The Numbers Game

I stepped on the scales this morning with much trepidation, knowing I had gained weight over the three months of ups and downs I’ve had since the start of October. However, I still didn’t expect the results I saw. I’m twenty pounds up since October. Twenty. Pounds. Up. I had no idea things had got that far out of control. 

Now comes the time of working to get healthier, just like half the rest of the world. We cling to health and weight loss as new year’s resolutions, but I feel this is a fight for my life of sorts. I feel the effects of the weight, both mentally and physically. 

As an always recovering bulimic, the desire to lose weight is particularly precarious. And this is where the numbers game comes in to play. I needed to know my weight in order to have a starting point. I don’t, however, need to start calculating every calorie in terms of how it will affect my weight loss rate. I don’t need to push it to get to a tiny shape as soon as possible; I don’t even need to make being skinny a goal. Healthy should be the goal, whatever that looks like for me. 

So here’s to health. And weight loss. And training the mind and body to make healthy choices. This is my resolution, regardless of how silly and cliched that might be, and I hope to achieve it through slow but steady progress toward my goal. 

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Hiding

So the food issues are back full circle now.  I want to write about the behaviours, but someone will undoubtedly find this blog and use them to further their own bulimia or anorexia.  Suffice to say there is alot of hiding going on.  Food has become the enemy, but it’s all I can think about.  I worry in advance about this weekend, as I know my best friend and I will be going out to eat.  I’m trying to plan ahead, thinking of the least caloric thing at every fast food place I can imagine.  I’m trying to figure out how to avoid eating at all during the day on Friday and Saturday to make up for the evening.  And I’m trying so hard to hide this from my best friend, to keep it from affecting his life.

Everything I eat seems like failure.  If I feel full, I also feel guilty.  I’m exercising a great deal each day, hoping the calories I’m consuming will burn away.  And I know this is so bad for me.  I know the results of restricting calories tremendously whilst exercising heavily.  It scares me, but I can’t overcome it.  Part of me wants desperately for this to stop; another part of me truly believes it will when I feel small enough.  It’s a downward spiral, and it’s getting deeper every day.

Control

Things are out of sorts for me, and, for some lovely reason, lacking a sense of control = self-destructive behaviour for me.  This time, it has equalled the return of my disordered eating.  I’ve eaten two small bowls of spaghetti over the past two days, and I’m still obsessed with the thought that pasta is a carb-heavy food.  I know, in logical terms, that I’m not eating enough.  I just feel so overwhelmed and guilty for eating at all.

That said, I do need to lose a fair bit of weight.  I just can’t seem to do it in a healthy pattern.  I’ll go on these near-starvation diets and lose 60 pounds in a matter of two months.  Then, I’ll start eating again but start purging the minute my weight starts going back up.  Then, the weight will go up to the unhealthy *heavy* size, all in a matter of months.

So what’s the driving factor?  First, control.  I feel like my entire life is out of control at this point.  Restricting calories and obsessing over food makes me feel more in control.  Second, an offhand comment.  Someone recently mentioned something about my weight that has made me feel disgusting inside and out.  I feel bound to prove to this person that I can, in fact, limit myself and lose weight.  I guess that goes back to control, too.  Never really thought of it like that until I started writing here.  Hunger becomes a sign that I’ve succeeded that day.  Sore muscles become a sign that I’m disciplining my body properly.

I’m scared, frustrated, and so tired of not being able to handle food in a healthier way.  I have no idea how to get out of this food shame cycle, and it’s very hard to fight my mind on this subject, anyway.  *sigh*  Here we go again, I guess.

Crashing Down

I’ve been in a bipolar depressive episode for five weeks with about two days’ reprieve.  Things are black.  The sun doesn’t even look bright.  I’m so tired of feeling like this.  My doctor is trying me on an anti-depressant with the thought that the potential for a manic episode is not worth letting the depressive episode carry on like this.  In the meantime, *everything* is falling apart.  I got in trouble at work, gained weight I’d lost, and just generally stopped caring enough to take care of myself.

This lands me where I am today.  I feel disgusting inside and out.  My disordered eating patterns are back.  The self-injurious behaviour is back.  I just generally don’t care what happens to my body right now.  My mind is too far from settled to give it thought.

I stay around for those I love and those who love me back.  I stay for my cats who are my little furry children.  I stay for my family-of-choice who I couldn’t hurt the way being a survivor of suicide does.  I’m just tired of staying right now.

