Holiday Mental Check

I love holiday season. I love the festivities, I love the food (duh), and I love the general feelings of goodwill towards man that flow through the air from November through January. Everyone seems just a little friendlier, a little more willing to say hi or lend a hand. Also, presents.

IMG_0266

But the holidays are also a time plagued with other issues for me. The constant, continual offerings of food and feasting, drinks and dessert, have been very conflicting for me in the past. I’m sure it’s far too generalizing to say that it’s an issue that anyone who has struggled with eating issues has had, but I’d venture to guess that it is. It’s very wearying to have a running battle inside your mind, pitting your wants and desires against each other.

Yes, I want to eat and be merry and have fun with my family. No, I don’t want to overeat and feel guilty and stuffed, or look like a pig. Yes, I want to be able to indulge in food that I usually only get to eat once a year. No, I don’t want to gain that holiday weight. Yes, I want to eat pumpkin pie. No, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop at just one slice.

Pumpkins Pies

It’s exhausting. So this year, I’ve put some pretty serious thought to mentally checking myself for the holidays. It might sound kind of silly, maybe a little bit like an overreaction, to have to mentally prepare for a meal. But c’mon, food is a pretty pervasive thing during the holidays. And I do have known and admitted, past and present, issues with food, my body, eating, and the feelings that that are wrapped up in those things. I try to embrace both parts of me when it comes to holiday meals now: the part that still loves the food, the smells, the spirit AND the part that wants to strive for balance and health in her life. It’s what led me to create some of my awesome healthier-but-still-awesomely-indulgent holiday recipes.

Stuffing Ingredients

I am SO looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. I can’t wait to start prepping tonight, to get together with my family in the kitchen tomorrow, and have my only job for the day be to cook, and then eat. But I am going into the entire day with thought and purpose. And in that spirit, here is my Thanksgiving credo: I will eat what I choose. I will enjoy every bite, and not eat for the sake of eating. I will listen to the cues of my body, and strive not to stuff myself to the point of belly-rubbin’, jeans-poppin’, about-to-burst fullness, BUT if I do, I will not beat myself up about it. I will not obsess over what the scale will say afterward.
I mean, c’mon. It’s freaking Thanksgiving, you know?

Daxters

I sincerely hope you have an awesome holiday, filled with friends, family, food — or however you choose to spend it!

You’re Not Alone

All right, let me say right up front that I think the subject matter of this post may be potentially triggering for someone who might be struggling with body image, destructive thoughts, disordered eating, or self-hatred. However, I received such an amazing response from readers on my last why-so-serious post (“Ghost“) that I feel compelled to dive a little further into it.

I talk a lot about honesty. I am really pretty honest in this blog. Sure, it’s not a complete and totally unfiltered retelling of my life (I probably drop a lot more F-bombs in real life than I ever would on here, haha), but nothing really is. I don’t pretend like this is ALL of me, but I also don’t try to sugarcoat my life, or show you only the sunny side. Um, obviously. Hahaha.

In my post last week, wherein I described how I still sometimes struggle with the echoes of my eating disorder (and, more importantly, the disordered thoughts that informed it), there was one paragraph that seemed to resonate with some of you quite surprisingly:

…I remembered all of the times that I would go out to eat with my friends. Upon finishing my meal, which was a restaurant portion (read: huge) that I likely ate in its entirety, I remember the feeling of yearning I had toward any unfinished food on my friends’ plates. I always wanted to eat that too. Their leftover french fries, the last quarter of their burger, that last couple of chicken wings. My friends probably (hopefully) didn’t know this. I like to think they didn’t notice the longing in my eyes, the twitching of my fingers. Because it would never even occur to them. They had control of their eating. They didn’t feel the need to stuff themselves to the limit and beyond…

I had really only written it to paint an image of what my thought process used to be like. To illustrate the way my attitude toward and relationship with food was warped. But in the comments and emails that I received, so many people expressed how glad they were to know that there was someone else who had these kinds of thoughts. That there was somebody else out there like them. That they were not alone.

And upon receiving several messages with that same sentiment, the idea for this post began to formulate in my head. Not because it’s an easy post to write, but because I think it’s necessary. Because it is so much harder to face your demons by yourself. And because nobody really is alone. So to prove it, I’m willing to lay it all out there. The self-image issues and the irrationality and the dangerous amounts of self-loathing that I battled on a daily basis, back when I was at my highest weight and in the throes of my eating disorder.

