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Posted on Oct 3, 2011 in Dear Diary | 104 comments

Dear Diary

Please note: this is a very emotionally heavy post. It may be triggering for those of you who have had or are dealing with an eating disorder. There is also a small amount of profanity in one of the quoted sections that follows. Not that I think you can’t handle it, but as this is usually a family show I just wanted to give you a heads up.

I took a trip over the weekend. Not to a place, but to a time. Specifically, I went to revisit what you might call my version of the Dark Ages.

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An on-and-off journaler for most of my life, I found myself stumbling rapidly back into the past when I came across several of my old diaries. Entries spanned intermittently from 2004 to 2009, carrying me through high school to the end of college and the very worst of my struggles with disordered eating. Reading through them was like seeing snapshot after snapshot of me spiraling down to my very lowest place, while concurrently climbing to my highest weight. What started off as, in my opinion, innocuous teen angst, turned darker and more raw with every page. Cracking open these emotional hydrogen bombs sent me rocketing back to a time when I was so clearly lost. And I don’t think I even realized until now just how damaged I was.

April 4, 2007

Obese, depressed, socially awkward, disgusting, and on top of that, I’m just a fucking failure at every fucking thing I do. No wonder no guy wants me. I’m just going to end up fat & alone, like I am now but with more pets and no friends. You disgust me. You make me want to throw up. You sick, obese cow. You don’t deserve to continue breathing, let alone eating.

I was just shy of 19 when I wrote those words. According to that same entry, I had just weighed in at 213 lbs. I’ve been saying lately that I’m very fortunate not to have received any negative comments on the blog yet, but naturally I fear the inevitable day when someone is cruel to me on here. After taking this (unfortunate? fortunate?) trip down memory lane, however, I don’t think that there’s a single person out there who could be meaner to me than I was to myself.

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2007 seems, without a doubt, to have held the worst of it. Or at least the most detailed parts. I’ve written about my issues with binge eating here on the blog, and lightly touched on the fact that I also dealt with depression. I guess that in the process of healing though, I blocked out (or at least downplayed) the worst of it. Reading my real-time thoughts from this era of my life has made me painfully aware of just how dark things got, how depraved my desires were, and how twisted my methods became, all in the name of “thin”.

March 24, 2007

I can’t believe I keep slipping like this. This really has got to end. Tomorrow you are waking up and either A) going to UREC {the campus gym}, or B) not eating. Those are your two options. And since you can’t really go to UREC… I guess that means NO food for you. You’ve done it before. You can do it again. The one thing you haven’t been doing so far is COMMIT!!

These are just the words that I wrote, of course, not necessarily what actually happened. And while the physical pages of my diaries have stood the literal test of time, so have the actual memories that accompanied them. Thankfully, I’ve changed since then (though my obvious aversion to exercise is clearly something I’m still working on!) and thankfully, I was never very “good” at not eating. I only know that in conjunction with what I wrote, this is what I would tell myself most mornings: Don’t eat. Don’t succumb. Be “strong”. And I’d try to do exactly that for as long as I could. Sometimes I’d hold out until lunch. Sometimes until dinner. On very, very rare occasion, I might “last” until the next day. But fortunately, my body always figured out that I was trying to starve it down to a size 6 before long. Unfortunately, you probably can guess what came after. Enter: the binge.


Summer 2009

There were days that were normal. There were days when I “simply” overate (or ate poorly), but didn’t binge. But there were far too many days filled with subterfuge and lies, hidden and hoarded food, restriction, binges, and even purging.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting I did eventually seek help for my depression (I wasn’t a student there, but was understandably affected by this tragedy.) It just never even occurred to me to give the same sort of attention to my issues with food. I don’t think I understood that most girls didn’t have the same twisted relationship with every meal. And so it continued, and while some days, some weeks, some months got better, I still continued to get bigger. There are entries from the earlier journals I found where I’m cursing myself for weighing 185 pounds, and it makes me so sad. Not because it’s the actual number that matters all that much, nor the fact that I’m not quite back there yet (soon!), but because I simply wish I had known then what I know now.


