The above problem I’ve been dealing with consistently for a year and a half. It got to the point where my choices really sucked: be tired, or respond to fatigue by napping and then be permanently groggy and wobbly on my feet for the remainder of the day.
I am off Trileptal and no longer experience ataxia, which is what the wobbliness was. It is completely gone.
I have had bad headaches since the fall, probably due to many factors, including dehydration, poor nutrition, altered vital signs from Imipramine, agitation and tension from Imipramine, and of late, my thyroid being off.
I have had hypothyroidism for a long time and I don’t talk about it because I always thought it was a non-issue. You get your blood tested, and if your thyroid is too low or too high, the doc adjusts the medication and if you felt bad, you’ll probably get some relief.
My thyroid was off this spring. My new doctor said once the thyroid level is correct, I would see improvements all over, such as reduction in headaches, less trouble fighting off dehydration, and reduction in edema.
I wish the edema bit had come true. Unfortunately, the edema is worse than ever. I can make a noticeable dent when I press anywhere on my legs, not just on my ankes.
I think the thyroid fix was what really helped the recent headaches and flu-like feeling. I also feel better in my overall mood.
Another thought: didn’t the headaches start to get a lot worse around the time I got my flu shot? This was also when I started Imipramine.
I napped for a long time. I just woke up and I don’t feel wicked sick. That’s pretty much a first.
One big goal for this afternoon is to take care of those overdue library books….
There is no particular reason why I am writing this now except for the fact that it needs to be discussed. This topic isn’t discussed enough in treatment centers. Period.
Patients should be told about edema.
Edema is one of those things that is kind of hush-hushed because it’s a little ugly, like a bodily function that you don’t do in public, or body hair other than what’s on your scalp, or anything that’s classified as so-called “triggering.”
Well, things that are “triggering,” in my opinion, you need to desensitize yourself to. Let’s face it, when you go to the supermarket, those tabloids with “LOSE 40 POUNDS IN A WEEK” articles are going to be sitting there right in the checkout aisle whether you like it or not. WeightWatchers will be around forever. Cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer do you hear me? If you don’t want to be triggered, move to a vacuum, but there’s no air there.
So while I was in treatment, I said something to one of the staff about refeeding edema in my normal speaking voice. No, we weren’t speaking in private or anything. We were just hanging out and chatting. Well! It was like I’d sworn or something. I said that patients should be warned about refeeding edema. I said that if I’d been told before April of 2011 that I might get it, and had it explained to me, then maybe all that domino effect that happened last spring, summer, etc (look it up here in my blog…end of April, May, June, July, August 2011 etc) could have been reduced or softened somehow or maybe even avoided.
I don’t mean just refeeding edema per se. I mean any edema. Let me reiterate what I’ve said before in relation to edema: Edema isn’t an illness or a disorder in itself. It’s a signal. Kind of like clenched fists are a signal that you might be tense or angry inside. This edema signal can mean different things for different people. It can mean something serious is wrong or it can mean something less serious.
People with eating disorders can get edema. Not everyone does but many people do. This edema can come for a variety of reasons. Any time you seriously muck with your nutrition a la eating disorder, you are being very mean to your body, and your body might react by getting edema.
Okay, what this means is this: Edema is swelling of tissues. It’s excess fluid in tissues where fluid isn’t supposed to be. Often, this means your ankles are swollen. You may have seen people with swollen ankles before, especially people whose ankles are exposed, that is, not covered by pants or dresses that reach all the way to the floor. Maybe you’ve seen ankles that bulge out over the person’s shoes.
But it can be more than just ankles. Edema can also be in your calves. It can be your whole legs, too. Edema can be all over your body. You can have edema in your stomach or in your face. You can have swollen hands and wrists. One side can be more swollen than the other.
Okay, I think you see the picture now. The more swelling means more volume means, yes, you are bigger. This means, yes, you weigh more. Do you hear me? Trigger trigger trigger trigger trigger.
So in April, specifically the end of April, I woke up one day and I was like six pounds heavier and I had (excuse me!) legs that were a lot thicker than they had been only days previously. No, I had not just binged. It just happened to me because of excess fluid in my tissues because I have an eating disorder and had been mucking around with my nutrition for years and years and years.