Maybe all this post will do is illustrate just how far-gone I was back then. And maybe it will alienate my real-life friends, or embarrass my family, or who knows what. But you guys often call me brave, and even though I don’t really think that’s true, I want to be. And I want you — whoever you may be — to know that you weren’t then, and are not now, alone.

***

Imagine it is somewhere in the 2008 – 2009 time frame. I am 20 years old and a college senior. Forget trying to lose the Freshman 15. Unfettered access to campus dining halls and the multiple fast food drive-thrus that populate Harrisonburg, VA has helped me pack on a good 60 pounds over the past 3 years while at school. I am lonely, unfocused, and depressed. I am very overweight. And I feel, deeply, that the latter is the reason for all of the former.

I loathe the way I look, and yet I am obsessed with my body. I strive for the ideal (skinny) body that I have yearned for since I was a pre-teen, and want to get there as quickly as possible. Evidently, this means I am living in a constant cycle of trying to see how long I can go without eating anything at all, and then breaking into a binge when I “fail” at that. And due to my “failure” to starve myself into skinnyness, I hate myself even more.

Despite living in a house full of fun, vibrant women, I find myself retreating more and more into the solitude of my bedroom. This is where most of the damage is done. I come home with fast food in my purse, having already thrown away the extra sodas that came with my multiple value meals from Wendy’s. Because, sure, ordering value meals instead of individual items costs more. But at least this way, the woman in the drive-thru window might not think that all of this food is for me. She might not know to pity me.

I constantly fear judgement. From my housemates. My friends. My classmates. The svelte, denim mini-skirt wearing girls around campus in their Uggs and giant sunglasses who always have a boyfriend. (Of course, I know now that many of them probably weren’t any healthier than me, but it didn’t make it hurt any less that I didn’t look like them.) I can’t let anyone know about my secret food lifestyle. Even just being me, as obese as I am, I feel like I am constantly being judged. God forbid they really see what’s going on behind closed doors. So I try to hide it all.

I rarely use the kitchen, except when nobody else is home and I can make two boxes of macaroni and cheese in peace. No matter what I am eating, it is almost always alone in my room. I shovel down the food as quickly as possible, usually with the TV on so that I don’t have to pay attention to the thousands of calories I’m consuming. I also need to get it over quickly on the off chance that someone might walk in and catch me with my smorgasbord of crap. It sounds cliche, but that feeling — that bursting-to-the-max, uncomfortable, can’t-possibly-eat-another-bite-and-yet-I-do fullness — really is numbing. It helps distract me from myself. It depends on the day, but if I’m really feeling TOO full, then maybe I’ll try purging in one way or another. But probably not. I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know.

I’m not completely anti-social. I do have friends, and of course we sometimes go out to eat together. I do struggle with the menu, trying to balance what I want to eat (everything) with what is acceptable to eat. But then I just remind myself that Taco Bell is open until 2 AM and I can always add onto my caloric bill later if need be.

Sometimes, I stand in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will possibly go. I know it is completely illogical and irrational, but I stand there under the scalding stream and savor the pain of the heat, hoping that by some miracle of physics and biology that all my fat will simply melt off my body. I fantasize about getting plastic surgery: gastric bypass, liposuction. I research fad diets, crash diets, celebrity diets. I wonder whether Fen-Phen is still a thing, and if I could get some (it’s not and I couldn’t, thank goodness). Sometimes, on really dark days, when I’m staring into the mirror at the body that I inexplicably despise, I fantasize about just cutting the fat off of my body.

I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know. All I have is the size label on the inside of my jeans and the knowledge that I am too big, too heavy, too undesirable. And yet, never, not once, does it truly occur to me to change my lifestyle. To stop this destructive cycle, to reevaluate the way I see myself. To say to myself, “if I want to lose weight, I can just start eating healthier. I can start exercising. I can do it right.” I mean, sure, I KNOW that’s what it will take. Cognitively, logically, I know that works. But it seems like too much effort with too slow of a result. I want to be skinny, but I want it fast, and I want it now, and I want it easy. Anyone’s comments of concern or efforts to help just drive me further down. I don’t NEED their help. I don’t WANT their advice.