May 2009

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share this time of my life with you all. It’s embarrassing. It was a sad, dark time, and I think it would have been easier for me to pack my diaries away and gloss over it with a two-sentence mention followed by 12 pictures of the dogs. I guess I just feel that it’s important to show you where I came from. Or maybe it’s just important to show myself.

We blame our obsession with thinness on so many things (society! the media! the fashion industry!) but often forget that we are our own worst critics. Sure, eventually my weight got to a point where it was a medical concern (or at least, it would surely have become one), but there are a lot of pounds between 185 (arguably average) and 246 (obviously obese). I was my own Mean Girl — my vanity constantly telling me that I needed to be smaller, that I needed to try harder. I pushed myself into my disordered eating, which of course did exactly the opposite of what I wanted in terms of my weight, and I need to own up to that fact. I’m just so thankful that I did eventually hit my tipping point, and, well, you know the rest of the story.

I would be lying to you if I said that it’s been a perfect, binge-free journey since Day 1 of starting this blog. I think that these urges are something that I will have to continue fighting for the rest of my life. Think of me what you will after reading this post, but I feel that rediscovering my diaries is a bit of a Godsend — I’ve been fighting against backsliding particularly hard lately. I’ve been living in a constant state of fear of going back to that place, and I think that may have been a big factor in why I haven’t been making much progress with my weight loss lately. Better to stay here than to take it too far, right? I know now though that I will never spiral that far down again. If nothing else, I know that you won’t let that happen. It’s thanks to you I’ve even made it this far.

Errrrr.
September 2011

There isn’t a moment of the past year that I’ve regretted when it comes to my health (a few unfortunate wardrobe choices though? Perhaps.) I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight towards my goal. I’ve continued to heal from my twisted relationship with food. I’ve grown and evolved in my ability to know myself. And hey, I’ve even run a 5 miler to boot! The only thing I do wish is that I would have had the courage to change earlier.

Thankfully it’s never too late.

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Posted on Jan 29, 2011 in Dear Diary | 43 comments

Me vs. Me

Today, I struggled.

I struggled with my former self, the old me creeping back up into my new way of living and threatening to take me back to being that person. I spent so long–most of my life, let’s be honest–with an unhealthy, toxic dependency on food:

Bored? Let’s eat.
Angry? Let’s eat!
Sad? Let’s eat…
Happy? Let’s eat!

One of the biggest turnarounds in my weight-loss journey so far has been severing that dependency and growing towards a much healthier relationship with food. I have tried very hard to change my perception on what food is for. It is for energizing and revitalizing our bodies. It is fuel, to power us through each day and allow us to do amazing things. I know this. I’ve read, I’ve researched, I’ve both heard from and talked to people about this. I know how to eat nutritiously, healthily, and how to lose weight because of it. I’ve lost 40 pounds so far utilizing that knowledge and banishing my old habits! But… sometimes, it’s a struggle. It’s still hard not to slip, because for so long that was the only way I knew how to cope.

I used to use food as a crutch for my emotional issues. In college especially, anytime I felt hurt or sad or lonely, I would hop in my car and head for the nearest drive-through. I’d toss around words and phrases like “we would like” and “for us” to make it seem to the person behind the window like the multiple peoples’ portions of food really was for multiple people. I would ask for multiple sets of plasticware or order two sodas (diet, of course), only to throw one out later. I would shove chicken nuggets in my mouth in the car on the ride home, or hide an extra burger or two in my purse so that I could hide my shame once I got home. You know, just in case any of my roommates were interested in what I had gotten. “Mmm, that looks good!” they might say, and then I’d go to my room, close the door, and it would commence.

If the guilt got bad enough, if I really ended up eating that entire pizza or that whole bag of chips I might have tried to, well, compensate one way or another. But more often than not, I wouldn’t even bother. That Triple Baconator AND Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger AND double order of chicken nuggets AND large serving of fries (dipped in ranch, of course) would sit like a ball of lead in my stomach, and I would just go about my (completely devoid of exercise) life: write a paper, watch a movie, and probably still have dessert later. I might wander down to the kitchen before primetime TV kicked in complaining “I’ve barely eaten anything today!” before making up an entire box of macaroni and cheese for myself. I had tricks, and I had denial, and for a very long time that is how I lived.

