Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beyond Body Image

For as long as I can remember, I've had horrible body image. I remember sitting in my fifth-grade classroom looking over at my friend A and thinking to myself that my thighs were fatter than hers. Fifth grade, how sick is that? I swear that my parents didn't do this to me - my mom has told me a million times that I'm beautiful, but never emphasized physical appearance as an important part of my character. Regardless, I grew up with zero self-esteem and decided that being skinny was the answer.

So on the surface, at least, my eating disorder has always been about feeling fat and wanting to lose weight. Of course the perfectionism and anxiety and OCD tendencies have factored into it, but primarily I've just felt ugly and fat and thought that being skinnier would change that. And for some reason, no matter how physically crappy and exhausted and sick I've felt, the thought of being fat seems worse. My dietician and I once compiled a pros and cons list of weight restoration, and there was literally ONE con: bad body image. I know all about body dysmorphia and that I'm probably more critical of my body than anyone else would be, but feeling fat is real. And it sucks.

Anyway, I think that one of the major reasons I've been so resistant to weight gain is because my body image is so terrible that in my mind, it outweighs all the other negative aspects of having an eating disorder. Heart palpitations? Whatever! At least I still fit into my skinny jeans! Of course, I conveniently ignore the fact that my body image doesn't ever improve no matter how low my weight gets.

But recently, something has shifted in my head. Don't get me wrong - my body image still sucks. But for the first time, I'm feeling like there could be something more important: health. Not in a hokey, love-your-curves rah rah rah! kind of way, but in a real, intrinsic, deep-down way. Basically, I'm sick of being sick. I don't want to be tired and hurting and miserable all the time. I don't want to be worried about what will go wrong next. What kind of life is that? I'm so young, my body shouldn't be falling apart like this. I want to get up in the morning and be able to do whatever I want to do - walk, run, bike, swim, veg on the couch, bake cookies, anything. Right now, I can't, and it hurts so much to realize that.

Maybe, finally, I'm getting past this paralysis over weight gain. True, my therapist may have more or less required it by making me sign a contract, but maybe I'm finally doing it. As a matter of fact, I'm drinking a Boost at this very moment. (But ew, don't get the vanilla, it's disgusting.) I hate that it took this long, and I hate having to admit that everyone around me was right all along, that I don't know best and that I do need help, but being healthy and getting a life back is worth it to me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Start of Summer

Hey everyone - I wish I were feeling up to writing a coherent post, but I'm just not. Sorry this blog is turning into such a snooze fest. I'm doing a lot better than last week - no more crying or wallowing. The change of scenery (from Home City to College City) has made a big difference, and I'm trying to see this move as a new beginning. My roommate and I had a really fun weekend in the city, which lifted my mood a lot, but I'm still just feeling kind of hollow and alone.

I don't really like to talk about this much, but I have a chronic pain condition that makes things seem pretty bleak at times. No one has ever been able to tell me definitively whether the anorexia contributed to it, and I don't really want to dwell on that.

On the bright side, I started my new internship today and LOVED it. My boss is a sweetheart and the work is really fun and interesting. At lunch, two other interns and I trekked over to Whole Foods. I had packed my own food, but decided to be spontaneous and buy with the other girls. I'd never been to a WF before, if you can believe it, and I had fun making a massive salad with all sorts of exotic ingredients. Score one for recovery...not so much for my wallet. I'll be packing my lunch from now on.

Anyway, that's my life for now. I promise to be in a better mood soon and regale you all with scintillating tales of my summer exploits.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Privacy Violation

I almost forgot to mention another development from my appointment with R the other day. Remember this doctor who lectured me about my recovery and made me get (expensive) blood work done at the lab a few weeks ago?

She called R. To confirm that I was, in fact, receiving treatment for my eating disorder as I had claimed. I had only told her the name of the treatment center, and not R's name specifically, but somehow she managed to dig up that information and contact him directly. How??? I have no fucking clue. But I know that this is an insanely inappropriate violation of my privacy. I am planning to compose a letter to the director of College Health Center, as well as the head doctor, to make a formal complaint.

