The One Sentence You Should Never Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

“I can’t even tell that you have one.”

Beforephoto.jpg

This sentence helped take away 8 years and 40lbs of my life – and I’m reposting it here today because in light of NEDA week, I think it’s a reminder to anybody searching for resources on the internet.

“I can’t even tell that you have one.”

Such a simple few words. We say it all the time.

“Oh, you’ve gained weight? Couldn’t tell.”

“You’re hungover? Couldn’t tell.”

“Wait, I don’t see a zit on your chin? What are you talking about?”

“You got a haircut? Sorry, didn’t notice.”

We’re human. Our sensors are overloaded by stigma. We don’t always notice much outside of our peripheral.

It’s okay, and likely for the good of mankind… But, to someone with an eating disorder- that sentence is a trap.

That sentence is what continues to breakdown conversation for someone who may need the professional help that our country can provide.

My entire teen and young adult life I struggled with disordered eating.

I have a great family, loyal friends, and a slew of loving partners mixed in throughout those years, but I could never find the groundwork to tell them the reality of what I was doing behind closed doors.

I was miserable, lonely, isolated, and after 4-5 years, absolutely terrified that my body would never be able to recover … But on I thrashed for another 3 years before someone stepped in.

Why?

Because I never felt thin enough.

Because I lived in agony of hearing that exact sentence of which I’m writing about now.

At 5’3, I am a short person. I have never been classified as overweight. The opposite actually, I grew up underweight.

For someone like me, losing weight is never drastic when you hover at being on the thin side anyway.

Naturally, as I hit puberty and started college, I gained 10-15lbs- which signaled the end of the world. In retrospect, I was exactly what a normal weight looks like… But to my body dysmorphia, it was unmanageable.

I had lost my “thin” childhood identity.

I spent 3 years after that weight gain attempting to lose every bloody pound, and failing.

Work out 3x a day- sure. Eat only cereal all day- check. Drink wine instead of eat dinner- done.

Throw up when the roomies are out of the house- you betcha.

But on my weight fluctuated up and down those 10-15lbs despite what I did.

In other words, it was mostly unnoticeable.

Eating disorders are almost always still stereotyped as gaunt, white females… But the reality is that most people with eating disorders fluctuate rapidly- and often.

Think about it… It’s hard to keep off weight for a normal person on a diet.

Now take that and think about someone who is limiting his/her caloric intake to 2 grapes and a slice of cheese.

It’s unmanageable.

And likely someone struggling with anorexia will break at times and eat (or overeat) like a regular person would simply because they’re famished or maybe even trying to be “normal”.

There are countless times I can remember going 3-4 days running 10-15 miles and eating like a mouse… But inevitably I’d break and turn around and eat an entire family size bag of Doritos.

Eating disorders are a chore, much like making the bed every morning… And sometimes you don’t make the bed, or make it lazily right? That’s basically how someone with an ED operates.

Some days you’re diligent at your career. Other days you’re bored and clicking around on BuzzFeed.

Eating disorders are a constant regardless, and it wasn’t until 8 years in that I finally had pushed myself to the brink.

At 23 and xx lbs I’d finally “won” … And it was only then that I finally felt validated enough to start sharing my struggle with those closest to me.

Caressing my back bones in the mirror, I’d stare at them in the bathroom and think “you’ve finally done it. You’ve broken the ED cycle. You win.”

But, I began to realize, what was I actually winning?

I was frail, gaunt, hungry, depressed, isolated, and everyone was beginning to take notice.

I was finally validated.

And I was still absolutely bloody miserable.

My friends and family began to step in. At first, I denied it- but the truth is that I just didn’t know how to tell them “my God, you’re just now noticing!? I’ve done this for years.”

Still not sure whether or not my anorexia was “severe enough,” it wasn’t until I went to California to visit a male friend.

My best friend at the time hadn’t seen me in a year, and when he did I remember his face staring at me up and down.

I smiled. I knew I was finally sick enough.

The whole weekend was spent with him frantically texting my other friends (I side-eyed the convos) asking what the hell was going on, and to be honest I remember gleefully seeing a text conversation between he and my friend at home and thinking “YES- now maybe someone will help me.”

I had yet to find my own voice and yet to develop the self respect to reach out for myself.

So on I went after that weekend waiting for someone to put my life back together for me.

It took 6 more months.

6 more months of trying to maintain an underweight frame. 6 more months of struggling and fluctuating. Of 15 mile runs.

And in the end, it was two boxes of cereal that finally got me that help.

Aware of my rapidly deteriorating frame, my parents were watching my food and took heed when they saw I’d cleaned out the pantry of two boxes of cereal in a day.

