Scary

Some scary things have happened.

I went to the doctor’s last Tuesday.  The appointment went okay.  She weighed me and took some blood, and was concerned, and I have to go back in a couple of weeks to get weighed again, and then in about three months to have my blood drawn again.  Everything came out normal except kidney function.  Possibly this has to do with the fact that I was on lithium, but I haven’t taken it since last August, and I only took it for a few months.  I was very dizzy when I was at the doctor’s.  I could barely get on and off the table, and walk down the hall to the lab.  That happens to me frequently.  Sometimes, when I walk the dog, I am scared to leave the house, but I bring my cell phone, and I figure if I get too weak to continue walking, I can call for help.

Something else happens.  My thoughts scramble.  This has happened before, when I’ve been very ill.  I don’t consider myself to be ill now.  I know the thought scrambling comes from not eating enough.  It’s scary when it happens, and I can’t do things right, and I’m afraid to go out or walk Puzzle when I get like that.  I usually wait a while, and it goes away.

I keep a supply of Gatorade around for emergencies.  Seems I have little emergencies a lot.  Times when I get so starved that I have to replenish right away, and that’s what the Gatorade is for.  I carry it around with me.

My therapist threatened to hospitalize me last time I saw her.  I told her no, that I didn’t need to be in the hospital, that I am really okay.  She has stopped believing me, because that’s what I always say, but she let it go for now.

My thesis is due May 18.  That means I have about 11 days before I have to print it out and mail it to my advisor and second reader.  The last thing I need is to be locked up somewhere, forced to eat off trays with plastic silverware three times a day, get weighed every morning, and end up fighting with staff over menus.  I’ve been there.  It’s a game.  It’s a cruel way to treat any human being.  I don’t need that.  I must get better somehow.  I must eat.  I can’t blow it all now.

An entry in my journal from last night

I feel unmotivated…kind of depressed.  The starvation is really bad right now.  Four days in a row of really bad starvation.  How much longer will I keep this up?

I feel so empty, in so many ways.  My stomach is empty.  My heart is devoid of feeling.  My life is empty–no, not that–it’s full of wonderful things but it feels empty and meaningless right now.

I don’t feel lonely.  I do have friends, wonderful friends.  I do care about them and they care about me.  But sometimes I feel that there’s this wall of food that’s between me and the rest of humanity.  I am stuck behind the wall, in some sort of a pit that I must eat my way out of, but I cannot, and in all honesty, I need someone to help dig me out!  I can’t do it alone.  No one could.

But is it really a wall of food?  Is it the food itself that separates me from others?  Because food is “other;” food is not “me,” and I think it is something within me that keeps me apart,that keeps me from feeling my feelings.

I feel like a stone right now.  Lifeless.  A starvation machine.  As if  starvation was something I owned. As if it was my identity.  I cannot let it own me, the way I owned “craziness,” back in the mid-1980’s.  I remember that well.  Crazy became my identity.  I was mental illness incarnate.  It was written upon me.  Starvation will not thus rule me now.  I will not let it.

But it won’t.  I keep this all secret.  I don’t want to be seen.  I hide from people.  I am ashamed of the weight loss and i don’t want others to notice.   When they do (and I can tell when they do) I cringe and feel like hiding behind my clothes.  I don’t like walking in my hallway.

My face is sunken in.  My mouth feels different.  My whole body–different.  My weight has dropped again.  Iam not underweight, but approaching that range.  I am weak.  My head feels airy.  And I am always hungry, hungry, hungry.

