“Hey, Don’t Forget to Pack Your Bulimia”: Traveling With An Eating Disorder

Rehab Truth:

Last week, I went on a business trip to Idaho and had a full out ED panic in the airport.

Wednesday- 7am in the morning – JFK Terminal 2-

And there I am pacing the airport halls like an Eating Disorder secret service agent.

WHAT DO I EAT? WHERE?

HOW MUCH?

WHAT TIME IS IT?

7?!?!?! 7:00AM. 7 O’CLOCK.

(I CAN’T EAT YET.)

BUT YES, LINDSEY, YES YOU CAN.

(YOU’LL BE HUNGRY BY 11)

WHO CARES IF YOU’RE HUNGRY BY 11-

(SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE)

YOU’RE HUMAN AND YOU HAVE TO EAT.

(NOT TILL 12)

JUST EAT SOMETHING AND MOVE ON.

(UGH.)

Bagel? I thought, peering towards the cafe beside me.

NO- TOO MUCH TOO SOON.

Croissant? I said aloud, feeling my mouth salivating.

BUTTER.

Bagon, egg, and cheese biscuit? I mumbled, pushing forward- past my gate.

GROSS – IT’S NOT EVEN EGG WHITE

Hudson News store? I can grab granola in the bag.

NO- binge food! I corrected, moving past.

Gate 6-7-8

Are you even hungry- or just feeling hungry because you’re awake?

I try hard to feel one with my stomach – and fail.

I turn the halls and start back up the line, past the Hudson store, the croissants, the Sausage, egg, and cheese burritos.

Coffee- I decide- veering towards the Starbucks.

WAIT- NO, I say- veering out.

Coffee just helps me not eat.

I sigh.

Throw my bag on the ground.

Throw a mini emotional tantrum in my head.

I’m a hamster on a wheel.

Go back to my seat- sit down – self-deprecate.

Calm down.

Text my therapist.

Start over.

Start over again.

Start over again and again and again.

One foot in front of the other.

I lop back down the hall.

Sigh for being so difficult.

Sigh because it’s never easy.

Grab a coffee-

“Tall, please” I say.

Find a granola bar. A banana.

A Chobani yogurt.

I walk back towards the gate.

I’m okay, I remind myself.

I think about the hiking I’ll do in Idaho.

You’re fine dude, I think.

I think about how fortunate I am to be in an airport traveling.

I sit down and eat.

I think about all the times I traveled and sipped coffee.

All the views I missed because I was thinking of hunger.

One bite after another, one meal at a time.

I move on with my day.

—-

Idaho Hikes!

Continue reading ““Hey, Don’t Forget to Pack Your Bulimia”: Traveling With An Eating Disorder”

Eating Your Words: An Inside Look Into Eating Disorders (VIDEO)

This 7-minute video took less than 24 hours to make, but a year to create.

To every person who has written, texted, and emailed me with their eating disorder experience:

Your words helped me feel less alone, and now I am giving them back to the world so they can do the same for others.

Thanks to each of you for standing up and being a voice.

All of you- a beautiful, raw, encompassing voice.


*Please advise triggering and graphic material

What 154lbs Looks Like

 

 

Recently, a picture circulated the web comparing a group of women who all weigh 154lbs.

Firstly, I’d like to say that this is just such a beautiful moment to see trending on the internet of body image trolls.

And secondly, I’d just like to send a quick shout out to any woman that can put herself out there like this for scrutiny.

Last week, my therapist alone asked me to weigh and I looked at her like she had three heads.

Continue reading “What 154lbs Looks Like”

Spontaneous Hot Dogs: Is This Recovery?

Every now and then, I have a moment that I think to myself “my God- that must be what recovery is.”

Today, walking with my coworker- complaining about our long meetings, our torrid love lives,  our mid-20s crisis-ing – she stopped mid-sentence- 5:45pm- and said “Yo I need a hot dog.”
“Huh?” I said, making a face.
“I need a hot dog,” she said, crossing toward the vendor. “We’ve passed like 5 stands and I want one.”

Standing there in Central Park, I watched her order a hot dog- mustard included- nonchalance on her face- and I had a moment that I thought to myself- “Shit, this must be what it’s like to grab food when you want it.”

For 8 years, I’ve passed fro-yo shops, 1$ pizza slices, croissants, muffins, falafel vendors- and thought “you want- but you can’t.”

1 year later- I still have moments that I want sometimes and think “Nah- it’s not time, you can’t eat till this time or that.”

It resonated today- such a simple act- because I think, mostly, that being free is allowing yourself the spontaneity of a hot dog. And I’d love to do that some day.