This is the kind of encounter that terrifies me about the world of medical care. I've always felt safe going to doctors, knowing that they are there to treat and to help and to cure. My pediatrician - really the only doctor I ever really saw throughout my entire childhood - was the kindest, warmest, most compassionate woman ever. But over the last couple years, I've had more negative run-ins with doctors than I can even much time and money spent on useless appointments, treatments, and drugs.

I guess I've just learned to be my own biggest advocate, or else I'll to fall through the cracks. It also makes me so thankful for my treatment team - my therapist, my dietician, my GP, and now my new psychiatrist. I know they're looking out for me, they aren't giving up on me, and I trust them. Wish I could communicate that to them, even when I'm failing miserably at the recovery stuff.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Terrible Week Recap

It's been a while since I wrote a real juicy update, hasn't it? The last week or so has been quiiiite a roller coaster, you might say. For several days last week/weekend while at home, I was stuck in this intense hell-on-earth depression. No idea what triggered it, but I was crying nonstop and getting seriously unstable. I've definitely had bouts of depression before and had times where I cried lots, but not like this constant sobbing for days. Part of it was definitely just physical stuff - I'd been feeling crappy for a while and it seems like the health complications keep mounting. It's hard to be chipper when you're sick and hurting and generally unwell all the time.

By Tuesday or Wednesday of this past week, I was a total wreck. My mom couldn't figure out why the heck I was moping and wailing and dissolving into tears over and over day after day, and I couldn't explain it. She made me call R, which was mortifying, but then it actually made me feel a little better. I hadn't seen him in about a month, so it was kind of nice to be reminded that I actually do have a support system. Thursday was a travel day (boo planes and airports and suitcases) and then I had an appointment with him on Friday morning.

By that point, I was doing a little better and thus felt like an idiot for having called him in crisis mode two days earlier. But R, being the experienced professional that he is, talked me down from the aforementioned mortification and reminded me that it's okay to lose it sometimes, and that that's what he's there for, and that it doesn't make me a helpless, worthless loser. (Longest sentence ever?)

That was the good part. The bad part: I lost X pounds at home, which meant that we spent the rest of the session discussing why I fail at recovering from an eating disorder. He told me that he had attended a lecture at a conference earlier this month that reminded him of me (I'm one of his more difficult patients, apparently) and that he wanted to try a new strategy. Wait for it, guys - I had to sign a CONTRACT. Yes, I am now under CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT to a) gain back the X pounds I lost and b) follow my meal plan until I see him again. If I don't gain, I have to add an extra Boost every day for the following week. If I ever drop below a weight of XXX pounds in the future, I'll get admitted to a treatment program.

Then he got me an appointment with a psychiatrist in his office. Enter another member to my ever-expanding medical team - Dr. L. And you guys, I love her. I almost wanted to cry just because of how nice she was to me. My appointment lasted over an hour because she was so thorough, asking questions all about my history, my medical stuff, my moods and emotions, my friends, my family, my work with R and J, everything. We talked about medication and I explained about my problems with it before, and how I was really nervous to go back on something, and she was totally understanding and compassionate. I'm still really unsure and conflicted about the whole thing, but talking to Dr. L made me feel a lot better. She said: "You look sad, and I want to help you get better."

And I am still pretty sad. I'm struggling a lot not just with the food stuff, but with the emotional stuff too, and sometimes that's a lot harder. Things have been going a bit better since being back in College City for the past couple of days, but there's still a long empty weekend ahead. So, that's where I'm at now. Trying to keep my head above water and hang in there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Feet, Pus, Words

My life currently sucks A LOT, but I don't really feel like dwelling on that. Nor you do want to read about it, I promise. The suckfest can be summarized as a) I suck, b) eating disorders suck, and c) I STILL SUCK.