Not only was I in absolute shock and devastated but I felt like my life was over and my body was completely ruined. I don’t know how long it took me to shake this feeling but I think I am over it now.
I think I am over it now because I suddenly realized today that I have always had a little bit of sock edema for years and years and years, not just since April of 2011. By this I mean that my socks have always made a bit of an imprint in my legs. Socks aren’t supposed to make that much of an imprint as they do. Big fucking deal. At least it’s just my socks, right? Why it took me until today, February 25th, to realize this, I don’t know.
Anyway, what I am saying is that edema is a psychological issue for people with eating disorders. It shows up on the scale. It shows up in what clothes you can wear. It shows in the mirror and you can see it when you look at yourself. The worst of it is trying to get your feet into your shoes when your feet swell. When it gets that bad, you can’t even tie them. People who don’t have eating disorders have a psychological reaction when they see and feel their bodies swell up from excess fluid and can relate. Tell them to imagine this feeling only a zillion, trillion times magnified and a zillion, trillion times more distorted and…a whole bunch more things that simply can’t be described to someone who doesn’t have an eating disorder.
Or can it. Let’s begin to describe these things to people. Let’s begin to tell others how it feels to have these disorders. The world needs to know our story. We need to open up just a tiny bit more than we’ve been doing. People with eating disorders are a neglected, forgotten, hidden population. You’d think this wasn’t the case, but it is. Yes, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and all kinds of out-of-control eating issues are on the covers of magazines these days, but the people behind these articles are forgotten as is the daily suffering we endure. What’s on the cover is how to lose those 40 pounds and the huge piece of cake and the ad for the great recipe inside the magazine, and the seductive photograph of an emaciated celebrity on the way to rehab yet one more time. This, of course, used to be the photo that would sell the magazine, the one that the drooling public loved to hate. But I’m not so sure now. The skinny celebrity photo is losing its shock value. One thing is sure and that’s that if you want to make money, I mean really, really get rich wicked, wicked big time, lie real bad to people and sell them some pill that will make them lose, say, 100 pounds overnight, sell a bunch of these pills, collect the money, then split the scene, and for god’s sakes, enjoy your vacation and don’t ever come back.
I am not sure when the edema reappeared. Edema has been an ongoing problem for me since the end of last April. People with eating disorders can develop edema for a variety of reasons. There are various kinds of edema. You can look it up in a medical encyclopedia, or Google it, or check it out in Wikipedia. Actually, my photos of my ankles and calves that I posted on here last May come up on the top of Google. When I look on my stats, just about every day it appears that someone uses a search engine and finds my posts that I did last spring of my really bad edema. Anyway, maybe two days ago I took off my shoes and socks and there were these massive dents in my calves from my socks. People, if your usual socks are suddenly making wicked bad dents that’s a heads up that something is going on. Press your finger onto your ankle. Just press someplace where there’s some flesh. Then take your finger off. Is there a dent? Does the dent stay there? How deep is the dent? If there’s a dent that stays there, you’ve got edema.
Edema itself won’t hurt you. Edema is a sign of something else, something going on inside your body that isn’t right. Whatever is going on inside your body could be a number of things, a huge number of things ranging from minor to very serious requiring immediate medical attention.
If one side is a whole lot more swollen than the other, or if only one side is swollen, you’d better get medical attention right away. I have no medical qualifications whatsoever so keep this in mind while you are reading this. But if I had one huge ankle and one regular-sized ankle, I’d be pretty scared.
Okay, I’ve lost track of what I was going to say. This always happens to me. Okay. Blood pressure. Very simple. It takes like two seconds to have your blood pressure checked. This is a big part of it.
I have talked to people with eating disorders who have had edema. I don’t know of anyone whose doctor has prescribed diuretics for them. It’s just not done for people with eating disorders. I think it has to do with electrolytes. I’m not sure.
My doctor told me the edema would go away. Like heck it went away.
I tried starving it out of myself. It worked. Well, it didn’t.
You know, I have heard people say, “I want to be skinny. I wish I were skinny just like an anorexic.” You know, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Your hair. Your bones. Your heart. Think again.
