Confronting my Eating Disorder - Anorexia Bulimia
Wasting away my life…LITERALLY!
I stepped on the scale and it read 105 lbs. I began to scream, shake and cry uncontrollably. I was in a full blown panic attack and couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together. This is what it took for me to realize I had a serious problem.
This all began when I was only 13 years old. I can still, to this day, visualize my grandmother trying to explain to me that I would always have to be conscious of my weight. She never meant any harm by what she said. She was simply stating the obvious, which was that my build was more like the people on her side of the family.
I’m not sure how many heart attacks she had already had at that point in her life, but I know that it was more than 1. Add to that, the fact that both of her parents, and most of her siblings had already died of heart disease. Everyone one them had a weight problem, and she wanted to prevent me from suffering the same fate.
So at 13 years old I began controlling my food intake. I also began drinking alcohol very heavily; therefore consuming all of those fluids enabled me to feel full most of the time. Not one day would go by when I wouldn’t step on that scale, both in the morning and at night. In my mind, going over 110 lbs was not an option. I am 5’3”, and every single thing I read about weight/height proportions suggested that 110 lbs would be at the bottom of the scale of where I should be.
On those rare days, usually during my menstrual cycle, when my weight went over, I would just fast. It got to the point where I could very easily go 2 to 3 days eating only 6 Saltine crackers with a couple of slices of American cheese. I would drink water, but not too much, during the day…yet at night and during the weekends I never cared about how much alcohol I consumed.
I spent my whole high school career doing this to myself. I remember always feeling self confident when I was out in public, but never feeling good about myself when I was at home. I was a very outgoing teenager with a lot of friends. Yet, at home I never felt like I belonged. I know this wasn’t the case, but up until just a couple of years ago, I never felt like I was good enough for my family.
I know how strange this all sounds because most people carry those feelings into the outside world, but not me….I felt accepted by outsiders but not by my loved ones.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I gained 69 lbs. I was horrified! I did not leave my house, unless I was going to visit my mother, from the beginning of November until I gave birth to her on December 28th. I felt disgusting and ugly. Before the pregnancy I had ALWAYS maintained that size 5 frame. That is when I began having anxiety attacks.
Any woman who has given birth knows that you are supposed to wait at least 6 weeks before doing any serious exercising. Well, exactly 1 week after she was born I threw myself (full force) into 2-3 hour workout marathons…DAILY. I was doing anywhere between 500 – 1000 crunches a day, along with every workout video I could find, while at the same time falling right back into my very low calorie intakes.
I went through 2 more pregnancies doing the same thing. Always maintaining those 110 lbs and the size 5 jeans. Not once throughout all of those years did it ever occur to me that there was something wrong with me. In fact, in my twisted mind, the people who didn’t care about their weight were the ones with the problem.
After my father died in 2004, I began to put on some weight. No matter what I did, none of my old tricks were working to take off this weight. So every pound that I put on would cause me to work out even harder, which just turned everything into muscle. This went on for about a year. Finally my psychiatrist, who was treating me for Anxiety/Panic Disorder, started me on one particular medication that would keep me from gaining weight (from all of the other medications I was on.)
Well it worked! And with all of the working out and calorie cutting, I was well on my way back to where I thought I should be.
In July of 2006 I quit drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes (for good!) Other things started to become more important to me than working out, such as spending time with my granddaughter, attending AA Meetings, and just trying to get well.
During this process I was just learning how to feel again. Emotions weren’t something I was accustomed to and they were beginning to kick my butt. The way I see it, as do most recovering addicts, I was at the emotional level of a 13 year old kid (which is when I began drinking.) Things started getting tough and my weight started to plummet. The angrier I became at any given situation the more I felt like purging…only my way of purging was by taking excessive amounts of laxatives.
It got to the point where, on some days, I would swallow up to 8 laxatives during an 8 hour period. I was also getting ready to have surgery on my neck at this time. I was in a lot of pain and found it very hard to move. Therefore, the more I had to stay still, the more laxatives I took. My weight was fluctuating between 95 – 101 lbs…and I thought it was great!
I had my surgery in the fall of 2007, after which I spent about 2 weeks on my couch not moving at all. I found myself in one of the darkest places I’d ever been. I wasn’t drinking, but my healing process had come to a complete halt.
So when I stepped on that scale, on that sunny morning, and saw the number 105, I had a complete meltdown. After calming myself down (only slightly) I did the only thing I knew how to do…I called my sister (who is also a recovering alcoholic) and asked for help.
It’s been almost 2 years since I got out of Rehab, and I have my share of both good and bad days…but just the thought of having to be dropped off at that rehab again scares me enough to be aware when my weight starts to go down.
Every now and then I see pictures that were taken of me when I was at my worst with this disease. It is not pretty…bones and protruding rib cages are not attractive. I thank God and my loved ones for whatever part they took in my intervention…I am alive, and happy!