I can eat a handful of chips- a Dunkin Donut hole- a granola bar- even some Welch fruit snacks

But the awareness of it never leaves me- even now.

They teach you in rehab to listen to yourself.

To listen to your hunger cues- your stomach. Your intuition.

But what they can’t teach you is self-respect.

Flaming self-respect.

And that’s what lends you your ability to trust your intuitions- whatever they may be.

To trust your cues

Your impulses

Your needs.

And maybe I realize some days, that I am still working on that.

Spontaneous hot dogs people- it’s the small things in life.

10 Tips For Grocery Shopping With An Eating Disorder

10 Tips for Grocery Shopping With An Eating Disorder

Grocery shopping is difficult; let’s call a spade a spade. But grocery shopping with an eating disorder can feel downright impossible. Not too long ago, I was right where nearly 30 million men and women are today– pacing up and down the local grocery store aisles, investigating labels like the Carmen Sandiego of food products.

I’d scour the store for hours at a time but duck out of the way of the employees as to not look suspicious. “It’s all a trick, I used to think– holding up two loaves of bread and comparing the grams of carbohydrates. The store wants you to fail; it wants you to buy all the junk so you’ll come back for more– but I will prevail, I’d whisper to myself like the scene from Braveheart where Mel Gibson beats his chest.

Hungry from starving myself, I’d enter into the store with my stomach growling and mouth salivating as I passed the bakery cookies and the cakes. “Don’t look,” I’d tell myself. But after an hour of pacing the produce aisles, I’d find myself standing in the cereal aisle, my eyes locked on the newest “Special K” flavor– the Nature Valley granola bars– the sugar-free sugar cookies (how is this a thing?)

Overwhelmed and hungry, I’d eventually end up throwing a few extra “in cases” into my shopping cart. “I mean, what if it snows this week?” I’d think. “I need backup.” Even though I knew fully well no apocalyptic snow was headed to my area of town, I felt like a horse being taunted with a carrot in its face.

I never had lists, and I never had a plan. I’d walk around critiquing all the “bad” foods, secretly congratulating myself that I knew which fruit might have more pesticides than others, but still leave with bags of food that ultimately provided no nutritional value.

Throwing money at the latest “sugar-free peanut butter” and “no additive granola,” I was literally being eaten alive by a grocery store.

In the hopes of one of these relating, here are 10 tips that have helped me to grocery shop with an eating disorder:

  • Set aside one day (usually a Sunday) each week to do meal planning. Plan meals one week in advance. You’ll save money and you’ll have leftovers so you won’t be constantly panicking on GrubHub trying to decide which restaurant might be excessively dousing your salad in dressing.
  • Try grocery shopping only once a week and no more than twice per week that way you’re not schlepping down aisles with no purpose.
  • Do not spend more than ½ hour going up and down the aisles. This is SO important. The longer you spend in these aisles, the more your mind will play games with you. Each aisle has something for your benefit– listen to your body. If you want a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, grab it. Then leave.
  • Do not go grocery shopping when you are tired and hungry. It will undoubtedly lead you astray. This seems like such a “duh” tip but think about how many times you’ve “run into the store” to grab something and left with 10 unnecessary food items. You’ll end up spending excessive amounts of money and you are setting yourself up to potentially binge later.
  • Make a list prior to shopping and stick to it. Avoid impulse shopping– but you don’t have to freak out if you come across a bag of chips you’d like to dip in that hummus. Having a list, however, helps moderate.
  • Take someone supportive the first few times. You don’t even have to tell them about your eating disorder but having someone around to walk the aisles with will help distract you from your own mind games.
  • Try something new each time you go to the grocery store. Your taste buds will thank you. Variety is the key to breaking the ED cycle.
  • Be cautious of excessive label reading and stay away from fat free, sugar free, and “diet” products. These items will not satisfy you and they open the door to self-manipulation.
  • Check your pantry at home and see what you have first because no one wants three boxes of couscous laying around taking up space. (saves money, too)
  • BEWARE of marketing techniques that lure you in. Compare prices of store brands and “no names” and buy the least expensive.
Ahhh the grocery aisles

 

Recovery Tip: Eat A Meal Alone (It Won’t Kill You)

So tonight, I ate a meal alone. Hate doing it, hate eating in public- but after meeting a friend for dinner, this person had an emergency and I had to sit at a table and decide whether on not I’d eat the meal I’d ordered.

Do I leave? I wondered- watching the tables nearby.

I should leave, I thought. If not, I’ll be that sad girl in the corner eating alone.

