I’m starting IOP for adults (evening) on Monday, and rather than wax on about how freaked out I am and how I have no idea what I’m doing, I thought it would be far more entertaining to share the top ten things no one tells you about eating disorders. It goes without saying that eating disorders are not restricted to pretty blonde 16 year gymnasts/skaters/loners/whatever that are displayed in the dreaded Afternoon Special or that Very Special Episode of Some Cheesy TV Show (Full House – I’m looking at you). I’m a 40+ year old mom of two with a very successful career, and I have zero control over my ED.
That said, no one ever told me in those Very Special Episodes or the Lifetime movies about shrinkage. Oh, I know of the shrinkage men experience when swimming (how efficient!) but I never thought it could happen to me. When I first started restricting, and I’m not sure quite when that was, I just “trimmed” here and there. I rarely skipped meals, and still ate probably about 1400-1500 calories a day. Then I went on vacation, gained 2, and in my disordered mind, got dangerously close to a “bad” number. I tried to fight it, but soon I was “trimming” more. A little less meat, a little more veggies. Snacks of Wasa bread and Laughing Cow cheese rather than a Starbucks chocolate croissant (one of my more favorite indulgences). But of course, Ed was very pleased with this and started to trim back more… weighing and measuring food, returning to MyFavoritePal to track everything I ate, getting angry at myself when I ate more than 1000 calories a day even though that’s entirely reasonable. I lost the two pounds, and several more, and now I actually think I don’t look good. I look gaunt. I love the number on the scale, but not the picture in the mirror.
I didn’t realize that not only would I NOT want to eat, I’d be unable to. The thought of eating often makes me nauseous. Gone are the days where I’d get a high from not eating. Now when I eat I can barely finish my meager servings. My stomach has shrunk. It didn’t take long – just a few things from my old bag ‘o tricks (thanks Weight Watchers!) but now I can’t stop it. Last night, I was busy with the whole afterwork/afterschool/homework/dinner craziness and DH had an event for work. By the time I made frozen pizza for the kids, studied the American Revolution, sat in on an EDA call, quizzed vocab words, reviewed math and religion worksheets, and changed out of my suit, it was bedtime and 9p. And I hadn’t eaten since noon.
Truth be told I wasn’t hungry. At all. I knew I had to eat, so I made my famous cottage cheese pancakes with chocolate chips – basically a protein boost with a blast of dark chocolate. And as I was cutting my food into tiny pieces and sipping my water in between, I had to stop because I couldn’t eat any more. I knew if I did, I’d need to purge, and I’m really trying hard not to do that.
It’s a physical phenomenon, but an emotional one too. It was an exhausting day, and my body just shuts down. Wannarorexics probably think that’s awesome, but it’s not. I’m smart enough to know that when my body doesn’t have food, it goes after muscle. Heart muscle, leg muscle, it doesn’t care. I like to run. I like to have a strong heart. I like my brain and my high IQ. But when I don’t eat, that disappears. Not only do I not want to eat, the more I do it…. shrinkage. I can’t eat. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.