After 8 years, someone finally said to me:

“I can tell you have an eating disorder.”

And from there my life changed.

Eating disorders are mind games. They are a warped sense of reality.

Be careful what you say to someone. Be gentle. Eating disorders are fragile-

And in turn, they make those struggling fragile.

The sentence “I can’t even tell that you have one” serves no purpose other than to send the message that one must “work harder” in order to really “have” an eating disorder that validates any medical attention.

And that, I’m afraid, is truly the most dangerous game.

*3 years later, I’m still in recovery and I still lost a tooth to my experience with bulimia. And weight didn’t have shit to do with that.

bulimia
Rash on my mouth from getting tooth removed from Bulimia 3/2/17. 3 years into recovery.

5 Things You Need to Know About Eating Disorders & Your Heart

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-12-08-04-pm
Originally seen on SheKnows.com

5 Truths You Need to Know About Eating Disorders and Your Heart

Here’s the truth about eating disorders: we are often uneducated as to their risks.

Sure, we “know” they are detrimental, but when I struggled for 8 years I had no real awareness as to what type of bodily harm I inflected on my organs.

I noticed the physical effects: thinning hair, sallow eyes, and stress fractures from running. I observed the light-headedness and fainting spells, but I never took time to explore what that meant internally, especially for my heart.

Now in recovery from my eating disorder, I spent time speaking with cardiologists and medical professionals around the country to learn more about the harmful effects that eating disorders can have on your organs – specifically, your heart.

Here’s what they had to share: Continue reading “5 Things You Need to Know About Eating Disorders & Your Heart”

“We Can’t Save Your Tooth”: Truth About Eating Disorders 3 Years Later

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 2.58.27 PM.png

This post is a struggle, but it needs to be written.

If my message doesn’t carry its usual snarky platitudes  – please understand that I’m grappling with this past week and I’m generally a bit more ha-he-ho about these eating disorder subjects (‘Cause, really, who wants to read the woe?)

However, this message is important.

Should I write it? I asked my partner today on a hike.

(Side note: it’s 66 degrees in Boulder at the moment. Double-edge sword of being like WOO WE GET TO HIKE… and also, OH GOD. GLOBAL WARMING IS GOING TO END THE PLANET.)

Anyway, we were chatting about the events of the past week. It’s embarrassing, I said. I never thought this would catch up to me.

Write it, he said. So you can be an example. People are short-sided. Maybe they need a reminder that the effects of eating disorders are long-term.

… So, here I am. And here I am to remind:

Bagel.JPG
Bagel Saturdays – yaaasss
A couple weeks ago, I went to the dentist. Falling in line with the rest of the nation, I have avoided that chair for a year.

Was it an oversight? Yes. Was it intentional? Of course.

I’ve felt pain in my gums and molars for the past year and been filled with an ever-present growing dread.

It’s Gingivitis, my New York dentist said – with little concern. You need to floss more.

But my molars, I said.

He waved it off. You’re fine. The x-rays show nothing.

Accepting his nonchalance eagerly (purposely), I skipped outta that office and moved to Denver – where I’ve been for a year and some – with an increasing pain in my gums and back right molar.

Go to the dentist, my partner said for months.

I will, I’d say curtly – with that whispering fear in my brain.

Why so nervous? Some might ask. You’re healthy, you’re recovering.

I am. I am both of those things.

But, you don’t forget the cigarettes you’ve smoked in your life.

The ones you still sneak on a bad day.

You don’t forget the years you threw up – bile clinging to the back of your teeth – and the lack of concern you paid to your mouth.

The pain worsened over the past couple months; gnawed at me like a consistent reminder of my past.

Brushing my teeth became excruciating before I finally relented.

I booked a bloody appointment.

Sitting in the chair, I introduced myself to the dentist.

Nice to meet you, I said. I know something’s wrong and I’m not sure what it is but my back molar is pretty painful.

He nodded. We’ll take some x-rays.

Let’s do it, I said. Let’s face the damn music.

20 minutes later, he came back with a fresh-faced, nervous-looking assistant.

My throat tightened.

You want the good news or the bad?

Bad, I said. I’m not much for glazing.

He nodded. There’s been trauma to your teeth.

I sighed. Yeah, I was bulimic for years.

He nodded – probably more than a little surprised I admitted it – but kept his composure.

Did you smoke? He asked.

Yes, I said. Still do on the occasion.

He nodded again, as though he already knew the answer and was relieved to hear me confirm it.

Okay, he said. I’m going to be honest: Your back right molar is extensively damaged. He brought up my x-ray. Did you know you had Gingivitis?