Descending in to Madness

Things are bad.  Very bad indeed.  I’m having miserable luck which would almost be tolerable if I were not also having mood issues and psychosis.  The food problems returned a few weeks ago, and they’ve hung about to some extent.  They’re better, in that I’m not doing the binge/purge thing on a daily basis, but they’re still in place.  I have a feeling they might be in place for a while.  This feels like it did when I was first diagnosed at aged 19.  I know, logically, that this is very damaging to mind and body, but I can’t quite fend off the behaviour.  Which probably led to the next bit.

The weekend before last, I started getting extremely paranoid.  This is never a good sign.  By that Saturday night, I was incredibly stressed.  By that Sunday, I was suicidal.  Staying alive was quite honestly a fight.  I was awake most of that night debating whether to stay alive and fighting with a very strong urge to swallow every pill in my side table.  The thought was ‘what if my only hope is just to hope it doesn’t get worse.  The SRA component means it never will get better.’  I still feel like that, but I’m trying to ignore it.  My mind flirts with suicide, but I don’t feel a critical danger.  Last week I set the plan and wrote the letters.  This week, I’m just overwhelmed and aware that I could very easily slip back in to that suicidal mindset.

This weekend, the psychosis started.  It started whilst I was driving, and I thought I might have an accident.  A dead woman with solid white eyes and wet, stringy black hair leaned between my best friend and I.  Eventually, her eyes turned dark, and worms started crawling out of her mouth.  I told this to my best friend and said I hoped she didn’t stay once he left.  Next I knew, the hallucination gave me a sardonic smile and nodded her head yes.  On my one hour drive home, I could hear the voice of the dead woman sitting in the car behind me.  Only when I phoned a dear friend did the voice stop.  I don’t typically hold phone conversations whilst driving, but that night it was a choice between trying to drive whilst minding an hallucination or talking with a friend to drown out the voice and (partially) the image.

I went home briefly, but the hallucinations continued.  Once again, the man who calls the dead people stood in my room and told me he would bring them if I didn’t give a blood sacrifice.  Once again, I cut my arm until the blood flowed down it.  Finally, I managed to escape and walked the half block or so to my friend’s house and stayed with her, watching carefully for the man and dead people because I knew they’d be angry with me for hiding.  The psychosis has passed.  The depression is still set firmly, interrupted only by hypo-manic symptoms and hypervigilance.  I have therapy on Thursday and am slightly afraid she’ll put me in a crisis unit until things calm.  The repercussions of that, given my SRA background, could be severe.   I just want to get help, though.  I’m at my final tether now.

Add to that ‘normal’ problems.  A cutback at work that will, once put in to effect, cause me to make less than I need to even pay my bills.  A crap review makes me think they might fire me soon anyway.  And, to be completely honest, I’ve missed a fair bit of work lately because the depression left me too tired to even get out of bed early in the week.  Financially, I have no idea what I’m going to do.  The Americans refer to ‘bleeding a turnip’ as the term for trying to get money from a person who has none to give.  I’m in that position right now.

So this is me: overwhelmed by even the smallest problem, on the verge of suicidal, depressed, psychotic, and hypo-manic all at once.  No idea of the path from here.

Crash

The SRA stuff is relatively contained right now, so it seems the appropriate time to let everything else fall apart, no?  I’m developing psychological neck injuries with the rate of ups and downs regarding food issues.  Things have been going relatively well in that I’ve only slipped in to the b/p cycle a couple of times as opposed to daily.  As of yesterday, though, the calorie count is falling again.  I think I have this reaction to my psychiatrist.  I feel like he’s either not hearing me or not believing me, so I take on the attitude of being a ‘better’ bulimic.  In regards to food issues, I feel like he’s driving a division between my therapist and me.  She tells me he isn’t, but my mind can’t quite accept that for some reason.

Yesterday, I brought up this issue with the therapist.  I told her I’d likely hacked off the psychiatrist and wanted her input on how the interaction unfolded.  She keeps telling me his response to food issues reflects her inexperience in treating them.  Still, I keep seeing the doctor as this smug overlord who’s telling me I’m doing this bit wrong.  Truthfully, the responsibility is on me.  I need his help with this, and it’s up to me to tell him that.  Until then, he is just a passive participant.  Being me and being excellent at standing in my own way, however, my courage drops before I get the words out.

