Bad Day Conversation

Welp…

Inner Voice: Thought it would be so easy, didn’t ya?! Thought you could just NOT do something. Sounds like the same person who though “Oh, I’ll just NOT eat so much” or “Oh, I’ll just NOT be sad anymore.”

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Inner Voice: Wait, do you not feel bad about yourself? Didn’t you have more than one bowl of cereal this morning? Didn’t you eat two servings of cookies AND PEANUT BUTTER last night? Didn’t you not go to the gym this morning? Don’t you feel disgusting? Don’t you hate yourself?

Me: I mean… no. Everything you said was true. I don’t feel great about eating more than I needed last night, but it happens, and I haven’t been eating quite enough while A’s gone anyway. And cereal schmereal. I’ll get over it. I’m not going to let you make me feel shitty about myself when I’m doing well. I’m not going to let you take my successes away from me. So please, if you wouldn’t mind, just shut up.

Inner Voice: Hey, no! I have a lot of things to say! I love to talk to you! I keep you busy!

Me: I mean, yeah, but it’s tiring so stop.

Inner Voice: Fuck you.

Me: Fuck you too. And checking her Facebook once a day is already an improvement. See ya later, asshole!

Treatment Options for Binge Eating Disorder

This is amazing. I 100% support everything written here, and I have used many of these tools in my (pretty much complete? Eek!) recovery.

Dear Bee

Question from a lovely reader this morning: 

I was wondering what the treatment options are for Binge Eating Disorder. Obviously there are different severities of the disorder and different treatments needed for different people on a case-by-case basis, but I was wondering if maybe you could summarize some of the options out there for some of us.

Basically what I’m saying is, I have Binge Eating Disorder, and it is currently running and ruining my life. I really really need help but I want to know what I’m in for. Is inpatient a thing that happens with BED, ever? Is it usually therapy? What goes on for a typical patient, what is considered “severe,” etc…. I don’t know if there’s one good question in there to answer, but I’m really hoping you might have a bit of input, given that you are a) in recovery and b) on your way…

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Accountability

Honesty. I binged tonight. I never really binge anymore, but when A goes away to Army, it happens. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. So here I am, taking control of what happened, and owning it for all of you. (I’m gonna get real with everything I ate today, with est. calories, so please don’t read if you don’t want to)

Breakfast:  2.5 bowls Barbara’s Shredded Cereal with lowfat milk (470)

Lunch: 2 eggs w/ cheese (200), kale and spinach (50), pretzels and hummus (250)

Dinner: Chips, cheese, salsa, spinach (250), Apple and PB (300)

Binge: Back to Nature mint cookies (680), ice cream (250), PB (200), choc syrup (200)

That is a total today of: 2600.

Worse has happened. Worse has certainly happened. But I’m disappointed. And I’m here, accountable.

Thanks for being out there, somewhere, knowing I’m okay, and knowing I’m honest.

Hot Air and Cold Air

Days have been long lately.

The weather is volatile– the sky’s the pent-up energy and rage blackens bright summer mornings and spits angry showers onto sticky sidewalks. We become a people of preparation, carrying sunglasses alongside our umbrellas, flip flops wrapped in raincoats and stuffed into backpacks.

Evenings we blast the A/C, attempting to cut through the moist air that hangs damp and still throughout our three rooms. The apartment has been sitting, shut up tight all day long, and the air seems to fester and sweat like we do on the sidewalks. We haven’t topped 85 degrees in a week or so, but the air is still pregnant with moisture, and even in the mildest temperatures, feels thick and unbearable.