People will watch, I reckoned. They’ll watch and they’ll think to themselves “poor thing is just stuffing herself alone.”

I sipped my wine.

What would it be like to eat a meal alone? I’d never done it.

Sure, I’d gone to a movie in college alone (once)– but to be fair, I’d snuck out halfway through (I mean, Gulliver’s Travels, REALLY JACK BLACK… Not your finest choice)

But a meal?

I’d binge ate alone, definitely. I’d snuck food in the crevices of my armpits– sure.

But to actually eat a meal? No.

It was pressure I didn’t want.

But in a way, it was the pressure I knew I needed.

Why write about recovery if I’m not willing to push the limits of it?

And it wasn’t comfortable, sitting there letting the waiter tend to me. In fact, it felt unnatural (she left the table set on the other end)- but towards the end of it– once the pressure ceased- and I realized people around me were simply just living their lives unbeknownst to me (WAIT- I’m NOT the most important thing since sliced bread?)

I walked away knowing it’s possible- and life still keeps going. Sweet potato fries, wine, salad, and all.

Try it sometime- that’s my tip- you might be surprised.

Recovery Tip: Hey, You Broke Up- Now What?

Ending a relationship is tough- necessary- heartbreaking- and sometimes nobody’s fault.

You wake up and realize that while the love is equal, the paths are different, neither wrong, but neither right for the other at the time.

As I struggle here, trying to healthily grieve and cope through what might just be the first, and only, mature relationship’s halt I’ve ever experienced, it brought me back to the therapy journals I kept in rehab.

Sitting on my childhood bedroom floor this weekend, sniffling and snotting like a baby, I came across a writing we were instructed to do on ”love.” Such a basic word (#basic) but how often do we have the chance (or the time) to define what it represents to us.

This post comes with pain in my fingers as I write. Months ago, as some of you might have seen, we lost one of the women I went to rehab with.

Openly sick, infectiously honest, I wrote the following next to her one day and read it to the group. As I finished and my eyes looked up to the counselor to signal I was done, she raised her little body off the couch (where she loved to rest) and propped herself upright.

Damnit Lindsey, she said, wiping tears from under her eyes. You’re good at this shit.

Laughter.

Can you make me a copy of that?  she asked. Just write it down somewhere.

Sure, I smiled.

I didn’t, of course, ever give it to her.

Forgot. Life moved on. I left. She stayed.

But tonight, I’m dedicating this to her memory and her struggle. Corrine, I hope you’re in peace, and thank you for showing me that words matter; and the perspective you choose to take from them is the perspective you’re left with.

Continue reading “Recovery Tip: Hey, You Broke Up- Now What?”

I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 5: 11 Truths About That ‘One Time In Rehab’

Well- I did it again. It’s been 3 days, but to be honest- Truth #4 took a lot out of me so I need some time before diving back into another-

Was going through diaries trying to put together what will be the rest of my little Rehab series- and while I’m not really in the place to write about anything candid today- I’ve put together entries from my 2011-2014 diaries in hopes that they could  do some of the talking for me.

These are hard to read- even for me- will probably be harder for my parents, and in a way, more vulnerable because they’re really my words.

My  words- not stories I’ve taken and manipulated to some degree as I write this.

But-aye- in order to stay true to what I’m doing- I feel they need to be shared.

And as my darling Kimmy said (cause I make her proofread all of my posts beforehand):

oh, this is so beautiful
made me cry
i just remember picking you up at the airport…how incredibly happy you were how healthy you looked how excited you were for your future with your little putty in your hands and your binder full of letters
you were so strong in that moment. so confident. i wanted to bottle that feeling up and give you little sips for whenever you felt lost. i wish so much that you could always be in that space-
And so do I, my beautiful best friend- I’m well on my way.

 

Truth 5: The (Lack-of-Actual) Prozac Diaries

_______________________________________________________________________________________

December 28, 2011

Did well with food today.

Did well with my finger till after the food was over.

Then it became compulsory.

Same with last night- chewed off skin around my pinky and now I have a band aid on because I can’t bend.

Did well hiking with my family and not only thinking of food

Did well playing card games and Clue without desiring food

had only 2 bites of brownies- don’t feel guilty

Had 3 crackers after lunch- felt guilty

Counted how much time we hiked, tried to compare with calories

Wish I could remember anything we talked about

feel better not being too full

How do you love yourself despite imperfection?

I cant stand feeling full. I hate it.

How do you learn to love what you hate?

When I see fat, I see judgment

Dislike

Not in control

It’s so vain- all of this.

How can I not care about others bodies and care so much about mine?