For real, I'm not gonna bore you with it. Instead I'm going to practice some good healthy avoidance and give a few tidbits unrelated to ED or any equally sucky topics:

- I have really disproportionately big feet compared to the rest of me. Several years ago when I was going through my rapid and traumatic pubertal phase, my pediatrician predicted that I would eventually grow into my feet, because it seemed like they sprouted much quicker than the rest of me. Unfortunately the rest of me never caught up. I'm not like freakishly short or anything, but compared to my height, my feet are BIG. I wear almost the same size as my mom, who is a good 2-3 inches taller than me, and she wears almost the same size as her two sisters, who are both 4-5 inches taller than her. My aunts, therefore, have reasonably and proportionately sized feet for their heights and I am BIGFOOT. This doesn't normally bother me, but I just bought new shoes and was yet again reminded of my gigantic shoe size. On the plus side, I love my new shoes. Too bad they make my feet look approximately 27 inches long with jeans.

- I got my cartilage pierced about six months ago and it still gets this little pussy swollen bubble thing on the back. Is this normal? I made my doctor look at it once and she said it wasn't infected or anything, just irritated, but seriously, when is this damn thing going to heal? I'd like to be able to sleep on my left side again sometime, I don't know, THIS YEAR. I'm debating just taking the earring out and letting the hole close up, my I'm afraid of deforming my ear somehow.

- I'm obsessed with Words With Friends. So obsessed, in fact, that I have multiple games going and I get stressed out when my phone keeps buzzing at me to remind me it's my turn. I KNOW, I'LL GET TO IT, JUST GIVE ME A SECOND. I hate feeling rushed because I always want to play the best word possible and it takes me ages to hit "play" because I always second-guess myself and think there must be a better word I'm not seeing yet. Have I mentioned that I'm super competitive? Losing makes me hate myself.

Okay, officially most random post ever. Maybe I'll be in a less grouchy, angry, spastic mood later and give y'all (what? I'm not Southern) a better update of my life.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Facebooking Fatness

If I hadn't started hating my body years and years before joining Facebook, I might find this theory a little more convincing: Feeling Fat? Maybe Facebook is to Blame.

I guess it does give me another reason to put off getting Timeline, though...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Post-Op Ramblings

So sorry AGAIN for descending into a weepy yucky negative place while posting. I should probably rate my misery on a 1-10 scale before blogging - anything coming from me at more than 5 is bound to be a train wreck.

On another joyful note, I just home from the hospital. I found out on Tuesday that I was being admitted and thankfully I didn't have to stay longer than yesterday. I had a minor surgery which went fine, until they tried to wake me up from anesthesia and apparently my body decided instead to blissfully snooze the day away. Oops. I guess my heart rate got really low and I was in and out for a while. They eventually did get me awake and somewhat lucid, but my blood pressure was still hanging out in the lower realms. One of the nurses asked me if I was a runner, to which I wanted so badly to answer YES but unfortunately I had to admit that no, I haven't run in months, and my freakishly low blood pressure is not a sign of marathoning greatness.

Now I'm back home, feeling much better but still woozy. I've been trying to eat but my stomach is kind of angry with me. My head is also killing me, which I think is dehydration since I haven't had much water. I get headaches a lot and Advil usually works like a charm, but this sucker is persistent. Trying to drink lots and eat and relax.

So I guess in summary, I'm fine. The whole thing has sort of shaken me, though. It never fails to amaze me how resilient the human body is, but also how fragile. I've probably been to more doctors and hospitals in the last two years than the first nineteen years of my life combined. Stuff just keeps going wrong. Maybe I'm still young enough that I can almost always bounce back, but I'm scared that one day, I just won't. I've gotten used to explaining to doctors that I'm recovering from anorexia, which usually helps account for all the freaky stuff my body tends to do, but it never gets any easier or any less humiliating. As my mom put it last night, "You're twenty-one years old. There shouldn't be anything wrong with you."