It feels as though my body has sucked that moisture right out of the air, swelling my fingers and stomach and arms. I feel bloated and full, and whatever my body has absorbed sits, just like the air in my apartment, heavy and full and completely stagnant. I stumble through my days, out of bed covered in sweat, alternating between blasting my wet hair with the hot air from the dryer and standing, arms out, in front of the air conditioner. I while away the dark hours, when the sky clouds up, in the office alone, waiting for my boss to arrive. He often doesn’t. I stagnate with the air, sitting invisibly behind the desk, dimly lit by the lamp and the computer screen. Event to event, many events lately, hair sticking to the back of my neck, face shining with the pinpricks of sweat at my temples. Self-consciously flipping it from side to side, lifting it restlessly from my shoulder and shaking it, as if to somehow get the air around me moving. The nervous wipe under the eyes, persistently, if not successfully, attempting to staunch my eyeliner’s endless pull from its place on my lids to the caverns under my eyes.

The thickness of the air seems to separate us, somehow, as though we’re all moving on our own lily pads in the great swamp of the city, bumping each other perhaps, but not overlapping. It seems to take hours for a sentence to pass from someone’s lips to my ear, and another eternity to be processed by my brain. Everything appears warped, like wood panels left out in the rain. Sound, sights, thoughts– all bend their way from place to place, never quite arriving at their destination fully formed. Nothing feels sharp.

I long for that sharpness, in a way. The sharpness of hunger, perhaps. Also the sharpness of the burn in my ears and nose and fingers when I stumble into my apartment from the snow-whipped streets of the city. Clarity.

Summer, for me, inherently lacks sharpness. I plod. My mouth hangs lazily open and touch feels heavy and unwanted. I imagine scraping myself, inside and out, of the heavy air that inflates every cell. I slough it off with the metal scraper my mother had in her kitchen, which we used for Play-Doh creations. I finish off with a rough scrup from a loofah, dry and slightly painful. I radiate, red with irritation, but feeling present and alive. The fantasy ends when I inevitably imagine myself filling back up, skin and organs and fluids regenerating, sucking the water that hangs plentifully in the summer air.

So I plod on, sunny mornings through stormy afternoons through muggy nights. I continue to bloat, full of moisture and hot, wet air. I keep moving, and I hope that eventually I’ll pick up enough speed to blast through, cold and sharp, like the air from the city pumped through our old A/C, reappearing in the kitchen with fresh, clean life.

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Don’t Mean to Disturb

But what I really need is for some of you virtual friends to tell me I’m not crazy. To tell me I’m not insane for thinking I’m fat and worthless. To tell me I’m not looney tunes for second guessing my every move. To tell me that fucking up is an everyday thing. To reassure me that the shape/size/weight I am does not determine my abilities…. although I may not ever believe that.

Please? Can you do that for me?

Pins and Needles

My last post didn’t post… grrr WordPress. This has happened before and it’s the most annoying.

So. I’m back in the city till Thursday afternoon, when we reconvene in NJ to continue the run of the show. Opening night was last Saturday (all of this was in my last post, blerg), and it was great. The development producers loved it, the subscribers loved it, the casting director who gave me her card (!) loved it… All is well. It’s weird not doing the show at the moment, but it’s okay to be back in the city.

I can’t stop binging, though. Part of it is definitely that I’m on my period, but I have just been eating too, too, too much. It’s not crazy, out of control binging to death levels, but I am eating everything in the house. I only needed to supply myself enough food for a few days, but each day, I’ve eaten all of it. What the fuck? Part of the problem is that I’m way too focused on my weight right now. I need to calm the fuck down. Easier said than done, obviously.

Went to the doc on Monday and she told me flat-out what my BMI was and that it was “perfect.” Which truly did make me feel good… but also not good enough. I really enjoyed being called “healthy” by this doctor, but it didn’t change my currently obsessive desire to lose about 15 pounds. And like THAT is gonna happen anytime soon. Shit.

Anyway, many critics have come to the show so far, but we’ve only gotten one review, from the NJ Star-Ledger. The New York Times came on Sunday, so I am literally googling my name every hour like an asshole just WAITING for it to show. For some reason I’m not nervous… (I don’t think I’d be singled out as bad)… I just want to SEE it.

The first review, though, was a rave. And in particular about my performance.

“And [my character] is marvelously portrayed by B. She can give a sharp retort when it’s called for, but she’d just as soon be nice to everyone. To watch B try to maintain her composure when events conspire against [my character] makes for a heartbreaking performance.