Last night, after my shower, I noticed that my skin around my ankles had stretched so much that it had broken out into sores. I remembered that my doctor had told me to put lotion on my ankles to prevent infection. I have some decent lotion that I put on last night and this morning.
This is rather depressing.
You know, sometimes I wake up in the morning, and the edema is just plain gone. I mean, gone. Maybe tomorrow, my 54th birthday, it’ll happen. My legs and ankles are smooth and sleek and skinny and anorexic. My feet are my own feet again. I slip on my socks and wiggle my toes and put my feet into my shoes. I am a wild gazelle and I am going to fly tomorrow wherever my heart takes me.
I wish this wasn’t the case. But it is.
I woke up alive. I was glad to get adequate sleep. About 7-1/2 hours. Nice. I slept rather late. I had dreams. I don’t remember them now. I felt scattered in my thoughts this morning but eventually I got focused and into a very angry space. Then, I decided I’d better get a move on and get on with my day, take a shower, get dressed, and so on, get Puzzle out, as it was really well into the morning. I found that my anger was morphing into despair. Then I interrupted myself and came here. I decided I’d write about what I was feeling. Here I am.
I’ve been posting on Facebook lately. This is highly unusual for me. Just using it as an outlet, expressing myself, reaching out, as my birthday approaches…what the heck. Mostly my Goddard classmates are on there. Excellent folks. Many are on Pacific Time. Things happen late at night.
I awoke this morning wearing my pajamas. Well, this makes sense because I went to sleep wearing my pajamas, and I didn’t take them off in the middle of the night. I have these bright red fleece footie pajamas. I took them off when I went to pee when I got up. I wished and wished and crossed my fingers that the edema that I’ve had for days and days now had disappeared in the night. This sometimes happens. Well, fat chance. It didn’t. I have the ankles of an elephant. Still. My skin is so stretched that I have these terrible sores and I had to put lotion on last night to keep them from getting worse. If you have never had anorexia you don’t know how terrible this makes me feel inside, to have legs, or at least calves, as if I am about fifty pounds heavier than I really am. Well, forty. Sucks just as much. My body is betraying me. When all this edema stuff suddenly started at the end of last April, I really thought that my body was ruined and that my life was over. I died, really, a long, long time ago. I am not the person I was. The world has not been the same. It is a cruel, cruel place.
I must slink around at this point. I must avoid hospitalization at all costs. I am terrified. This is an unrealistic fear but it is a fear nonetheless simply because it is always a possibility due to the fact that I am a mental patient and people have their prejudices. I see my therapist on Monday. I wrote January 8 on my calendar, the day of my 54th birthday, and I wrote, “Happy Birthday.” The next page was blank for a very long time. I guess it was yesterday that I noticed its blankness. I wrote in the date, January 9th, and I wrote in that I see my T that day.
On Sunday, I will be 54, and I will still be 54 on Monday. So when I go to see my T, I will be 54.
I don’t know what I was getting at. Well, I do know. Hospital means nut ward. Nut ward means state hospital. State hospital means absolutely no eating disorders treatment whatsoever and staff who have absolutely no knowledge of eating disorders. Actually, the staff in state hospitals probably are completely uneducated and possibly don’t even have high school diplomas and most likely barely speak English. State hospital means sitting around all day every day in a wobbly chair surrounded by other patients who can barely put a sentence together. Maybe I’ll take up smoking again. It might be the only activity they offer.
My life. What’s left of it.
Avoid hospital. Be free.
Things left: Puzzle. Church. I’ve got a few friends, God bless them, but most have left me. Not that I blame them. I blame some of them, though.
I am really, really blessed to have my church. I am blessed to have what I have left.
I am blessed to have my writing. I have been writing a lot lately. It is necessary.
Now, I will take a shower. It is late.
I hope the shower is hot. I have my showers, too. I do have a lot left. A fair amount. Today. All day today. All day Sunday, January 8th, my birthday, when I will show up at church a bit before 10:30, in time for the service.
The weather is supposed to be nice here in Boston. Quite fitting, I think.
