Have you ever wondered what it is like to have an EATING DISORDER? What it is like to live with a horrific mental illness that no one seems to understand, an illness that is often misdiagnosed, swept under the rug or hidden behind plastic smiles?
I lived in that prison for fifteen years. Thankfully, I escaped, but millions of others remained trapped.
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week and while the country gathers to smash scales (yay Southern Smash), go makeup-less/mirror-less and other body positive platforms, let us not forget what we are really raising awareness for: a cruel disease that is so misunderstood.
Many people share pictures of when they were in treatment or sick with their eating disorder. Pictures do not tell my story. Like so many others, I lived a seemingly happy and perfect life on the outside.
If you’ve heard me speak, then you’ve watched my video of recovery. Years ago when I sat down to create the video, I had the desire to finally give justice and truth to my story. I struggled in silence for 15-years and I finally wanted to unmask what was hiding beneath those perfect pictures. And the only place that holds the deep and ugly truth were my journals. My journal was the one place I could write my shame story, my struggle, my pain. No one saw my pain on the outside, only my journals knew the prison I lived in.
For this year’s NEDAwareness Week, I want to reveal my truth and what it is like to live inside the mind of an eating disorder. I often talk about life after my ED, but what about those years I was in it. So I have decided to share a piece of that with you. From abvilence to accept my eating disorder diagnosis to realizing treatment was my only hope to survive, these are excerpts from my 2010 journals – unedited, raw, real.
This is a small glimpse into my secret hell, my secret battle with an eating disorder…
I don’t know where to start…or what I’m feeling. Part of me feels fine, but maybe that’s because I can’t exactly walk through work with my head down crying, but I’m really sad and unhappy right now. I feel so big and gross…the holidays have so caught up with me. And after yet another gung ho recovery effort, I’m back to where I started feeling defeated and ambivalent about the process. I just want to get some weight off then get back on track. Part of me is so angry right now too…angry and scared. I am sinking inward…not wanting to talk to anyone or see anyone…it makes me sad. I hate this insane mental battle. I’m not doing inpatient…so not an option. I can do this on my own, I can…I just need to get over myself.
I’m pissed because I’m having to do all of this shit…who says it is that bad. Why isn’t it just disordered eating instead of full blown ED? What if this process – all of the therapy and attention to the disorder has made it worse than it ever was. What if I wouldn’t have said anything…it was not this bad before…i was not this miserable and sad and unhappy and angry with everyone and the world.
The sadness has crept in again and I don’t know why. I’m overwhelmed with sadness. The thoughts have crept back in and I am letting them take me away. I continue to doubt things are that bad because I really don’t believe they are if people would just leave me alone. I’m just so confused.
I hate this – I can’t focus…I can’t get anything done. All I can think about is the damn smoothie I had at lunch and how many sugars were in it and whether I should eat a snack or not. And then just about all of this …it won’t leave me. My head hurts from the constant thinking and debating and not knowing what to do.
Why can’t I fucking let go of this shit once and for all. I am – right now. I am going to make this effort for me…I am better than this. I am going to fight this thing head on and do whatever I have to do to get me to recovery…I want to say I’m in recovery…not I have an eating disorder…Enough is enough. I refuse to waste energy on this. I have to stop being afraid of hurting those I love.
I need to put me first. Enough of this shit. It’s time I enjoy life – and really enjoy with all of me…not just with part of me when I feel good about me – enjoy it 24/7…I want energy to make it through the day…energy to stay focused and alert…energy just to be me.
I can’t focus on anything – all I think about is this issue. I’m feeling like a relapse is on the horizon because that is all I want. I stole a bunch of laxatives from mom and dads – ugh who does that. Then I knew I was setting myself up yesterday for a binge and purge…and of course I did. Now as a result I am tired, foggy and swollen – which makes me want to go buy water pills to help that – I’m in this violent circle again – tip toeing around the edge.
I just want to get this weight off and get back in control of things. I feel so out of control, but at the same time all I want to do is eat. Why am I so hungry? I can’t control myself around food – unless I control my access to it. I am very frustrated right now. I need to get over my crazy ways and just be. Why can’t I just be? I am just so annoyed with myself. I want to let this go – but here we are again with my eating disorder. It is all I crave.
