I heard a saying today that really resonated with me. A lady in a documentary I was watching gave an excellent example of the price a person pays in the battle with anorexia. I paraphrase, “You don’t know it, but the entire time you’re giving it to it, you’re paying a price. Not right then in that moment, but it’s like being in the checkout line at the grocery store. Stuff is ringing up and you’re going to have to pay the price, the total sum of it, at the end.” Is it not like that with many struggles in this life? I’ve been told drug and alcohol addictions and eating disorders are very much alike. In this instance, they seem identical twins.
I often think of the physical ramifications of the demon anorexia I battle, but as I have yet to experience any of them I continue on the path I tread. In fact, I look for them as if finding one or two, experiencing them, would validate just how sick I am. So long as I don’t experience them, I’m not ill. When I hear of those who are experiencing some sort of physical discomfort from their ailment I feel a pang of jealousy. My only consolation is when I see the weight drop from the scale. It validates that I am doing something “right”, that this is not just in my head and the skinnier I get, the more my bones protrude, the more I must continue on in order to feel validated. When someone comments that I am “too skinny” or that I “could stand gain a few pounds” I am further validated.
I am beginning to feel the physical effects of anorexia though, but as they are too subtle to be noticed by anyone of consequence (i.e. a physician or my psychiatrist or therapist) I tend to shake them off as concoctions of my mind and convince myself that I’m fine and need further validation to prove to myself how ill I really am…. and the vicious cycle starts again.
A few days ago I had a melt down. I felt overwhelmed and out of control from trying to force myself to eat more and in an effort to regain control, gave into the demons in my head again. Yesterday I restricted more than I have in probably a month, took diet supplements, and the max amount of laxatives I could take without “abusing” them. I woke up at 1am feeling the effects of these choices and at 7am when I was supposed to get up and get around for work I was so shaky and weak that I could not stand for more than a few moments. I called in to work for the morning. This is the first time I’ve ever missed work due to ED (that I am aware of) and that in itself is validating.
Without external support this cycle just repeats itself over and over again, getting worse with every turn, but I am powerless to stop it completely on my own. I tried. I mean, it’s just food, it’s no big deal right? At least, that’s what I told myself as I forced myself to eat over twice as much in a day as I had been previously. I need the nourishment, the energy; my body needs it to function well. I need it to function. I told myself that over and over : It’s just energy, I need it; my body needs it. But with every bite came more and more guilt, more and more condemnation , more pain, more screaming, raging thoughts that I couldn’t control, until I collapsed mentally. I tried self-soothing, ignoring, avoiding, going to bed early, but nothing helped and I collapsed. Yesterday morning I woke up with resolve: I will not eat more than my allowed count, I will take off this extra bloat from the last week, I will be FINE because that’s what I need to do. And that’s where I’m at now: Back at the beginning again.