Wish it was easier than it is

pity myself a little, for putting myself in this kind of situation

for letting it get to this kind of point

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

January 23-29, 2012 Running Schedule

Monday, 23-

Morning- Ran 6.5

2 mile walk to school

Afternoon- Ran 4.5

11 miles running, 2 miles walking

Calories~ 900

Tuesday, 24-  

Morning- Ran 3.5

Afternoon- Ran 3.5

7 miles running, 1 mile walking

Walked to and from Raul’s, the kids school, my school- 4.3 miles+

Calories~ 700

Wednesday, 25

Morning- 47 minutes- ran 27, walked 13

Afternoon- 33 minutes – Ran 28, Walked 5

5.3 miles running, 1.6miles walking

Walked to and from Raul’s, the kids school, my school- 4.3 miles+

Calories~ 700

Thursday, 26

Morning- 67 minutes- ran 60, walked 7

Afternoon- 40 minutes- ran 25, walked 15

10.6 miles running, 1.7 miles walk

Walked to school, Raul’s, the kids school- 4.3 miles+

Friday, 27- Need 5 more miles! Back hurting, knee problem. 

Morning- Walked 4 miles on the treadmill

Afternoon- Ran 1 mile

Walked 1 mile to Raul’s

Saturday, 28- 

Morning- Ran 35, walked 10

Afternoon- Ran 4.5 miles

Ran 8 miles

Sunday, 29- Nothing

Walked 6 miles

Total: 44 Running miles

_______________________________________________________________________________________

September 8, 2012

Unhappy living like this. I cannot continue this way.

I CANT.

I’m going to lose everything.

I’m going to lose myself.

I have to make my life better.

I HAVE TO DO WHAT I NEED TO DO TO MAKE LIFE MANAGEABLE.

LINDSEY, stop living like this.

YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS.

YOU ARE BETTER THAN ALL THIS.

DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO MAKE IT BETTER

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR LIFE.

NAME IT

-Eating well, having a lunch pre-made

-Working out- in the morning and right after work

-Not drinking

-Drinking a coffee

-Having a clean room

-Dinners at home

-going to bed before 1

-Being outside

Not feeling disciplined makes me feel like I’m losing my mind

Losing control of my life

Losing everything

LOSING EVERYTHING

I have to find the discipline in my life 

I have to feel ok.

I have to be in control.

Lindsey, you have to be in control.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

MONDAY- Food Journal

Breakfast

Greek Yogurt- 100 calories

3 Strawberries/9 bluberries/10 grapes/ 1/2 banana

Piece of Toast- 90 calories

1 tbsp. Jelly- 45 calories

Coffee w/ hazelnut

~300-325 cals

Lunch

1/2 banana- 60 calories

3 strawberries/9 blueberries/10 grapes

Apple- 90 calories

10 almonds- 110 calories

Water Bottle

~400 calories

Dinner

1 bread- 90

chickpea tuna- 130

apple-60

peach-100

grapes-50

=470

Snack

3 Triscuits-70

3 Pita chips- 40

=110

___________________________________________________________________________________

July 5, 2013

Don’t remember anything about last night.

Spent the whole night with my family-

Hiding food- Sneaking it into my clothes

I ate 5,000 calories.

And now here I am, 5:00am

bile hanging from my mouth

Because my body rejected it.

____________________________________________________________________________________

July 22, 2013

I am moving to New York today.

Scared, and excited, and nervous, and unhealthy, and my throat hurts from throwing up, and my cheeks are bloated because I can’t stop eating- and when I’m nervous, I binge.

Dave has a heroin problem- I’m terrified. I’ve never known heroin, never seen it. Never understood it. And there he was, smoking it in front of me. The foil streaked- Standing in the door of his bathroom, watching his eyes turn to glass, his sad, shamed, way of looking at me and not looking at me at all. The tar moving around the foil, I remember thinking ‘This is what it does? This is what happens.” It rolls around the paper, and he chased it with his rolled up parking ticket, blackened at the edged, he chased it with his mouth the tar streaking the foil, the foil crinkling as it passed.

It was very silent, standing there. My eyes bearing into his head. I wondered what it’d be like if he died then. If he fell in front of me. Would I hate myself for letting him do it?

Do I hate myself now because I know and I’m leaving?

He looked so sad though, standing there. How lonely a drug can be. How lonely throwing up is.

I ate a whole bag of white chocolate pretzels while I sat outside his room, hearing him suck in, hearing the locusts, I wondered if I’d catch a whiff. I wondered if the smoke from heroin travels.