[Director], [Playwright] and all the characters make clear how much they admire [my character]. So will many who make their way to [the show].”

So THAT feels good.

Hold onto that, B, hold onto that.

you are enough.

Form and Shape

Just a warning… this isn’t a positive message about my body. Don’t read it if you don’t want. Just FYI.

I miss the way my stomach felt taut under my hands when I ran them up lightly across the skin. It felt pure and simple, just the necessities. None of the soft fleshiness I feel now, the rounded corners and the creases and curves. It sounds so stupid, so cliché, so ED, but there was something so very comforting about being pared down to the essence of a body shape, skin and muscle over bone. Now I feel this extra, this unnecessary, these parts that move and shift and don’t cling tight and taut.

Sometimes when I run my hands over my stomach now and there is much to grab and ply. I wrap my legs around each other and soft, plush parts press and rub, expand and spread. I miss the way my body seemed and felt aerodynamic, how every movement felt defined and clean. Now I wobble, I rub, parts bounce and  flop.

There is no way to get back to there in the way I want it to. My brain flies to that summer away, the way those round parts melted slowly into a person-shaped person. But I can’t go back to that, and I shouldn’t go back to that. Aching for it breaks my heart, and just makes each moment worse. I am trying to love myself, trying to allow the shifts in shape and the roundness in my flesh, but I yearn for that lithe body. I yearn for that feeling of purity, self-sufficiency, solidity. There was something about feeling like that, looking like that, that let me off the hook. No one thought “oh, she should be thinner to fit her type,” “why is she eating all that?” or “that girl is not thin.” I could eat, and be, and cut myself some slack because I was in a perfect form—no excess, no mistakes.

Now, I feel like every failing, every error, every slight, every part I don’t get, every calorie I put into my mouth, every bad feeling that washes over me is digested and sticks, gummy, to my thighs, to my stomach, to my arms, my hips. I am covered in the thick, viscous fat of sadness, of self-hatred, of loneliness, of anger. I want to shave it off, even if it’s bloody and foul, and strip myself of those feelings that feed on me and grow fat and full of fluid.

It’s not what I should want, it’s not what I want to want, but I do. I want to be a body without extra, without bits that bulge out, the fat that drips with “I am flawed and imperfect and unrestrained and emotional.” I want a body that  is nothing more than the physical pieces it takes to stand, to move, to sleep.

One year ago today…

One year ago today, I took the MetroNorth to the Bronx with my parents, a black polyester robe folded and stuffed into my leather shoulder bag. I processed across thick rubber mats in my espadrilles with my peers around me, our flat caps absorbing the straight, bright rays of early summer sun. We grinned at each other, robes unzipped and slipping down our shoulders, backs stuck to the folding chairs with perspiration.

One year ago today, I processed with the faculty to a seat on the stage with my name taped on it. I stood in front of my graduating class at the podium and spoke of the promise of our lives. “Genesis says that all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their lives– they are to create of it a work of art, a masterpiece. We are all artists in that way.”

Today, I had my first official day of rehearsal. I suffered through the soggy, raining morning to a small theatre on the UWS, where I quickly met the SM and the costume designer, and said friendly hellos to the cast. We started at 10am with contract-signing with the artistic director of the theatre. I watched quietly as the rest of the cast got their Equity forms and riders, and I had a simple white paper contract in three copies. Soon that will be me, I thought. Patience.

Last night, I dreamed I was crying. Sobbing thick, heavy tears, wheezing for air. It had to do with graduation, but I don’t know if it was mine or the one that just happened for my friends this last Saturday. It didn’t really matter… I was mourning a loss.

I am doing well. Sometimes I have to stop and actively look back to where I was one year ago, restless and scared and out of control and ten pounds heavier than now. I can remember how much I hated my job at the sports bar, the weekend I dog-sat and broke down into the worst depression I’d had in months, my inability to come into rehearsal feeling “together,” my exhaustion. And I can see that I am doing well now.

