It wasn’t easy. I never liked starving myself. Truthfully, I never even liked being that thin. But I felt very out of control. I felt out of my body… out of my mind.
Where were we….
Oh yes. Starving.
I was literally starving myself. Having less and less calories made me grouchy. I was getting much more forgetful (which, if I’m being honest, is something I struggle with anyway). I was losing my grip on what was fun. I hated my life. Especially on weekdays. Especially on Fridays.
What’s worse is that I hated myself. I was so constantly critical of how I looked or what other people were thinking of me. I started retreating into myself and hearing only the “thoughts” that kept me in check. What I know, now, is that those were the tapes I played for myself that kept me from seeing the truth. I said all sorts of horrible things:
- If you’d eat less you’d lose more weight. If you lose more weight you’d be more attractive. If you’re more attractive, people will want you around.
- When you finally get to your goal weight, your life will be better.
- If you can get thin enough, people will like you, instead of feeling sorry for you for being fat.
- Doors open for skinny people.
To be totally honest, there are some times when I still think that way. I know better, but I still think it, in my dark moments.
And so it went. I got a feeling from restricting that is compared to a runner’s high. I felt capable and confident – which is funny when you really think about it. The very thing that was driving me to do these things was the very reason I was suffering. Crazy.
At some point, though, I was up against a wall. Sometimes I would be in a situation where I had to eat. And so I did and would feel remorse for hours or days.
One day, after dinner with friends, I went home by myself. I stood there, in the bathroom and thought it: “I should just purge. It’d be easier.” I stood there for a while, looking nowhere else but at the toilet. Which is kind of gross, anyway. But I wasn’t thinking of anything but my intentions. And I heard the battle, inside me, as Crazy battled Sanity.
Crazy won. And I kneeled and purged for the first time.
Instant relief. I felt better almost immediately. I had underestimated, though, the shame and guilt that snuck up on me within minutes. I couldn’t believe I did that. Even when I have the stomach flu, I refuse to let myself throw up. Here I was, though, on my knees, doing it for vanity.
I did feel miserable all night. Until weigh-in the next day. I was down 2.6 lbs. And with that validation, I was hooked. What was really sick, though, was that I would purge small meals. The typical bulimia trademark is bingeing and then purging. Not me. I would engage in this disordered behavior after only 300 calories. And not all the time. You see, that is how I kept myself in check. I thought, “I’m not doing it everyday, so it isn’t a big deal.”
I continued losing weight. I got to my goal weight. I’ll never ever forget that day. I was hollow. A shell of myself. I had an amount of self-loathing that I had never known before. I hated who I was; who I had become. Standing there, in size 4 jeans, I thought, “You’re a fake. You cheated the system.” But, as is tradition with Weight Watchers, they asked me to get up and talk about getting to goal and sort of “inspire the troops.” My speech went a little like this:
So I made it! And it’s been hard. I worked my ass off, literally. And it wasn’t easy. People ask me all the time, “What is your secret?” My secret? Sacrifice. I gave up my life and living with friends to have the body and the feeling I wanted. And let me tell you something, no one gives a crap once I leave here. People are only looking at you with some misplaced sense of admiration, or waiting for you to put the weight back on.
No one will be clapping for you when you get home. No velvet ropes will part. Champagne will not fall from the sky. Guess what? Today is just like any other day. Except harder. Because now I get to fight to keep it off.
So remember, every week when you are doing what you need to so you can lose weight, remember that nothing will get easier. Prepare yourself now so you aren’t disappointed when you get to where I am.
Oh yeah. That’s fucking awesome. I was unkind about it, because I was angry with myself. I wonder how many people took that message to heart. I hope none. But, in reality, I expect that a few heard my words echoed later in their lives, at some point.
And that wasn’t the bottom. The bottom was when I went out and ran, after continuing to starve myself and purge, and couldn’t manage. For the first time, ever in my life or ever since, I had to cut a run short because I simply had no energy to do it.
A friend of mine told me that I needed to stop. It was a long speech, and I blew him off. And he said, “At some point, what I’m saying will sink in.” He was right.
On my knees, one night in the bathroom, I heard it. I heard the voice of Reason. Maybe even the voice of God. And He told me that I was killing myself. My kidneys were acting up. I was robbing myself of a life. I was instilling bad habits into my child. I was making my husband miserable. My friends were uncomfortable around me, since I never ate or drank. I heard Him. And He said, “Get Help.” I knew I needed it.
And I made the choice to make the call.
**I have to make my PSA of the day: If you have found this, for any reason, and it rings true for yourself or someone you love, please visit this link to the National Eating Disorders Association and call the toll-free helpline. It isn’t enough to be aware that you have a problem; you, or your loved one, need help. I knew I was out of control. Someone needed to tell me that I needed to stop and to get help. Make the choice today.
Stay tuned for recovery. There’s hope at the end of this story. I promise.