We slept in the same bed that night, my head on his shoulder. Interchanging the shoulders, the frame, the unique way in which people breathe as they sleep.

I wondered if he would die that night. I wondered if his heart would stop, while I laid on it. If he’d drift off and not come back. If his lungs would collapse, if his cough would ever go away, I wondered how he got here.

How do you get to this point?

And then I look at myself, and I wonder how I’ve let myself get to this. Why am I throwing up in a bathroom twice in one day. Why do my teeth hurt, why does my stomach bloat because I hurt it. Why do I hurt myself.

Why does anyone hurt themselves?

Why can’t we do what animals do, and protect?

Isn’t that the point?

And we get off on all these tangents

and we’re so fucked up for knowing they hurt.

Is there any other way to word this?

It’s so fucked.

I looked at him, and his immaculate life, and his freshly-shaven face, his ironed clothes, pressed and folded, his new house, his nice car, and Jesus, what happened to you.

How can you have this whole other existence?

When did I lose you?

When did you lose me?

When did we stop being kids, where did we lose those people?

Cause if we stuck those two people in front of each other, I don’t know that they’d recognize each other.

I sat there that night, watching him smoke heroin in his bathroom, and all I could see was a little boy, with bushy hair, taking the stairs two at a time, a Smoothie King in his hand, a cut off shirt, muscles full and healthy and vibrant, his way of entering the room grinning and sweaty and tackling me into the couch, my arms around his neck, smelling his work out. Feeling his muscles through his shorts, his hairy legs colliding with mine. His little-boy happiness to be there on top of me, on a couch that was too short for him, his feet dangling off the ends, my feet tucked under the crevices of his knees. Blissfully unaware of everything we would be, and could do to destroy ourselves, unfazed by drugs, and death, and bulimia.

I watched him smoke that heroin, and all I could see was that little boy in a big truck.

And I’m so sad that little boy grew up.

And I hope that little boy finds his soul.

I just know this isn’t the person he is. If it doesn’t kill him, he’ll be better.

But, isn’t that what we say about everyone? Isn’t that what we say to avoid facing the reality. Aye, look to the future mate, look so far ahead you cant feel the presence, and only what you’ve created in your head. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

November 20, 2013

So disgusted by myself it makes it hard to shower at night.

Hard to look in the mirror

Hard to get dressed.

Trying not to throw up.

I can’t- it has to stop.

And I’ll just get fatter and fatter-

and it’ll never stop

and one day, I won’t be able to do the things I want to do.

I’ll hate myself.

But I have to stop.

_________________________________________________________________________

December 16, 2013

I’m going to Rehab tomorrow.

__________________________________________________________________________

December 17, 2013 2:00pm

So now what do I do?- Just waiting around for a Tums.

Waiting around for a Tums because we’re not allowed gum.

You’re here Linds- you made it. Where you always wanted to be- Having someone else tell you how to live your life.

You got what you wanted- you’re here.

And what the hell do you do with yourself?

____________________________________________________________________________

December 17, 2013 10:00pm

Kimmy-baby,

Of course I choose you to write my first letter-

Laying here in a bed surrounded by floral pink print comforter and beginning to have what people refer to as

“the reality check.”

I’m sick Kimmy, ya know? I’m really sick and what wasted time I’ve spent getting to this point.

_____________________________________________________________________

I cried tonight-finally. I cried at dinner. Over a cup of yogurt with 150 calories and 27g of sugar.

Has it gotten to this point?- Appears so.

A girl with cuts all over her arms and scars to the tips of her shoulders- she sat with me.

I tried not to cry Kim, I tried not to do it. But with each bite, tears rolled down my face- and this girl-

this beautiful little girl- she looked at me and she told me jokes.

And I cried and laughed and other girls sat next to me and I ate that meal for an hour.

It took me an hour to finish Broccoli, Tofu, Veggies, Rice, and the Yogurt.

-And none of those girls left me.

They just sat there and talked to me- knowing I suppose- as they all had been there too.

None of them had to stay- they were done. But they let me take my time anyway.

It was really nice.

It was surreal.

And I wonder, sitting here, what am I actually crying about that is more than 27g of sugar?

________________________________________________________

Being here is hard- harder than anticipated.

I’ve never seen such sick people in my life.

Feeding tubes, and wheelchairs, women who look deformed from anorexia.

Scars- and hair loss

Baggy T-shirts and tired eyes.

_________________________________________________________

This little girl-

This little little girl

with cuts and scars.

She spoke to me first.

Had no idea she was 14.

Cuts everywhere. All over her legs- in little horizontal lines on her thighs.

On her arm.

