Reclaiming My Crown

“Who cares if you disagree. You are not me. Who made you king of anything?”

If you are an avid listener of the remarkable musician Sara Bareilles, you probably know that those words above came from her song “King of Anything”.  Though this song is probably addressing some idiotic, over-controlling boyfriend, I associate this it with something much different. Eating disorder recovery.

Whenever I hear this tune and its powerful lyrics, I think of me suddenly having the strength to talk back to every single degrading sentence ED forcing into my mind. I finally feel like I can tell him to get the hell out because I don’t give a damn about what his sick opinion may be. He doesn’t have the right to be the king any longer, for I am the rightful heir to the thrown and once I get that crown back on my head, I will make sure I personally burn that asshole at the stake.

A Rough Start

I woke up this morning and right when I opened my eyes, I wished I could of fallen back into a deep, never-ending slumber. Every part of my body felt like it weighed a burdensome 100 pounds and I felt like layers upon layers of hideous fat were just hanging off me. Now my logical mind, which is hidden away somewhere deep in my brain, attempts to softly whisper to me that it isn’t possible to gain such a tremendous amount of weight during the night. Unfortunately though, my eating disorder mind screams at me saying that whatever logic my healthy side of my brain comes up with is nothing but a BIG, FAT LIE.

So now my logical mind and ED mind are fighting a war inside my head. I can’t decide who is right and who is wrong. I feel like if I accept the thoughts of my logical mind, I could be lying to myself. I mean, what if my ED mind is right? What if I am really fat?

As the brutal battle continues silently in my mind, I am left wishing I could be just a normal 15 year old girl. I wish I could have friends. I wish I could have a better relationship with my family. For goodness sakes, I wish I could travel the world without worrying about what I will eat or when I’ll exercise next! I know I can have all those things if I just listen to my currently weak logical mind, but I don’t think people realize how hard that is. Especially when your eating disorder is yelling abusive comments into your ears every second of the day.

Mission Accomplished (or at least part way . . .)

So I did it. I sat in a car and a ferry and then a damn car again for a total of nine seemingly endless hours. Was it easy? No. Did I enjoy it? Not one bit. But I survived and I realized something amazing; somehow even though I was basically sedentary for the duration of the trip, my shirts still fit the same and I suddenly didn’t develop love handles when I slipped my pants on. “How could this possibly be?” I remember thinking to myself. “How could one do absolutely no exercise for a day and not spontaneously turn into a lardaceous mass?”

I’ll tell you why. Because the thought that you can “get fat” from traveling for a day is totally flawed. You see that ludicrous belief wasn’t formed by me. It was created by my eating disorder and I am finding more and more often that pretty much all the shit my eating disorder says to me is a bunch of bull. I know that challenging what my eating disorder tells me is going to be hard, but the more I do it, the sooner I will be able to free myself from my its merciless grip. I already proved to myself that becoming fat from not doing exercise all day won’t happen. If I can prove that wrong, I can prove anything my eating disorder says to me wrong. It’s just going to take some effort. It’s just going to take some willpower. And hey, it’s just going to take a lot of me!

Torture by Travel

Traveling. It’s an activity that some people love so much, they spend a small fortune just to immerse themselves in the culture of another town, city, or country. I, on the other hand, see it as a bestial form of punishment. For hours on end, I am forced to sit on my ass staring out the car window. My anxiety is not so unmanageable during te first hundred miles of the car trip. But once I start feeling my legs go numb and my bottom becomes sore due to lack of mobility, my anxiety begins to spike. That’s when I realize the fact that I am barely doing anything to torch the calories I had consumed that day. Then my worst fear barges into my ill mind . . . . the fear of suddenly turning into some humungous butterball during the trip.

For those of you reading this who don’t have an eating disorder, you probably think I am a complete nut case. I mean, I bet you are absolutely shocked with my irrational thought process. But before you start judging, I want you to close your eyes and remember that last time you were forced to face one of your most dreaded fears. Maybe you are completely mortified by the sight of spiders or nearly die of fright when a violent summer storm rolls in. Whatever the fear is, I am 100% positive a multitude of totally illogical thoughts rush through your mind, resulting in intense anxiety and panic. Am I right or am I right?