It will be another year and a half until I finally change. Change my thinking, change my lifestyle, and, between those two things, finally change my body. And I thank God every day that I did.

***

I obviously still have moments where I struggle, but it is nothing like it used to be. And while I do still want to lose weight, it no longer comes from a place of self-loathing. And that is a big step.

When I went to the Cirque du Soleil show last week, I told my friend Rachel that I was thinking about writing this post but was scared. I was scared of what it would mean to put all of this out there: my darkest thoughts, my secret shame, the truth behind why my relationship with food became so toxic in the first place. I’ve obviously put out snippets of my behavior before, but not quite like this. And she and I got into a really interesting discussion about shame.

I was ashamed of my body, and I was equally ashamed of my behavior. Even now, I remain ashamed of those thoughts. It is mortifying to put out there. To know that I was that desperate, that I hated myself that much. To think that this body, which can do some pretty awesome stuff, was such an embarrassment. If I’d had the resources back then, there is probably no limit to the unhealthy extremes I would have been willing to go in order to achieve my perfect body. But I also know that I can’t possibly be the only person who has ever had those kinds of thoughts.

As women in modern society, we are given so many conflicting messages. We are supposed to strive to look a certain way, to achieve a certain size, to hate ourselves if we don’t fit that mold. But not too much. Don’t hate yourself too much, like I did, because that’s just as shameful. You can’t possibly love yourself either, though, not while you’re so fat/ugly/awkward/plain. You have to hate yourself just enough to drive yourself to be beautiful, THEN it’s okay to love yourself. You want to talk about what’s a real shame? Let’s talk about THAT.

I think the real root of my personal shame when it comes to my disordered past stems from the idea that my thoughts were not okay to think. That they weren’t normal. I was the weird one, the strange one, the one with all these problems that needed fixing. It was isolating, and that estrangement manifested itself in some dangerous ways. I just wish that back then there had been someone to tell me that I wasn’t alone.

There’s a chance that some of you may not be able to relate to the content of this post at all. And that is seriously wonderful if that’s the case. But even if you never had to deal with the exact behavior I described, I would bet that anyone who has ever struggled with their body image or self-worth can relate at least a little bit. We are not alone.

Ghost

It has been a trying week.

Between the flooding at my house, the two consecutive car accidents in my brand new car within the span of 24 hours, the hours upon hours of time spent dealing with three separate insurance companies (with five separate claim numbers), some of the agents from whom have been downright mean to me (why?), the workload that had already piled up from being out sick two days last week, and the whiplash pain in my neck and shoulders, my resolve has been tested more than it has been in a long, long time.

I sit here typing this at 3:43 AM — the aftereffect of procuring an iPhone 5 preorder (huzzah!) but being unable to fall back asleep (boo-urns) — with a lead ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. Not only am I having to deal with the aftermath of the things that have already happened, but I feel like I am living in constant fear of something else happening. It’s like I’m just waiting for another catastrophe to pile on.

And even if it’s not of catastrophic proportions, every little thing seems somehow worse in the light of everything else that has happened this week. I sneezed yesterday morning and split my lip. I cried for like 15 minutes. A cockroach was on the ceiling above my desk — a coworker saw it, swatted it down, and killed it. I almost had a full-scale panic attack within eyeshot and earshot of an entire conference room full of federal employees.

If you have been reading this blog for any reasonable amount of time (or even just my About Me page), you know that I am pretty open about my past with regard to my food issues. I have struggled with binge and disordered eating for so long now that it feels old hat. And going through a week like this, while it does highlight how far I may have come, also serves to remind me of how very far I still have to go.

I have a warped and twisted relationship with food. I usually talk about myself in the past tense when I refer to my eating disorder (a term that I don’t actually like to use for myself since I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but is nonetheless apt) because I like to pretend that’s where it belongs: in the past. But the truth is that I have not yet fully escaped the effects that years and years of emotional eating and food obsession has had on my psyche. I still seek comfort from food. I still want it to fill any and all emotional voids I may feel. It still permeates my thoughts, influences my actions, has the power to make and break my moods.