The important bit to figure out, then, is exactly *what* I need and where would be the most likely place to get those needs met.  Just like with trauma, I think the main thing I need is understanding.  I need someone to understand exactly how it feels to get caught up in that cycle and to see food controlling your life.  I need to express that sense of desperation that comes with wondering when or if I’ll be able to get back in control and when or if the control will break yet again.  Definitely something to take to the therapist (and hope she’ll listen).

Even though I’d never be able to tell him, I’d like the doctor to stop trying to box me in to his medical school textbook on bulimia.  Yes, cuts on the knuckles are tell-tale signs of bulimic purging.  They’re also very easy to avoid if you purge in a way that does not cause cuts.  I’m not a walking advert for the disorder.  Why would I *want* to create visual signs of the behaviour?  Between working in medicine and having a good sense of the balance in my body, I can recognise many symptoms of electrolyte imbalances, and I can work to correct them.  It doesn’t always fix issues, and I have had problems in that regard.  The symptoms are fairly easy to hide as well, though.  Dizziness, fatigue, body aches, et c can be attributed to many other problems.  (I won’t say here, lest someone use this post as a guide for hiding bulimia.)  I want the bloody doctor to understand that I might appear fine on the outside and feel miserable in a physical sense on the inside.  This seems a lost cause.

Always, always, always, I feel stuck in the trap of this stupid disorder.  It shifts about in my brain like a living creature.  I’m back to the idea of bulimia as an addiction, though.  As much as I want it out of my life, I’m still terrified at times to see it go.

Invocation

The food issues have been cycling up and down so frequently that I’ve felt completely out of control.  At the advice of a fellow Wiccan and wonderful friend, I did an invocation of the Goddess Artemis last night.  This was my first time working with the Greek pantheon, and it went very well.  Artemis is a huntress.  She has great strength and provides protection for women who call on Her.  My friend suggested invoking the strength of Artemis and calling it inwardly.  That has definitely helped.

For me, invocations start with research about the deity.  I look for what they like in terms of offerings, colours for candles, smells for incense, and liquid for the chalice.  Artemis, as it turns out, likes woodsy elements.  My offering to her was a fresh green apple and a green candle lit to honour her.  Next, I researched invocation chants.  Sometimes, I write my own.  Being unfamiliar with the Greek pantheon, though, I used one that had already been written.

To start the invocation, I cast my circle.  Then, I read the actual chant aloud and sat at the altar, looking at an image of Artemis and awaiting Her presence.  As it turns out, She was more than willing to take part.  I felt my arms lifted upward then wrapped about me.  The warmth was incredible, and I heard Artemis’s voice letting me know, as the invocation said, that She was with me in that hour.  She pledged Her help to me in healing and in learning to nurture myself physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I used to know how to do those things quite well, and I have no doubt Artemis will help me re-learn them.

After the invocation, the sense of warmth and protection lasted for hours.  This morning, I fought off the urge to skip breakfast and had a cup of very healthy cereal with a half cup of soy milk.  In my mind, I could hear Artemis reminding me of the importance of nurturing myself, and I knew I didn’t want to undercut the help She’s offered.  People argue that Wiccans are satanic because they believe they control the powers Judeo-Christians attribute to their God.  For me, though, I am merely a channel.  I don’t *cause* things to happen.  I just ask for what I need for myself and those I love.  Then, I have faith that a deity will communicate with me in how to achieve my needs and help others.  I am both humbled and grateful.

Eureka

This morning, I had a negative eureka moment.  You know, those times when your behaviour sneaks up to show you the negative side effects.  I was confused about side effects of bulimia and got some great information by way of comments on this post.  Today, my body is reminding me that it does, afterall, have a problem with the disorder.  I truly did not recognise the side effects until this morning.

The daily spells of vertigo got me started thinking on this issue.  That brought up the extreme aches and general fogginess I’ve experienced over the past few days, as well.  I placed it all on another health concern I deal with, not thinking for a tick that bulimia could be to blame.  There’s been no binging or purging for quite some time now, but the pattern of restricting never stopped.  It got better, but it did not stop.

