Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happiness and Freedom: Time to Fly Away

I leave today, in 4 hours. I will be boarding the plane to South Africa, where I will be staying, living, working, for 5 weeks. Yes, I am nervous, as is expected before this brutal 30-hour journey. But something is different. I am much more in control. I am not panicky, I know I am competent and capable, and most importantly, I am more certain than ever that I will be traveling alone for the entirety of the trip. Ed will not be accompanying me. Yes, I still do get the daily reminders that my body is sub-par and certain clothes still (and will probably always) look unflattering to my figure. But the difference is, I don’t obey his words, I don’t hear him when I am eating, and I haven’t been restricting. I have eaten what I know to be healthy for my bones to make up their lost density. I know more confidently what my portions should look like to maintain my weight. I know I need to eat more if I go to the gym. I know that my body loves food and food is what makes me beautiful.

With 2 near death experiences in my life in the past 2 years (that also coincidentally occurred on the same day), I have realized how lucky I am to be living. Last year, I was nearly in the hospital for Christmas because of Ed, and this year, I got in a car accident driving back from school. But I survived both and now I have a new sense of freedom that I forgot I lost. With this newfound freedom, I am able to travel and explore the world around me, something I never could have dreamed of this time last year. The shackles have been removed and I am let free from the prison I have lived in. I am ready to use my knowledge to help others and keep myself healthy. I have always heard that you cannot make others happy until you are happy and for the first time in…a long time… I can say that I am actually happy.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crossing the NM to CO border…

It’s like a switch in my head. When I go home, the switch goes to ‘off,’ with Ed speaking to me very quietly, so quietly that I can shut him out most of the time. During the 4-hour car ride back to school, a transition occurs. When I am here, Ed has a lot of power, and sometimes even a little control. My hunger cues are diminishing, and I can’t trust myself to create portion sizes because automatically, I will put less food on my plate than there probably should be. I think about the causes, the triggers, wondering why this happens every time I’m at school. And then it hits me (or it hits my therapist). At home, I am 100% myself, telling my parents exactly what ‘s on my mind, when I am upset etc. When I am at school, my self-identity is overpowered by my ‘fake’ identity, the way I want people to see me. My goal for the week is to be more real and honest to myself, acknowledging my true feelings, rather than slyly shoving them away, as is routine for me. Hopefully, this will lead to honesty with my friends as well.

While I feel like I am slowly making progress (very slowly), such events as the one from last night really knocked me off track. During a big conversation about weight and joking around about how my friend wants to gain 200 lbs because it’d be funny, (which I was handling just fine), my friend, a boy, asked me how much I weigh. A little disgruntled, I said: “I am not telling you that!” He and another friend proceeded to guess my weight. Not realizing at the time that whatever weight they guessed for me, I would freak out, I let them continue to guess, going down in number, starting at 110, ending at 100. To their surprise, I was more than that. First of all, no boy should ever talk to girls about their weight; no girl ever wants boys, or anyone, to know. And second of all, one of the friends knows about Ed. I left the conversation, feeling nauseous, with Ed saying to me that “See, if they think you should be 105 or 110, that should be your new goal.” No, no, no. He’s got it all wrong. I didn’t listen to him, but I was up for the majority of the night.

As I grudgingly sit in my apartment this morning, still feeling nauseous but forcing myself to eat, I think of my mother’s words, which seem to save me on the daily. “Each bite is a smack in the face for Ed. Whatever he tells you to do, do the opposite.” I know that if I want to make it through the year, and go abroad for 5 weeks, I need to stay strong. I can’t let these conversations eat away at me (no pun intended). I just wish this wasn’t so difficult. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School

 After a successful trip to Europe, I have 2 weeks to recuperate before returning to school. My worries are diminishing as my faith in myself is increasing. I think I can do it. I can cook and feed myself in the company of friends. I can say ‘no’ to extra jobs that I don’t have time for. I can control the amount of exercise I do. All the months of Maudsley therapy have come down to this. This is what I have worked towards. This is my ultimate goal: returning to the once treasured and loved college campus. I will no longer have the posters in my new room with quotes like “I am worth being healthy for” and “If you hear a voice within you say ‘You can’t paint,’ then paint, and that voice will be heard.” But I know they will still apply.
I know continuing in my recovery will be hard at times. Because of Ed. There will be times I forget the importance of eating frequently, when Ed will convince me that food is not necessary, but I can fight him. I know he’s wrong. I am creating a support network at school so I won’t be alone. Now is my time to shine. I hope I don’t let anyone down.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Media

How can I convince myself that eating full fat foods are best and healthiest when I am surrounded by media implying that I should feel guilty for wanting meals containing normal amounts of calories?

