“But, The Scale Says I’m Fine”: Gaining Weight With Anorexia

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.21.48 PM.png
“But, I’m like, fine now.”

The other day I’m on the phone with my therapist.

“How’s your eating?” She asked – after we covered the mundane and I had no other drama to manipulatively fill the time.

“Better,” I said. “I’m diggin’ outta anorexia part 2. I weigh XXX. Put on some pounds in Mexico on that bachelorette.”

I hear her *harumph* on the phone. (And if you don’t know that sound – familiarize yourself with it immediately.)

“That’s not enough.”

I feel that growing flicker of annoyance in the pit of my stomach. “It’s fine.”

It’s FINE. LEAVE ME ALONE. ALL OF YOU – LEAVE ME ALONE.

“And you were …. how much did you weigh when you were in treatment?”

I tell her. “I don’t want to still be that though. I wasn’t even active then. They wouldn’t let me do shit so it wasn’t fair to say that’s accurate – I knew I’d lose a little. That was 3 years ago.”

“Regardless,” she says. “You’re still xxx off.”

“Yep,” I agree – ornery as eating disorders can be. “Yep, maybe. You might just be damn right.”

WHATCHU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, I want to say.

Instead, I wait.

A chess play. Always a chess play with eating disorders.

“So, what are you gonna do about your meals this week, now that you’re not on vacation?” She asks – which irks me.

WAIT, thought I was CONTROLLING this dialogue.

“Dunno,” I say, nonchalantly. “Do what I’m doing.”

“Skip meals?”

“I’m not. I’m gaining weight. I’m figuring it out.”

“But you’re not making it a priority.”

“That’s fair,” I said. “I don’t care if I gain weight or not. I’d be fine if I stayed this forever.”

“But you know you can’t sustain that?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe isn’t good enough.”

“Maybe is all that I got sometimes.”

Alex
Mexico!

Eating Disorders.

What master manipulators we are.

What brilliant little ways we have of “normalizing” abnormal behavior.

Like John Oliver said of Trump: we can’t normalize what’s not normal.

Yet, we continue to try all the time.

It’s sunny tonight, the longest day of the year, and I’m in Breckenridge, Colorado – dressed up from a conference, sipping a glass of white wine in a cream colored dress.

breck
Earlier in the car with a #ShamelessSelfie

I’m sitting at a shaky iron table right now at a pub n’ taproom, across from a group of girls. No older than 16.

I see one. I see her.

She doesn’t eat. 4 moms and 4 daughters around a table.

She won’t eat. Everyone has a plate. She doesn’t.

She’s sick and looks it. She’s sick and loves it.

Clutches the back of her arm every few minutes.

Needs that little validation.

The validation of grabbing skin – touching it in her fingertips.

How many of us can relate?

I wonder if she’ll get help as I look at her. Sitting here. Typing from my computer.

She has caught my eye a couple times.

I wonder if she’ll be okay.

If she’ll grow out of it. If she’ll find more meaning.

I see her friend trying to give her a piece of chicken and she puts her hands up. “No,” she shakes her head vehemently. “Gross.”

The girl gives her that look. That trapped look of a friend.

You’re transparent, I want to say. I know your game.

She squeezes out a lemon into a bowl.

She distracts herself.

And yet – I live this girl’s game.

Who am I to judge?

How easy it is to justify the shit we do.

How easy it is to displace ourselves when we see another doing the same.

I went through a break up a couple months ago.

It happened in a day. One of those “last best days” sort of memories.

Walking around Boulder, coffee in hand – breakfast bagels in a bag.

Everything was ideal – until it wasn’t. Until my mouth felt dry from hanging open with no words falling out.

It was no one’s fault. I have no fingers to point. Which, when you think about it, is almost always more difficult than having the pain to pinpoint. I don’t have a pinpoint of pain. It just happened. Slowly, one event at a time. Miffed responses left unresolved – one miscommunication after another –

“Do we want the same things?”

Until eventually they forked into a road neither of us wanted to be on – lost in the weeds, dirt kicking up.