I hunger for–for what?  For food?  For what else?  What is it that I am trying to achieve by starving myself?  Certainly not a thin body.  What do I really want?  To disappear?  To fail at the one thing–achieving my one goal of earning my degree–that I have worked so hard for all these years–why?  What could be more stupid?  The ED made me drop school once before, in 1981.  I will not let history repeat itself.  I am wiser now.  It will not beat me now.  I have knowledge.  I have skills.  I have strength.  I have friends.  I have courage.  I have Puzzle.  I have mental health care.  I have my brothers.  I have writing.  I have my history of eight residencies and six semesters experience at school behind me.  I have a heck of a lot of work to do on my thesis still, and you bet I’m going to get it done!  So ED be gone!  Be gone!  Be gone!  I have too much going on to give in to you!  Be gone now!

wallace_diary

Breakfast this morning

The other assignment from my therapist was to “eat three square meals a day,” which is harder than it sounds, especially for someone who is accustomed to eating very little.

I decided to try to eat a bit more.  I decided to eat breakfast.   Every time I eat breakfast, I don’t feel hungry for the rest of the day.  I ate breakfast three days in a row, and my weight jumped up three pounds.  I was really, really scared, and didn’t want to eat breakfast anymore.  So today, I decided to skip it.

Sure enough, I received some feedback from my advisor this morning via e-mail regarding my manuscript.  I have my work cut out for me.  I have LOTS of writing to do.  And I found I couldn’t concentrate on the manuscript or focus on any task because I was so hungry.  My thoughts were jumbled in my head.  And like many mornings, I was dizzy and lightheaded.

So I ate breakfast again.  And although I felt an uncomfortable, full feeling, I was able to concentrate, and write, and focus on the writing I needed to do.

peanutbutterbread

A Writing Assignment from My Therapist

Good morning!

Yesterday, during my regular therapy appointment, my therapist gave me a writing assignment: “List negative ways the ED has affected your life”

I did the assignment right away.  I might add to the list.  Here it is:

Negative ways that the ED has affected my life

I had to drop out of school because the bingeing was so bad
I ended up with osteoporosis and broke my leg
I wasted a lot of money on binge food
I spent a lot of money on clothes of different sizes
I fell down a flight of stairs
I fainted a number of times
I tried to kill myself because of the ED
I injured my knee and spent three months in a wheelchair
The ED made me believe I’d been taken away from God
The ED made me believe I was Evil
I suffered the medical consequences of being overweight
I got winded just from walking at a normal pace when I was overweight
The ED made me shy and I was afraid to let anyone near me or into my home
The ED made me very isolated
I was in the hospital because of it
I lost all my friends and I had low self-esteem
My mother belittled me because of it both when I was too thin and too heavy, called me “rotund,” even when I was not overweight, among other things, and she had an ED when she was a teen!
My parents didn’t understand
My doctors and therapists didn’t understand (many lied and said they did, most flat out admitted they did not understand, one did not even know what eating disorders were!)
My friends didn’t understand
My brothers didn’t understand (they at least tried)
My teachers didn’t understand
The only thing that stopped the bingeing was meds, and the meds had side-effects
Some meds caused bingeing
I wasted years of my life because of the ED

My body is ugly
I am not very strong
My muscles hurt and I get tired doing ordinary physical tasks such as vacuuming or laundry
I get dizzy and shaky and feel like I will faint
I can’t concentrate very well and I get mentally confused
I’ve come very close to fainting on a number of occasions
I would be a better dog mama if I didn’t have the ED
I am afraid to see my mother and my family
I am ashamed to walk down my hallway and I don’t want to be seen, especially by certain people who I know will make comments or have commented in the past on my weight or appearance
I don’t like to take off my hat or my jacket
I don’t want people to notice that I’ve lost weight
I lie and tell them I was “ill” when they do notice
I notice changes to my body that scare me and I am afraid of medical consequences of restricting
I weigh myself all the time, even in the middle of the night
I’m afraid of gaining weight
I’m terrified that I may start bingeing again

The ED caused my mental illness
My mental illness caused the ED

Low fuel indicator

Today I peeked in my journal and saw a note that I was restricting my food intake back in the beginning of March.  So it’s been going on at least for a month.  I hadn’t remembered that.  I also have records of eating sparsely as far back as September.  Aren’t journals great?   Well, maybe.