I have noticed that human beings break promises, and I am no different. I broke the promise I made to myself that I would not have caffeine today. I didn’t have morning coffee. I often don’t have coffee in the morning simply because I forget to make it or I make it and forget it’s there, and find it hours later still sitting on the counter waiting for me, stone cold. I spooned down a cup of Roastaroma right before leaving for church this morning. At church social hour, I drank herbal tea. That’s a first because I always have the coffee there and I always pick the largest mug and feel that surely I am being selfish for doing so. I came home and slept for two hours and then got up and felt groggy and headachy. I took two aspirin and gave in and had my coffee. I feel better. Improved. Not great though.
That’s not really what I wanted to talk about. I was just at church as I usually am on Sundays. I am going back in a bit and then a bunch of us are carpooling over to this place and then we are caroling there and then going back to the music director’s place for a get-together. I am a busy girl. But I felt it was important to write in here with the little time I have in-between.
You just don’t know anything about the future. You can’t predict New England weather. It is cold outside today. I am cold, very cold sometimes.
After church–well, let me just say that church is different each time I go. Each time is special. We had the Christmas pageant today.
When the kids were up there singing, I thought I was going to start crying. There I was, sitting in the second row. I was scared the kids would see my crying, and not understand my tears. Does anyone understand my tears? No one really needs to understand them. Many people cry at church for their own reasons and it’s none of my business why they do. I put a smile on my face and held the liquid tears inside my eyes and did not let them fall. I willed my nose not to run.
Bodily fluids. Water.
I have decided that it is no longer a good idea to drink really fast or a whole lot at once.
I don’t have much time, because
I am leaving in a bit.
At 4:45, I have to be at church for carpooling. But I am getting there early. My mom taught me to be early. She was notoriously late. For everything. Actually, it was a horrible thing that she was late. This was one way that she neglected us kids. It was gross neglect because her tardiness often put us in dangerous situations. Or she would forget us entirely and not show. By being chronically late, I learned. I learned to be early. Because it is better to be early, or to plan to be early just in case there are delays. I am always on time. Or sooner than expected.
Why am I poisoning this entry with talk of my mother? I was just in a deep sleep. I slept for nearly two hours. I woke up and the edema was gone. I asked myself if all the fluid had gone into my head and that’s why I had a headache.
I have been Doctor Greene all weekend. Survival.
I have just peeked. My legs are gross again. When I left the house this morning I thought about how this really does a number on my self-esteem. Actually, I read on a website that the common denominator among people with eating disorders is low self-esteem.
I could use a shower after that two-hour nap.
I need to make this writing a priority this morning over a number of other activities because I need to get this off my chest. It does not take priority over certain things that are vastly more important. I have walked Puzzle. I need to make sure she can get groomed tomorrow. So I need to stop writing at some point and remember to call Pooch Palace to get her scheduled. Hygiene–hers and mine: essential…but today I haven’t showered yet and writing takes precedence. I’ll make time to brush my teeth again. My hair…yeah, I gotta do something with this mop before I go to therapy.
I need to say some things. I need to be straight with my T about certain things. About a week ago I realized that I don’t have much time left on this planet. I thought about things realistically and figured that my 54th birthday is in January and I’ll probably make it to that, but the chances of making it to 55 are next to nil. My body won’t hold out. I see the statistics and it’s amazing that I’m still alive. The statistics are different depending on the source, but by far the majority of patients who end up with anorexia nervosa don’t make a full recovery. A small portion do. Many do, and deal with it for the rest of their lives. A portion die. A portion suffer a great deal for the rest of their lives. A portion commit suicide by other means. And so on. The younger you get it, the worse your chances are. The longer you’ve had it, the worse your chances are. And so on. You can interpret the data a number of ways but it’s a fatal illness no matter how you look at it and no matter how you look at it, it’s clear that this illness is the most lethal mental illness.
Dear T: The truth is that I want you to just go along with this. Quit trying to stop me and quit trying to change me and quit your assumption that I am trying in any way to get better and change and grow. It is useless. I gave up on myself. Just let me die and keep me company. A week ago I decided to self-starve because I have no will to live. I am not trying to make myself die I am just trying to lose weight. If I die I don’t care.