I’ll use this week as an example.  It’s Friday, and, based on the freakishly meticulous notes I take on what I eat, I’ve consumed 1885 calories.  I remember having a sensation of hunger once in the entire week, so the obvious symptom isn’t there.  I think that’s one of the dangers of eating disorders, as well as my reason for writing this post.  If you have an eating disorder, don’t assume you’re fine just because you feel no overt symptoms.  This is something I’ve only just learnt.  It might sound quite hypocritical for me to point that out, but I fully recognise the issue I’m dealing with right now.  Knowing the problem and working to correct it are two very different things, though.

Irritability

I have been so irritable lately.  I think, perhaps, it is because people keep trying to find excuses for me.  The food issues are excused as part of stress, the paranoia is strictly chemical, and apparently multiplicity rules my life in general.  Here, then, is what I call my justified rant.

Stress definitely doesn’t help the food issues.  However, stress is not the cause of it.  It’s an effect as much as a cause, actually.  The food issues are caused by a very complicated mix of emotions, flashbacks, and general lack of knowledge.

Yes, paranoia does have a chemical component, and I do take medicine to help control that.  Still, sometimes the paranoia is justified.  Given my cult background, I do have cause to ‘watch by back’ from time to time.

As for multiplicity, *I* control my actions (gasp from the crowd).  My thoughts are my own.  Discrepancies or changes in patterns do not equal new personalities popping out.  I’ve been doing this a while now, and things are organised.

The moral of the story?  My problems are my own, my behaviour is my own, and the responsibility of dealing with issues my issues is my own.  No excuses are needed for me.

And that is my rant for the day.

Raw

That’s exactly what this post is going to be.  Please take care if you’re not up for a graphic discussion of bulimia.  This is going to be one.

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Last night, I made plans.  I knew I’d have the house alone all day and spent a great deal of time planning what foods to take in based on how easy they would be to bring back up.  This morning, as I sat in my typical spot in the bathroom, a thought occurred to me: I don’t want to do this anymore.  Physically, the problems were evident.  There was blood in the toilet from irritation of my throat.  My stomach felt like someone had set fire to it on the inside.  My heart was beating so hard that you could literally see the pulse of  it through my shirt.  I was freezing and confused as the room dimmed and my consciousness slipped.  When I awoke, I was still in that bathroom and happy I wasn’t covered in my own bodily fluids.  My first thought?  Guilt that I’d got the last of the food I’d eaten out of my body but had been unable to get out the cup of cereal I had for breakfast.  Guilt that there was still food in my stomach no matter how hard I’d tried to get it up.  This wasn’t after a binge– I’d had roughly 200 calories.  Just the thought of *any* food in my stomach made me feel guilty, though.

I found out recently that some people aspire to have eating disorders.  They see it as a quick fix for weight loss.  What they don’t see or don’t think of, at least, is this side of it.  The vomit in the hair, blood in the toilet, stomach acid eating your insides part of it.  These girls (and some guys) look at the societal concept of ‘glamour’ and ‘beauty,’ and they are willing to do anything they have to do to get that body.  I hope, if nothing else, that my posts will help people see the dark reality of bulimia.  Nothing is worth this.

I hope, as well, that people can consider alternative causes.  I don’t want to look like a glamour girl or be twiggy thin.  I just want my outside to mask any sense of chaos on the inside.  My past brings with it loads of reasons to feel disgusting, and, in an ironic way, bulimia is my attempt to purge out the disgustingness.  It’s my attempt to make my outside body look ‘normal’ so people don’t question the state of the inside.

It’s a way to purge memories, as well.  Whilst we were still underground, I never knew when or if food would come.  When I was fed, sometimes it felt like a binge.  I was told I looked like a pig and shown other kids who were not getting fed because I *was* being fed that day.  Those children had to watch my group eat, and I knew the kind of hunger they were feeling.  What I didn’t realise is that our roles reversed; sometimes those children were fed when I was starved.  The fact is, neither group of children could hurt or help the other group.  The lasting impression is a feeling that I don’t deserve to eat, which leads to the restricting, which leads to ravenous hunger, which leads to the binge, guilt for eating so much, and purge as reparation.  Eating disorders are not always about looking beautiful.

I’m still not sure what the next step will be from here or whether I’ll be able to keep things under control.  The psychiatrist is quite right in pointing out the high rate of recidivism among bulimics.  For now, though, I at least have the *desire* to stop, and that is overriding (somewhat) the fear of gaining weight.  I’ll take all of this to my therapist next week and see where we go from here.