Yo, hold up. Put down the pitch forks, please.
I write headlines to get your attention.
This is one of them.
Have any of you – out there blogging in the universe – ever noticed how bloody difficult it is to start a post?
This clearly has nothing to do with what I’m about to delve into, but I noticed that I spent like 30 minutes trying to come up with some “catchy” intro – only to land here – admitting my utter defeat to the intro paragraph.
I lothe introductions and pleasantries. So, Happy Sunday – all the jazz. Hope it’s been a good one. Etc. Etc.
Now, let’s proceed:
DISCLAIMER: I’m covering a topic today that I’ve never seen mentioned in the eating disorder world, and I’m interested to see how you respond. Bash it, critique it, relate to it, I’m open to all feedback (except, like, hateful 1,000-character rants. Then, I’ll just stop reading and repeat over and over to myself “people will love and hate you and none of it has anything to do with you.”)
Anyway, there’s this cultural mantra we live by: “80/20 dieting.” Goes something like – you eat “clean” (i.e. arbitrary set of often mishmashed food rules) through the week, and then you can go ape-shit on the weekend and eat whatever mounds of processed crap you feel like consuming.
Originally posted this on Instagram, but felt it calling me to post here.
Was out last night, wandering the Boulder streets for dinner.
It was Boulder Creek Fest so people were fluttering about – groups of women in their summer gear. 88 degrees at 7:30pm. Doesn’t get much better than that.
I thought about how it’s turning into that part of the year where heat dictates how little or much clothing we wear. And how difficult that can be to transition out of the eating disorder safety of winter.
A reminder on this social media-bikini-posting holiday weekend that when you’re scrolling your feeds feelin’ like shit:
Almost every single one of us – in different forms and fashions – filters, preps, angles, and frets over what we’re posting. Likely puts on make up before a pic is taken (as I was doing when I thought of this post). Likely exclaims “hell no, redo,” to their exasperated partner who’s just tryna take a pic.
Continue reading “Reminder: No One Is Staring At Your ‘Bikini Bod’ Because They’re Too Busy Judging Their Own”
So, your friend has an eating disorder.
Or, at least, you think she/he does.
You don’t know because it’s not like they’re telling you. I don’t know anyone that just goes and is like “I’m gonna vom now for the x time today. Will you hold my coffee?”
You just sense it.
I say I have eating disorder telepathy. I can watch someone from a mile away, and have this intuitive knowledge if they struggle.
Maybe, that’s the majority of the country and I’m giving myself too much credit.
But, it’s the way I watch their discomfort unfold around food. The way their eyes narrow; breathing appears tighter.
It’s the way they avoid looking at food – or talk to someone a mile a minute to escape having to actually eat.
It’s the slight comments “Oh! I ate before I came.” “I’m not hungry – I’m on a diet.” “I can’t eat that!”
Nobody is the same, so I’m generalizing here.
But, I just … I know.
Possibly ’cause I lived it. Possibly cause someone’s discomfort automatically makes me uncomfortable (It’s the empath in me, I’ll say – as I pat myself on the back for being such a “giver.” lolz)
Anyway, so you think your friend has one?
Now, what the hell do you do? Continue reading “Think Your Friend Has An Eating Disorder?: 4 Tips On What The Hell To Do Next”
Oye – vacations. 3 days in and I’m sitting here in Hawaii, already scanning for that perfect filtered beach pic.
What is it about social media that makes us wanna pull the veil over reality.
Having a great trip – content. But, I still have those eating disorder thoughts and I still have body image hiccups, so in an effort to accept that and move da’ fuq on this week: here’s reality of vacation vs Instagram:
First pic: hair tie got tangled up during sunrise hike. Pulled like 70 hairs outta my head – grimaced through pain. Grimaced at that side shot. Wore backpack strategically.
Second pic: filtered for that “sunrise bright and alert” look. Sent it to the person I’m dating so as to remind them how “outdoorsy attractive” I am.
Third pic: left pic I posed strategically “casual” because I always feel like I have a tendency to pose with my legs spread eagle.
Fourth pic: soaking up sun with a beer in hand, big- grinning. Reality: it was freezing and raining n’ my brother and I sat perched on that rock for a solid 30 minutes. Drank 2 beers, felt like I was being vacuumed into my swimsuit. Worried about my cousin in Houston, stuck in the midst of Harvey.
Fifth pic: paddle-boarded yesterday for the first time… with one of the boat crew helping. Also, flirted with him because I seek instant validation in swimsuits. He was 8 years younger than I am. My family made fun of me. Captain yelled “you’re not even paddling Cinderella.”
Sixth pic: scowled at my stomach n’ made my brother take another round of pics. I was not “in mid walk” I was literally just standing there.
I’m hiking without shirts, wearing bikinis. I’m eating coconut shrimps and calamari and fruity cocktails and beers.
Just confirmed to speak during the Denver NEDA walk.
I’m thinking about my cousin and his wife in Houston. They’re safe, but man that storm’s devastating.
I’m good and content. And I’m flexibly okay and pushing.
We’re all human. So the next time you’re scanning through “vacay pics” demanding a redo or a “different angle” – remember you’re not alone. We all do this shit
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.”
“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,” she says. “Maybe isn’t good enough.”
“Maybe is all that I got sometimes.”
Haven’t written in awhile.
Mostly because — I’ve lost weight — And I don’t know how (nor want) to talk about that.
Oh, Exercise. The ultimate double-edged sword of an eating disorder.
^BUT MY GOD, HOW CUTE IS THAT?
People ask me every so often “What was the hardest part of rehab?”
Depending on my mood, the answer varies.
“The food, the confinement, the emotion overload, the disparity of sick people… the exercise.”
Ah, the exercise, I always land on – or lack thereof.
3 years ago, I was escorted into rehab (yes, escorted. Two people at each side in the case that I bolted… and ran to the highway? I don’t know where the hell they expected me to go.)
Anyway, I remember looking around the vast expanse of my prison-like surroundings, and spotting what looked like a runner’s path.
Circular, brown dirted and perfectly suited to run on during what I assumed would be many hard days ahead, I was relieved to see this silver lining.
“YOU CAN TAKE MY BODY, BUT YOU CAN NEVER TAKE MY FREEDOM (TO EXERCISE)” – the William Wallace inside of me screamed. (Side note: Braveheart, oddly enough, happened to be a fan favorite to watch while in rehab. We were banned from all trash television, as well as any movie baring nudity of any sort – but yet, somehow, Braveheart slipped the radar.)
As it goes.
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:
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.)
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.”
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.
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. <3