One plus of the past few days: I love the doctor who did my surgery, Dr. B. He's a super big deal around here, apparently, but my uncle (also a doctor) knows him and pulled some strings to get me in last minute. When I first was telling Dr. B my medical history, he asked all the right questions, including "How is your recovery going?" and "Have you gained any weight?" Part of me wanted to chuckle and be like, GOOD ONE, DOC BUT COME ON NOW, LOOK AT THESE THUNDER THIGHS but mostly I just appreciated that he didn't draw any premature conclusions about me based on appearance alone. I had a doctor last year who told me my pants looked baggy and that I needed to gain weight without even having me get on a scale, even though I was nearly weight-restored at the time. Or another doctor this past winter who told me that my BMI was "great," even though I was still XX lbs from my goal weight. Of course there was also this meanie who gave me a lecture, or these lovely but clueless nurses.

Okay, now I forget what my point was. Blame the drugs still lingering in my bloodstream for making me rambly and loopy. I'm off to slurp up something to make this headache go away and take a nap. Then my bff from high school has promised me a movie night. Have a happy and healthy weekend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In the Future

I don't want to waste my two weeks of vacation bouncing from one doctor to another.

I don't want to spend Mother's Day obsessing over the calories in my steak instead of spoiling my mom.

I don't want to turn down a day in Big City with my brother because I'm too tired.

I don't want my gynecologist to tell me that I "have the hormone levels of a post-menopausal woman."

I don't want to watch my friends shoveling pasta and laughing and talking, and wonder why I can't be more like them.

I don't want to guzzle seltzer to fill myself up between lunch and dinner because the thought of choosing a snack is so fucking overwhelming I can't do it.

I don't want to waste another day feeling like crap.

I don't want to take up less space than I deserve.

I don't want to be a child.

I want to be healthy.

I want to eat.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Anti-Obesity Mothering

Surprise, I had another doctor's appointment today.  Since I've been home, I've seen four doctors in six days. Well, one of them was a dentist. Does that count?* One last appointment on Wednesday and then I think I'm done for the month.

Anyway, I was sitting in the waiting room today trying to snooze for five minutes because I was sleepy (damn neighbor's car alarm started going off at two in the morning) when this woman came in with her preteen-ish (eleven or twelve?) daughter and started reading aloud snippets from a Newsweek story on childhood obesity. The room was pretty bustling and noisy so I normally wouldn't have noticed, but of course words like calories and carbohydrates and fats caught my attention. After that, I couldn't not listen.

Anorexic Kaylee was hanging onto this woman's every word with the same sick fascination that comes from reading the diet plans in Self Magazine or watching Bowflex infomercials. No matter where I am in recovery, no matter how sick or how well, food/diet/weight stuff hooks me without fail. That's bad. I KNOW. Things to work on. The mom started telling her daughter that bagels are crap because they're "all carbs" and that "carbs turn to sugar" and "sugar turns to fat" and "that's why I don't let you eat bagels for snacks." And then that "all the heavy Americans" are costing the government "billions of dollars" and "that's a lot of money, right honey?"Sheesh.

I could tell pretty quickly that this woman was insecure. Just from the way she was talking, you know? Super self-righteous, preaching all these clean livin' mantras to her tween daughter, way too intent on upholding this holier-than-thou image of I-only-eat-organic-what's-wrong-with-the-rest-of-the-world? She was wearing lots of makeup, heels, too-tight jeans, straightened hair - basically like she spent a decent amount of time in front of the mirror before going out. She  also mentioned to the receptionist that she was there for laser hair removal (my doctor shares a waiting room with a dermatologist). So I know nothing about this woman, but I'm going to assume that she cares more than a little about her appearance.

Then she started yapping about how high fructose corn syrup makes you fat, but it's cheaper than sugar so companies put it in their foods and yada yada and even though I knew that she was most likely not a licensed dietician and I should just ignore her, I couldn't help listening. And the only person listening more intently than me was her daughter.

I know that moms don't cause eating disorders by talking about nutrition, but seriously, her kid was like twelve. Me at that age? I was an self-conscious wreck. I started having serious body image issues around eleven or twelve, and the ED kicked in about a year or two later. First major weight loss happened at thirteen, the summer between seventh and eighth grades. And that was with a mom who had never once told me I was anything other than absolutely beautiful and perfect. (I was lazy yesterday and didn't write a Mother's Day post, but I should have. My mom rocks.)