At medicine time, she puts scar tissue cream on her body. 14 years old-

_____________________________________________________________

There is this lady- she’s lovely.

Quiet, contemplative, nice to me.

– late 30s, a mother, a wife-

And Kim she weighs no more than 80lbs.

She is attached to an IV. She is never allowed to do anything without supervision.

And she’s so lovely-

She’s someones mother.

_____________________________________________________________

I worry how long I’ll be here. I thought this would be fast but frankly- the more I come to terms with the severity of my body dysmorphia

I fear it could be longer.

I don’t want to be here long.

But, it’s weird sitting here with nothing to eat.

Oh Kim, I’ve binged for so long I don’t remember how to go to sleep with the feeling of being dinner-full.

I’ll get to do some exercise. Once I’m off level 1, I’ll start exploring my relationship with exercise which will be nice.

Right now, I’m not allowed to use the bathroom for 2 hours after meals unless someone stands outside.

It’s degrading- But I get it.

I do.

______________________________________________________

I need to go to bed, now.

Love you always,

Linds

_______________________________________________________________________________-

 January 14, 2014

Losing track of days and dates-

But I think that’s okay.

Tired of feeling guilty about my life

Tired of unreal expectations.

It’s gotta end- Linds.

It has to end.

Just want to feel comfortable in my skin.

I hope that can happen-

Cause it feels like it’s starting to.

And that’s a nice feeling.

______________________________________________________________________________

January 16, 2014

Did you know that turtles mate for life?

This woman just told me that her husband bought her a turtle bracelet-

to remind her she was his turtle.

And I wish everyone had someone to love them.

I wish everyone was truly loved by one human-

That we could just know.

Remember to remember what you saw when Lilly’s mother held her face in her hands.

That be the real deal, yo-

I love everyone here-

And I miss my life.

I hope I never forget what it felt like tonight,

sitting with these girls

and watching Aladdin.

I deserve a happy life, I think.

_________________________________________________________________________

FREEDOM*- Buying Bananagrams- the best game ever.

This is Rehab: Truth #5

“I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 2”: 11 Truths About ‘That One Time In Rehab’

First and foremost- I want to thank everyone for the tremendous amount of beautiful feedback I’ve received in regards to my first post on this subject.

To be honest, I was so terrified posting it last night that I impulsively deleted it twice and had to have a massive pep talk in the M-train subway alley with my family and friends before releasing it back into the world’s hands.

I know this subject’s not easy to read- not easy to talk about- and maybe not always easy to digest.

But the feedback I have coming in is real- and if it’s helping someone to sit back for one moment and have that sort of mini-revelation I had sitting in a diverse group of women every day for week after week- all from different lives sharing the same issues- then I’ve done what I set out to do.

Tonight I present the 2nd of my 11 Truths entitled “No One Cares That You Puke

2006 Tennis Tourney- The Beautiful Days of Eating Without Whim

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2.) No One Cares That You Puke

“That weird nurse caught Dawn doing crunches this morning.”

Kenzie looks tired across the cafeteria table, mixing around her 27g sugar-yogurt, and sighing into her coffee.

“Again?” you say, scraping the staff-measured 1tbsp of butter from the container.

“She always does,” she moans. “I’m dead asleep and I wake up to her fucking sitting on the ground doing pushups,” she pauses to take a bite.” I’m just like bitch, go to sleep.”

 Jacy grins, lifts her pin up to write her name on top of her food journal. “Yeah well last night my Roommate stared at the wall for 10 minutes before getting into bed.”

“She’s weird, dude.” Oliva says, shaking her head. A piece of pink curly hair falls in her face. “That girl’s crazy.”

“I think she’s on withdrawal meds.”

Jacy nods. “When she went to shower last night she stood in front of the mirror before and I swear she didn’t blink.”

“Creepy,” you say, cutting your banana into the 6 allotted pieces. “So creepy.”

“Yeah,” Olivia agrees. “But at least crazy bitch is gone.”

“She left?” You ask, feigning surprise.

“Yeah, she signed a 72 and was outta here this morning.”

You shake your head, attempting coyly to break the banana up into smaller pieces to stir into your oatmeal.

(Who the hell cuts bananas into only 6 pieces, seriously?)

From the corner of your eye, you see Lilly slink into the cafeteria, pushing her hair out of her face like she just stumbled from her bed (she did, and everyone knows it but says nothing– not even the counselors). Dirty skirt– the one she wears almost every day– hanging from her slender waist, and a XL Wu Tang Clan sweatshirt shifting off one of her shoulders.