I think, as humans, we have a tendency to demand closure as though we deserve it. As though the scenes in our lives are put together as intricately as novels, but they’re not. In real life, relationships are messy, with shitty paragraphs, terrible word choices, ending too early or too late, and sometimes in the middle of a sentence – the middle of some great dialogue, and you’re left saying ”why the fuck did I read this anyway?”

I am awfully sentimental at the end of the day. Of belongings, people, places. It matters very little how positive or negative the experience was – I will remask it anyhow. If it shared some meaningful time in my life, I’ll have trouble letting go.

I love my ex, dearly. But, there’s an intricate difference in loving someone and loving the relationship that you build. How easy it is to love a human for everything they are – and resent them for everything they can’t give to you.

“You’re important to me,” I said that day. “I think if there’s anything that will last forever – and remain true – it’s that. Whether we separate, stay in touch or rarely speak again, you will always be that little someone I really do care for.”

“You’re my friend,” he said. “You were every future plan. I can’t picture a life where I don’t know what glass of wine you had with dinner. What book you’re crying over.”

On our final night, we laid beside each other on a bed. Our arm hairs touching.

“Will you stay?” He asked, once the decision no longer floated in the air. “We’ll miss each other forever, you know. We’ll forget the time. Misconstrue all our memories — barrel them into one container. Forget the little things. Our birthdays -”

“Don’t forget to get that mole checked out,” I smiled.

We were messy that night – but not in the way that requires touching. We were messier than touching can give. Messy the way I always am – and the way he never wanted me to be. It didn’t seem to matter anymore.

“You have me with tears in my ears,” I laughed at one point —  eyes to the ceiling, knocking my kneecaps together on his bed. “You have me with tears in my earlobes, forever. I can feel them sliding down into them.”
“I always thought you look beautiful when you cry,” he whispered — but he didn’t look at me – feet fastened to the ground. “Your skin glows. Every time, I always thought to myself ‘how can she be so fucking beautiful in the strangest ways?”

Everyone you meet has a part to play in your story.

To him, I’d say: It was a privilege to matter to you.

And I’m still reorganizing my life to clutter your absence.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 2.33.28 PM.png

I don’t believe you are allowed to blame relapses on heartache – but you are allowed to use that pain to trace back to a starting point.

I lost a bit weight from March – May. Perhaps, I’ll always believe that to showcase pain – you have to see it.

I’ve gained back a few pounds over the last week or two. Life has a funny way of jolting you and then flatlining.

Technically, I’m healthy. I’m thin – but not “too thin.”

I’m thin where you notice (or so I like to think) but not thin where you worry.

That’s a fine line for anyone that has been where I am now.

How easy it is for us to notice others across from us – and not notice ourselves.

I would never inflict this mentality on anyone.

I would never look at a little person, or that girl across from me, who is starving themselves – binge eating – whatever. Running excessively.

And think “good for you, lil girl or boy.”

“You got this baby.”

I see people who are sick and my heart aches.

Mostly because I can see them when others can’t.

I’m the Houdini of eating disorders: the magic of presenting something you didn’t see before. I can always spot someone with an eating disorder.

It’s painful to see – and then, I wonder what others think of me?

Am I that to them?

Sometimes, maybe. Sometimes, no. Sometimes, for sure.

Regardless, this post surrounds the art of gaining back weight once you’ve let yourself lose it.

This is dedicated to all you anorexics that lost weight – and have to deal with it.

((P.S. This is not solely what anorexia is.))

Anorexia is a normal body size. Is an overweight body size.

Anorexia is not an emaciated stereotype.

But, tonight’s post: this shit I’m writing now –

Is for the people who need to gain weight. And know it. Have had it told to them.

Who have the voice in their head that knows they need to.

This is directed towards you.

I’m in this phase where I’ve lost weight and now gained a few pounds back.

Naturally you like to justify it, right?

I did it. I’m done.

Or more like…

OMG I’ve gained back like 3lbs in a week and OMG THIS WILL BE THE NORM FOREVER.

WILL THIS BE THE NORM FOREVER?!?!?

WILL I JUST GAIN AND GAIN AND GAIN NO MATTER WHAT I EAT?