But today I got my period, and tonight I binged worse than I have in months. My cat is irritated with me because I can’t get it together, and I’m irritated with me because I want to wake up and I want everything to be fixed and better.

Life doesn’t work like that.

It was three years ago that my life swerved into the groove I’m in now. I’ve struggled my whole life with faulty brain chemistry, but that was the most recent iteration of it. It doesn’t feel fair that I’m still fighting every single day. I struggle to accept the daily struggle, to feel hopeful for tomorrow when pounds of food I had hoped to savor are sitting, hot and bloated, in my belly.

One year ago today, I said goodbye to twenty-two years of structured education, to grades and dorms and class times. I spoke to my class about creation and exploration, but inside I was terrified of what my life might be. Unfettered, ungrounded, alone– how could I survive?

But today I held my own in a 7hr rehearsal with strangers who were older than me. I curled my hair in the morning but wasn’t freaked out when it frizzed all up by the time I got to the theatre. I let the director focus his critique on me for most of the day, let the words flow in and over and out and not hurt me just because they were about me. I had my costume fitting and didn’t feel shy and self-conscious, and I felt as though I belonged in a professional rehearsal room as a lead in a world premiere.

It’s a day by day thing, and nothing ever moves as quickly as I wish it would, but when I stop and line them up side by side…

I have come so very far in one short year.

Massacre (Sing to Your Children)

Tonight I saw Jose Rivera’s new play at the Rattlestick, Massacre (Sing to Your Children). I didn’t love the play, but I absolutely respect it, and it was extra awesome because Jose Rivera was actually in the show tonight– one of the actors was out, he was around, so he decided to do it. It was pretty amazing to see someone onstage in his own play whose work I’ve read over and over in Theatre History courses.

The play begins with 7 people running into what looks like a horror movie torture chamber, covered in blood in crazy masks, carrying machetes and knives. Over the course of the first act, we learn that they have just slaughtered “Joe,” a man who seems to have taken tyrannical, bloody rule over their New Hampshire town. At the very last moment of the act, we hear three knocks on the door– Is Joe alive?!

Act II begins with the 7 actors in the same shocked position as the first ended, but now with a small man in a white suit with a red poppy on his lapel– Joe. He doesn’t really exist… yet they all can hear him… Whatever, that’s not the point.

The point is that in this second act, Joe goes one by one to each person, grilling them and exposing their deepest secrets (real or false, it doesn’t even really matter)– one man possibly raped a woman years ago in Chicago, a woman and her mother both slept with Joe, etc.

It got me thinking, though. If that happened to me, what secrets would Joe reveal about me? I tend to feel I’m pretty open on the blog– maybe not in real life but better than some. Yet at the same time, I had a pretty strong reaction of fear just thinking about what a revelation of my deep, dark secrets would mean. But what would they even be?

I still binge all the time and my binges have included boxes of donuts, entire loaves of bread and tubs of hummus? That I masturbate, and have since I was very young? That I haven’t had sex in over a year? That I’m spoiled and privileged and expect a lot from my parents, including financial support? That I wish my sister loved me, but I’m insanely jealous of her and her boyfriend especially?

Honestly, none of these things would ruin my relationships with people, I don’t think. None of these would honestly even shock my friends, probably. So why does the idea of exposed “secrets” cause this knee jerk reaction?

I’m sure it all ties back to shame, that lovely little thing my therapist and I are all about. I feel shame about pretty much everything I do, and it’s not till I completely stop, slow down, and track the reality of a situation that I can convince myself there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Joe couldn’t actually destroy my life with my secrets.
But it does feel like he could.

B.

 

ABC ED

How old are you?

22, but I turn 23 in exactly one week. Hooray?

What is your gender?

Female.

Do you consider it possible to recover completely from an eating disorder?

Hmm. I do think it’s possible to recover in terms of symptoms– ie. not starve, not binge, not purge, normalize eating patterns. However, my experience of my ED, at least so far, is that it has changed me. I believe my ED is a symptom of my depression, and now that I’ve used this symptom to control my emotions, it will always be a tool available to me, just like self-harming, just like all these other protective measures I use to regulate myself. I don’t think I, or anyone really, can go back to exactly the way they were pre-ED.