Okay, I’m tired now and I’ll take a t0-minute nap and come back.
I’ve been permanently sleepy for a couple of days now. Back.
As you know, I get these breakthrough binges (you I’m sure are bored of hearing about this) and I have binged a few times but get right back to starving and continuing to lose weight. I don’t think I lost anything over the weekend and I haven’t been able to get anything like an accurate reading with a belly full of food.
I have had a couple of instances of drinking high amounts of zero-calorie liquid (water or zero-calorie sports drink, occasionally diet soda) very quickly and then peeing it all out. I can’t seem to stop myself when I do this. I’m not trying to hurt myself. It is automatic. Maybe I am just thirsty. I drink to the point of physical discomfort. I looked up on the Internet how much you have to drink to get a serious problem and I’m reasonably sure I’m not in the danger zone. When this happens, my pee is bubbly afterward.
I believe the last couple of times that I binged, my food wouldn’t go down my throat. It got caught there. I got some water and pushed it down with the water. I found that I was able to stuff food down faster than ever. At 53? weird. Maybe I’m just remembering wrong. I have some junk food in the apartment right now that I should probably get rid of.
For a while, when I binged, it “showed.” Oh, no, when I binge it shows anyway. Duh. Stomach and intestine overload. I have heard that your stomach or intestines can burst from this. A doctor once told me that this was the truth but I looked it up and there have been cases. Of course you don’t survive that at my age. When I say that it showed, I meant that my ankles and legs and entire body swelled up. As of sometime yesterday, this stopped happening. They’re fine. My torso is huge and full of food but the rest of me looks normal. I have to wait until I poop it all out.
Okay, back to life. But the body changes again. I am making all kinds of spelling errors and am falling asleep…again. Something’s horribly wrong that I have to sleep all the time. Another ten-minute nap and I’ll be back.
I woke up two minutes before the alarm.
I sleep…I don’t sleep…well, duh…I play with food and it messes real bad with sleep. Real bad. Serves me right.
I don’t know why I do all the stuff I do but I can’t make it stop. Losing weight…it is just ridiculous.
My DMH person seems to think everything’s hunky-dory with me. Whatever. It’s her job to make sure people shower and get to their appointments and fill their prescriptions. I don’t think they have people with anorexia in their program much. I dress with my shirt right-side out and she looks at me and figures I’m fine. ADL’s. That’s “Activities of Daily Living,” meaning, again, showering, taking meds, brushing teeth, getting to your job, cleaning the house, laundry, paying your bills, taking public transportation…I do everything but one: eat. A big one. I guess that one’s a given for most of her people. And sleep.
I don’t even sleep responsibly anymore. Night blends into day which blends into night. All a blur.
There are things going on that are very good right now and I thought I’d mention them. My relationship with Frank. My relationship with L. Puzzle. Puzzle’s walks. Puzzle’s walks have been a little crazy and driven because I think about death while I’m walking her. I enjoy myself anyway. I keep my appointments and that’s a good thing. Church is just a fabulous addition to my life. Absolutely a fantastic thing I’m doing. I’m going to print out what I wrote yesterday and bring it into today’s session.
Okay, here’s another thing I haven’t made public but I will. I ran it by my T Friday and she feels it’s a very positive step I’m doing to help myself. I’m taking a trip to London to attend a seminar my publisher is putting on for its writers. The trip will be in a month. I can’t believe I’m doing this. It will give me a sense of purpose and I don’t want a sense of purpose but it’s weird because at the same time I really want to meet my publisher and get to work with him, and I assume get to meet the other folks at the publishing house as well. I won’t be gone long. I made the plane reservations and hotel and am all signed up.
This was in fact very difficult to do. My bank decided that whatever transaction I did was suspicious activity, and shut down my credit card after I made each purchase. This started with the transaction with my publisher, because it was a UK transaction. My bank doesn’t take chances. I appreciate this.
I have been spending the month of October working on my outline for November’s National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month probably won’t happen for me because of this trip. I’ll be gone for four days but it’s going to zap much of my energy for November. It was a sacrifice I had to make. I will still create the outline. Why? I’m excited about the book. I think Nano is doing another Nano later in the year. Nano got so big that they do one in a month other than November now. So I’ll have another opportunity maybe. I haven’t talked much about this outline. I will.