It’s hard to remind yourself that like, MY GOD, we have to gain back weight. And if your body isn’t where it naturally wants to be … it’ll get there … and likely stabilize.

Bodies work for you, yeah? They work for you. And we forget that.

We forget this whole body thing – it wants to work for you.

It’s like the eager college graduate that is biting at the bit for an entry level job.

It wants the ability to impress. To grow. To be malleable.

I have a few remaining pounds to gain back.

I can lie forever – lie to everyone.

But what’s the point?

How much do I still have to live for?

How many memories to still form?

I state this as a question.

But, I know.

I know that life is short – and passing.

I know, I know, I know.

I think about my best friend, ya know – he died so young. 18 years old.

It’ll be 10 years this September. What a life he missed.

I don’t want to miss mine.

We all die at some point.

Will we really be remembered by skin?

By a number?

Nah. You’re only remembered by the way other people felt around you.

Maya Angelou – whoever said that; they were right.

You’re only remembered by the feeling you gave to others.

The energy you put forth into the world.

You’re remembered by connection; by being raw.

Losing weight didn’t make the uncertainty of my future alter.

Losing weight didn’t “prove” to anyone that I was hurting over a relationship ending.

All it did was provide a distraction.

Entice that fear from my friends and family.

That validating fear from them so that I knew I was loved.

An extra layer over my heart so that I didn’t feel.

But, who doesn’t want to feel?

To feel is the bravest thing you can do.

And to feel means to hurt. And to love. And to experience those moments of happiness that you think your heart bursts at the seams.

I don’t want to experience love through sickness – through makeshift blocks of an eating disorder.

I want to experience love in its equality. Two people on the same page – who love each other not because they are sick, but because they are capable, strong, passionate.

So, if you’re in the boat I’m in right now – gain back your weight. Gain it with me so that we’re not sitting around being boring stick figures. Lifeless stick drawings walking up and down streets – so preoccupied and caught up in our shit that we forget to see that life is sweeping past us.

Gain back your bloody weight so we can be present again, human:

And so very alive.

ouch

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.

Continue reading “The One Sentence You Should Never Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder”

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”

“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″

“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”

When Your Eating Disorder Looks Like A Freak Show

UK articles
Feelin’ about 50 shades of WTF.
Haven’t posted in a hot minute because I’ve been struggling a bit in this transition to Denver (love the city, love my life here – but just having some control issues that OF COURSE manifest into weight loss) and I’m working through them with daily OA meetings. (Post to come on OA soon.)
However, I’m coming out of the woodwork because I am all sorts of emoji red face P.O’ed
Everything in that picture above is what I loathe about the portrayal of eating disorders.
Yesterday, I woke up and these article headlines about me ran on the UK Daily Mail, Sun, and Mirror.
YEP GUYS -there I am – the two-headed eating disorder freak show splattered across UK media.
My agenda every day is to represent recovery in a way that relates to ALL yet time and time again the world has a tendency to portray people with eating disorders as though we are some fictitious character straight outta American Horror Story.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful every single day for the opportunity to write about this shiz. It’s kept me connected with the community as well as find an outlet of accountability, but the problem with this kind of portrayal is that it sends the message to people that you have to be “that” sick to really have an eating disorder.
It discourages people from voicing their struggle because they look at horror headlines like that and think to themselves “Oh, well I’m not vomm’ing blood into a toilet – I guess I’m not really that bad.”
The truth is, am I proud of those articles content? Yes. The journalist was respectful and asked real, human questions about my recovery and ED experience. She does not choose headlines, and I have nothing but kind words to say about our interview process.
However, when I read these headlines, I absolutely bloody cringe. Not only because it’s grossly and salaciously manifesting as cheap click bait, but because the headlines heighten my experience with body dysmorphia and eating disorders in a glorified one-of-a-kind manner.
Did I feel and do all those things? Yes. I did have trouble sitting on a subway. I passed people on the SIDEWALK (not street) and had moments that I panicked. “WHAT IF I RUN INTO THEM WITH MY THIGHS.”
I was very sick. I’d never deny that and I’ve got a whole helluva lot of war stories- we all do in recovery, as I’m learning through my resurgence of OA meetings.
Half of recovery is letting those “war stories” go and moving forward.
I just want to reiterate today that I was still a real person back when I was sick. I went to work like anyone else (albeit not fully present), and I functioned as best as i could.  At the end of the day my experience is really no more extreme than anyone else out there struggling with BDD and ED.
PLEASE REMEMBER — You don’t have to have “bloody vomit” and “fear of walking down the street” to quality for an ED or BDD, just as you don’t need to have a salacious bikini pic to qualify as “recovered.”
I hurt myself a lot over the years, and I am still learning what it means to be healthy of mind. However, I want to continue to reiterate that you don’t have to look, act, or be any certain way to suffer from ED.
Ignore those headlines – not everyone’s experience with mental illness has these glorified extremes that they imply.
If you are sick, you know. You know because your life is passing – one day after the other- and you’re missing it, and it’s sad. 💛