I talk about how I’ve “freed myself from a toxic relationship with food” a lot here. It’s kind of a tagline of mine, a way to succinctly sum up my journey through disordered eating. But of course, I’m not really free. My eating, and more specifically, my attitude toward food, is still messed up. I may have a healthier diet, I may make better choices (usually), but I still put far too much weight on what I put into my mouth. I still overthink, overcalculate, overanalyze. Occasionally, I still have to actively fight against my urges to binge, to eat from boredom or emotion, to stuff myself to capacity. And when I do end up losing that battle, I have to fight even harder against the inclination to purge.

Food still holds power over me. Whether or not I actually end up giving into that power is a different story, and more often than not is evidence of my growth and healing. But the fact that it still affects me to such a degree is a major sign that I’m not nearly as free as I like to think.

Yesterday, I felt defeated. The events of the week have been wearing on me, and I felt defeated from the moment I woke up. It only got worse as the day went on. I found myself actively fixating on what I could eat as soon as I got off work. It probably didn’t help that I barely ate anything all day while AT work. I drove home anxious, as I now am every time I get behind the wheel, and failed to stop myself from pulling into the drive-through of a nearby McDonald’s. I got a large fries and a small Diet Coke. I ate them in the car.

Then, a little while after I got home, I stared into the refrigerator for 10 straight minutes. Not really hungry, of course. But I ate four chocolate mini cupcakes anyway, one right after another. And after that, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot dog.

Okay. So, sure, that’s not really what a lot of people would call a binge. That’s not even what I would call a binge, if I were to compare it to what my binges used to be like. This was not multiple fast food value meals. This was not an entire large pizza. This was probably a fairly average day’s worth of calories — maybe even less — regardless of how devoid of nutrition those calories were. Purely from a diet perspective, it’s probably not going to throw me THAT far off track.

But that’s not really the point, is it?

I know myself. I know what unhealthy behavior looks like for me. And even though you could make a lot of arguments that I “wasn’t that bad”, what I ate isn’t really what this is about. It’s about the thought process I had going into it. It’s about how I went looking for it. It’s about how I wanted to be alone when I did it. I didn’t want anyone to find me, to interrupt me, to have the potential to judge me.

And just like that, it all came flooding back. The memories, the emotions, the actions of my past, all rushing my mind like ghosts of my former life. All that time I used to spend hiding burgers at the bottom of my purse. Shoveling spoonfuls of mac and cheese into my mouth at lightning speed so I could finish before my roommates came home, or at least pretend like I started out with a much smaller portion than I did. Locking the door after picking up a pizza so I could gorge myself in privacy. Shoving whatever I was eating under my pillow, or under the bed, or behind a bookshelf whenever someone would knock on my door and interrupt my binge.

As I was lying in bed a little while ago, trying to fall back to my even-more-fitful-than-usual sleep, I remembered all of the times that I would go out to eat with my friends. Upon finishing my meal, which was a restaurant portion (read: huge) that I likely ate in its entirety, I remember the feeling of yearning I had toward any unfinished food on my friends’ plates. I always wanted to eat that too. Their leftover french fries, the last quarter of their burger, that last couple of chicken wings. My friends probably (hopefully) didn’t know this. I like to think they didn’t notice the longing in my eyes, the twitching of my fingers. Because it would never even occur to them. They had control of their eating. They didn’t feel the need to stuff themselves to the limit and beyond. They would never even contemplate being completely full and yet still desiring to pick off the plates of their eating companions just because the food was THERE. Were it not for the general social decency that stayed my hand, I can guarantee that I would have eaten every morsel on their plates. And that kind of messed-up thinking doesn’t just disappear. Or, at least, it hasn’t yet.

Yes, I am different now. My obsession with eating has evolved into a marginally healthier obsession with food itself. I love to cook, I appreciate the artistry of haute cuisine, and I consider myself a real foodie. I have given myself a foundation for a healthy(er) diet, I have lobbed off a considerable amount of the weight that my eating disorder had helped me pack on, and I have accomplished a great many things that I would never have thought possible. I now win far more fights than I lose when it comes to my eating issues, and that is a commendable thing.

But there are still cracks in my foundation. I still hear the whispered call of the numbing satisfaction that stuffing my cakehole will bring me — however brief I know it will be. I am still haunted. This doesn’t necessarily mean I will give in. Bad days get better. This week will end. The stress that has been whittling away at my resolve will be alleviated. But I am not yet free. I’m just kidding myself when I say that I am. My eating disorder still has a presence in my life. A weak and listless one on most days, I am thankful to say, but a presence nonetheless. I am fighting for my freedom, but it is still there. Lurking just behind the curtain, ready to pounce at any sign of weakness.