Today, I struggled again. I woke up around 11 AM and had a large, fairly healthy breakfast this morning: a small homemade healthified banana nut muffin and a Thomas’ Bagel Thin with lox and a smear of cream cheese. Then, around 3:00 I got ravenous. So I started thinking about what I wanted to eat. Nothing in the fridge seemed appetizing, so I decided I would go out and get something. I hopped in my car and made my way down to Baja Fresh, my mind set on some grilled fish tacos. Highly recommended by my Eat This! Not That! book as a lower-calorie, nutritious “faster food” option, I thought I was in good shape. And then as I was standing in line, the thoughts began. Why not get a 900 calorie Burrito Ultimo instead? I loved them. They were delicious. They filled my stomach to the point of wanting to burst with steak, rice, peppers, and came with a side of chips to boot. In fact, why not get two? I’d done it before. And it was hard to resists with those old rationalizations and justifications running through my head:

“I should just do it. It’s not like anybody will know.”
“I can just not eat anything else for the rest of the day and it will balance out.”
“I’ll just go running tomorrow to make up for it, no big deal!”

In case you were curious, I did end up ordering the fish tacos as I originally planned. I drove back home and ate them. They were very good and I was stuffed after eating them (the meal came with two.) That didn’t stop me, however, from continuing to eat the rice, beans, and complimentary chips that came with the meal too. And after all that, I helped myself to a large bowl of chocolate Cheerios as “dessert” too. Granted, the overall caloric damage wasn’t that bad, especially compared to what it could have been if I had caved to that burrito craving. But the underlying issue was still there: Why did I continue to eat even though I was full? I thought I was past all this.

I was looking over some old photos of myself on Facebook, from my senior year of college and my first year out in the “real world” (i.e. from when I was rapidly climbing to my highest weight.) There were some photos up that I remember being hilarious at the time (thus why they were not immediately de-tagged, haha), but looking at them now, they are really just sad.

In them, I am shoveling burgers into my mouth, eyeing plates of cookies hungrily and making jokes about huge balls of butter that came served with my dinner. I obviously must have thought they were funny at the time they were posted. And I supposed that objectively you might be able to see how they could be: it’s a little gross and it’s capturing a moment in a photo that most people aren’t supposed to see. If the person behaving so gluttonously didn’t normally do so, it would be especially funny. “Caught on camera,” as they say. But of course, that is also precisely the reasons why it’s so sad. Because it’s not someone else in those pictures, it’s me. And maybe I was in denial, but it’s obvious to me now that the scenes being depicted are pitiful. That’s who I used to be, and who I obviously still am to some degree, based on today. That, right there, in those pictures, that was what I was all about: food. And the loud, laughing, joking girl with that over-the-top personality behind the food? Well, she was just there to fill in between meals.

I like to think that I’ve changed. That I’m both literally and figuratively becoming a shadow of my former self. But, on days like today, it’s hard. And sometimes the support that you need doesn’t come, and sometimes that makes it worse. After all, my friends and family aren’t mind-readers, I can’t expect them to be. So, I’m here, trying to talk about it, make sense of it. Get it all out. It is, of course, difficult for me to write about all of this. It’s hard for me to put it out in the open, to make myself so vulnerable. But the truth is, I’ve been dwelling on writing a post like this for a while — today was just the tipping point.

I’m not so self-centered to think that I’m the only one who has ever struggled like this. I figure, if I went through it, someone else must be going through it now. And maybe–just maybe–one day, they’ll read this blog. And maybe–just maybe– it could help. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have the strength to click the publish button on this post if I hadn’t been reading something just as raw and exposed on Keelie’s blog earlier.

Sorry for all this dumping of emotion (though if you know me, you know that emotion is what you get, unfortunately), the overshare, the potential definite TMI (although who I am kidding? I love TMI.) I don’t blame those of you who jumped ship but I’m proud of those of you able to navigate through all 1,328 words (!!) and make it to the other side. Proud, but also a little scared. Scared of what this–really putting myself out there, that is–means. I can only hope that this will bring me on step closer to my goal, that I’ll have this day, this night, this moment to fall back on in another time of weakness. Because, let’s be honest, I’m sure there are still many more to come.

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