Eek That One Time I Had A Cosmopolitan.com Article

Could not be more appreciative of all the support as this article runs. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a mixed bag of feelings to look down and see your name associated with the word “suicide.” To clarify: it’d be sensationalizing my eating disorder to state that I ever tried to end my life, but there were plenty of times that I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “this will be how I die. I’ll never get past it.”

Glad to be an example of recovery; what it is, what it entails, and all the beautiful ups and downs. Feeling so much gratitude and love as I leave this big apple city.

And of course, thank you to my friend Chase Williams for his sexy cameo. Don’t be surprised if the ladies of Cosmo come knockin’ my friend

Cosmo pic

Continue reading “Eek That One Time I Had A Cosmopolitan.com Article”

Rehab Truth: When You Terrified of Public Speaking But Agree To Be On A Panel

CSAB event

Eh okay- I kinda lied. I’m not THAT terrified of public speaking… but I am a lot better at expressing myself via the written word in my humble opinion.

Couldn’t help but see the flyer today and giggle to myself. Here I am going to be speaking beside Dietitians, Doctors,  and Entrepreneurs and all I got is “I Haven’t Shaved in Six Weeks.”

LOL- just makes me realize I’m luckier than I comprehend sometimes to have ANY opportunities to speak on eating disorders and recovery.

At the end of the day, I’m just another girl with an ED story to share.There are plenty of people like me out there who could probably do 10x the job I’m doing when talking about recovery and struggle, so it’s a nice reminder to look at that flyer and remember that 2 years ago I was also just another girl who wasn’t allowed to shave her legs for 6 weeks.

Thankful for everything in my life- every chance to talk about it, because it’s truly what keeps me in recovery (hence, the panel discussion topic!)

WellandGood.com: 5 Brilliant Observations About Fitness And Body Image From Lena Dunham

5 brilliant observations about fitness and body image from Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

If you follow Lena Dunham on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that the Girls creator and actor has been developing lots of active habits.

So it’s no surprise that espnW tapped Dunham to share her thoughts on fitness and body image in an interview for its My Body Can campaign.

In the interview, Dunham discusses her surprising new fondness for running (and more established love for Tracy Anderson), what she likes about her body, and the ways exercise has improved her life, like helping her deal with anxiety.

Here are five of her brilliant observations from the interview:

1. “It [running] was the last thing I wanted to do. When it became something that actually gave me pleasure, I was shocked. Also, endorphins are real. You run with someone for an hour, you feel pretty good. Running for an hour does not make you feel worse.”

2. “When I go through weeks of not exercising, it’s easy to convince myself I don’t need to go to the gym today. I have to remind myself that when you exercise, there is a natural calm that comes from knowing that you did something with your body that day. Actually going and working out makes everything else easier and better.”

3. “As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that it doesn’t really matter if I’m good at it, it just matters that I try. My own effort, my own willingness, are becoming what’s appealing to me.”

4. “When we do exercise, when we really own and understand our bodies and claim our physicality, our superficial quibbles with our bodies lessen because we realize what our bodies can do for us. My relationship to eating, my relationship to critiquing my own shape, all of that has changed since I’ve started viewing my body much more as a tool to do my work. That’s been huge for me.”

