An acquaintance in a recovery forum I am part of recently asked the members to send her a poem, short story, or paragraph discussing eating disorders and/or their experience so she could incorporate it in an article she was hoping to write for ED Awareness.
A little spoken about fact about me is that I have suffered from an eating disorder for over a decade. At one point I had actually gone to an inpatient program, and spent most of my time since then in outpatient therapy.
Considering this blog is about my personal vulnerability, I had not only agreed to write something for my friend’s article, but had hoped to incorporate it in a post on here.
For a month I wrote up at least 8 or 9 different stories, in multiple ways and perspectives. I didn’t like any of them, and kept starting over. Finally, I wrote a story that felt extremely personal, and even embarrassing. One that I didn’t want anyone to read, and full of information that I had always hoped no one would know about me.
…That’s how I knew I had the right one.
My goal in writing this was to show the darkness that comes with this struggle. I worried that this story could be “triggering” for fellow sufferers, but decided that the awareness that comes with this portrayal could potentially be more powerful for readers by not editing out its raw truth. A sufferer of an ED’s world and mind is full of darkness and internal suffering, and I was hoping that my story would show a glimpse into that mental and emotional conflict which comes with the disorder.
If you know nothing of eating disorders, this may be a very shocking story for you. Good- that’s what I hope it is for you! If you are going through one, I hope that you will find comfort in that you are not alone. Look forward to my future blog posts when I share more reason to know that THERE IS HOPE! You CAN be free, and you WILL be happy.
And so, without further ado, a blip of my personal eating disorder experience.
I am seventeen years old, a junior in high school. “Dinner tonight was a mistake,” I told myself. We had spaghetti. Meatballs. Garlic bread. I thought I could handle only having a little of it, but I was just so hungry. As soon as I took my second portion I promised myself that I could only have it if I threw it up. And half an hour later, once dinner was over and the table had been cleared, I did just that. But then I got hungry, and I ate 2 bowls of cereal. I got mad that I did; angry that I had no self-restraint. “Why does something so stupid like hunger control me like this?” I reprimanded. I had gone to the bathroom and thrown the cereal up too. Out of desperation, I made myself a pot of decaf coffee- something to put in my stomach to stop the crazy cravings that were sure to come in a moment. It wasn’t satisfying; it wasn’t helping. I was so hungry, and so angry that I was. I snapped at my sister about something silly when she walked in the room. “I could be so much happier, so much nicer to everyone if I would just stop eating. If I had just not eaten so much tonight,” I reasoned. I went to my room and looked at my stomach in the mirror. Bloated from the binging and purging. I felt fat. I went to my desk drawer and swallowed four laxatives. Maybe that will help with whatever bits of food I wasn’t able to throw up, or had digested before I purged it all. “Wait, didn’t I have four yesterday? I better have six, just so my system doesn’t get used to these and to ensure that they’ll work.” I popped two more out of the pill pack and swallowed them, too. Finally, bedtime has come to save me from the refrigerator that my feet keep taking me to, and away from. While I want to sleep today’s events away, I feel so preoccupied by how fat I am feeling that I just can’t relax. I keep feeling my thighs, sure that they are bigger than they were yesterday. I pull at my stomach, knowing how bloated and large it feels. I need to do something about it. In the light of the moon through my window, I find my Ipod and put my headphones in. For an hour I do as many exercises as I can think of in my room. But I’m not tired enough; my muscles don’t feel fatigued enough. “One more hour should do.”
I am eighteen years old, a senior in high school. Today was a great day. My breakfast of coffee this morning got me through until lunch, when I took the V8 from my locker and drank it in the bathroom. “Those diet pills this morning must have really worked,” I told myself, noticing that my hands were shaky as I tried to finish up my Algebra homework in the library for the remainder of the lunch period. Cross Country practice had gone well, not because I ran particularly well, but because I definitely burned plenty of calories. I felt so fatigued today in the heat. “I was probably just dehydrated. Coffee is a diuretic, afterall. Yes, I’m sure that must be why,” I decided. After practice I got home and Mom gave me five dollars for supper. I had to leave for work in a few minutes. I tried to decide whether I’d keep it or spend it. “Today went so well, I deserve a treat,” I resolved, as I approached the Caribou Coffee a block from my work. “Thanks for funding it, Mom.” I wondered if maybe I should feel guilty, but reasoned that I could justify it by the calories that were in the large White Chocolate Mocha that I was now sipping on. “I mean, surely she would rather me get some calories out of this money than buy myself something like a magazine (as I had gotten myself two nights ago with the money she had given me for the same reason), right? …Right.”
I am eighteen years old, newly graduated. “I hate my life. No one understands me,” I cried into the pillow on my bed. Dad has been making me see this psychologist before I head off to college next month. Today he had gotten angry and asked me why he was wasting his money on me when I’m not even getting better. I’ve been seeing this woman once a week for a month now. How “better” should I be? It’s true that I haven’t been trying very hard. I’m supposed to write down everything I eat every day during the week, and bring that to her when I return. Usually I forget or procrastinate, so I leave an hour early before the appointment to sit in a coffee shop, chugging water and coffee while I write up fake lists last minute of all the meals I didn’t eat. The water and the coffee are so that the scale shows I weigh more than the prior week. I dread having to sit there talking to her for a whole hour while I have to pee so badly it feels like my bladder is going to burst. It’s worth it though. I even resorted to taping a jar’s worth of coins all over my body under my dress. I had considered purchasing some ankle weights and wearing them under jeans, but thought that perhaps it might be too suspicious. Aside from having worn wearing sun dresses every week so far, the hot July sun might make me sweat and I’d lose water weight that I can’t afford to lose. “Maybe Dad is right. Why IS he wasting money on my stupid, selfish, lying ass? Maybe I don’t deserve to be better. To be happy. Maybe this is just who I am. I was going to keep this sandwich down today, but you know what, I’m so upset now that maybe I better get rid of it”. I walk to the bathroom and shut the door. I get down on my knees and stare at the porcelain bowl, filling up with my stomach contents. I flush it, and as I wash my hands I look at the bloodshot eyes staring back at me, now filling up with tears.
Maybe Dad is right.