I cannot escape it

I have an eating disorder and it follows me everywhere.  I am in my eating disorder and my eating disorder is in me.

Sorry.  I know I just wrote this very uplifting thing about the race I’m going to run, and how I’m actually going to eat so I can be strong enough to run.  However, it is true, I have this ED and it follows me everywhere and it will follow me around Cambridge when I run the race, right through the finish line.

I cannot separate any part of my life from it.  Puzzle turned four a couple of days ago.  I have told you this.  Well, I can’t just have Puzzle’s birthday.  I have Puzzle’s birthday and anorexia.  I can’t just have Thanksgiving.  I have The Thanksgiving Anorexia Nightmare.  Every little thing is an issue.  Still.

Even riding the bus.  I get looks.  A lot.  Especially when I sit down on the seat and don’t take up much space.  Trust me, it’s an issue.

I can’t be me without my eating disorder.  Just can’t.  Without my ED, I am a fake me.  Because it is a part of me.  Because it was such a big part of my life, my past, my present, and yes, my future.  It follows me everywhere, and I expect it always will.

So when I go out into the world, and try to be with people, and pretend that I do not have anorexia, that maybe I’ve “recovered,” or that I am just “skinny,” I fall flat on my face.  I feel fake.  Synthetic.

If I pretend that I do not have this ED, and try to fake it, relationships eventually crumble because they are built on falsehood.  They are built on the lie that this ED does not exist.  It follows me and I cannot pretend that it does not.  It is like trying to hide your nose.  There is only so much you can do.  You can walk around with a mask on, but people won’t see you that way.

Of course I do not walk up to strangers and say, “Hi, I am anorexic!”  Of course not.  But I am tired of being half a person around some of the people in my life, including my brothers and some of my friends.  Because if you do not know me with my ED, you do not know me.

Do YOU know me?

I am strong

I went back to my friends.  They welcomed me.  Something happened and I felt in my heart that they needed me back with them and I went back.  I have not forgiven.  It will never be the same.  But I am getting comfortable with them once again.  I am trying to be supportive and loving.  And funny.   It is okay.  I get tearful thinking about the whole mess, even now.

I got my period.  Much as I hate getting it, it was necessary.  When your weight is low, your ovaries stop producing estrogen, and that’s why you don’t get your periods.  Without estrogen, your bones deteriorate fast.  So I was glad to get my period because it means I have estrogen in my system, and my bones are still strong and won’t break very easily.  My periods had essentially stopped, and I was worried, and I am glad to have them back, or at least one for now.

I have not been in this good physical shape since 1999.  I eat well and take good care of myself.  I am strong and fit.   My legs carry me long distances.  My muscles are firm and I use them well.  In 1999 I woke up every morning and ran for a half hour, hopped into the shower, and went on with my day.  Now, I can almost do that.  I can run a mile without much effort.  Around .7 miles, it is pure joy.  I am sweating and I feel like there is no limit to what my body can do.

All this eating has paid off, apparently.  I continue to eat, and eat well.  I take vitamins, too.  The vitamins make a difference.  I care for my body.  I am gaining weight, slowly.  I have gained nearly 5 pounds.  I do all this willingly.  My hair is shiny.  My mouth has a fresher feel to it and my gums don’t bleed spontaneously anymore.  Only as recently as August, I was staggering around in my apartment, barely able to walk, and now, that is inconceivable to me.

You can’t take your body for granted, ever.  I am lucky to be alive.  I feel so much joy, zooming around Watertown twice every day with Puzzle like two little maniacs.  I feel free and powerful.  The world is mine and I can do anything.

Regarding a special friend

I have been friends with Frank for a month now.  Last night we made a pact.  We are going to eat.

Frank has been a special friend to me.  We met on an anorexia board.  He posted there and then maybe a couple of weeks after the discussion (that he initiated) ended, I contacted him and asked him how he was doing.  To my surprise, he wrote back.  We have been corresponding, and subsequently Skyping (Skype is videoconferencing) for several hours a day ever since.

I have never been so close to another person with anorexia before.  I have only known other anorexics from a distance, in ED groups.  Nor have I ever known a man with anorexia before.  Nor have I had a male friend for a long, long, long time.  It has been years, in fact.

I wrote: I just realized this last night, very suddenly: I am now restricting less.  It is not happening every day, but it is an overall tendency.  I have stopped losing weight as of the first week of September.  You know, I think it has to do with knowing Frank and being close to him.

I wrote: This was not conscious or deliberate.  It just happened.  I told my friend last night.  It was 9pm and she had just arrived home from some coffee shop with her husband.  She was skeptical and wondered how long my good fortune would last.

I wrote: Frank and I are having pizza together tomorrow night, via skype.  He is having one of those microwave single-serve pizzas and I am going to make pizza for myself.  It is kind of a deal we made.

I wrote: Would I make the trade?  I have gained one pound.  It was worth gaining one pound just for him.  I can give up that much.  Just for gaining the reward of being close to him and having him for a friend.  That’s how I see it.

We’re in this together.  We’re taking the plunge.  And I don’t want to die anymore.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.

August 25, 2010, continued

I thought I’d post Max Ehrmann’s  “Desiderata” by itself because it deserves just that: its own place.  I first encountered the poem–a prose poem, actually–in I think 1971, and it struck me as beautiful even in my 13-year-old eyes.

It is morning here on the East Coast.

Here’s something to ponder: I think if you’re in a tight spot, it’s important to seek out people who  may have experienced similar sorts of things and understand what you are going through.  Sometimes, they are the only ones with whom you can share your true emotions.

In my case, they understand why I don’t eat because they’ve been through it themselves.

The comfort I feel in knowing this carries me through my day.

Thank you.