I threw up blood yesterday…and it did not bother me. I am totally numb. I was caught so off guard when I looked into the toilet and saw a clot of blood floating amidst the disgusting vomit. And yet I continued to shove my fingers down my throat. I am numb as I write this – I feel as though it is an out of body experience. I hate all of the words like – vomit, purge, fingers down throat…but that is what it is. It is time I stop candy coating and using all of my code words. I fucking binge and eat everything my fat ass wants then purge and then have plans later for restriction. I allow myself to eat, eat, eat then purge…then restrict because then it is time to shape back up.
It’s a pattern that has been happening for what seems like all of my life since childhood. When will it stop? When will I quit numbing myself and pretending things are fine? Obviously, things are not fine. It is not normal to puke blood, then keep puking and then not being disturbed by what you saw. I should have freaked out…I should have been disturbed and should have yelled for help. But I didn’t. I washed my face and continued on with my day – just shaky and numb. Why do I continue to do this? Eat, purge, repeat. Therefore, no more feelings – just numb oblivion. I’m beginning to wonder will this ever completely go away – I’m honestly not sure. Because right now I can’t focus. I feel nothing – just nothing…happy on the outside, but afraid of what is about to surface on the inside.
I am lost. No other way to put it. I am in constant turmoil – a constant back and forth tug of war between ED and the healthy me. I am petrified of what lies ahead and I don’t know why because it would be all wonderful and good things – health, a family, happiness, freedom. So what am I so afraid of? I don’t know.
There is a quiet voice I can barely hear that says I’m better than this. What the fuck is wrong with me? Why do I know if I put the opportunity in front of me to binge, purge, take pills, etc I would do it? The only reason I don’t buy pills is because it would devastate Jordan and hurt him so bad. I have hurt him enough. I could care less what would happen to me.
I know there is someone inside of me that does NOT want this anymore. I tired of this – I don’t have the energy. It’s all I think about. I carry it with me 24/7 and I burden everyone else with it too. My twisted mind keeps going back and forth – driving those around me mad, driving me mad because I know the truth. I know today things have got to change. I’ve said it before and been full of bullshit – afraid to make the real changes – the ones that mean something, the hard ones. Maybe now I’m just more realistic in that I know it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
It’s so easy for me to minimize everything, not just ED, but everything in my life. I’d rather talk about everyone else then have people talk about me. I don’t know why – it’s just what I’m comfortable with.
The crazy thing is that I thought getting married was going to solve my little issue with food. I focused on the wedding and what I had to do to ‘prepare’…I thought life was so good and that after the wedding it would be so good. I binged on my own wedding cake. Driving to work. Sick. I was so thin I knew I could have a piece at home when we got back from our honeymoon. And I did – all of it. In my car driving to work at 8am. Sick. This is my untold secret – the last of my secrets. I binge. Binge. Binge. Binge. I loose control – that precious thing that I hold so tight. I control everything…except my binging. And now I have discovered and perfected the purge. Ugh it’s so sick. So embarrassing. But nonetheless it is what I do, what I’ve always done. I am tired of this. It’s getting old.
ED is getting old.
Officially one week away from my 29th birthday. This is so not the place I imagined myself to be when I turned 29. I just wrote the Carolina House an email asking for an admission date. I just don’t know what I’m doing. Is this the right thing? I feel like it is but wont let myself believe that I am ‘that bad off’. This has been a part of my life for so long I don’t know any different. All I know is that I am at the end of my rope and I feel that life has just unraveled. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel, what ‘behaviors’ I’m doing or why I do them. I just don’t know – I never know. All I know is that I feel empty and I feel dramatic for feeling that way. I feel that I am supposed to just get my ass up and kick it into gear. I need to stop with this bullshit and get the fuck up. But I don’t. I just want to lie in bed or curl up because everything hurts too much. I know I am sick and I need more help than anyone can offer me here.
The thought of being free from this and moving on with a productive and happy life is so overwhelming – I want it so bad. But as long as I stay in this place I continue in the same cycle of having my every move dictated by someone/something beyond my control. I am unable to function on my own. I don’t know how to sit and plan and be productive…not that I always have to be productive, but I am constantly distracted thinking about ED and thinking about what I can eat next, how many calories, what’s in the pantry, what I can purge, how to cover my tracks, or maybe not eat – just make coffee or popcorn. It is a constant, 24/7 debate.
I truly pray that I am able to be open and honest when I go to NC. I want to be so bad – but sometimes I just don’t have the words….
God, please give me the words. Let this be done.
I share these today to remind you that no matter how alone you feel, hope is there. Our stories might be different, but hope remains in us all. I once gave up that hope in recovery, but my team never did. I believed in them and they believed in me.
Always remember that recovery is forever and always possible…I am living proof.
With love and light,