Life is so amazing right now. I know I’m lucky, and I don’t take one SECOND of it for granted. The boyfriend and I are doing so well, and everything between us is just incredible. I could spend every waking and sleeping moment with him. We connect on a level I never knew existed, and it astounds us both. Yesterday, I dropped most of my dinner in the parking lot outside of my workplace. This isn’t unusual for me, as I am a ridiculous klutz, but how does he respond? Goes to the grocery store to buy vegetable broth (because he only had chicken in his place), makes us quinoa, roasts a bunch of vegetables, buys my favorite iced tea, and brings us some fresh blueberries for dessert….then drives the half hour to forty-five minutes in rush-hour traffic to my work just to see me and give me dinner. And I’m not one to blast my sex life on the Internet (yeah, right), but NOTHING has been lacking in that department. It’s like I literally can’t get enough. So our relationship compromises of a healthy balance of insanely deep conversation, playfulness and goofiness, random and crazy adventures, mushy and gushy love babble, crazy hot sex, and therapeutic jargon. Like, what more could I possibly want? I’m ridiculously happy.
Summer is winding down quickly. August is just around the corner, and in two weeks, I’ll be prancing around Europe!! Just got my grade for my most recent summer class…98.5% on my 3-hour and 10-page final. Still maintaining that shiny 4.0 🙂 Stoked.
Yesterday, I had therapy. It’s been slow and mellow in sessions lately. I’ll be seeing clients soon, so we’ve been talking and processing that. I’m really excited, of course, but part of me is definitely nervous. I think this anxiety comes from a genuine place of caring, but I have to be mindful of my perfectionistic tendencies. If I go into this field expecting to save the world, I won’t even be able to save myself from burnout. I know I struggle with a core belief of incompetency, in that I won’t be good enough. I am certainly no expert, but I also realize we tend to put mental health professionals on a pedestal. recognize that my clients may perceive me to be some all-knowing source of power…when really, I’m just a human being who is trained to understand patterns of behavior and offer uncompromising support and guidance to those in distress. Ah well. Everyone has to start out somewhere!!!
I also had a follow-up with the psychiatrist yesterday. Ten minutes. Ugh. I guess I’m biased, but I really DO NOT like him. He fits the perfect “psychiatrist” stereotype. Lack of empathy, no attempt to join or connect with me, only focusing on symptoms. For a career that is designed to dole out medication, you would think there would be more in-depth analysis with patients. I guess not. Anyways, I’m staying on the lowest dose of Prozac (20 mg) for the time being. My emotions have definitely stabilized, but it’s obviously hard to tell whether it is from the medication or simply my life circumstances. One thing I have noticed: I experience significantly less urges to binge and stronger hunger satiety signals. This is one of the reason antidepressants are actually prescribed for bulimia and binge-eating disorder; in conjunction with psychotherapy, this evidence-based treatment reduces the insane and nearly intolerable cravings to frantically binge.
Interestingly, I was searching for an old email yesterday, and I stumbled upon an email I had sent my ex-boyfriend in April 2012. He was the first person I ever told about my eating disorder. At the time, I couldn’t do it in person. I was too scared. Too insecure. I didn’t even know how to approach the subject, but my condition was worsening, and like most secrets, it just kept getting bigger and bigger, until it began controlling my every thought. I attached the email (with some edits for privacy) here.
I’ve never been able to tell you this, and mostly it’s because it’s the one part about me that makes me want to hate myself, the one part that makes me feel like a complete hypocrite and failure. And believe me, I feel ridiculous writing this all out in a stupid email, but I also know that I owe it to both you and myself, and I don’t have the same bravery you do to say it to your face.
I clinically have an eating disorder. If I went to a doctor or therapist, I would be immediately diagnosed, given that I match every single criteria. It’s not mild or temporary, and it’s something that is seriously compromising my quality of life. To be specific, I have bulimia nervosa-nonpurging type disorder. I know that’s quite a term, but that’s what I have. You can read over the criteria if you’re not familiar with it (basically: eating a lot of food in a discrete period of time, a sense of lack of control over eating during this binge episode, using compensatory behavior to prevent the weight gain). It is nonpurging type, because instead of vomiting, I abuse other “compensatory” behaviors, like excessive exercising or severely restricting my food intake.