“Sup assholes,” she mumbles, plopping down to her marked tray placed across from you. “Thanks for waking me up.”

“I tried,” you say, holding your nose while you take a sip of the 2% milk. “You grunted and said you’d be down in a minute.”

She sighs down at her food– starts to unwrap her bagel (It’s extra starch day on Fridays) “I missed meds,” she says.

“Just do them after.”

We have this conversation every day–you begin to notice- pushing a stealthy piece of banana into the goopy oatmeal so Counselor Jan won’t see when she walks by.

Lilly mutters something about losing her schedule, knowing she’ll find it behind the couch when we convene back in the community room for another day of group therapy.

“Dawn’s doing crunches again,” Kenzie tells her.

Lilly shrugs. “No shit. She’s been here as long as I have and she doesn’t look any different.”

“Crazy bitch left,” Olivia chimes in.

“Really?” She grins. “Good, now I don’t have to hear her puke in the bathroom after dinner.

“How did she ever get off escorts?” You wonder aloud.

“She didn’t,” Lilly says with a mouthful of bagel. “She just snuck in there between.”

“How do you throw up that quickly?” Kenzie asks. “It’s like 5 minutes before group.”

“I don’t know,” you say. “But did you see her cheeks? Homegirl’s been doing that for years.”

 “Hope I’m not 30 and still puking.”

“Watch it,” you warn. “I’m going on 25.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I always forget you’re that old. You look like you’re 12.”

“A 12-year old in a beanie,” Jacy pipes up.

“And that eats herself,” Olivia grins, pointing down to the new band aid the nurses force around your finger every morning at weigh-in.

You smile now, surprised at how quickly your idiosyncrasies follow you– surprised at how casual a conversation can be over bulimia.

You look back at Lilly, catch her eye in that odd way you two share.

“You alright?” You mouth to her.

And she shrugs. “Fuck bagel day,” she mumbles.

You smile because you don’t know how you ended up knowing this person across from you.

But she’s funny, and she’s aloof– and it’s fitting to you that she resembles a cat with her subtle Asian-set eyes.

It’s fitting because you know she’s lying– and know she lies daily.

Lies about how “hard” she is, lies about how independent she is– and lies about her own little trips to the bathroom in between groups.

Yes, you know this, you think– staring at her makeup-less complexion– you know this and you love her anyway.

Because let’s face it– In rehab, you’re not special because you throw up. In fact, you’re boring. You’re actually incredibly boring, and by the time you step foot in that facility a solid half of your family and friends (the ones you’ve been halfway honest with, at least) are so tired of feeling guilty and never saying “the right thing” that they’re ushering you in there like a mouse to the cheese trap– happy to be free of the anxiety if only for a moment.

So, lemme repeat– you’re not special because you puke.

I mean, you’re special- at least they’ll tell you that. It’s like when your 2nd Grade Music teacher sat you in a circle with all the other flute-playing  kids picking their noses and went around in that falsetto voice claiming how talented each of you are.

You are special. But, you’re not special because you’re sick– and that’s a harsh reality to accept.

You stumble into Rehab with this preconceived idea that you:

1.) either have a screw looser than any of “the others”– OR

2.) think you have no screws loose and that your parents are just big assholes for sending you off to get fat with a bunch of loons.

Whichever way, what I’m trying to say is that they’ve seen it. Every staff member, every housekeeper, every security guard, and every patient who has spent longer than one month in that place has met you before you’ve ever met them. They see you on your first day trudging through the door, pants baggy in the butt, your t-shirt hanging off you like it’s a fashion statement.

We size you up quick (literally)–

We know people enter rehab under two notions. Either the notion that what goes on in your head is somehow more complex/deep/incurable/tragic than anyone else– Or under the disillusion of beautiful denial. (Me– thin?!?!?! You don’t say…)

However, the fact of the matter is that after sitting in there week after week- you slowly begin to realize how tired you are of your own bullshit.

Sounds easy then, right? Change your life, mate. Change your thoughts- But what “the Muggles” (we watched a lot of Harry Potter– YAY for PG cinema) can’t comprehend is that we’ve painstakingly rewired our brains to only focus on perfection- on flawlessness. On an unattainable idea that our goal in life is to be so severe that everyone around us will look when we enter a dinner party and cower at how in control of our lives we are. (Who cares if we have to excuse ourselves later to puke up that appetizer. WE. ARE. IN. CONTROL. BITCHES.)

Is this how it starts, you ask? With this gallant disillusionment of control? Of course not. People stick their fingers down their throats for plenty of reasons. People stop eating for different tragedies, and people enter into an addiction with the mindset that you’ll do it sporadically and life will function onward as it always has.

