This is Aly. She’s a dear friend of mine. I met her at school and I’ve known her since I started out there but we didn’t get close till midway through my second semester. She’s a great many things: a kickass feminist, LGBT ally, politically liberal, atheist, animal lover (with cats, dogs, lizards, turtles and birds as pets at home), a great student, an active gamer and a science geek. But since before college, she’s struggled with anorexia starting the beginning of the previous academic year (2012-2013) she’s become very outspoken about her struggles. She is still fighting her demons but I believe she’s been doing better. I regret, however, that I have not been much but a bystander in her struggles – because our academic interests do not intersect and we barely get to meet up in person. But she has a supportive network of friends and I’m happy for her.
Recently, since I’ve also started to open up more about my own struggles with mental illness, I thought I’d open up my readers to more material. Aly has been posting about her struggles on social media, Facebook, and her manner of speech is very much in line with what I write and how I write on my blog. So I requested if I may feature her on my blog. I have browsed through her Facebook timeline and picked out relevant status updates, and there happens to be a large volume of them. So here are Aly’s struggles with anorexia, in her own words and in chronological order, from the summer of 2013 ~
NOTE: “ED” refers to eating disorder. Most posts are on Central Time Zone but there are some that are in Eastern Standard Time, but that’s nothing important.
[Wednesday, 15 May 2013 at 18:53]
Things Not To Say To Your Anorexic Daughter: “Wait, so you want the straight Coke? Not the Diet Coke?”
[Friday, 28 June 2013 at 15:09]
“I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.”
[Monday, 1 July 2013 at 18:08]
Here I was hoping that come summer, I could be warmer– winter, spring, fall I felt unbearably cold, but maybe I’d be able to finally be a comfortable.
And here I sit wearing sweatpants over my short shorts and socks under my sandals while huddling in my jacket.
[Friday, 5 July 2013 at 15:23]
“In essence, anorexia does the same thing to a woman as the photoshopped picture above – it removes the womanhood from the female, and creates a little girl. It removes any purposefulness, other than to be looked at through (or consumed by) the male gaze.”
Way to go, body acceptance blogs. Tell girls/women with a serious mental/physical disorder and self-image/acceptance issues that they aren’t women and they have no purpose and are only good as eye candy. That sounds helpful. I’m sure those women now feel so much more acceptance towards themselves and their bodies. /s
[Monday, 8 July 2013 at 17:51]
“Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.
Illness Prevalence NIH Research Funds
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 million $450,000,000
Autism 3.6 million $160,000,000
Schizophrenia 3.4 million $276,000,000
Eating disorders 30 million $28,000,000
Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)”
[Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 23:30]
Randomly craving popcorn shrimp and cheesy noodles at 11 pm after telling yourself you can survive for days on just SoBe LifeWater and Flintstones vitamins isn’t normal. On a metabolism ruined by anorexia it is.
[Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 21:56]
I’ve been in Buffalo for 24 hours now. I’ve been out of my house for a whole day.
I feel relaxed. I’m still sleeping in a basement, but now I’m not afraid to venture out and get food. I’m still afraid of eating the food, but I’m not afraid to go upstairs anymore.
[Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 13:39]
Sir-Mix-a-Lot is drunk. I was curious so I measured my bust, waist, and torso.
I’m 36-24.5-36, and 5’3″.
Really? I’m the “ideal” woman? Low standards, bro.
[Friday, 19 July 2013 at 23:55]
Secretly (ok, maybe not too secretly), I think I’m not skinny enough or sick enough for people to believe me when I say that I have an eating disorder. Then I have to wonder, how skinny/sick do I need to be in order to think people will believe me? Is 100 lbs too heavy? What about 95? Maybe 85, just to be sure?
And then I realize. For me and my brain? Never. I will never be skinny enough, and I don’t mean that in the sense of “not skinny enough to be attractive.” I mean it in the sense of “not skinny enough for anybody to care.”
I guess this is a status to all the people who support me. All the people who love me, and want to help me through this. Thanks, guys. Sometimes my brain tries to tell me I’m alone and that nobody’d miss me if I continued down this path of torturing myself and essentially attempting a slow-mo suicide. But my mind knows deep down that’s not true. So, truly, thank you, to everyone who’s been with me, and to anyone who’s ever done their damnedest to make sure people know they’re not alone.
[Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 20:22]
What ED sufferers wished others knew about EDs — survey results.
[Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 15:13]
When someone buys you a giant red velvet cupcake from the fair to thank you for working on their farm, you can’t really say no to that, right? But now I can’t eat it because she’s also the world’s nicest lady and has bought me breakfast two days in a row (which I accepted because she means them (or at least I interpret them) as gifts) and a breakfast biscuit, a giant cupcake, and dinner adds up to way too much food for my brain to handle, and eating more than a couple mouthfuls in a short (2-3 hour) period makes me nauseated and gives me a terrible stomach ache.
What do? On one hand, OMG GIANT CUPCAKE. On the other, all of those ED-related thoughts I’m supposed to be fighting and ignoring.
I’m actually being killed with kindness.
[Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 20:33]
An eating disorder is like a stray dog that follows you home from school.
When you first meet the dog, he seems friendly and safe. He just sort of follows you around innocently and enjoys the attention you give him. Weeks go by, maybe months, where this dog follows you and you’re sure that this dog is the best dog in the world. He makes you feel better on bad days, and still keeps you company on good days. You think nothing could go wrong.