Yeah, I said. The whole bleeding gum thing kinda gave it away.

It’s turned into periodontal disease, he paused. Now, this is common. A lot of people have it and don’t ever know. But, yours has progressed fairly severely from what we can tell.

I picked at the skin around my cuticles.

You’ve lost somewhere around 6 millimeters of bone on your back molar, he said – pointing at my x-ray. And you have a cavity that has wrapped around your gum lines near the molar.

What next then? I asked – cutting off all emotion. And why the fuck didn’t someone else notice this when I was bulimic?

He shook his head. It can take years to form into this. You could be perfectly healthy now and just starting to experience the after effects.

Fantastic, I muttered.

He stared at me.

Why are doctors such duds?

I’m sorry, he said, earnestly.

I shrugged. Saw this coming.

I didn’t… but Dr. Sociopath didn’t need to know.

Here’s what we can do, he said – in his flat manner. We’ll have you come back next week, figure out just how severe this cavity is  – and we’ll try to fill it before anything else.

What are the chances of that working?

He shrugged. Can’t tell you until we’re in there.

I left that day; made an appointment.

I also booked a second opinion.

I so badly wanted this dentist to be wrong that I was willing to spend $100 bucks on a second glance.

The optimistic side of me thought “It’ll be fine. They’ll fill it.”

The pessimistic side of thought “You’re screwed.”

Turns out, neither were particularly correct.

(I say this while popping another painkiller in a bookstore.)

blog1

The second opinion confirmed the first.

I dragged back in on Thursday to the original doctor and sat in the chair.

For 2 1/2 hours, the dentist and assistant hygienist worked to save my tooth. Doped up on Novocain didn’t stop the pain of them poking and prodding into my gums (hence, the painkiller).

For 2 1/2 hours, I thought about my eating disorder. I thought about the purges, the binges – imagining my teeth in the process.

As they struggled to get a filling, I sat in the chair and I thought to myself: “If only I knew then what I know now.”

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-4-23-17-pm
Maya Angelou
At the end of the day, here’s the deal:

I was anorexic and bulimic for years – I smoked anywhere from 10-12 cigarettes a week – and I’m 3 years into recovery.

I was never an “every meal” purger. More a 4-5x/week purger and I truly believed I wouldn’t suffer consequences cause hell “I wasn’t as bad as that person or horror story.”

When they got into my mouth, they confirmed that my tooth was decaying from the inside out.

Not yet at the nerve, I won’t have to have a root canal. (wahoo, good news, I gargled to them.)

However, bulimia took a toll.

My molars have lost bone, my gums have fairly severe periodontal disease, and my gums have receded.

They cannot save my back right molar.

They removed the cavity from my gum line but my tooth is 2/3 filling, which can only last temporarily – a year or two.

At the end of the day, I have two choices:

Have the tooth extracted and chew on other molars, or have gum surgery and a crown.

They tested my other teeth: with the exception of a couple, most are strong. They will be fine if I get this shit under control.

Inevitably, I will spend $1000s of dollars on my teeth throughout the years – and that’s a financial burden I’m just beginning to sort through.

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 4.54.39 PM.png

Now for some real talk: Is this the end of the world? No.

I’ll live, and I’ll get my mouth under control.

A kick in the ass, my partner said. We’ll get better about flossing and brushing.

But, I can’t help but sit here right now writing this – and shake my head.

How short-sided of me to think for all those years that there wouldn’t be repercussions.

How silly of me to think I could throw up meal after meal, run mile after mile, smoke cigarette after cigarette to keep hunger muted –

And not wind up dealing with the consequences.

I used to go to the dentist when I was bulimic and wait for the ax to fall.

Certainly, this will be the time they tell me my teeth are screwed.

When I started recovery, I thought to myself “A-ha. I got outta ‘dat scot-free.”

But, I suppose I’m here to remind you that every decision has a consequence – some for the better, some for the worse.

And you can’t quit an eating disorder expecting zero repercussions.

You don’t just get to be like “BUT WAIT, HEY NOT FAIR. I WAS SICK AND IT’S NOT MY FAULT AND I DIDN’T WANNA MESS WITH MY TEETH.”

If only we could bargain with our bodies.

The guilty side of me is resentful of my choices –

I’m down, admittedly. I’m angry at the things I did and the lack of care I inflicted on myself.

I’m angry at 18-year old me – hunched over the toilet, ice cream splashing back up into my face as it hit the surface.

I never thought at the time that I’d age. That life would carry on at a regular weight – and I’d be working hard every day to advocate for recovery.

Hindsight truly is 20/20.