I’ve run out of energy and there’s more I wanted to say. Later.
There was still a considerable amount of swelling all over my body, even yesterday, four days after I had last binged. My hands were the first body part to look normal again. It was a relief to have my hands back. Dr. K said it might take weeks before the swelling in my ankles and calves is reduced. Between Tuesday and Saturday, I peed out 11 pounds of built-up fluid. Gradually, I was beginning to feel human again.
It took a stupid incident to set me off yesterday afternoon.
I’m okay so far today. There’s a lot of swelling in my face, which I can’t cover up obviously, but the rest of me I can keep hidden under clothes. It’s going to be freaking 86 degrees out today and I can’t wear anything but a full-length dress, I mean all the way down to the ground.
My T says she is going to help me with this problem. I don’t know why I have had all this faith in her. After all, I’ve had this problem (anorexia and binge-eating) since 1980 and I don’t know how I can expect her to wave a magic wand and make it go away by magic. Agreeably, most of the therapists I’ve had over the years haven’t known a thing about eating disorders and many have told me I didn’t have an eating disorder. But I don’t know why I should expect this one to be any different or that therapy with her is going to improve my life any more than any of the other therapies did.
But for some reason, year after year, I have kept telling myself, “This is it,” and I think it’s over, and it’s not. I think it’s time I stop bullshitting myself, because this illness has no end.
Wow sometimes things happen in my head very, very fast.
I got out of the hospital Monday, that is, the 26th. Today is Tuesday, so I have been out eight days now. The first…how many? Four? were fine. Except for lack of sleep…fine. I slept an hour or two a night but there was so much I had to do and keep track of. You have to understand that I hadn’t been home for 26 days and my Inbox was full of crap and that crap kind of symbolized the mess I had to take care of…practicalities of being a grown-up and living in the Real World.
Then, Thursday afternoon. I have discussed this and dissected this with my T. I came home from my therapy appointment and I had a snack planned. I ate Snack X instead of Snack Y.
Well, let me back up. While I was in the hospital….those of you who have been hospitalized for any, any reason are familiar with the way hospital kitchen menus work: you fill out your menu for the next meals ahead of time. At the hospital where I was staying, you filled out Tuesday’s three meals on Monday, right after Monday breakfast. Wednesday’s three meals you filled out after Tuesday breakfast. And so on. On the menu sheets they give you choices, whatever the kitchen is offering. You circle whatever you want. You hope that the kitchen doesn’t goof your order and that you get what you ordered. If you are on a special diet, which could be any diet you can imagine, such as “allergic to seafood(or eggs or whatever),” “Kosher,” “vegetarian,” and the dreaded “ED” (eating disorder). Oh, and let’s not forget “paper and plastic only.” This is for the psych patients. Plastic utensils only, no ceramic, no glass, no metal, nothing sharp or breakable or throwable on the tray. On some psych wards, caffeine is not allowed. On other psych wards, caffeine is heavily restricted.
So every day, in the hospital, I filled out a menu, in the morning, after breakfast, and got in the habit of writing down what I’d ordered. If there was anything extra I planned to ask for, I made note of this, too. If I wanted raisins in my oatmeal, I had to ask for these separately from the supply on the floor. Believe it or not, I needed a doctor’s order to get food from this stock that wasn’t offered by the kitchen. (This was fairly easy to obtain. They did, when it all boiled down to it, want me to eat.) So I would make a note to myself to ask for raisins to put into my oatmeal. So every day, in my little journal. I’d have a page that listed “Food planned for Tuesday…..” and a page listed “Food eaten Tuesday…..” which listed what I actually ate. Yes, there were discrepancies. The kitchen made goofs. On the ED floor, the staff made sure the kitchen was impeccable. But on the psych floor, it wasn’t entirely imperative. I was told that I should adapt and make do and the staff would do what they could to help out. Actually, they bent over backward for me. That plus sometimes I’d regress and not eat.