So at 8 o’clock in the morning, just as the sun begins to shine brightly in the sky, my family and I will embark on a long seven hour journey to my grandparents house. I will have no choice but to constantly challenge the false beliefs my eating disorder formulates in my mind, one of the most difficult task you could ask an eating disorder suffer to do. I know though that if I continue to allow my eating disorder to control my way of thinking and behaving, my life will just continue to go south. I can’t and I won’t let that happen any longer. I’ve only got one life and if my eating disorder continues to rule it, my time here on earth would have been completely wasted.

An Eating Disorder and Celiac . . . (not a good combination)

Recovering from an eating disorder is hard enough, but trying to achieve that when you have celiac disease makes it a hell of a lot worse. For those of you who don’t know what celiac is, let me give you a quick run-through. Basically celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where your body gets pretty pissed when you eat even the tiniest bit of gluten. Once that gluten gets inside of you, your immune system wages war. It attacks the small intestine, mercilessly assaulting its villi (small projections in your small intestine that help absorb nutrients) until it becomes so damaged, it’s barely functional. This obviously results in various consequences including malnutrition, weight-loss, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, and a heck of a lot more. Fortunately, there is a treatment for this disorder . . . a very restricting gluten-free diet. Though gluten is a protein that is found in barley, wheat, and rye, you can find it added to almost every food on the market. Sugary BBQ sauce, ketchup, ice cream, toothpaste, you name it! Not to mention you have to worry about cross contamination since even the smallest crumb means one unhappy GI tract. So . . . hopefully you can see this diet is pretty restrictive and when you are trying to recover from an eating disorder being restrictive in your food choices is that last thing you need.
Lucky for me though, I am a pretty stubborn young lady. When I get my mind set to something, I am not going to change. I realize this can be a dangerous characteristic of mine, but right now my mind is set on something positive . . . recovery. Sure, my diet may be pretty restricted due to my celiac, but I don’t give a shit. Actually, I can’t give a shit because once I do reclaiming my life will be made all the more difficult to achieve.

The History of Me

It all started when I was 8 years old. Back then, I wasn’t what you would call a thin kid. I had a revolting roll of fat that stubbornly sat on my abdomen, my rosy cheeks were disgustingly plump, and my pudgy fingers resembled the likeness of greasy breakfast sausages.  I was old enough to understand I was a good 10 pounds heavier than most of the other girls in my 3rd grade class and that realization drilled a painful hole right into my self-esteem. Every morning as I put on my school uniform, I remember staring in the mirror and watching tears dripped down my face that I detested so much. All I wanted was to fit in, to have a stunning physical appearance, and to have a body as thin as a stick. I just wanted to be like every other girl in that damn class and that incredibly strong desire was the beginning of something so evil, so merciless, and so cruel that I would wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy.  That thing was an eating disorder, the deadliest psychiatric illness there is today.

That very year I began the unhealthy and rather repulsive practice of purging after meals. I never stuck anything down my throat to let the barely-digested food make its way out of my body and into the toilet. I had struggled with acid reflux since I was a baby and just decided to use that to my advantage (or to what I thought was my advantage).  I also befriended the bathroom scale and constantly step upon to figure out if I would be pleased with myself or wish I could just hide forever. Some days I would compulsively exercise and restrict my caloric intake in hopes my weight would dropped.  As time went on though and I deprived myself more, I began to have relentless cravings for fattening, sugar-laden desserts. I would binge and binge and binge on them until my stomach begged me to stop and I was overcome with guilt. To make me feel at least a little bit better about myself after a binge, I made myself vomit until I decided that I got a majority of the godforsaken food item out of my system.