Do you consider media (magazines, television, etc) to encourage and contribute to the spread of eating disorders?

This is a complicated question. The media does not cause EDs,no. Have I found it hard to manage gaining weight and maintaining self-confidence and integrity during recovery in a world (and a profession) where size is key? YES. It’s as though an extra layer is put on the process of recovery. I needed to weigh more than I ever had in order to get my body back into functioning mode, but it was nearly impossible to separate my pride of being where I needed to be to be healthy from the self-hatred for being above a “perfect” weight. In other words, it just worsens things, I think.

What do you think is the primary cause of an ED? If you believe that different disorders manifest differently, please specify.

To be honest, I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s the case for many of us. I believe that my ED was a manifestation of other psychological disorders in my history– bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD. It was a new method for me to self-regulate. Personally, it had NOTHING to do with how I looked or the desire to be “perfect” or “remain a child” or those other things people tell you cause EDs. I think each person is different, but like other forms of self-harm, it’s a way to keep scary emotions at bay.

Would you classify yourself as currently suffering from an eating disorder?

I tend to say I’m in recovery, or I’m recovering. That word is meaningless by itself, but to me, it means that I have all the tools in place to move forward– but it means nothing about my “success” in “beating” an ED. I still fuck up, constantly, but I feel my brain and my intentions are in the place where I am slowly, but surely, moving towards health.

Have you ever been in therapy? If so,when?

I saw a therapist as a kid, from around 8 years old to 13ish. I took a long hiatus, when I was doing “well” and my mother crowed on about how I was “fixed.” Obviously, that’s not the way it works, so I started seeing a therapist again in fall of 2009 (funnily enough, I entered into therapy, without meaning to, right in the middle of developing the restriction portion of my eating disorder. In June I called her and told her I wanted to meet, July/August was the first stages of my ED, and then I met her for the first time in Sep. Classic.)

For how long have you suffered from an eating disorder?

Summer of 2009 is when it started, so going on 3 years now. Jesus.

How would you describe your experience with therapy, if applicable?

I couldn’t really tell you what it did when I was a kid, but now I have such a strong relationship with my therapist I think it does a lot. She’s the one person on the planet who I can tell literally anything to with no repercussions. She’s also given me an entirely new language of talking about and processing my feelings. I think our work together has literally changed ways that I think. It’s a great gift.

Do you consider yourself a happy person?

Yes. However, I’m also one of the saddest people I know. Basically, I’m chemically imbalanced in every sense of the word. But I do go through my life with great wonder and joy. (my laugh/cry is legendary)

Do you share the nature of your disorder with anyone in your personal life? If so, describe this relationship.

I sent an email to about 8 of my closest friends during the deepest part of my ED, letting them know that I was struggling and working to recover. I have never talked directly to my parents about it. In the last year, I have talked about my ED (usually just the restriction part– I still find binging to be waaaaay too shameful to discuss with even my therapist) directly with two or so friends. I do not share gory details with anyone except on the internet.

Do you actively hide your disorder from anyone in your personal life? If so, please elaborate.

Not really. I don’t talk about it, never let on if I’ve binged. Sometimes I’ll say “I’m having a rough day,” if the ED has disrupted me in an extreme way. It’s not necessarily that I hide, more that I don’t volunteer information.

Are you a competitive person?

I kind of think I am. I’m not into sports or anything, but I do like to keep one step ahead of the pack. I think it’s tied to my perfectionism and my deep desire to keep everything under control.

Do you believe that you will ever overcome your ED?

Yes? I mean, it’s already been over two years I’ve been actively recovering and I still trip up all the freaking time. I hope someday I have more good days then bad, but to be honest, the recovery process has been even longer and more fraught then I ever thought it would be. If I every do “overcome” my ED, I imagine it’ll be 10+ years from now.

jesus, that’s depressing.