While the ED part of me was soaking up all the nutrition-talk, the rational part of me was like, "Good God, woman, cut it out." Sure it's good for kids to learn about healthy eating and all that, but A) this little girl was so far from fat it's not even funny and B) do you seriously not let her eat bagels because they have too many carbs? She's a kid. 

I started getting strange urges to do things like take the magazine from the mom and roll it up and smack her over the head with it, and then take the little girl outside and tell her please for the love of God, don't start watching your carbs, okay? Just eat the damn bagels and don't worry about it. Plenty of time for that when you're sixteen, eighteen, my age. If you want to obsess about your weight, don't worry - chances are, it'll happen at some point no matter what your mom does or doesn't say to you. Don't get sucked in yet, please.

Man, I feel old. When I was twelve, I was already pretty savvy about calories, weight, etc. - not the seasoned expert I am now, but well on my way - and now I realize how young I really was. This girl today looked like such a kid to me, and I wanted her to stay that way. Wow, I'm getting all motherly and over-protective in my old age.

* Okay, I was actually really curious and just went to check. From my understanding (thank you, Wikipedia), a dentist is NOT the same as a medical doctor (no med school, no MD). Instead, dentists go to dental school and get a degree called a DMD, or doctor of dental medicine. You're welcome for that fun fact of the day. I'm sure everyone was dyyyyying to know the educational trajectory of a dentist. PEACE.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Ultimate Excuse

This is something I've been thinking about writing on for a while, but haven't ever really found the time or  emotional brainpower to put it into words. I want to preface it by emphasizing that anorexia is not a choice, or a conscious coping mechanism, or a deliberate cry for attention of any kind. The following is something I've observed in myself, and I'm of course not projecting my own issues onto anyone else.

When I think about my life as a Recovered Person, which I'm thinking about more and more lately, the part that scares me is not having anything to fall back on. Flunk an exam? Lose my job? Get dumped? That's it. I don't get to console myself with the fact that I've lost weight. I don't get to work off the anxiety by overexercising and restricting. I don't get to tell myself that it's okay, because I have an eating disorder and can't be expected to succeed in real life when I'm sick. I won't have an excuse for not coming through. Without the illness, I should be a perfectly healthy, capable, high-achieving adult.

And that's the part that's killing me right now. Despite feeling like a fraud (not skinny enough, not sick enough) most of the time, I find myself resorting to thoughts of It's okay that Jane Doe won that award and you didn't; Jane doesn't have an eating disorder or Well, you didn't get 100% on that exam, but that's understandable because 50% of your brain is taken up by abnormal food/weight obsessions. How can you be expected to excel in school when your brain isn't functioning properly? I'm using the anorexia as an excuse for my shortcomings elsewhere. And yeah, of course the illness takes away from my ability to be my best self, but I'm also not entirely unhappy about having this handy dandy get-out-of-jail free card ready to flash whenever necessary. (To be clear, this is all going on in my head. I don't actually go around explaining to professors, "No, I did study, it's just that I have anorexia.") And really, who can blame me for not being perfect all the time? I am sick, after all. I've got the medical bills and the osteopenia to prove it.

Anorexia erects walls, but they aren't all bad. Sure, they cut me off from lots of good things: from enjoying friends and family and delicious foods, from restaurants, from being physically healthy, from total self-sufficiency and independence. But the walls also protect me. They keep out rejection and disappointment. Nothing can really emotionally devastate me because I am thin and this trumps everything else. But really, it's more than just that. It's about being in a liminal phase of not-quite-healthy but not completely incapacitated. The eating disorder is manageable enough for me to participate in real life, but present enough for me to opt out when I want to. If I fail as a Normal Person, well then that's because I'm not a Normal Person, I'm a Sick Person.

And honestly, that disgusts me. Not that I have an eating disorder, but that I seem to be okay with settling for Sick and Mediocre. How can I be aware of this line of thinking, but still not pouring my heart and soul into recovery? I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm terrified of giving up my status as a half-alive, half-functional person. What if I recover and still suck at life? Then what? What's your excuse this time, K?