Soon enough, you let the dog into your house. You invite him into your living space and let him sleep in your room. At first, the dog just pees on the floor. Frustrating, but no big deal. It happens. You can clean it up. Soon enough, your friends don’t want to come visit you anymore, because your dog is peeing on the furniture, too. That’s not fair, you think. He’s just a dog! You feel hurt by your friends. Why can’t they just accept your dog? Your dog senses this resentment, and whenever he sees your friends, he turns vicious. He barks and growls and chases them out the door. Serves them right, for trying to take your dog away from you.
Thanks to your vicious, peeing dog, your friends stop visiting. You have to quit work. Your house becomes a mess. People keep urging you to get rid of your dog. They say the dog is bad, and is making your life hell. But no! He’s your dog! You can’t just get rid of him! But this dog and his peeing is becoming a health hazard. You can no longer keep up with his messes, and so you start to let some of them sit. The dog starts snarling at and biting you, too.
Eventually, you realize what’s happening. You start to see that this dog isn’t your friend. This dog is a problem. You start to see that he’s not just peeing on your furniture and floors, but he’s also peeing on your goals and your dreams and your health and your relationships. He’s vicious, biting and snarling whenever he feels he needs to protect himself or even just because he can. This dog that once seemed so harmless has actually destroyed your life while you were so busy defending it. Now you feel shameful. How could you let this happen? How could you be so blind and stupid? How could you let it get this bad? Your poor friends. But you feel you have no friends. Your dog made sure of that. So, maybe you should just keep the dog anyway, since he’s your only company. You feel shameful and isolated for months, or years, or decades.
One day, you decide you’ve finally had enough. You decide you need to get your friends back, your life back, your dreams back. You kick the dog out, throw him back on the street. Now you start to piece your life back together. You have to apologize to your friends, and explain your dog’s behavior to them, and hope they understand. You have to start cleaning all the pee off of your life. Put some elbow grease into it. No, you missed a spot over there. That’s better. Every now and again, the dog shows up at your door. Sometimes, you let him back in, because your life is still in pieces and you think you need his company to make it better. Soon enough you’ll realize (again) that he’s the reason your life is in pieces, and you’ll kick him out again. Don’t feel bad that you accidentally (or intentionally) let him back in. He’s deceptive, with that sad look in his eyes that makes you think he’s friendly. If he wasn’t deceptive, nobody’d let him into their house to begin with. It’s not your fault if you get tricked again, and it’s not the end of the world. You’ll figure it out again.
Soon enough, you’ll get your life cleaned up. Your friends will visit you again, and your dreams are no longer covered in pee. Sometimes, you’ll still see the dog on your walks home, and sometimes he’ll look at you with his sad eyes, but at some point, you’ll be wise enough to know that he’s trying to fool you, and you’ll be strong enough to just walk past him.
[Friday, 26 July 2013 at 10:17]
So, out of curiosity, I entered all of my eating disorder symptoms into WebMD to see what it would say– like maybe my symptoms mimic some weird disease. Muscle cramps, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, weight loss, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, trouble putting on weight, always feel dehydrated and hungry, shakiness, chills, susceptibility to cold– basically everything one would expect from a massive calorie deficit.
WebMD suggested my problem is that I don’t exercise enough.
[Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 22:57]
The past few weeks have basically been ED hell. Obsessively counting calories/fat/carbs, weighing myself every time I got near the bathroom, restricting myself to a single serving of anything I happened to eat, promising to burn off whatever I ate by doing extra work at the stable…
But today was good. Today, I did good. I didn’t count calories once. I only weighed myself once, as opposed to 15 or 20 times. I dunno why today was better, but I’m proud of myself that it was.
[Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 21:08]
I’m trying this new strategy to beat my eating disorder. I’m ignoring my hunger cues from my stomach. I’ve realized that at this point, my stomach is warped and shrunken and not functioning properly. I’ve also become very good at unconsciously tuning out hunger pangs. So, even when actively trying to eat when hungry, I wasn’t getting anywhere. I’d go a day or more without eating, only to wake up and eat a giant cupcake or a bowl of popcorn shrimp in the middle of the night.
I realized that before I started restricting my food, I was far from overweight, and all I was relying on then was cravings. I would eat whatever my taste buds were in the mood for. And then it hit me. Taste buds are resilient when it comes to caloric/nutritional deprivation. My taste buds are still working fine. I certainly still get cravings for cookies, pasta, hamburgers, salad, chili, etc. So instead of eating when hungry, I’m eating when craving. I’m trying to completely ignore that food exists for any purpose other than tasting delicious. If all I do is listen to my taste buds, I can’t get any heavier than I was before, right?
Well, it’s working! I haven’t stepped on a scale (other than at the doctor’s today) since Sunday! I haven’t counted calories since Sunday– though that statistic is still sketchy, because at this point I have calorie and macronutrient values of a lot of things memorized. But I’m not keeping track of them anyway! I haven’t looked at a nutrition facts label since then either.
The downside to this is that it means I was driving in my car eating a bacon, egg, and cheese hot pocket this morning when a guy in a radio commercial came on, blurting out how people can lose weight by cutting calories and avoiding these certain foods. I proceeded to slam the “off” button, and scream really loudly (with a full mouth, no less) “THAT’S NOT WHAT FOOD IS FOR, YOU JACK ASS!” while at a stop light with the windows rolled all the way down, next to an old lady pedestrian.
[Friday, 2 August 2013 at 21:02]
In the ice cream aisle:
“What do you mean ‘they’re out of Phish Food?’ NOW what the hell am I supposed to eat?”
[Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 22:42]
1. Stuff an extra super jumbo sized strawberry in your mouth.
2. Fill all remaining space in your mouth with chocolate chips.
4. Feel no shame.