I contacted another ED place.  When I called, a social worker answered the phone and asked me some basic questions, such as what my problem seems to be, and whether I am in treatment, and if I have ever been hospitalized, etc.  She told me that someone would call me to schedule an assessment appointment by the end of the day.  Within minutes, I received the call!  My appointment is on Friday.

Of course I am scared.  How could I not be?

The starvation continues

I do not know what to say.  I guess I’m scared.  I’m trying to get help for this.

I meet with my therapist every Friday.  Last Friday I brought up the fact that I’ve been starving myself and we talked about it some.  I left a message and she called me yesterday but we didn’t talk much.  I told her that I had struggled over the weekend but she didn’t want to talk about it.  She just said, “See you Friday.”  This is not working.

I called a local eating disorders place run by someone I used to know at McLean.  I actually talked to the director over the phone.  Of course she didn’t remember me, as she would be shocked to know that the ill person she knew 12 years ago actually got well and went on to college.  But at any rate, we did speak, and I told her about my circumstances, then suddenly she asked about my insurance.  “Medicaid and Medicare,” I told her.

“I am sorry, we are not a provider,” she replied.

“Do you offer a sliding scale?”

“No.”

“Then–”

“Then we really cannot help you.  Sorry and good luck.”

And that ended the conversation.

You can imagine how I felt at that moment.  I put in a call to my psychiatrist, who I assume will get back to me today, to see what she says.

I am afraid to be 100% honest with my therapist or psychiatrist.  They have the power to hospitalize me.  The hospital is not an appropriate treatment for me.  I’ve been out for three years (my anniversary was March 20, by the way) and I don’t want to go back in!

Trouble which starts with T

…which rhymes with F which stands for food.  I have not been eating.  I feel sad and–empty.

I have taken my manuscript as far as it can go, that is, I have done as much as I can do given the instructions I have been given, and now I must wait for feedback from my advisor in the mail.  Maybe it’s the waiting that’s getting to me.

One way or the other, I haven’t been eating, and this is getting to be a problem.  It’s been going on for about a month, but is worsening this weekend, it seems.  I received one manuscript back on Monday, and I sat with it for two hours, too weak to open it or concentrate on its contents.  Sometimes, I fear that I will faint.

I lied (by omission) to my psychiatrist not once but twice about this.  For two appointments I told her everything was fine.  Everything but the eating, that is–I left that out.

Now I don’t know what to do.  It seems so simple: eat.  I don’t even want to lose weight.  It’s not that.  The problem seems to be that I tell myself, when it’s time to eat, “Why bother?  What’s the use?”

I don’t think I’m depressed.  I don’t know what it is.  I just want to be “normal” and happy again.

brooklyn-style-pizza-712w1

Regarding Medications, and so on

Well, I’ve returned from my trip out west, finally, and had a decent time.  I haven’t written here in a while and life has been a bit hectic with jetlag and unpacking and getting into the swing of studying again.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been at the required residency for Goddard College, where I am studying for my MFA in creative writing.  I was away from February 9th until the 19th, and I picked up lovely Puzzle on the 20th.  Before and during the residency I was full of worries because I’d been depressed.  I was concerned about how my low mood would affect my ability to function fully at the residency because of the rigorous demands of the residency schedule and the demands that the program places on students over the course of that time, but I managed okay, with some difficulty here and there–nothing major to speak of.  I was also worried about my studies over the course of the semester.  I’m still worried.  But I’ll put those worries aside for now.

NOW THAT I’VE THOROUGHLY BORED YOU (SKIP TO THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU WISH) I’ll talk about something entirely different–

–Meds.  I feel like I’m totally dependent on these chemicals to have a decent life.  I’ve worked closely with my psychiatrist to combat the depression I got myself into and worked out a plan for the residency but it took a while to tailor it: I took an off-label dose of the antidepressant Cymbalta (120mgs) for the duration of the residency, which kept me above water in terms of the depression, more or less, and also took extra Thorazine, an antipsychotic, beyond my usual daily dose (700mgs instead of 600mgs).  I survived nicely.

