“You just don’t understand! You don’t get it! This is very real, and it’s so hard!” I could feel the frustration and anger boil inside of me.
I’ll never get better. I will always be like this. Throwing up in airports, fighting the urge to buy food only to shove it down then spend the next half hour in the bathroom purging it. Firmly pressing my hands on my stomach, forcing all the food out as my eyes water. At times feeling like I could choke on it making me work harder to get it out of me. Once the feeling of emptiness and numbness comes, sinking down to the bathroom floor to cry.
I grabbed the soft cooler I had just stuffed my lunch in – a Tupperware container of salad, one container of chicken, a dannon yogurt, Jell-O pudding, and utensils. I began to violently slam it into the marble counter top by swinging the straps of it. Every ounce of frustration was fueling my strength to bang it over and over on the counter.
“It’s not fair! It’s not fair! I will never get better.”
I finally throw the cooler to the floor and retreat to the bathroom, not because I want to throw up (I hadn’t even eaten at this point), but because it’s the only place in my condo with a door. Watching this all is my fiancé. I just couldn’t face him, I couldn’t face myself. I cried in the bathroom.
How many times can a person get back on the horse without breaking? Even worse, now that I’m sharing my life with someone else, how can I not break them?
It’s rare that my lapses reach this point of breaking. I try to stay as positive as possible. That little slip won’t matter, I’ll just run. But then there are times where my routine gets completely thrown off tracks and those slips become more than just a slip but an oncoming avalanche of self-loathing and depression.
This very same day, I had a therapy appointment scheduled. I wanted to back out and just pay the $150 for a late cancel. At least I wouldn’t have to sit there and be forced to think of alternative thoughts. Imagine someone you hate punching you right in your face, and then you have to talk about why they are actually a good person. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to sit there and look at the bright side of things. I wanted to wallow and hate myself. I wanted to give up and give in. The only thing more discouraging than not being able to get out of a binge-purge cycle is doing so well then falling back into it.
“I just feel like I can’t do this. Like I’ll always be like this.”
“You haven’t exhausted all your options. You’re going to start seeing the nutritionist next week, there are in-patient facilities, and there are anti-depressants. You have so many options. This is just one piece.”
“Yes, more time spent on something I can’t get over. If I go in-patient, how will I pay? What about my job?”
“There are also SSRIs.”
The dreaded SSRI suggestion. When I was in college, I went out to a dance club with a sorority sister. I didn’t really want to go out, but I did because a guy was there that she really liked. I sucked it up, but as soon as I walked into the crowded bar, I felt I couldn’t breathe. I began to sweat, the music was ringing in my ears, and the walls started closing in on me. I ran to the bathroom to escape whatever was happening to me. My friend came in and asked what was wrong, and I told her I had to leave. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I just couldn’t be there.
The next day I went to the campus health clinic. I had my first anxiety attack, and they prescribed me Paxil. No therapy, just straight to the drugs. I researched the drug, and it took me a few days to decide to try it. If there was anything that really pushed me off the ledge, it was this drug. I packed on about 30-pounds, and I quit wanting to be around my friends. I began pushing people away, and by the time I decided to quit taking it, it was too late. I tried my best to lose the weight I gained that summer, but it wouldn’t come off. I was desperate, and that’s when I really took things to desperate measures. I quit caring about my relationships with people, my 4.0 GPA, and anything else. I was depressed, and the only way to get myself out of it was to lose weight.
“I don’t want to do an anti-depressant.”
“Because of your past experience with it?”
“Yes, I just don’t want to rely on a drug to make me feel better.”
Look, I know anti-depressants help millions of people. I know they don’t have to be a long-term solution. But I’m not so far gone where I can’t smell the roses. It’s just there are times where I get pushed into this sort of hole and have to fight my way back out. Get back on the horse. I can’t break. Keep fighting.
“With the in-patient center, if it’s about your life, you can make time for it. Who cares if it means you can’t get a good job recommendation down the road? You may not even need it.”
I think this is probably where I have an, “I’m not an addict moment!” Ever watch Intervention? They sit down the drug user and tell them they see their life going nowhere, read them letters of tough-love, and ask if there person will go to treatment. This usually elicits one of several responses. They go easily, they go reluctantly, or they don’t go at all. I don’t know any of these people, so I won’t begin to address why they will or won’t go. But as someone who suffers from an apparently life threatening addiction, I can say it took therapy to make me realize this was life threatening.
Loss of hair and bad dental health, sure, but life threatening? I wonder if the people who turn down treatment on this show think they don’t deserve to run away from the world and focus on getting better because their problem isn’t serious. It’s not about denial, it’s about feeling like you’re not Lindsey Lohan, so you don’t need treatment. You’re not rich enough for treatment. You’re not cool enough for treatment. You’re a nobody struggling with a few issues.
It’s about your life.
“I just don’t want to exist anymore. I can’t do this.”
The thing about an eating disorder is it’s so secret. And other than some physical changes that happen over an extended period of time, binging and bulimia aren’t easily recognizable. I don’t eat tons of food in front of my friends, I do it in secret.
“You just don’t understand! You don’t get it! This is very real, and it’s so hard.”
It probably doesn’t help that when I am strong enough to talk about it with my fiancé or friends, I am able to do it without much emotion. Because on those days I am strong, I can be honest. I can make a joke about it. No one has really seen the ugliness of it all outside of my dog, but now my fiancé has. Smashing the lunch box, throwing my make-up, hyper-ventilating, yelling bloody murder at the top of my lungs. Sobbing that I don’t want to deal with this anymore.
God, I just want to shout it from the roof tops. I want everyone to know what I am dealing with, every single agonizing detail. Not because I want attention or for people to feel sorry for me. It’s because I want to be proud of myself when I do make it two weeks without giving in. I want to be able to celebrate it! I want everyone to know that I am a hard worker, and that I have been knocked off that same fucking horse so many times now, but I still get back on it. Do you know how strong I am? I am trying to reclaim life and finally give myself that inner-peace and happiness I have longed for. I don’t want you to know what I’m dealing with for your pity, but because I am finally achieving something and dammit, I want to celebrate!
I also want you to know that it’s serious.
I have an eating disorder. I very real, and very ugly eating disorder. I’ve had the disorder for the last 11 years, but my weight awareness has existed for 20 years. I’m trying to break a habit I’ve had for 1/3rd of my life, and an obsession I’ve had for 2/3rd of it. It’s not easy changing your way of living for the majority of your life. And I’m not just trying, I’m fighting for it. It’s not just a little issue or problem I struggle with, it’s the fiber of my being, and unless I can change it, I will never live.
It’s about my life.