I puked for the first time when I was 16 years old in the bathroom of my high school during Chemistry Class.  (Side note: isn’t it fun how we forget our parents birthdays but puking, shoving our fingers down our throat, we can remember like it was yesterday)

I was thin. Always had been- never worried about it. I was the scrawny one. The girl that stood last in the row of tallest-to-shortest. The “cute” but not hot one:

I was the 8th grader that stood in line at Subway with their mother as the Sub employee leaned over the glass and asked if 4th grade was “treating me well?” (Yeah bitch, 4 years ago Mrs. Hellstern was a RIOT.)

I shopped at Kids Gap into my teens. Found a Homecoming dress at Dillard’s Junior Department my freshman year of high school and lied and told everyone I got it in Neimans… Actually that’s a whiff of a lie. I probably just told people that because it sounded more expensive.

Anyway, I wasn’t your CNN bullied obese kid. I was the opposite- a delicate, fragile little girl with big ears, buck teeth, and a significantly small appetite.

My family knew it– my extended family knew it– It became the Christmas pun every year on my dad’s side: “Oh, what’s Lindsey going to eat? Oatmeal? Waffles? Cereal?” (My penchant for binging cereal started early. Damn Fruity Pebbles.)

It became my identity. To be the picky one- the small one- the little girl. I mean hell, if I wasn’t going to be the prettiest (and I wasn’t), I damn sure was going to be the smallest. The finger-chewer, the neurotic, the people-pleaser.

And I was. I was the one that never had to worry about bra sizes, and periods. I was the chameleon who could strike up a conversation with the girl in the corner who did cocaine off her desk. I was perpetually childlike in my actions and it carried over into my diet. I could eat whatever I wanted– I could be whoever I wanted–

and so I did.

High school started– I snagged my first boyfriend (despite the ears). He liked my “elf” feet, he cooed. My slim waist, my little, bony body. He liked it and therefore, I liked it. Happy that while everyone else was starting to fill out and complain about “junk in the trunk,” I got to stay in my perpetual Neverland.

–So with that in mind, you can imagine the disdain when you go to the doctor your Sophomore year, and are told you weigh- for the first time- a whopping triple digits.

“Over 100,” you think. “But I have friends who barely weigh this or that.”

It is then you take notice of the subtle changes in your appetite. The dinner choices you’ve been making when eating out with your boyfriend. The Qdoba burritos you’re now finishing at lunch with friends.

You don’t hate that you’re eating more, but you’re not pleased either.

A few months goes by– You start venturing into Hollister, Abercrombie, Polo Outlets. You start swapping shirts with your friends where they were only a tiny bit too big for you in the chest.

Junior year starts and Doctors put you on birth control.

“Birth Control,” you whine in the car. “I’m not even having sex.”

“But you need to start your period,” Mom says.

So you take it– painstakingly aware of the weight gain your girl friends complain about.

And I suppose that’s where it all begins– the beautiful downward spiral into retching. (Does anyone else have the same toilet bowl spiraling image?)

You take the pills- they make you sick. Sick every morning, sick all morning, sick to where you can hardly get out of bed. You lose weight. Dip back into the 90s–everyone notices. Which, as any disordered patient will say, is both the blessing and the curse of this illness. The attention.

You like being notably small again– You like being “that person.” However, you do not like being sick all the time from these stupid estrogen-enhancing pills. YOU are a perfectionist, damnit, and this is keeping you away from your 116-grade A in English.

So, you do it. You make the plunge. You get up in Ms. B’s class one morning–sick as hell– barely able to lop yourself out the door and to the bathroom– and you lean over the toilet and shove a finger down your throat.

It’s awkward at first- the movement of a finger in your mouth. What the hell do you do, you wonder. Do you go straight for the plunge? Do you wiggle it around back there on that hangy part of your throat (to this day, I still have NO idea what that’s called.)

You don’t know. It’s awkward.

And then suddenly you’re hunched over a disgusting high school toilet rim with a slobbery finger in your mouth dry-heaving some phlegm. PHLEGM? You think. But you’re so nauseous you don’t even care. Just as long as the feeling subsides.

So you can finish that damn problem on the board.

So you can be this person– with your good grades, and your big smile, and your friendly demeanor– so you can be everything and anyone.

So you can try on any dress, and flirt with any person, and be loved by everyone.

So everyone will look back at you fondly and think: “That girl was something special.”

Because you are special, you think, going back to Chemistry in your Hollister jean skirt.

You are bloody perfect.

 

This is Rehab: Week 2