Recovery means being a real person, even if it's hard and sucky and I sometimes fall on my face. It means accepting dinner invitations instead of turning them down because I have an eating disorder and restaurants are too hard for me. It means eating a sample at the grocery store and sitting with the guilt and not letting it ruin the rest of the day. It means sucking it up and eating the next meal as planned. It means remembering that there are more important things out there, and not resorting to the same old lame cop-out.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recovery Randoms

Back home at my parents' house for a couple weeks until I head back to College City for the summer. I'm trying really hard to use this limbo period as an opportunity to shed some of my self-imposed, restrictive rituals. I'm looking forward to a mini-break from therapy and dietary appointments, just to get away from the constant pressure of treatment. My main goal of May is to chill the hell out about food, even just temporarily. So far, I guess it's a bit of a mixed bag:

- Most of my meals at home have been identical to what I eat at school. My mom tries really hard to make me feel comfortable, so she buys lots of "safe" foods when I come home. Good for my anxiety, not so good for challenging myself.

- Dinner was delayed by almost two hours last night (malfunctioning oven fiasco) and even though I was starving, I didn't let myself eat an extra snack to tide me over. Fail. By the time dinner was actually on the table, I was a hungry, cranky, hypoglycemic wreck.

-  My mom and I ran some errands this morning and I spontaneously suggested that we stop for lunch at a sandwich place that she loves. Then I immediately felt guilty. I ate, but hated myself. I've been kicking myself all afternoon for not just coming home to eat my usual boring lunch.

- Walking around the mall earlier, we passed a Mrs. Field's counter giving out free samples of chocolate chip cookies and - drumroll please - I ate one. Then we passed a Pretzel Time, which was also giving free samples (these cinnamon/brown sugar soft pretzel nugget things), and I ate one of those too. Both are delicious foods that I used to love before anorexia hijacked my brain, but now I'm feeling guiltyguiltyguilty.

- I was supposed to be seeing friends for dinner tonight but we had to reschedule, and now I'm on my own (my parents are out). All the guiltiness from earlier is weighing really heavily on my mind and in my stomach but I will NOT let it force me to restrict. I WON'T. You can hold me to that.

And a final unrelated bit: I went to the dentist today for the first time in about seven years, oops... and he told me that my teeth look perfect. Whew, thank God at least one of my bodily systems has remained intact. Knock on wood. Unfortunately, he did recommend having a consultation with an oral surgeon about my wisdom teeth, which I might put off for a while. Something tells me that with all the health difficulties I've had over the last year, elective surgery would not be the wisest course of action right now.

Hope everyone's having a great week!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Unexpected Ambush

I had to stop by my university's student health center yesterday to get a referral for an outside doctor (damn mandatory student insurance restrictions...don't get me started). In a nutshell, I have to make an appointment with a campus doctor first, and then my insurance will only cover a specialist if the campus doctor writes a referral. I guess the policy makes sense in that it lets general practitioners screen patients first, but for someone with chronic medical problems like me, it just means a lot of red tape. Plus, I've had some not-so-great experiences with my student health center, and thus do not have the greatest confidence in their diagnostic abilities. Or their adherence to HIPAA.

In the past few months, the campus appointment has just been a formality - I tell the doctor which specialist (ophthalmologist, cardiologist, gynecologist, etc.) I need to see, and he/she writes me the referral. Once, I simply e-mailed the doctor and she left me the referral at the front desk without even making me come in for the appointment. So for the most part, I've been able to avoid dealing with the actual doctors and nurses there very much.

Okay, sorry for all the boring background. The point is, yesterday I was planning to pop in, get the referral, and leave. I'd scheduled the appointment last-minute with the only available doctor, one I'd never seen before, but assumed it would be the usual drill. This doctor, however, was not about to let me off that easy. She was very serious, very thorough, and very unwilling to send me on my way without covering all her bases. Basically, because of my weight. Before each appointment, a nurse brings you back to the exam room, weighs you, and takes your vitals. When Dr. C came into the room yesterday, she saw anorexia stamped across my file and told me that I had lost X pounds since my last (unrelated) appointment in January. Then she gave me a not-short, not-cheery lecture.

