I've been blogging for over three years now, which is insane to me. SO MUCH has changed and yet, in some ways, not much at all. Anyway, my point is that it feels like you guys must know everything about me....but I still get a fair number of e-mail questions from readers. Some of the same stuff has come up repeatedly, so I figured there were a few things I should address, just for clarity's sake. Some of these actually are frequently asked (via comments or e-mail or text/facebook, for those of you who know my real-life identity), and some are just things that I think should be answered. Some are just random because I am random.
What's your real name?
Where do you go to school?
Not telling. It is a medium-sized, private, beautiful school in the US.
What is the name of it?
Can you at least tell us where College City is? Even just the state? The region?
Leave me alone.
How old are you?
23. I'll be 24 in November.
How tall are you?
How much do you weigh?
8,375 pounds. #HAES
Just kidding. Not telling.
You seem to like hashtags. Are you on Twitter?
Do you have an eating disorder? What kind? Is this an "Eating Disorder" blog?
Technically right now I have ED-NOS, which is—in my opinion—a somewhat meaningless diagnosis. My primary diagnosis has always been Anorexia Nervosa, which was first given in 2010; I was 19 and a sophomore in college, although my eating disorder really began several years before that, when I was about 12. That was when I first restricted hardcore and lost about 30 lbs in a very short time period. My mom knew something was up and brought me to my pediatrician. However, for reasons that are beyond me, I was never diagnosed and never received any formal treatment. I inexplicably "recovered" (e.g. gained weight and ate relatively normally throughout high school) before the relapse in college, when I was first officially diagnosed and started treatment. After a few fits and starts over the next several months, I reached a healthy weight, relapsed in the spring of 2012, regained weight, and have been at a healthy weight for close to two years now.
I suppose this started off as an "Eating Disorder Blog," but has evolved over time because my eating disorder has evolved over time! Yes I think I do still consider myself to have an eating disorder, but certainly not to the extent that I once did, and it is more mental than behavioral at this point. I do not restrict or overexercise anymore, although I do track my intake, count calories, and obsess about my weight more than any person should. I have never binged and/or purged.
You keep talking about your "chronic pain" or your "nerve pain." What the heck is it and why do you keep whining about it? Can't you just go to a doctor? Wimp.
The pain started in the winter of 2011 as a twinge in the muscles that connect my groin to my belly button. Imagine this: you double over, and an iron bar connects your belly button to each hip flexor; then try standing up straight—that's what it initially felt like. Over time it evolved into a tingling, burning pain that spread throughout my hips, lower back, and pelvic area. It affected every aspect of my daily life, whether I was sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, ANYTHING. I spent many miserable months searching for answers from any doctor I could find. Some of the many things that were proposed and ruled out were: fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disorders, celiac disease, lyme disease....you name it, I was probably tested for it.
In the end, it took a very specialized specialist in pelvic pain disorders to diagnose the problem as neuropathic pain secondary to hypothalmic amenorrhea. Hypothalmic amenorrhea just means loss of periods due to a hormonal deficiency—in my case, caused by the anorexia (very common). Neuropathic pain is pain caused entirely by nerve signals from the brain, not any external trauma; or, more accurately, the pain is caused by some initial external trauma, but persists long after the trauma heals. For some reason—and modern medicine does NOT have a good understanding of this—the brain continues to send pain signals long after the original injury has healed. For me, the hormone loss (caused by many months and years of starvation and overexercise with weakened and degraded muscle and tissue) constituted the initial trauma. Hormones are also implicated in the nervous system, aggravating the nerve damage and leading to the persistent neuropathic pain.
Dr. A's approach was: 1) Address the hormonal deficiency by using a compounded estrogen/testosterone supplement, upping my fat intake, and cutting all exercise; 2) Address the secondary muscle tightness with physical therapy; and 3) Address the nerve pain by using compounded capsaicin cream, which for some bizarre reason works to dull the peripheral nerve endings and reduce pain. Google it.
The capsaicin worked like a charm for about six months, but unfortunately doesn't seem to be doing its thing so well anymore. This may be a result of overexercise, which I admittedly did via long-distance running for most of the winter and spring; I suspect this messed with my hormones, which will likely need time to re-balance before the pain heals again. Stay tuned.
What's up with your eyes?
At the moment, nothing! (Knock on wood.) Thanks to my beloved ophthalmologist Dr. Q, my eyes have been A-Okay since December 2012. See here for the full story. In short, my eyes were another casualty of the anorexia-related hormone deficiencies. In this case, it caused severe dryness, allowing for numerous infections, ulcerations, and corneal damage, which progressed to nerve damage. Not uncommon overall, but incredibly uncommon in people under age 60. I saw about five eye doctors before finding Dr. Q, who is, in my eyes (no pun intended), the greatest doctor on the face of the earth, and who currently holds a small piece of my heart. I now wear Acuvue Oasys contact lenses 24/7 (even to sleep) which protect my eyes by holding in moisture and preventing any further nerve damage. It has truly been life-changing. I also use Azasite, Restasis, and Refresh drops.
What does the name of your blog mean?
To be honest, the name doesn't have any secret meaning. When I first created this blog, I had been reading other blogs about eating disorders for a while and felt like I wanted to become a part of that community. My life had changed drastically in the few months leading up to that (I was briefly hospitalized, took a medical leave from school, moved back in with my parents, entered outpatient treatment, etc.) and I was feeling very adrift and alone. Blogging helped me feel part of something again, and it felt like a time where I was finding myself and my voice after losing them both. And I think the name still applies, because that was very much a transformative time in my life (pre-treatment to post-treatment) and while this blog is not exactly "new" anymore, I still feel relatively new to this post-diagnosis, post-treatment, post-anorexia life. Maybe I will change the name someday, but at the moment I'm not particularly compelled to do so.
Which medications are you on?
I was on Celexa for anxiety and depression from late May 2012-early July 2014. Since discontinuing that, I am no longer on any daily oral medications. Like I said earlier, I use Azasite (antibiotic), Restasis (increases tear production), and Refresh (OTC lubricant) drops for my eyes.
Which blogs do you read?
I am constantly discovering new ones, but the ones I read most consistently are listed to the right just below the archive.
Which websites do you visit most?
Outside of work/school-related stuff, my top 10 (in no particular order):
- New York Times
- Washington Post
- Al Jazeera
- my bank
- my credit card company
What religion are you?
I do not practice any religion.
What ethnicity are you?
Introvert or extrovert?
Mostly introvert, but I get loud when I am (A) mad; (B) in class; or (C) drunk.
What do you look like?
Stunning and perfect.
Um, I don't know. I'm white. I have brown hair, greenish-brownish eyes, and strangely big feet. And a winning smile, I might add.
Why are you so brilliant and lovely?
Hope this helps. If there are other questions, do not hesitate to comment or e-mail me.