THIS IS IT...
this time... yes, once again...
- September, 1, 2019 -
I have been living with an eating disorder for over a decade. I am tired of telling myself I’m trying but not pushing hard enough, tired of being always “in recovery” but knowing I am getting worse by the day, I’m tired of not being able to let go of control, of being ruled by the split personality voice of the disorder, and, above all, tired of have given up on my life.
I have realized the problem back in 2007, when anorexia set its roots in my head, but the extreme spreading to take over the host started in May of 2018. By January of this year I had restricted myself from almost all types of foods, prolonged my fasting hours and increased an obsessive daily gym routine. Restriction has always been a familiar and long term companion to me, as in 2010 I decided to stop eating certain foods. Since that year I haven’t eaten pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, pastries or any kind of dough, chocolate, ice cream or anything fried. When I tell people that they are either in shock to discover I can live without ice cream or pasta, or they offer me high praise for my efforts and healthy mindset. First, I can certainly state I do not have a healthy mindset. Far from it - I have a continuous voice dictating rules daily in my head and trying to pass them as the healthy and “right” thing to do. Second, what terrifies me the most is not the fact I am, as friends say, “able to live without” ice cream or pasta or chocolate, or whatever it is for almost a decade, but the fact that I do not miss, crave or even feel like trying any of those again. As the months of 2019 passed and my calorie intake dropped, I stopped feeling the desire for absolutely any type of food, and in sequence, of any type of activity. I entered a dark tunnel from which I did not care if I found the way out. I just wanted to stay still and obey the voice of the ED, waiting for the moment it would tell me I could now have one plum, or one tomato, after days of starvation. In the end, I would feel more pleasure in not eating that one plum or tomato than eating it, and the starvation would go on.
My weight plummeted, and I lost 4kg (almost 9lb) in 2 months. Around February, I reached 38kg (83lb). Not good for a girl with 1,65m (5’5”) of height. I was clearly sick to everyone around me, but I couldn’t see it myself when I looked in the mirror.
In one year I had lost over 10kg and became a miserable shadow of who I once was - a dreamer and a doer. I have to face, however, that I was never actually healthy for the past decade. Even though I did not look sick as I started to do in 2019, I most definitely was. This was me in April of 2018:
I certainly look way better than today, and may look healthy, but do not let the girl in the image fool you! For right there I was just getting my calories from almond milk, lettuce bathed in ranch dressing and alcohol. For many periods in my life I would fast for days before having calories back from only milk or juice. But when the photo above was taken I was actually used to spending days in a row only surviving on alcohol. Some times adding a lettuce or milk, and sometimes only complementing the beer intake with spoonfuls of ranch dressing straight from the bottle. This may seem absurd (and pretty disgusting!), but I am sure it sounds familiar to other sufferers. I actually only decided to face the problem with the help of people who went or are going through recovery who made their journeys public. Their reports on own rituals excluding or eating just certain foods seemed as the “normal” way to live for me. That is the reason why I started to trust the journey of other sufferers in treatment to motivate my own rather than continue to pay thousands to psychiatrists and nutritionists who claimed to be experts but would only keep me drugged up and numbed and expressed how absurd they thought it was my routine of restrictions. How can an expert find absurd the illness he is supposed to know the treatment for? And, yes, I will call it a disease. It is a mental health issue and becomes a psychological manifestation that destroys the being, muscle by muscle, wearing bone by bone, and finally breaking their spirit.
I would like to point out that it is my opinion that a psychologist or psychiatrist should never express their analysis of a situation or person as normal or abnormal. There is no such thing. And to consider a behavior as one or the other is an act of labeling many patients will just fight against and will not help on the improvement of a person's view of her/himself.
"Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly" - The Addams Family
When I decided to finally eat more in the past few months, encouraged by the journeys of others in recovery, I started to notice a difference in mood and to experience joy and happiness throughout the days. It may sound crazy, but it was a surprise to feel those emotions again! In the same fashion it was incredible to feel hopeful and dream about the future once more. And, then, in one moment in time - BANG! I looked in the mirror and I saw myself. I mean, I really SAW myself. It was as if I was in need of heavy glasses but was never aware I was myopic. Then, suddenly, the right prescription is put on. For the first time I saw myself as a tiny, fragile girl, that could wrap her hand around the circumference of her arm and still have room. I saw no longer a young woman with curves, but the body of a child or the one of an old lady, and I comprehended comments made referring to me as “skeleton” or “sick girl”. "I was blind but now I see". My cheek bones had disappeared, I saw I no longer had a butt (and understood why I was always in pain sitting down), the gap between my thighs (that I always wished for and never “saw” I had) was enormous. I felt lost and despaired. I still do. And even though I try every day to eat more, the split personality still rules absolute. As hard as I try to muffle it, as loudly it screams and shouts old and new rules.
That is why I have decided to write about it. It is time to make these thoughts concrete. Take the new found knowledge about myself and situation out of my head, which now is still the domaine of the disorder - that has conquered it and keeps watch restlessly. I hope to put into words what I actually think of this disease. Additionally, I wish to report a true process to recover - it may be a way to hold myself responsible for pushing harder.
So, to start this, here is me now (after already gaining some weight):
One year difference: lost 10kg (22lb), all confidence, and my mental health:
Thank you for reading : )