A Bitter Smile, A Sore Throat

At the age of twelve, I was hospitalized for about three months with anorexia. I was about 5' 2" and I'd whittled myself down to a sixty-seven-pound skeleton. Fortunately, I put enough weight back on to avoid welcoming any significant physical damage. Unfortunately, the smallish hospital where I stayed was woefully under-equipped to deal with a mentally-ill preteen. The experience was, in short, a nightmare. For myself as well as my improbably loving, forgiving parents. It took a good couple of years for me to get out of the anorexic mindset, and I didn't fully escape that phantom in my mind until I was sixteen or so.

Fast forward through two or three years during which I went through a lot of depression (nothing new, in my life), but managed to eat healthfully. It was in my second year at university when food somehow became a coping mechanism, only now it was a different problem. Eating too much. Sometimes just eating spoonful after spoonful from a jar of peanut butter, because it was sweet, salty, creamy, comforting. Sometimes eating nearly a whole box of cookies. Sometimes a huge chocolate bar. (Dark chocolate, but still not good for anyone in such quantities.) My metabolism is pretty good, but I wasn't exercising enough either, and in a few months I packed about twenty pounds onto my small frame. And it was early in second term that this issue got severe, so I started panicking. I had to stop this uncontrolled eating. And if I broke down and ate that way, I had to get rid of it. My toothbrush was my chosen partner in crime.

Can I just say, the rest is history?

... only it isn't history. It's still present, and as much as I try at some times, at others I just don't. I know better. Yet I give in, I make that choice to let myself fall. I give in, I binge, I purge. Then I feel better and worse at the same time. You likely know, dear reader: this is a treacherous habit. My stomach is emptier, my thoughts feel sinisterly clear, and I can tell myself, 'THAT, Amber you b****, was the last time.' Purging allows me a modicum of control, but it's not the control upon which I always prided myself. I have been an ambitious and often perfectionist student as long as I can remember. My yoga, later my running, my ethics-driven vegan lifestyle, my dedication to my studies and earning of grades that always came very early in the alphabet – these were all, in some way, my disciplines, and (balanced with a much happier social life after I was sixteen) they kept my life a healthy one in most respects. Till I let myself go where food is concerned. Now they all suffer, to a greater or lesser extent.

As I type this, I'm waiting for the start of a course by Christine Inge (http://www.christieinge.com/) that looks like basically self-directed holistic/behavioural therapy. I hope that it will help, beginning tomorrow. I have to beat this; everyone suffering from this disorder needs to find his or her own way out of it because it's no way to live. Physically or emotionally. I just don't know yet which way out is my own.

Namaste [the light in me salutes the light in you].

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2 Responses Jul 10, 2011

I’m sorry I haven’t checked in with my little electronic granddaughter sooner; I hope you’re OK. . . <br />
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Reading your story, feeling the pulse of your heart as you wrote your words, I had a superficial thought that, “I wish I could comfort this little girl and make all her problems go away.” But then a rational thought prevailed saying; “She will learn her way through this, and be a stronger individual for it.” I know that in the midst of our battles, life can seem depressing. But when we learn our way through and conquer the difficulty in our lives, we learn so much as we emerge victorious at the other end. <br />
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Moderate depression is a normal balance to joy; and is to be expected in any life. But please don’t let yourself be overcome with long bouts of deep depression; it can be dangerous and destructive to the sole.<br />
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Just a Random thought: - Sometimes when we get so busy with the daily chores in our lives, add to that the random acts of kindness we share with others; we sometimes don’t have the time to focus on the self-centered feelings of sadness, self-loathing that can drive us into depression. . . You’ve got a wonderful heart sweet-ums; use it to do good for others, and it will always be full of good and uplifting feelings. But allow it to focus inward, and it may implode. . .nwm. . .

P.S. – I try to be online at least once a week if you need to talk. . .

I can see what a struggle it is via the words you presented. In fact, it is more likely that it is an even worse struggle than you led on in this very story. Either way, the fact that you are suffering makes me very sad. I can relate to your words in some ways. <br />
You are very intelligent and a great writer -- I can see that. It really hurts when one can understand so much when it comes to logic and control, yet emotions are hard to get a hold of. They bring a lot of habits that hinder our daily lives and sometimes even poison our minds...<br />
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The fact that you are having eating disorders definitely reveals that you have some sort of mindset issue. Depression is certainly the most likely. Perhaps if you can work on this depression (which, I am sure, you try to every day) in a different light, you could overcome this physical product of your mental illness. No one should have to go through this alone and it is beautiful that you try and find help. Also, you seem like the type who may be hard on herself. If this is true, try not focusing so much on the negatives. It eats at you... I can see that. If you can accept yourself how you are, but still have the desire to improve yourself... well, you will be a lot better off than self-disciplining yourself out of frustration and disappointment than self-disciplining yourself for your health and improving your life.<br />
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Food seems so simple, but disorders such as yours can make your life so complicated. It's frustrating as all hell. And I am sorry to see you suffer so. I wish you the best. I truly hope the therapy helps you out. You can message me anytime. I may not understand everything... at least, not right away. But I do care. You are in my thoughts and prayers.