and writer David Perez. Tune in from  11pm Friday until 12am Saturday night Eastern Time to watch the entire event.

I am reading from my chapter “Walking the Line” at 8am Eastern Time Saturday morning.  I will be tape-recording my reading.  I will try to post the recording as an MP3 file here afterward.

Be there!

Here’s the URL:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/slumberfest

Paul Selig’s I AM THE WORD comes out in print today

You’ve got to get this book.  Paul Selig is an incredible writer, speaker, and medium.  Just read the testimonials on his website.  I have been to his Writers’ Healing Circle and it is amazing.  If you are a writer, or if you are anyone, you need this book.

www.iamtheword.com

The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association Speaks Out!

I received the following just now in my e-mail inbox:

In light of the recent controversy over the “Eat Less” Urban Outfitters womens t-shirt, MEDA sent the following response to Urban Outfitters demanding the item no longer be sold.



“To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in response to Urban Outfitters’ “Eat Less V-neck tee” which is being sold online under the category “Women’s Tops/Tees/Graphic Tees & Tanks.”

On behalf of the 11 million individuals in the United States who struggle with Anorexia Nervosa and/or Bulimia Nervosa, as well as the 16.7 million children who live in food insecure households, we write this letter to express our extreme outrage.

The message on this shirt is insensitive and quite honestly undoes much of the excellent eating disorder prevention work that takes place in this country each day. Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by caloric restriction, weight loss and obsessive thoughts around food, body and weight. For females ages 15-24 (a prime demographic of your clothing store), the mortality rate associated with Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate for all other causes of death. In fact, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest premature fatality rate of any mental illness.

The statistics above are not meant to scare you and by no means are we stating that the media is solely to blame for the increasing rates of Eating Disorders in our country. However, you have a responsibility as an organization that caters to a vulnerable population (teenage and young adult females) to think before choosing to sell a product like this. Would you ever sell a t-shirt with the words “Binge Drink More” or “Less Condoms”?

We ask that you stop selling this product immediately.”

The “Ed” theory

Many professionals like their patients to personify the ED and call it/him “Ed.”  They actually have their patients talk to Ed, and talk about Ed as if he were a person.   My therapist has Ed talk to her.  I play the role of Ed, and tell my therapist why I, as Ed, am enslaving Julie.

Well, no more.

By personifying Ed, I am giving the ED more power than it deserves.  By continuing to relate to the ED as a living, speaking Being with an actual personality, I am assuming, and telling others, such as my therapist, that “Ed” is my “master” and I am his “slave,” and that I do whatever “he” tells me to do.

But the ED is not a “he.”  The ED is an illness, not a person.  Yes, eating disorders are very powerful.  My eating disorder has a lot of power over me, and I have been in its grips for a long time now.  I have been delusional because of it.  I have done things that don’t make the least bit of sense because of it.  I have harmed my body because of it.  I have put my life at incredible risk because of it.  I have lied and cheated because of it.  I have rendered my treatment team useless because of my dishonesty.   My ED has affected all areas of my life.

My friends have been incredibly worried about me.  I have not always been honest with them, and they knew this.  I did not know that they knew this.  It turned into a sticky mess.  There were some pleading e-mails.  There were some e-mails that I did not like.  There was a lot of sobbing, screaming, pacing, and pillow-punching on my end.

The ED is powerful all right.  But I will no longer call it “Ed.”  I will no longer talk to my therapist and tell her whether “Ed” is in the room or not.  The ED is not a person.  The ED is with me whether I like it or not.  Right now, it’s a part of me and it is in me.  I do speak with an “ED voice” sometimes.  This is a small, girlish voice.  I don’t know where this comes from, but maybe it’s just an offshoot of my mental patient days and has nothing to do with the ED.

I am becoming increasingly honest in my day-to-day affairs.  I cringe when I lie.  I am more honest with my friends.  Sometimes, I withhold the truth, though.  But it comes out when I’m ready to tell it and when/if it’s appropriate to tell it.  This is brand new.

Well, a new life.  Onward.

Still kicking even more

Hello!  An update….

The book contract went into the mail as planned….postage cost…surprise surprise…only $3 to the UK.

When I discovered how rapidly I am gaining weight (I have an accurate scale) I panicked.  Obviously, I don’t need to eat as much as I had been.  I cut back.  My therapist said no exercise, because this would prevent weight gain.  Clearly, this is not the case!  I have increased the length of Puzzle’s walks, and am doing a little freeweight stuff in my apartment.  I am eating enough to support exercise now, and I have lots of energy!  I would go stir-crazy, like I did in the hospital, and feel awful in my body otherwise.  It just isn’t natural to be sedentary.

Of course, I did make a deal with my treatment team, and I plan to keep up my end of the bargain: weight gain every week.  Period.

Love it or hate it, this is my life.  My new life.  Hello, world.

Still kicking

I got weighed and gained the one required pound.  Actually, I gained a pound and a half.  So I don’t have to go to the ED hospital, not this week, anyway.

I’m getting more used to eating.  I still don’t like it.  I managed to get to the library today, though, to work on my manuscript.

I can’t really write.  I can pretend to write, but I don’t really write.  It sucks.  Eating takes up all my writing energy.  But I can’t write if I’m dead, either.

I have been told that the writing will come back.  I told my therapist that maybe I’d been relying on starvation to get my creative juices flowing.  She said she didn’t think it worked that way.   I don’t think it’s like telling an alcoholic that they don’t need booze to write.  I guess she was trying to tell me that starvation doesn’t enhance one’s creativity.  I wonder if maybe she’s wrong about this.

Whatever you do, don’t try it.  Please.

I’m signing the book contract tonight, and I’m going to put it in the mail tomorrow.  I wonder how long it will take to get to the UK.