She explained that eating disorders are psychiatric conditions, mental illnesses. She used the “A” word. Anorexia.
I thought she was out of her mind…
I am not thin. I’ve never been thin. Certainly never too thin. I feel I need to lose more weight. To get thinner.
She began monitoring me, monthly. By May, overly concerned about my inability to perceive myself realistically and my relentless determination to lose weight, she said this was related to my “mania” ~ my bipolar disorder.
She sent a note to my psychiatrist.
He referred me to an Eating Disorders Clinic…
Last month, my kidney transplant specialist expressed similar concerns. He didn’t want my electrolytes to go out of whack. When I diet, my sodium levels plummet.
When these three doctors, the team that keeps me alive, showed such alarm, I decided to investigate eating disorders myself.
That’s the first story she asked me to write…
At that time, I had no idea where my research would lead me or how hard it would hit – that’s how deep in denial I’ve been. It hit me hard.
I know I have always had problems with food, but I always assumed, mistakenly, that it was my fault, that I lacked the willpower or “won’t power” to control my eating, that I would have to fight this demon all my life. I’m a perfectionist. I hate my body. I hate food. It’s always been a source of guilt, no matter how much or how little I eat or what I eat.
I would love to abstain from eating for the rest of my life…
As a result, if you must know, I would be happy if I never had to eat again. If I could give up food, like I gave up cigarettes, years ago. (Alcohol has never been of interest to me, or any other substance.)
My research took me all over North America and to some of the leading researchers and clinicians in the field of eating disorders, which increasingly involves genetic research. You’re born with a genetic pre-disposition that can be triggered by any number of life transitions and traumas. The latest research focuses on the neurosciences and epigenetics.
I began my research with an enlightening and admittedly disturbing two-hour conversation with Psych Central’s Weightless blogger, Margarita Tartatovsky, who describes herself as having had disordered eating, but not an eating disorder. That was my first revelation. Margarita, a senior editor at Psych Central, is a social worker and researcher in body image, mental health and eating disorders, and her perspectives helped me begin to understand the gravity of eating disorders, the most potentially fatal of all mental illnesses.
When it comes to food, I’m obsessed ~ out of control…
Through the research process, I began to realize that my relationship with food was not only unhealthy, but obsessive. That my lifelong dieting was an addiction and that I needed help. Still, deep down, I was in denial. I didn’t really believe that I had an eating disorder. Nor had I any idea which one it would be: binge-eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia.
My story was published last week.
The week before, I was assessed by a psychologist at an Eating Disorders Clinic. That four-hour assessment was a gruelling experience. She weighed me. She told me not to say the word “diet” while we were walking down the hall. It’s a dirty word, there.
I had to answer questions about traumatic experiences I tend to keep locked away, painful experiences I try not to keep at the forefront of my mind.
My eating pattern is all over the map…
Right now, my eating pattern, if you can call it that, is all over the map. And I’m exercising, too. I don’t think it’s overexercising, but I had no idea that a form of purging is exercise, or overexercise.
I feel better after I’ve exercised hard for 90 minutes – better than at any other time of the day – so I’ve ramped up my program.
Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. I’ll be back at the Eating Disorders Clinic for the final segment of my assessment.
I have already been diagnosed as having EDNOS – Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. I will learn what, if any, treatment is available and if I can, once and for all, come to terms with this.
Right now, I’m trying to help myself. Reading a book that was recommended, The Overcoming Bulimia Workbook.
It’s not easy and I’m scared.
As soon as I know more, you’ll know more.
Thanks for listening.
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Last reviewed: 10 Aug 2011