This was not the first battle. It will not be the last.

Twilight ED

Okay, I’m going to ahead and post a nice big disclaimer right here that the following post is about Twilight (to an extent). So those of you who are vehemently opposed to, y’know, that, probably won’t be that interested. Hokay!

So, with my unnatural obsession with all things Vampire Diaries should leave none of you surprised that I have read, watched, and relatively enjoyed the Twilight books and movies. Granted, it’s in a bit of a hide-my-head-in-the-sand kind of way, but generally I’m open about my guilty pleasure relationship with the series.

It’s a guilty pleasure for a reason, of course. Let’s face it: Bella Swan, the “heroine” of the Twilight Saga, is hardly an epic role model. She is accidentally, unassumingly desired by every guy in her class for absolutely no reason (as The Oatmeal so lovingly put it, she has about as much distinctiveness and personality as a pair of pants, hahaha). She knowingly puts herself in danger by being with a guy she knows is bad for her, for no real reason other than she’s curious about him (because it’s definitely normal to think that a boy you don’t know sneaking into your bedroom to watch you sleep at night before you even know him is totes romantic, right?). Her dependency on her boyfriend reaches the point where she loses all motivation for life when he breaks up with her; she is literally willing to die to be with him.

Despite all of this, I’ve still read the books (okay, okay, multiple times), and I do own the movies. Sometimes bad can be good, y’know? A viewing of the first movie with Ai Rei last night, however, pointed out some alarming facts about movie-version Bella Swan that even our mutual devotion to supernatural romance just can’t ignore: the subliminal portrayal of an eating disorder.

Now, before you guys all write me off as reading too much into the movie and being overly critical (Let it be known that I am hardly ever critical at all, let alone overly so), let’s look at the facts. Also, please note that I really am just referring to the movie here, as it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, so I’m not equipped to discuss what her relationship with food is like in the text.

Despite being in at least SIX scenes where there is food present, Bella literally takes one single bite of actual food throughout the course of the entire movie:

— There is a scene where she is shown at school during lunch, holding a piece of celery up to her mouth but never eating it.
— She goes to the diner with her dad and orders a garden burger & fries, but doesn’t eat it.
— Edward comes up and talks to her as she’s putting together a bowl of veggies at the salad bar, but she just plays with it.
— She is shown with Twizzlers in the car with Angela at La Push; it does appear that she takes a tiny bite in the wide angle shot, though it’s hard to tell, and then when everyone else gathers around she stops eating and offers her candy to everyone else instead.
— She orders mushroom ravioli at the restaurant with Edward but is so captivated by his OMG!telepathy that she forgets to eat or something.
— The second time she’s at the diner, she eats half of a single raw snowpea off of her undressed spinach salad. Finally, sustenance!

Bella actually gets talked about AS food more than she EATS any food!

Other things that gave me pause as I began thinking about them:

She plays with her food, paws at it, and arranges it but doesn’t actually eat it. I’m sure the director (and probably Kristen Stewart herself) thought that this was just Bella being awkward, but those are common practices utilized by people with eating disorders. Examples:

— She makes “edible art” with the salad bar in the cafeteria.
— She holds the celery stalk up to her lips but never puts it in her mouth.
— She pours ketchup onto her plate at the diner and takes a long time doing so, emphasizing the action unnecessarily, but doesn’t actually dip any fries into it.
— When she goes to the Cullens’ house and they are all prepping food especially for her (“Italiano!”), she looks uncomfortable and Edwards tells them she already ate.
— When she finally does eat the single vegetable off her salad, she’s eating with her hands, which still reads as playing with her food.

Despite not being a vegetarian in the book, she is in the movie for no real reason. A quick Google search revealed that it’s allegedly because K.Stew is veggie, but that really shouldn’t have mattered since the actress didn’t have to actually EAT anything. Plus, it’s very clear later in the books that she is not a vegetarian (there’s a semi-important scene involving fried chicken in the fourth book). It’s common for girls with EDs to use veganism or vegetarianism as an excuse not to eat a lot/in public/out at restaurants.