So I continued this when I got home. I had all my meals and snacks planned out. I had a list of food that I felt okay about eating. This was a long list that is in my journal, a list I can turn to if I’m stuck for ideas. I did at home exactly what I had done in the hospital. I wrote down my list and followed the list. It made shopping easy and it looked like I was going to shop wisely with careful planning. You can really breeze through the grocery store if you have a list and know where everything is.
Are you beginning to catch on? It’s my anorexia in a nutshell.
So, back to Thursday. I had gotten out Monday, gone right to therapy, spent Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday was busy with going to the library, cleaning, and catching up on things, then Thursday had therapy again, came home, and without thinking, ate a half a banana instead of Cheerios (one of those little single-serve thingies) for my snack. Then I looked at my list and saw that I hadn’t bothered to look at what I had planned.
Was I getting careless? Overconfident? I knew that perhaps I had shopped ahead more than I felt comfortable with. I had bought exactly what was on my list and my list was longer today than it ever had been. It seemed like I had used up a lot of my food stamps today. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the quantities I’d purchased.
I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I was drowning in
I felt like I was being smothered by
I felt like I was being poisoned by
I felt forced by
I felt like I was being pushed over and crushed and I had to
I felt like I was being pushed over and crushed and I had to reach out and stomp my foot on the little, weak thing that was left and stomp it out and destroy it once and for all. It is like when you wipe an insect off your arm and you injure it and you have that moment of deep remorse that you have killed a living creature and you recall when, as a child, you struck out at an animal–the worst that you can recall were the spiders and their legs, this only a few times, and now you are hoping there were no higher creatures–
Yeah, it’s just like flattening an insect
There is in my memory something about a boy I knew who beat a toad to a pulp
What scares me is that I could have been that child
I am that child now
…and I have been that child since Thursday at 4:45pm. That’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, today. My body is a pulp. My ankles are huge. This is dangerous, people. I gained 20 pounds in five days. It’s from edema, which is fluid in body tissues. I can feel my skin stretched around my calves.
I went to see my primary care doctor today, Dr. K. I asked her not to weigh me. There was no need. I saw the concern on her face right away. All the baggy clothes in the world can’t hide 20 pounds of excess fluid. All the baggy clothes in 100 worlds can’t hide the 20 pounds that are stamped in my head and in my shitty outlook on life right now.
I was honest with her. I admitted that I haven’t taken my medication for a couple of days (why bother?) and had given up on myself. We talked for a while. I began to realize that my version of the story had changed its tone from “hopeful” and “looking forward to the life ahead of me” to something else.
Maybe just “beaten.” By that child.
Before I mixed up Snack X with Snack Y and then the whole ripples of the destroying child, I wouldn’t have dreamed that this would have happened to me.
No, it was buried in my nightmares. It was buried in dreams that I forget upon waking.
And I wasn’t even sleeping at night. I wasn’t even allowing myself to have these dreams. Maybe I was too terrified even to begin to dream for fear of the nightmares.
My anorexia: all that control, all the restricting, the dieting, the purification, the denial, the deprivation, the glory and worship of emptiness–
–it is all about terror of that child–
it is all about tiptoeing around in my hospital room so that I wouldn’t awaken my angry roommate when I got up well before she did
it is all about not tripping off an alarm in the dead of night while the crickets buzz incessantly
it is all about speaking in whispers
it is all about lying
to keep the peace
I have no written record of my first binge. I have no written record of what I ate. I know what I ate. I have it recorded in my memory. I shocked myself. I had never done this before. I was alone in my apartment. It was August 8, 1980. Over the years, I have committed this date to memory.
The date of the beginning of my anorexia is July 1st, 1980. This is well-recorded. It was planned far in advance. Today, I will begin my diet. I will lose…I think I planned to lose less than 10 pounds, certainly no more than 10. I lost about 30. My initial weight was within normal range. Anorexia makes no sense.
I began this entry a number of hours ago and it has taken me a while to write all this. What I realized was that I lived in fear of bingeing long, long before that behavior played itself out that August. I think I lived in fear of the emergence of the child for an entire year…or, say, nine months. This was why I set up the controls in the first place. To rein her in. To keep her locked up.
It is written all over my memoir, if you read into it. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.