It caught me really off-guard, and it also made me really defensive. I'm still not sure if I was just pissed about it because I get pissed when almost anyone confronts me about the ED, or if because she truly was out of line. While she is a doctor and it is her job to address medical issues, I had clearly stated that I was already receiving outside treatment for the anorexia and that it was under control. Plus, I was seeing her for a completely unrelated reason.

She probably thought that I was in serious denial or something because I kept brushing off her questions about my eating and weight. I could have pointed out that her nurses are idiots and weigh everyone fully clothed, including jackets and shoes - meaning that a weight in January means something very different than a weight in May - but I refrained. Really, I was just trying to wrap things up. I kept politely explaining that I already have a therapist, a dietician, and an ED doc who are all fully aware of my other medical issues, and that I was only there to get the damn referral.

Then she said, "I don't think your current treatment is enough. You can bounce around to different specialists all you want, but nothing will be resolved until you deal with the eating disorder."

And then I got mad because frankly, this woman knew nothing about me. I do not appreciate being told that I'm not dealing with the eating disorder when treatment has monopolized a big chunk of my life for the past two years. And do not imply, Dr. C, that I'm wasting my time by seeing specialists for immediate medical problems. Whether or not the anorexia caused them, they exist, and they will not be cured with weight gain. If an anorexic girl had a heart condition, would you turn her away and tell her to come back when she's Recovered? Or would you send her to the cardiologist?

Might weight gain strengthen my immune system and bolster my body against future illness/injury/complications overall? Probably. But that doesn't change the fact that I have multiple, chronic health problems that require treatment now, not in the months or years it might take for me to fully recover from the anorexia. I'm not in denial; I know that I have an eating disorder. It's understandable that a new doctor might be skeptical about a recovering anorexic who downplays a recent weight loss; eating disorder patients are not known for their honesty or forthcomingness - I fully admit that. But I felt that Dr. C was making invalid assumptions about my body and my recovery based on limited, inaccurate knowledge, and was disrespecting me and my treatment team by presuming to know better.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moving and Motivation

Just popping in for another end-of-semester update! I spent most of the weekend transferring stuff from my current apartment to my new apartment and wow, can I just say how hard moving is? I'm not exactly a buff gal to begin with, but six-plus months of no exercise (combined with being underweight) has really wreaked havoc on my strength and stamina. Lugging all my stuff downstairs, packing it into my car, and unloading it into the basement of the new place probably took five times longer than it should have because I kept having to stop and catch my breath and wimper about how tired I was. The heat and humidity definitely didn't help, but bottom line: dis girl's a wimp.

For reasons that are too complicated and boring to explain here, I'm only going to be in the new apartment until August, when I'll move back to the building where I live now. Hopefully, I'll have built myself up a bit by the end of the summer so that transition will be easier. One of my summer goals is to ease back into exercise in a balanced, non-obsessive, non-ritualistic way. I really want to work on strength instead of jumping back into my usual compulsive running. Back in high school, I used to be able to do a good amount of pushups, abs, etc. - eventually I want to get back to that.

My schedule has continued to be in flux for the past few days, but overall I've managed better than expected. I ate in restaurants three or four times, and the guilt got a little less with each meal. I also had a really good talk with my mom about the ED in which I was much more open than usual. Often I just get defensive and clam up, but this time I stayed clear-headed and honest, and we both came away feeling better than before.

One iffy thing that has stuck with me from the conversation is this: I asked my mom if she thought I'd gained weight. Not a fair question, I know, but I have such a hard time gauging for myself what my body looks like. Anyway, I'm pretty sure my mom thought it was a trick question, because she avoided answering outright. After a little fumbling around for words, she finally ended up just saying: "I think you look beautiful."

Oy. Thanks Mama Bear, but you know that I'm still XX pounds underweight, right? If I'm beautiful now, what happens when I'm up three, five, ten pounds? When does it become noticeable? When does it become not beautiful anymore?