Eating disorders are even mentioned by Bella while in the cafeteria with her friends, and they just all look around awkwardly until she changes the subject, which is a moment I never really understood, even outside of my current critique.

And another thing that is not exactly directly food-related, but kind of falls into the general “Bella is a bad role model” category is the way that she is portrayed as increasingly more and more attractive and feminine as Edward pays more attention to her and their relationship blossoms. Her clothing gets more fitted and flattering, her hair gets wavier and more defined, her skin gets less pasty and her makeup gets better. In general, she gets more attractive as Edward becomes more ingratiated in her life. It might be a bit of a stretch, but I bet you could even argue that her lack of food intake also informs her subtle makeover, which is a warped and worrying message.

Yes, you could probably make the argument that just because we never SEE Bella eat, it’s implied that she’s eating, and it would have taken away from the film or something to show her doing so. I would normally agree, except it’s not like we never see ANYBODY eating. Her father is shown taking a bite of steak, her friend Angela is shown eating an apple. The only additional impled eating that we ever even see for Bella is that, at one point, a waitress clears a cup of soup from the table before dropping off the ravioli. And there’s no way to tell if the cup is actually empty, or if it’s just more food that she’s failed to consume in the name of Edward-induced distraction.

I’m not saying that this was a conscious choice on the part of the director. I doubt it was even noticed when the movie was cut together; it’s not that important, in the grand scheme of things. And while that may be true, I just think that considering how many young girls already wish they could model their lives after darling Bella, it’s not a very good message that comes across. Plus, once you actually start paying attention, it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s not oblique, it’s just there, lurking in the background, which I feel is more dangerous. Writers, directors, actors, and really anyone who creates something with this much influence have a responsibility to consider all the implications of what they create.

I had a similar issue (among many, many, MANY others) when reading 50 Shades of Grey. The main character in that book, Anastasia, rarely eats. She loses her appetite when she’s sad, when she’s angry, when she’s excited, when she’s turned on. She always “forgets” to eat. It isn’t a normal human reaction to push aside hunger just because it’s inconvenient! If you’re legitimately depressed or something, then sure, I can sort of understand how food gets pushed to the wayside. (For me, of course, it’s always been the exact opposite. My mind is like, “FILL THE VOID IN YOUR SOUL WITH DELICIOUS FOOD!”) But seriously.

Okay, so there’s my little rant about it. It’s food for thought, at any rate. (Haha… ha?) Thanks to Ai Rei for helping pinpoint the scenes that I discussed and… yeah. I guess the bottom-line message is this: don’t let your daughters think of Bella Swan as a role model, she doesn’t eat enough.

Dear Diary

Please note: this is a very emotionally heavy post. It may be triggering for those of you who have had or are dealing with an eating disorder. There is also a small amount of profanity in one of the quoted sections that follows. Not that I think you can’t handle it, but as this is usually a family show I just wanted to give you a heads up.

I took a trip over the weekend. Not to a place, but to a time. Specifically, I went to revisit what you might call my version of the Dark Ages.

IMG_1685.jpg

An on-and-off journaler for most of my life, I found myself stumbling rapidly back into the past when I came across several of my old diaries. Entries spanned intermittently from 2004 to 2009, carrying me through high school to the end of college and the very worst of my struggles with disordered eating. Reading through them was like seeing snapshot after snapshot of me spiraling down to my very lowest place, while concurrently climbing to my highest weight. What started off as, in my opinion, innocuous teen angst, turned darker and more raw with every page. Cracking open these emotional hydrogen bombs sent me rocketing back to a time when I was so clearly lost. And I don’t think I even realized until now just how damaged I was.

April 4, 2007

Obese, depressed, socially awkward, disgusting, and on top of that, I’m just a fucking failure at every fucking thing I do. No wonder no guy wants me. I’m just going to end up fat & alone, like I am now but with more pets and no friends. You disgust me. You make me want to throw up. You sick, obese cow. You don’t deserve to continue breathing, let alone eating.

I was just shy of 19 when I wrote those words. According to that same entry, I had just weighed in at 213 lbs. I’ve been saying lately that I’m very fortunate not to have received any negative comments on the blog yet, but naturally I fear the inevitable day when someone is cruel to me on here. After taking this (unfortunate? fortunate?) trip down memory lane, however, I don’t think that there’s a single person out there who could be meaner to me than I was to myself.