Look, I know I’ll forgive myself. Just give me a couple days. There’s worse shit in life and my life is good.

I can be mad and feel guilty, but truthfully – what’s the point?

I’m not gonna go relapse over it. I mean hell, I don’t want dentures. (lol)

I’m not gonna go run 10 miles and pray that exercise makes up for it.

I’m not gonna go punish myself.

I’m just going to be and spread my message as I can.

Be a walking example of the good and the bloody bad.

There’s nothing you can do about the mistakes you made. They are yours to deal with and manage (sometimes in the future).

I’m not going to stop living over its effects. Hell, been there done that.

But, I will change my habits.

That “secret” stash of cigs. It’s over. I have lived in a world where consequences don’t apply to me and I’m 27-years old and 1-2 cigs a week or even a month isn’t cutting it anymore.

Tonight, I’m going to wrap up this blog – publish it – prep for a podcast interview on ‘drunkorexia’ and have a beer with my partner when he’s done studying (and yes, have food as well).

We’re going to sit outside and talk about this or that. And then we’ll drive to Denver, feed my dog, cook some pasta, and burrow down in the living room in sweatpants to watch a movie.

Life keeps going. You keep moving.

I’ve got solid relationships, a healthy lifestyle, shelter and motivation.

I’m not ever going back to who I was – but the traces of her linger always.

And perhaps, at the end of the day, I need those traces to remember how far I’ve come.

Have a good weekend, y’all. ❤

teeth

“Can You Grab My Spanx?”: Weddings With An Eating Disorder

 

screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-3-13-00-pm

Wedding season.

… We’ve all been there – or will be there – and once you do, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Picture this:

It’s the weekend of your best friend’s wedding and you’re a bridesmaid.

You’re back at your parents house; surrounded by crinkled pictures, dolls in plastic bins, old love notes from high school boyfriends that you refuse to throw out (even if they’re all married with a kid on the way; nostalgia is a real disease), and a high school Geography and Algebra book you never returned.

You’ve just showered: the fumes of yesterday’s spray tan wafting through your nose. Your hair is up in some makeshift form, water running down your back, and a towel wrapped loosely around your chest.

You’re hunched over childhood chest of drawers.

Where the hell is it? You’re wondering, tossing aside a neon yellow tank top you bought in Costa Rica on your Senior trip.

You push around an oversized college t-shirt, a ragged spaghetti top, and some winter Long-Johns your mom bought one Christmas that you never wore them. (They’re polka dot for Christ’s sake).

You sigh. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME I WORE THOSE BLOODY SPANX, You’re now chastising yourself – moving on from the Long-Johns.

Kim’s wedding? Amanda’s? April’s?

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 3.21.52 PM.png

Continue reading ““Can You Grab My Spanx?”: Weddings With An Eating Disorder”

Add A Pinch of Salt: Must We? Cooking With An Eating Disorder

Happy 2017 y’all! My fingers have finally found their way to the keyboard again and I couldn’t be more relieved. (Always have this mass blind anxiety that after each blog post I’ll suddenly run out of subjects and dive into a deep writers block and lose my voice and never write again and and… well, you get the picture.)

Anyway, I’d say my resolution is to write more consistently – but hey, I think resolutions are bullshit – and I don’t like writing unless I have a subject to delve into.

SO, with that being said, lez’ talk about cooking and eating disorders ’cause LORD – I gots some venting to do.

cooking4
Pancakes from my roomie

Picture this:

The other night my roommate walks into our apartment right? And there I am leaned over on the kitchen counter – squinting at a laptop screen.

She halts in the doorway. “Are you cooking?”

I look up from said laptop, brow furrowed –  a dripping colander of black beans, a pan full of burnt rice, and reading some eye-rollingly beautiful blonde bloggers “easy, earth shattering sweet potato and grains bowl” recipe.

“I dunno what the hell I’m doing,” I say – turning back to the sink and pushing sweaty hair off my forehead.

SUCK IT BLOG LADY, I think. I hope all your cabbage rots and fumigates your 10,000$ oven.

“Well, this is interesting,” my roommate grins.

I make a face. “I’m on a budget.”

“Lemme know if you need anything,” she says – walking back towards her room (likely with deliberate stride).

“IS A CLOVE THE WHOLE GARLIC?” I yell.

“Jesus, NO. That’s the bulb.”

I sigh. Look over at my dog.

“Wanna give me your gruel?”

He did not.

cooking9
Hello, Juno – you greedy bastard

The truth about cooking with an ED?

It’s a minefield.

