I mentioned in my first blog about some of the things I live and struggle with, and on any given day I may be waltzing around with more than one issue. Sadly for me there is one that has haunted me for what seems like an eternity, my struggle with EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified). I know that I'm not alone in this struggle of self hate and punishment but mine is not as simple as trying to be one stomach flu away from a size 0. It was never like that for me. I was never trying to look like a model. I was always feeling guilty about something and like many young girls and women I began to use food as a voice. (the absence of it and the over abundance kept me in a hellish love/hate triangle)
My bulimia started as a way to (pardon my pun) purge away the guilt. I remember as early as 6 feeling guilty for enjoying things. I would break my own toys and I remember punishing myself by sitting inside my bedroom closet terrified of the darkness inside but somehow feeling it was what I deserved. The actual purging didn't start till I was 13. I also had a brief relationship with pica as well. The pica was the ultimate in punishment for me. I felt like such a horrible human being and that I didn't deserve food. I allowed myself little bits of paper and in some cases little pieces of chalk. These things didn't taste good or didn't qualify as food so it was guiltless. I would shake the toaster upside down because I didn't deserve a whole piece of bread or toast but I could have the crumbs nobody wanted. My college years I would troll the 24 hour grocery stores late at night for food porn. (A feast of the eyes only) I would roam down the aisles picking things up and putting them back while the most pitiful pear that had obviously been dropped and maybe even partially rotted sat like a baby in the front of my cart. It rode around sometimes rolling and falling over creating more skin blemishes than a puberty ridden middle schooler. By then maybe I could have it. No one in their right mind (I obviously wasn't) would want it so maybe I could convince myself that I could have it. The person working the register always gave me a strange look as I purchased my sub-par piece of fruit.
The problem for me in this is that I am overweight. The truth is, the majority of people with an eating disorder are overweight or of average weight. The sad part is because of that many don't get the help they need. I was one of those people. After confessing to a doctor about my purging and my binge/starve cycle he chuckled slightly and said I don't look like I have anything to worry about and will probably tire of this behavior eventually when I don't get the attention I'm expecting. At the time I was 15. I started purging about 5 times a day after that. After all, the doctor said I had nothing to worry about. (Ruptured esophagus = death, weakening of the heart which leads to heart attacks = death, kidney failure = death, stroke = possible death etc.) He wasn't the only one in the medical community who made me feel like an attention seeking brat. I realized very quickly that unless I was emaciated (which can be too late to receive help) I would never be taken seriously. I was actually fine with that-- well, the part of me that believed I was a horrible human being and didn't deserve anything. That part of me began to take over after I stopped trying to get help. It reminded me that I didn't deserve to stop. I began to believe it and I fell into a very dangerous cycle of self injury, binge/purge, and starve behaviors. I was almost high with the sadistic rituals I put myself through. Later as an adult things got out of hand again. A stressful moment can start the madness and I'm 70lbs down in two months, my hair is coming out in clumps, I have dizzy spells, anemia, and big dry patches all over my body. I was once told by a woman who I suppose was trying to help that I was going to hell for treating (my body) the temple of the Lord with such disregard. (She was referring to my constant purging and negative words I had singed into my skin) I looked at her and responded “This is hell!” I even had a minister try to give me diet advice that was safer than what I was doing. Um...really?? WTH??? Look I know sometimes people just don't know what to say and in those instances I wish they would just keep their pie hole shut! Everyday and every bite I take there is always that thought “you don't deserve it!” “Spit it out!” It's terribly exhausting to hate yourself so much but then again isn't that the point. To exhaust myself to the point where I can no longer be. Where I'm just a hollow shell curled into a cupboard trying not to take up room because there are other people, wonderful people that deserve to be. At my lowest I wrote this poem.
Erase me. I'm just a smudge.
This sketch would be much cleaner
If you'd cut me off or blot me out
Or whittle me much leaner.
Erase me. It's not a loss
My shadow soon unknown
Those that are left may walk in light
And not my hellmouth roam.
Erase me. I beg of you.
Don't make the torture longer.
White me out, scrape me off,
Just make sure I'm a goner.
Erase me. Don't recreate
For I'm not worth the space.
Don't watch me fade, evaporate,
Just let me be erased.
Erase me. I'm just a flaw.
Don't ruin your masterpiece.
Just peel me off, and carve me out
And make this being cease.
Now that I look back on this and sad to say many other poems and essays I wrote I can see how far I've come. Maybe not as far as I want (I tend to be impatient with myself) but the fact that I don't feel like this on a regular day to day basis is amazing. I was dying inside, hollowed out, and severely depressed. I may not always be rainbows and sunshine but I no longer wake up disappointed that I didn't die in my sleep. Truth is I don't go a day without condemning myself whenever anything crosses my lips (even raw vegetables) There is always that nagging feeling of not being deserving of that salad or piece of cheese. The sour bitter remembrance of bile on my tongue and how easy it would be to just rid my stomach of any culinary sin. I know that slippery slope all too well. Awakening the beast inside and knowing I won't be able to stop. It scares me. Today, I survived this hunger game. Every baby step is a victory. So no matter your gait, just keep moving forward.