IMG_1692.jpg

2007 seems, without a doubt, to have held the worst of it. Or at least the most detailed parts. I’ve written about my issues with binge eating here on the blog, and lightly touched on the fact that I also dealt with depression. I guess that in the process of healing though, I blocked out (or at least downplayed) the worst of it. Reading my real-time thoughts from this era of my life has made me painfully aware of just how dark things got, how depraved my desires were, and how twisted my methods became, all in the name of “thin”.

March 24, 2007

I can’t believe I keep slipping like this. This really has got to end. Tomorrow you are waking up and either A) going to UREC {the campus gym}, or B) not eating. Those are your two options. And since you can’t really go to UREC… I guess that means NO food for you. You’ve done it before. You can do it again. The one thing you haven’t been doing so far is COMMIT!!

These are just the words that I wrote, of course, not necessarily what actually happened. And while the physical pages of my diaries have stood the literal test of time, so have the actual memories that accompanied them. Thankfully, I’ve changed since then (though my obvious aversion to exercise is clearly something I’m still working on!) and thankfully, I was never very “good” at not eating. I only know that in conjunction with what I wrote, this is what I would tell myself most mornings: Don’t eat. Don’t succumb. Be “strong”. And I’d try to do exactly that for as long as I could. Sometimes I’d hold out until lunch. Sometimes until dinner. On very, very rare occasion, I might “last” until the next day. But fortunately, my body always figured out that I was trying to starve it down to a size 6 before long. Unfortunately, you probably can guess what came after. Enter: the binge.


Summer 2009

There were days that were normal. There were days when I “simply” overate (or ate poorly), but didn’t binge. But there were far too many days filled with subterfuge and lies, hidden and hoarded food, restriction, binges, and even purging.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting I did eventually seek help for my depression (I wasn’t a student there, but was understandably affected by this tragedy.) It just never even occurred to me to give the same sort of attention to my issues with food. I don’t think I understood that most girls didn’t have the same twisted relationship with every meal. And so it continued, and while some days, some weeks, some months got better, I still continued to get bigger. There are entries from the earlier journals I found where I’m cursing myself for weighing 185 pounds, and it makes me so sad. Not because it’s the actual number that matters all that much, nor the fact that I’m not quite back there yet (soon!), but because I simply wish I had known then what I know now.


May 2009

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share this time of my life with you all. It’s embarrassing. It was a sad, dark time, and I think it would have been easier for me to pack my diaries away and gloss over it with a two-sentence mention followed by 12 pictures of the dogs. I guess I just feel that it’s important to show you where I came from. Or maybe it’s just important to show myself.

We blame our obsession with thinness on so many things (society! the media! the fashion industry!) but often forget that we are our own worst critics. Sure, eventually my weight got to a point where it was a medical concern (or at least, it would surely have become one), but there are a lot of pounds between 185 (arguably average) and 246 (obviously obese). I was my own Mean Girl — my vanity constantly telling me that I needed to be smaller, that I needed to try harder. I pushed myself into my disordered eating, which of course did exactly the opposite of what I wanted in terms of my weight, and I need to own up to that fact. I’m just so thankful that I did eventually hit my tipping point, and, well, you know the rest of the story.

I would be lying to you if I said that it’s been a perfect, binge-free journey since Day 1 of starting this blog. I think that these urges are something that I will have to continue fighting for the rest of my life. Think of me what you will after reading this post, but I feel that rediscovering my diaries is a bit of a Godsend — I’ve been fighting against backsliding particularly hard lately. I’ve been living in a constant state of fear of going back to that place, and I think that may have been a big factor in why I haven’t been making much progress with my weight loss lately. Better to stay here than to take it too far, right? I know now though that I will never spiral that far down again. If nothing else, I know that you won’t let that happen. It’s thanks to you I’ve even made it this far.

Errrrr.
September 2011

There isn’t a moment of the past year that I’ve regretted when it comes to my health (a few unfortunate wardrobe choices though? Perhaps.) I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight towards my goal. I’ve continued to heal from my twisted relationship with food. I’ve grown and evolved in my ability to know myself. And hey, I’ve even run a 5 miler to boot! The only thing I do wish is that I would have had the courage to change earlier.

Thankfully it’s never too late.