Continue reading “Add A Pinch of Salt: Must We? Cooking With An Eating Disorder”

Sugar N’ Spice N’ Everything Nice? Naw: Holidays With An Eating Disorder

Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 7.29.06 PM.png

Christmas Eve – and… donuts? 🍩🎄❄️️ ((or otherwise known as a time of general food anxiety, fear of weight gain, and constant body checking))

Such a balancing beam between the holidays we are born into believing in – and the reality that takes place when you have an eating disorder.

Went on a run this morning with my partner. Ran straight past a Dunkin Donuts. “Let’s get donuts for my family,” he said. “I got the dog; you go in and pick it out.”

I. Fucking. Cringed.

Continue reading “Sugar N’ Spice N’ Everything Nice? Naw: Holidays With An Eating Disorder”

“Trump”ing Eating Disorders: Guest Post for My Blog in Light of 2017

“She looks old and wrinkled.”

“She was hotter sick”

“Someone should’ve told her she looked bad sick.”

“She’s so pretty.”

“Poor girl.”

“SHE’S AN ALCOHOLIC NOT A DRUNKOREXIC.”

“This girl be FUCKED up.”

“I’d fuck her.”

“She got an ass.”

“So tired of hearing about sorority girls with eating disorders. NEXT.”

“Someone should give that bitch a real problem to cry about.”

“I think she’s beautiful.”

“She has a nice smile.”


Oh, the internet.

A place I liken to “seeing someone else puking so you start puking and then everyone else starts puking” 2016.

Thanks for the line, John Oliver.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-2-21-32-pm

Continue reading ““Trump”ing Eating Disorders: Guest Post for My Blog in Light of 2017″

“Scale Wars”: Return Of The (Weight) Jedi

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-11-12-29-am

… Alright, so my Star War/eating disorder puns are lame (although I did get a good smirk imagining Han Solo with a scale obsession.)

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-11-17-36-am

Anyway, so the other day I had one of those social media Timehop moments. You know what I’m talking about, right?  It’s like you’re all well and good with the past – SAYANORA to the prom pics  – the frat parties – SEE YA MOPPY-HAIRED EX  – you’ve come to terms with the bad style choices – and then BAM.

A picture resurfaces.

Hello Linds, Timehop sings with its do-gooding dinosaur logo – DO YOU REMEMBER THAT 3 YEARS AGO YOU LOOKED LIKE THIS? Come linger nostalgically in my visual.

Timehop, you marketing bastard.

Side note – ever wonder how much easier recovery could be without the constant triggers of social media? Not that I plan on getting rid of it… but I do wonder sometimes. Continue reading ““Scale Wars”: Return Of The (Weight) Jedi”

“Is It Wrong To Have An ED Right Now?”: Grieving With An Eating Disorder

bmj2

9 years ago on 9/15/07, my best friend fell out of a tree and in a moment, he was gone.

He was just – gone. My life, his family, our friends – forever altered the night my best friend went to fetch a football from a tree, and a branch snapped.

There are images of that day that seem so clear – there are hours I can’t remember at all.

70+ phone calls. The muffled ring tone I thought was my alarm.

“Your phone’s been going off ALL morning,” my roommate complained.

Groggy, displaced, unaware – I picked up.

“He’s dead,” my best friend screamed. She screamed. I do remember that.

“Bradley,” she screamed. “Bradley fell. He fell. His brain. He was – he climbed a tree. He fell out of a tree.”

“He WHAT?” I said. “Say words Kristina – say fucking words,” I felt the phone go limp in my hand.

“He fell out of a tree,” she sobbed. “Jordan called. They all called. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN. Lindsey, he’s gone. I don’t know what to do. He’s gone. He’s dead.”

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-12-25-58-pm Continue reading ““Is It Wrong To Have An ED Right Now?”: Grieving With An Eating Disorder”

“So, Does The Camera Make You Gain 10lbs?”: Being On Television With An Eating Disorder

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 12.15.30 PM
CBS Studio

2 days ago, I did an interview with CBS New York talking about eating disorders, drunkorexia, and recovery.

Throughout the interview, I felt calm, I felt poised, I felt eloquent.

I win at life, I thought. Woo – I got my shit TOGETHER!

Lolz.

Flash forward 4 hours later and I see the following picture:

CBS

!!!!!#)&@#(^@(!_%$!

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING, I thought immediately. NO. My ASS. My THIGHS. NOPE. NO-NO-NO-NO.

That is NOT going in the segment, I hissed at my poor friend nearby. Not to millions of people.

My panic heightened.

Continue reading ““So, Does The Camera Make You Gain 10lbs?”: Being On Television With An Eating Disorder”