Somehow my caring parents never seemed to realize I was struggling with these behaviors. But I don’t blame them for that at all. I mean, who would ever think that a 3rd grader would be a full-blown bulimic? If my parents caught me throwing up, I would just explain to them I was struggling with acid reflux. They always believed that and promptly made an appointment with my doctor. At the doctor’s, I was prescribed medications like Prilosec and told to take Tums after I ate. I never did that though. I wasn’t going to stop puking. I wasn’t going to let myself get even fatter.

As years went by, my behaviors continued.  My weight would constantly fluctuate, but as I got older I was able to manage to stay under the 5th percentile for my height and weight. My parents and doctor thought nothing of it, they just assumed I was somehow blessed with a naturally small physique.  But once 7th grade came around, I somehow lost control. My obsession over food became much greater and I found myself restricting my caloric intake to under 500 calories per day.  Each week I would drop 2 pounds off my already slender frame and I would not allow anyone to touch or prepare my meals. After months of these behaviors, my parents began to realize I had an eating disorder and my health was declining at a rapid pace.   They promptly made an appointment with a stern but thorough nurse practitioner who instructed my parents that I needed to see a dietician and a therapist as soon as possible. Not too long after the appointment I was being dragged to weekly sessions with some annoying therapist and dietitian. At the dietician’s office, I was forced to step on the scale backwards so I wouldn’t even get to see the “accomplishments” I made with losing weight. She also prescribed a meal plan for me that I realize now was extremely tiny, but at the time anything more than 500 calories per day seemed massive. Unfortunately, these interventions were unsuccessful and my eating disorder began to take over a little bit more of me each and every day.  Desperate, my parents admitted me as an inpatient to the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorder Unit at the over-rated Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin. For a horrible month I was forced to endure painful tube feedings, Ensures, no exercise, sub-par therapy, and meals so large you would think they were made for Michael Phelps!  After inpatient hospitalization, I was discharged but going home wasn’t an option. Instead I was forced to head on over to live at the Roger’s Eating Disorder Center, a residential facility. Though the staff at the inpatient unit assured me that life at the residential facility would grant me more freedoms (like walks, choice of meals, and recreational therapy), I found it to be a thousand times worse. The staff there only seemed to focus on weight-gain and they would constantly revoke my privileges when I became infuriated with the program. Now you might think that it makes sense to take away my privileges when I misbehaved, but wouldn’t you be angry if you were a scared 13 year old, stripped off all your freedoms and barely allowed to see or talk to your family. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

After a miserable 2 months trapped in the residential facility, I was finally freed from that that dreadful prison. The idiotic medical team though claimed I wasn’t ready to go to regular outpatient therapy (where I would live at home and see my dietitian, psychiatrist, and therapist on a weekly basis) so they sentenced me to attend Roger’s Adolescent Eating Disorder Partial Program after discharge for more “treatment”. This partial program was a complete joke. Basically all that happened was you got weighed and then you sat in a small room, overcrowded with scratched leather sofas and chairs, for a ridiculous 6 hours. We would of course go down to the cafeteria for meals (that I think a mutt would turn his nose up to) and a prepackaged snack, but either than that, we were confined to that ugly room counting the minutes till we were allowed to leave.

Fortunately, my parents were quite disappointed with the partial program and they made the wise decision to pull me out of there after a long two weeks. By the time I was finally discharged from the partial program, I had endured more than 3 months of ludicrous treatment and though my physical health was more stable, my mental health had barely improved. Sure, I was able to stick food in my mouth and swallow it but every bite made me feel like a fat, ugly bitch inside. I still hated myself. I still wished I was dead. All in all, I still had an eating disorder. It’s just my body didn’t show it.

Now two years after my experience at Rogers, I have managed to stay out of the hospital despite many relapses and multiple threats to be admitted. I still am walking on a very thin ice right now due to my weight but something has finally change inside me. It’s like someone flipped a switch. You see, now I have the desire to bid farewell to my eating disorder and start living.

As you read this blog you’ll be witnessing my journey to recovery. I realize that this road will be rough and stumbling along the way is inevitable, but the good things in life are always what is worth fighting for.