I'm not appearance-obsessed, I promise. I'm a jeans-and-T-shirt girl all the way. Actually, during finals, I'm a sweats-and-T-shirt girl, or a running-shorts-and-T-shirt girl, or a get the idea. But I do have anorexia, thus I do hate my body and the thought of gaining weight is still pretty repulsive to me. It's not that I wanted my mom to tell me I look sickly and skeletal, but I did not want to hear that I look fine as is - because I am trying to gain and I am trying to make a life for myself beyond the eating disorder. Appearance shouldn't factor into that, but I gotta be honest, it does. It's hard to stay motivated when you feel like a porker.

Besides that little snag, I'm feeling a lot better about the whole recovery outlook in general. More and more often, I find myself thinking seriously about what if I actually did get past this stupid thing and was able to live like all these normal, healthy people around me? I have a lot of exciting things coming up this summer and after, my friends and I have some fun stuff planned, and I am looking forward to having a more equal, adult relationship with my mom instead of feeling like a needy emotional wreck all the time. Life is changing fast, and the damn eating disorder is sucking up way too much of my energy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reading Week Update

Wow, I had no idea the thirst thing was so common! I'm really sorry that so many of you guys have dealt with that - it's super annoying. But thanks for all the suggestions. My takeaway is basically: 1) drink lots of water 2) cut da Coke 3) get some bloodwork done. I actually had blood drawn back in January and everything was totally normal except for one majorly elevated liver enzyme. No one seemed very concerned and all my other results were completely fine, but I'll definitely ask my doctor about it the next time I go.

Since classes are over and exams are starting, it's been a really strange week. My mom is in town for a couple days to help me move, and the schedule change is messing with me. All semester, I've been pretty entrenched in my own food routine, so the variability this week combined with having my mom around is getting a little tricky. I was actually looking forward to using this week/weekend as sort of a trial run for my new sort-of commitment to variety and flexibility and all that, but of course after the very first lunch out with my mom today, I was so overwhelmingly guilty and disgusted with myself that I wanted to scrap the whole idea. I tried really hard to tell myself that it's okay not to eat the same thing every day, that restaurants are fun, that food is good, but yikes I was not in a good place. Later, we went to dinner at one of my favorite Asian restaurants with my friend and I had an awesome time, enjoyed the food, loved being there - but now I'm home and I feel fat and gross and am already trying to plot ways to get out of more restaurants over the weekend. I really hate that this is putting a damper on what should be a really happy and exciting time for me, and I really hate that I can't just enjoy meals out like normal people do.

Okay, this post has inspired me to add to my list of Things I Want When I Am Fully Recovered and No Longer Have a Stupid Eating Disorder:
- being able to eat in restaurants multiple days in a row - or multiple times a day, if so be the case - without freaking out and descending into a state of panic and despair and self-loathing
- choosing restaurants based on what I actually want to eat as opposed to which ones have the menus posted online, or which ones have salads
- being a normal daughter who can enjoy Mom Time, complete with Frappucinos and frozen yogurt

Other than the food anxieties, though, it's been a relatively good reading week. My biggest scariest paper is almost fully written. I already submitted another paper (due Friday) yesterday, and my last paper is due next Tuesday, but it will be finished before then. I have one last major exam on Monday, and then I'm DONE. So, still a bit left to do, but it's all getting done and I feel good about the status of things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting Weighed, Reprise

Back in March, I wrote a post about getting weighed at a doctor's office where the nurse made all sorts of unhelpful comments about my weight. I went back for a follow-up appointment this morning and, joy of joys, they weighed me again. I had a different nurse than last time but no worries! this one enjoyed talking about my weight too.

Some of her better lines:
- "Aren't you a light one!"
- "Well, that was different. I've been weighing old ladies all morning."
- "I hope you didn't take offense when I called you 'thin' - it came from a place of admiration. And jealousy."

She's not quite at the level of the radiology technician who did my bone density scan two winters ago. That gem of a medical professional told me - direct quote, people - "Sometimes I wish I had a little anorexia too, just to lose some weight." And yes, she was directly addressing the XX-lb nineteen-year-old girl with severe osteopenia in the spine and both hips.