Thursday, November 8, 2012

ED Reflections, no. 9

Okay, people, I swear we are getting close to the end of this saga. Promise.

But for now, let me talk more about myself:-)

When we left off, I described the intense anger that I experienced after a romantic relationship (with "A-hole") went very bad. It didn't take long before I started exercising more and eating less. A-hole and I broke up at the end of October, and by the time spring rolled around I'd guess that I'd lost about fifteen  to twenty pounds. Part of the weight loss was due to the fact that I'd gotten more involved in cycling. My brothers and father have always been road bikers, and I started tagging along. Cycling gave me an outlet, a place where I could decompress, be outside, and relax--to some degree.

Cycling also, however, gave me something to focus on besides how I was feeling. So instead of working through my feelings of anger and guilt about the failed relationship, I diligently worked to get faster and ride longer and harder. I became machine-like: I'd ride a particular route or climb, and then I'd keep doing it until I got faster.

I also reinvested myself in running. I ran cross country in high school, but it wasn't until around this time that I really started pushing myself. In the beginning I was happy if I ran for forty minutes. In terms of mileage, I'd be satisfied with achieving a new distance goal for awhile, but it was just never enough. Soon enough five miles didn't seem like enough; then seven; then nine. I'd have moments of sanity when I'd argue with myself. It went like this: "Jesus, Nikki. Ten miles a day is a lot of miles. That's enough. That's a serious and great workout." But any satisfaction I had was fleeting, and even ten miles couldn't make me feel "good enough."

Along with my increased activity level I'd also started restricting my eating. At the time I was living with two roommates whom I wasn't close with. This meant that I had some insulation from people who cared enough about me to say something when I ate a 250 calorie frozen meal as my entire dinner. I started cutting out all calories that I deemed extra, including any calories from liquids, including juice and alcohol. I also went from a mostly to an exclusively vegetarian diet, which I now realize was just a way for me to avoid feeling uncomfortable when I didn't want to eat at BBQs, picnics, etc. At a certain point, I started eating (my mini meals) before going to events, and after awhile I just stopped going to a lot of events. I was depressed. I didn't feel like I could eat anything at restaurants, parties, etc. I felt very strongly that I couldn't drink a beer or a glass of wine without "feeling fat" the next day, and feeling thin in the morning became everything to me. I'd go to bed hungry and will myself to go to sleep so that the next morning I could feel noticeably less fat on my hips, my love handles, my stomach.

Another indicator that things weren't well with me? I'd lost my period. And let me tell you, I was f-ing proud of it, too. Finally, this meant that I was "strong" enough and sick enough to lose my period and really count as an anorexic. Ultimately I think I kept trying to make myself sicker because I wanted someone to help me, to force me to let them help me. And yet despite this wish, I kept brushing off my family and friends when they expressed worry for me. When he said I should eat more, I told my brother that I'd start eating more when I stopped feeling so angry.

Eventually, what got me eating more was the fact that I was starving. I'd lost approximately thirty pounds and I was still going strong--making new goals on the scale and still trying to push myself in my workouts. At a certain point, however, my body just needed food, and though I hadn't relapsed into bulimia for a long while, I started bingeing and purging again. This, as you might imagine, was pretty terrifying given how much I'd come to need the gratification of being thin. While throwing up food minimizes the calories you ingest, it doesn't eliminate them all, and thus my worsening binge/purge behaviors had me very, very, anxious.

On the next episode? I'll explain how I was able to take some action and get into therapy.


  1. I really want to know how you managed to drag yourself out of this. It sounds really hard. Please post about that soon!

    1. Yes, ma'am!! I think I'll write a long conclusion post to put up while David and I are in Europe. While you read it you can think about me eating brie on buttered baguettes:-)