5. “I have been 30 pounds heavier and I’ve been 30 pounds lighter, and it has never had an effect on my ability to find love or connect with people. What had an effect on my ability to find love or connect with people was never my thighs, it was how I felt about myself and the love that I was giving to myself.”

To read the complete interview, visit www.espn.go.com

(Photo: Instagram/lenadunham)

MindBodyGreen Article: My Body’s Not “Perfect,” But Here’s Why I’m Wearing A Bikini

My Body’s Not “Perfect,” But Here’s Why I’m Wearing A Bikini

Let’s talk about that “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.” Like so many others, I have struggled for more than eight years to wear a swimsuit comfortably.For the better half of my adolescence and early 20s, I was consumed by eating disorders and body dysmorphia. After seeking residential treatment in 2013, I am now recovering remarkably well. Yet, this summer I found myself thinking I’m not toned enough to wear a swimsuit.

While I’ve made great strides in learning how to communicate and assert my negative emotions, body image continues to take work.

In the past, I would never — repeat NEVER — wear a bikini and walk around in public. All summer, I told myself I was going to break this milestone — slowly. Setting realistic goals for recovery has been a big part of keeping me on the “straight and narrow,” and I knew that allowing myself to finally “be free” and wear a bikini in public was going to help me move forward.

While I enjoy a good run, I don’t lift weights consistently. While I love a good kale salad, I also enjoy a slice of red velvet cake. I’m human, and after two years in recovery, I’m finally learning it’s okay to be just that.

I did what I set out to do recently and it wasn’t easy (and it didn’t last long) but it was incredibly liberating. That being said, here are the eight stages of wearing a swimsuit even though you aren’t perfect:

1. Invest in the perfect suit.

Don’t settle. Choose the swimsuit that makes you feel like a trendsetter. The one that will allow you to strut around with Marilyn Monroe glam. One-piece, tankini, bikini — whichever will invoke that little feeling inside that says, ‘’This is me.”

2. Ask someone you trust for a little support.

Someone who will smile with you and understand that this experience is a vulnerable one for anyone recovering from disordered eating and body-image dysmorphia. Go with a person who makes you feel human and who can help you laugh at the anxiety a swimsuit can cause in people.

3. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish from this experience.

Do you want to swim in the ocean? Lay on a float in the pool? Water ski behind a boat on a lake? You don’t have to wear a swimsuit to do these things, but for so many years you probably let your anxiety take away from the experience of going to the beach, a pool party, or a lake event. Embrace who you are today and what you’re going to do in your new swimsuit.

4. Get there and commit.

You’re at the beach now. You’ve committed, but you’re unsteady. You’re not ready. You’re hanging out for a while — towel around your waist, cover-up button-down hanging off your shoulders.

You’re thinking: Are they looking at me? Are they wondering why I’m not getting in the water? I should, but I can’t. They’ll stare. They’ll see cellulite. My stomach isn’t as flat as they might think it is. Does my butt jiggle more than I can see in the mirror?

You understand today that you’re putting yourself out there in order to stop living under the blanket of fear of your own body.

5. Focus on feeling confident in your bathing suit.

You know what you came to do. You’re taking the plunge, but it doesn’t mean it’s not scary. You’re standing there with your confidante as he or she encourages you to remember what is it you want from this. The sense of vulnerability hasn’t left you.

6. Push through the panic.

You drop your towel and think there’s no going back now. Your legs are exposed. You can’t remember the last time you let the world see this much of your body.

7. Accept the vulnerable feeling.

You’ve wanted this. You’re almost there. All summer long you’ve worn athletic shorts over your swimsuit bottom so that you’re skimming the line of baring it all. You’re recovering, and recovering means pushing. You remind yourself you want to swim in that ocean today. You’ve watched people do this for so many years — the ease with which they wade in completely untethered to the social anxiety of what their body looks like.

8. Bare it and own it.

You’re standing there and you’re exposed. You notice that no one is stopping and staring at you — the world keeps moving. No one is shielding their eyes from your stretch marks. Now the entire world can see your skin as it was fashioned to be.

Be proud and embrace yourself for getting outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to hide your skin from anyone.