In the book, Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester locks up his secret wife, who is mad, in his own home. She ends up burning down that home, and nearly destroying him.
He locked her within himself.
He is bound to her. She is his secret madness, his secret hunger, his secret rage. And he is all about control. He is all about controlling that rage and keeping it secret…from Jane–unknowing, innocence, youth, the future, his new life, purification from the old life, which would be left behind.
Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea is narrated by the child, Bertha. In fact, she was taken as Rochester’s wife at a very young age. She uses fire because it is the only power she has remaining to her.
Suddenly, the Biblical story of Samson comes to mind.
I am wondering, if I can tame the child before she destroys me (my ankle swelling, Dr. K tells me, is not the problem–the swelling is an indication of something inner, and this, she says, is the problem) then maybe I won’t need the controls anymore. Maybe I won’t need to restrict myself to death, keep myself empty, punish myself for fear of getting too satiated, never allow myself a full meal for fear that it will turn into something horrible, never allow myself
never allow myself
never allow myself
My mother uses these three words all the time
Which tells me that all this time, she has been parenting a child far more important to her than any of us three that she raised.
That child in her denied her her menstrual periods for two years when she was a teen.
For two years, she was freed of rags because she denied herself
she is weirdly pure now
it’s very strange
we can’t figure her out.
She was always a little scatterbrained. Distracted maybe.
She is quite deaf now. My brother says she always had a listening problem, anyway.
Maybe she was busy listening to someone or something else. An inner monster, a voice, something she had to hold down
but it never even came close to erupting because it was buried
years years years of cold
she was in the cold and you could only see her arms, flailing around, and hear her sing-song voice
which was supposed to soothe me.
No, Mother, you did not comfort me.
You never held me, never loved me, never nourished me
it’s called Absence of Love
It’s called the Void
I speak from the Void now
I roar from the Void now
I am the daughter that hungers for God
I am the daughter with the churning pain in her side
I am the daughter that cries out for more in the night
I am the daughter that grew to deny herself out of shame
The pain grew and the daughter was proud to endure the pain
I am the daughter that you shamed
You shamed into self-denial
The daughter punished herself for hungering
The daughter denied her own cries until they became the cries of a child, another
The daughter chained the destructive child she saw in herself, locked it up when the destruction became so intolerable that it needed to be hidden completely
It’s not hiding now. Dr. K saw it today. My ankles are huge, huge, huge. She asked me if I wanted to go over to the ER to be admitted again. She heard the hopelessness in my voice. She also reassured me that as soon as I stopped bingeing, the edema would slowly subside. Meanwhile, she is very concerned about my physical health. She asked me to restart my medication at least, before I ended up mentally sick again. I told her I would take it as soon as I got home. I didn’t. I did take a dose tonight, though. I took some vitamins, too. She told me to put my feet up. This will help my ankles get a little less thick, I hope.
That plus I think I’ve stopped bingeing.
I think it’s over.
I think it’s over.
I think it’s over.
The lid is closed for now. You cannot hear her. I cannot hear her. She has left enough mess for me to clean up. The mess gets worse and worse each time. My fear of her–the health risk becomes more and more serious–and my controls…this is scary. But seeing all this, knowing this
After 31 years I am finally realizing what my anorexia is all about
well, that is something indeed.
Saturday, July 23, 2011 #2
I have showered. I notice that the edema is gone. I know this because my socks make very little imprint on my legs. They no longer watch me except when I eat. I have not seen a doctor today. Apparently I am going to be allowed a cup of coffee. That would be nice.
I have anorexia and have experienced edema. Some of the edema came from refeeding. Sometimes, it came from bingeing (I don’t throw up and this is a factor). This time, the edema started last night for no apparent reason, because I have not been refeeding since April 29, and I have not binged. The edema seems to be worsening, again for no reason. My face is puffy and my whole body is swollen. Anyone who is anorexic who has experienced edema is familiar with the horror of this.
At any rate, I’ve just taken off my shoes and socks, and rolled up my “edema pants” (loose clothing that hides swollen legs) to find this:
I see my doctor tomorrow. To tell you the truth, I feel rather crappy.