Insurance (Medicare, Part D) wouldn’t pay for the high dose of Cymbalta but I had extras, just enough for the trip.

At any rate, my old problem came back with my eating, which I found rather disturbing–not that again–before and during the residency.  I found myself unusually drawn to food.  In the last couple of weeks before I left I was bingeing on whatever was around (one day at home I ate about three pounds of chocolate all at once) and at the residency I ate indiscriminately with no regards to common sense–at least to my perspective that was what I was doing.  When I got home it felt like a magnet was pulling me toward the kitchen and something supernatural was causing me to force-feed myself.

Then, as planned, I lowered the Cymbalta from 120mgs to 90mgs.  Magic.  It felt like an ugly curtain had lifted.  No more problems with food.

From 1980 to 1984 I had trouble with bingeing and I found it extremely disturbing to the point of attempting suicide because of it.  In the summer of 1984 my doctor put me on Lithium.  The bingeing suddenly stopped and stayed stopped.  Magic.

And so on.  So I truly don’t believe this crap about bingeing being caused by this “psychological need to comfort oneself” or out of loneliness.  It’s not a fucking bad habit.  It’s a very serious psychiatric problem and you don’t poo-poo around with it.  At least in my case, it comes from a chemical imbalance and no amount of therapy could “cure” it.  And I do believe that for a lot of people that is the case, and they don’t realize it or haven’t considered medication (or haven’t tried the “right” medication) to combat bingeing.  If you binge it doesn’t mean you’re weak.  If you’re depressed it doesn’t mean you’re weak.

Which gets me to this point: I feel like I’m this organism that responds to chemicals.

Still, the meds haven’t changed my personality.  I’m still the goofball I always was.  I still put my foot in my mouth at times.  I’m still sort of slow at things.  Like at the airport.  Took me forever to get my stuff into the bins at security.  Don’t you feel intimidated by all that crap they put you through when they make you walk through the metal detector, etc?  I’m glad none of my meds are in liquid form.

No, but seriously, I wonder what life would be like if I never got on meds.  I think I’d have died a long, long time ago.  These drugs are life-sustaining.  Believe me.

So long as they don’t

So long as they don’t schedule the Health Arts and Sciences program at the same time as the Creative Writing program!  What a fiasco!

Those students in HAS–you think I have a mental illness?–they are bonkers.  A breakfast conversation went something like this:

“What are you eating?”

“Cereal.”

“Do you have fruit in it?”

“Yes, bananas.”

“You should never, never eat dairy and fruit at the same time.  That combination will give you mini-farts.”

“Yes, and never eat meat and bread together, never have a turkey sandwich, for instance.”

“I think you should never eat peanut butter!  It’s very bad for you!”

“It gives you cancer!”

“Peanut butter!  Peanut butter!”

“And all those fat people, those fat people who can’t control what they eat.”

“It’s the enzymes in their food.”

“Yes, enzymes and whiteness.”

“Whiteness, yes.”

“And they eat like pigs.”

“No, no pork, either.”

“No pork.”

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

I’m serious.  Those HAS students are lethal to anyone who has an eating disorder, to anyone who has ever had an eating disorder, and to anyone who has even ever heard of an eating disorder!  Beware!  I ended up giving a pack of cigarettes to my HAS student roommate (she was truly the roommate from Hell) just to shut her up!  Of course, I only smoked three cigarettes the whole eight days I was at the residency, so I didn’t mind giving her the remainder of my supply–it was worth it.

breakfast

Here’s proof

If there are any doubts as to whether I have lost weight, here’s proof:

My highest weight: 197

Here’s me at 164:

fat face crop

My current weight: 144.  Here I am:

me at 144

No camera tricks!  Yes, the lighting’s different.  That can’t be helped.  I took today’s photo myself.  What is most noticable is that I am wearing the same pair of glasses in both pictures.  Plus I look a helluva lot happier now than I did 20 pounds ago.

~~~~Waving hello to my sisters at WeightWatchers!!!  I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!~~~~~