My mom and I were shopping at my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s when we stumbled across some ‘reduced guilt potato chips,’ composed mainly of air (literally, they bragged about that). Why would we pay money for air? Because for people who love chips, an entire packet is only 330 calories. Seems amazing! We proceeded to find multiple lines of food that reduce guilty feelings. Maybe there should be a line called ‘feel guilty foods.’ Obviously, that would never sell. Food should not be tied to our emotional state, because we need it to survive. That’s it. End of story.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011


While wearing my newly bought dress, my friend commented to me, “You look skinny; you look good.” I didn’t know how to react. Thanks? I remained silent, though I know it was intended to be a compliment. The conversation between a few of the girls continued later in the night while eating burgers, specifically speaking of eating disorders. One girl commented that she plans to not eat for the next 2 weeks so her parents don’t get mad that she got fat and when she was younger, her father paid her $10 for every pound she lost. The other girl thought that was a normal and common thing to do, and stated that her sister (who is 25) eats 800 calories a day with the intention of losing weight but she doesn’t have a disorder because she is old enough to know how to feed herself. I realized at this point it wasn’t worth me explaining that everything they said was wrong, so I just saw it as a learning experience. Regardless of how disgustingly common eating disorders are, most people still have no idea what they are. It shocks me how ignorant these girls are, but I don’t know what to do about it. I want people to understand this as a sickness, not a normal behavior. I want girls to stop thinking about feeling guilty for every bite of food and to stop thinking about walking around town as a way to work off the ingested food. I wish there was a way I could inform people because clearly, they are still clueless.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ed got stuck at the border

I went to Lisbon, Portugal for the weekend. It was great, but nothing nearly as great as Salamanca. It is very unsafe, the weather wasn’t as good, and the people don’t speak Spanish! I am so glad and grateful that I was able to go though, leaving Ed behind (for the most part). I went to restaurants, ate delicious codfish and Belem pastries, and returned to Salamanca after the most amazing Italian lunch. I was able to enjoy my time there because I indulged in the delicious cuisine.

I am so happy to say that Ed has faded again, since returning to Salamanca. I’m not sure if it’s because of the arrival of my parents, but whatever it is, I am so much happier without him. That’s what I need to remember. Unfortunately, I don’t have my poster here saying “Skinniness Does Not Happiness,” in bright yellow on my wall, but at least I am keeping it in mind. I am happier when I am eating so I can participate in the various activities available each day. I love Spain. Only 1 more week here! I could stay here for so much longer. I don't want to leave!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

He's sneaking back..

He’s sneaking back. I can hear him. He’s telling me to ask for less food, leave some on my plate, asserting my authority and turning down the food I once felt obligated to eat. Am I really full, or is Ed convincing me I am? Am I losing the fight right now? How do I know? I am alone—no one here knows my struggles, which are increasing each day.
I am overwhelmed with the amount of food put on my plate at the beginning of each meal, but I must remember that that is all the food I eat. No seconds, no snacks. If I don’t eat a lot during those meals, I will lose weight. If I lose weight, Ed will grow stronger. The feeling of guilt overpowers my body when I eat a few chips before lunch. I don’t usually eat snacks between meals because the meals are so enormous. I am constantly feeling guilty for the things I do eat and am analyzing the food on my plate much more. Why? Why are these things happening all of a sudden? Things were going so well. I don’t think I’ve gained any weight. But why do I feel fatter?
I have become more generous, feeling more inclined to share my food; I make sure others are eating more than me. I don’t eat gelato when everyone else does, even if part of me wants it. I convince myself that it is unnecessary; I eat so many carbs during meals that I don’t want to add even more calories to my diet.
I thought I was ready to fight this battle alone, but thank goodness my mom is coming soon to remind Ed and me that together, we can win.