NEDAW 2013

And now, I will tell you about my day in embarrassing bodily detail.

First Wakeup: 7am

Second Wakeup: 8am

Final Wakeup: 9am

Target Wakeup: 10am

Breakfast: ~10am

  • two Eggo waffles
  • cinnamon
  • syrup
  • ice water
  • 4 teensy clementines

10:20am – Feel full. Become tired. Fall asleep again against one’s own will.

~12pm – Bathroom. Cannot defecate for the life of me.

1pm – Stomachache.

1:10pm  – Miss doctor’s appointment.

2pm – 5pm: Miss being conscious.

~5pm: Wake up. Nauseous. Stomach keeling. Shaking.

6pm: Shower. Eat one packet of pocky before shower because shaking.

6:10pm – 6:50pm: Struggle to get clothes/hair together. Still cannot complete a #2 while going to the bathroom.

7:30pm – Begin blog post.

7:36pm – Still blogging. Stomach feels full. Jeans I purchased in October – size 26, European sizing – were a struggle to get into. Tight everywhere. Stomach gurgling – likely trapped gas and food in my digestive system due to temporary stomach paralysis.

7:37pm – Feel bad admitting that size 26s are difficult to fit into. Remember that you wore 30s in high school. Consider going in front of mirror and poking at stomach to divine if you’re fatter than usual.

Having an eating disorder comes in a lot of different forms. You’re not always skin and bones. You’re not always with scars on your knuckles and acid stains on your teeth. You’re not always plus-size and eating all the time.

Last spring, I wrote about the disturbing thinspo trend that was prevalent (and still is today) on Pinterest. Thinspo, a portmanteau of “thin” and “inspiration,” is a genre of blogging – text, pictures, whatever – that inspires people to become thin. Not healthy, not fit, not happy: thin. There’s much talk of thigh gaps, visible collarbones, and jutting hip bones. These are the physical traits that, along with just being physically tinier, denote the concept of “thinness” in our culture. These girls, however, do not want to do this Jillian Michaels style: no muscles for them. Just bones. Just chasing after the bodies of Abercrombie and Hollister models. Just pain.

What they don’t realize is that, even if they manage to attain their “goal weight” – mine was, in comparison, a modest 140 lbs, and I managed to achieve mine – they won’t be happy. Their goal weight becomes kind of chubby after the thrill wears off. They start to ponder losing 5 more pounds. They do. They then think, “Oh, well, might as well round it off to a nice 0 at the end.” And they do.

Then, eventually, your life goes a little crappy, and you generally have to make a choice: continue the spiral, or start to recover. I decided to start to recover.

Recovery is hard. If you can’t tell, I have a hard time crapping. My body has a hard time passing food through its digestive tract, which leads to clogs in the system and gas buildup. My tummy pooches out a bit more than usual because of this. It’s extremely easy for me to eat to the point of stomach pain because my stomach is still stretching out. Eating is a painful affair, and this is when I want to do so. If I skip even ONE meal now, my body immediately starts shaking. I become nauseous and feel sick. I think back to the fall, when I only ate one meal a day, and I wonder what changed. I don’t know.

I’m driven crazy every day by small things. Seeing a friend for the first time this semester – will they notice I’ve gained weight? Would they say anything even if they did? Thinking about my jeans I’m wearing – they’re a little uncomfortable, but I can’t bear to get rid of them. They were also expensive – how can I justify buying new expensive jeans to fit my (in my mind) deformed body just because I selfishly gained an inch or two? How much DO I weigh these days? I don’t know because I gave my scale to my dietician. Not knowing grinds at me every day.

What kills me the most is that I don’t look like an eating disorder patient. I never managed to achieve the aesthetic everyone assumes you’ll have when you restrict your eating. Perhaps I was “weak” and decided to get help too soon – gave up on being thin too quickly.

Whatever – I’d rather live.

This week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Tomorrow marks the last day, but today was widely celebrated as the official “Day” for ED awareness. You were supposed to wear purple. I put on a purple shirt a few hours ago, so I hope that counts. My eating disorder, coupled with my other health issues, didn’t really let me leave the house today.

If you or a friend are thinking about restricting or trying to “bring on” an eating disorder: don’t. I know that what I just said likely won’t deter anyone – it didn’t deter me – but at least there’s that seed of knowledge planted in your mind. Also, please don’t be afraid to brooch the subject with a friend. I wish I could tell you how to do so tactfully – there’s really no one “right” way because everyone’s so different – but I have some resources for you that may or may not help:

The Emily Program is based in Minnesota and has tons of locations around the state, including Golden Valley, Burnsville, and St. Paul (very close to campus, actually). I always recommend them no matter what:

http://www.emilyprogram.com/

ActiveMinds is also another mental health organization. They actually have a campus chapter, so look into that if you’re interested! Their main site for NEDAW 2013 is here:

http://www.activeminds.org/our-programming/awareness-campaigns/national-eating-disorders-awareness-week

Lastly: watch what you say. I’ve seen disgusting insensitivity to this issue on campus – Overheard, anyone? – and it’s really damaging. We have world-class eating disorder treatment centers here in the Twin Cities, so the likelihood that someone in treatment is within earshot is very high. Some people even pick schools around what treatment they have available because they’d become very ill otherwise. Don’t make campus an unsafe place for fellow students.

Happy NEDAW.

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