I know I told you that I suffered from this during a dark phase in high school. I suppose that was lie. I’m still in the middle of it, and I struggle privately everyday. It’s never gotten easier. I’ve just gotten better at not disclosing it.
Explaining all the psychological disturbances is just exhaustive and upsetting. Just assume I’ve done it all. Count calories, weigh myself fifteen times a day, look in the mirror and cry, etc. I have the world fooled in thinking I eat so healthy and rationally. And, 90% of the time, I do because I care so much about my health. And, it makes me so amazing when I’m eating the proper nutrients for my body. But there are those times, those scary and sad times, when I fall into a mood and devour incessant amounts of food. Amounts of food that I’m sure you don’t think I’m capable of eating. Last night, for example, I was really upset about what happened between us. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and I just needed to numb the pain. That’s when people turn to alcohol. Or drugs. You once turned to painkillers. And not to sound like a bitter, forty-five year-old divorced woman, I use food. I ate a bowl of ice cream, a piece of pie, three cookies, four waffles with butter, a chocolate bunny, and two spoonfuls of Nutella in less than an hour. Was I hungry? Nope. Not really. My mind just goes on auto-pilot, and all I want to do is grab whatever I’ve restricted myself from eating and stuff it into my mouth before I can feel guilty about it.
Invariably, I end up feeling physically sick to my stomach. I can handle that. It’s the mental consequences that hurt. The dread, the guilt, the disgust at the person I am, the shame at my lack of willpower, the confusion as to why I’m like this, the promise to never, ever let it happen again. It’s a control issue. You know all about my control issues. Nevertheless, it’s just not normal, and it’s just not something I can easily talk about.
The main problem is that I truly know I have nothing to worry about. I’m healthy. I know I’m beautiful. I take such good care of myself. So why do I feel this need to sabotage my body? Why do I feel so anxious around “bad” foods or “good” foods?
I suppose the worst part about having this disorder is that I FUCKING know all the biological and social reasons for my behavior. I FUCKING know the appropriate treatment, what medications are prescribed, what kinds of therapies help people recover from it. I FUCKING want to do this for a living. But, I can’t even help myself. I can’t even talk about it. Ugh. Who am I kidding?
I’m telling you all this because I love you, and because, I honestly need your help. I’m not sure how you can help me, but maybe, I just need you as my sort of sponsor for when I’m feeling anxious or scared. Because, right now, I feel so discouraged. I feel like I’ve tried everything to fix myself, but maybe I need professional help. Either way, I have to open up to you the way you open up to me. And that’s no easy task either. I love that you find me so strong and powerful. But, I don’t feel like I am, and I’m scared after reading this, you will think I’m just a coward. Of course, that’s not really true. I know you would never think that of me, but honestly, this monster inside of me makes me feel so weak and powerless. I’ve been fighting it since high school, for probably (X) years. I just want it to end. I just want to be at peace with myself.
Writing this all out is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in awhile. Admitting weakness hurts, especially when it’s over something I feel isn’t as important as other problems. For example, I always thought drug addiction was WAY worse than an eating disorder. But, I’m starting to realize that I’m not overreacting over a “first-world” problem.
Yesterday, I promised myself that I would tell you this. I’m sorry I haven’t found the courage to talk about in person yet. I hope you understand. Thank you for loving me and already believing me. I love you.
I could process this all right now, but for anyone who has followed me on this blog…you can see how much I’ve grown. That was probably the first time I recognized that I needed help. That I needed to do something, and that the problem was just going to go away on its own, like I had spent years hoping.
In that letter, I just see a terrified and isolated little girl. I see someone who has no idea if she will ever get better. I see someone who is so sick, so afraid, and so lost. I am not that girl anymore, but I still relate to her everyday. I remember what it is like to be in that position. I can feel the agony, cry those same tears, experience that same horror. Words cannot describe my gratitude for recovery, but the memories of such hell will never be lost upon me.
I have come a damn long way.