Obviously I’m doing a bit of a project. I’m trying to do more journaling, and while this is sort of silly and surface, it’s a step. You can join me by finding these fill-in journal pages here: http://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html
How old are you?
22, but I turn 23 in exactly one week. Hooray?
What is your gender?
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.
I’m Idahome, and it’s nice. Weather’s fairly crummy, and my dad’s at work all day, but it’s been lovely to lounge on the couch with a book, watch a movie on an actual TV screen, and move from room to room just because I feel like it. I brought Franny, too, which is a nice distraction. Gives my family something to focus on besides each other and our “issues.”
And, yes, it’s official day two (three including travel day), but I’ve been amazingly good in terms of food. Not even an urge to binge yet, which is miraculous. And yet. Because I simply cannot be a normal human with any kind of balance, suddenly I’m freaking out.
Last night, after brushing my teeth and heading for bed, I felt a little hungry and figured I’d have a half a cookie from downstairs. In trying to be quiet, I just took a whole small baggie of milanos (like a ziploc snack bag). And I proceeded to eat all the cookies in the bag. And you know what? Fuck it. It’s okay. I didn’t binge all day and I should just get back on the horse tomorrow and everything is fine. It’s been SO MUCH WORSE.
Holy shit. Oh my god. I just ruined my entire day of eating well. Fuck. Get your mom’s password to her gym tomorrow. Don’t eat breakfast. They’re going to notice the cookies are gone and you’ll look like even more of a fat ass. You have ruined your entire vacation. When I woke up in the morning, I googled various exercise places in the city (even though I already have a gym and it’s fine). Gotta lose that extra paunch before Jersey. You can’t control your food at home– mom makes it and you have NEVER restricted mom’s food.
It’s vacation. Don’t go to the gym. You want to, but I have a feeling it might just make you feel worse. It’s playing into crazy brain. Make crazy brain go to the gym and leave you alone. Have a normal, healthy breakfast. Put on your comfy Gap shirt and brush your hair. Take Franny outside. Don’t think about “paunch.”
In other words… the second I stop binging, my brain turns into a restrictive monster. I LOVE EATING DISORDERS!
So I didn’t go to the gym. And I’m still freaking the fuck out about my body and how I don’t control what my mom puts in the food and how there’s dessert and wine, but I’m trying to sedate the crazy brain by saying: it’s a week. You rule the roost 2 out of 3 meals and you are not spending a cent on anything and you’re getting a massage today and you’re not going to get uncast because you weigh the same amount you weighed when you auditioned.
Let’s see how this goes.
“Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you’re offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone’s feelings”
― David Sedaris
So far, so good.
I went to the gym this morning, my favorite class. It’s taught by this big black man named Paul, who is hilarious and warm. The usual folks at this class could be translated into a sitcom– there’s Erica, the buff white girl who dates black men, whose favorite song is “Golddigger.” There’s Hoodie Ray, buff and big, who wears hoodies and pounds some serious dumbells, silent as the day he was born. There’s Yulie from the Bronx, and Little One from Queens. There are the Jens, Jen 1 and 2, a white couple, mid-twenties, who often come to class together. There’s Cathy the Asian woman from down the block, and Big Nick, tall and gay. And I’m my own character too now, cute and silly, high voiced and enthusiastic. We play “Name that Tune” with old school beats, we answer themed questions like “What was your worst date” and then do 25 thrusters. It makes it worth it.
But I felt pretty shitty today. I saw myself in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. I saw a blob of white flesh, a non-descript face, puffy and pink. I saw thick thighs, emphasized by the clinging of my yoga pants. I saw an ass that blended into these thighs, plushy and fat. I saw thick, undefined arms, blurring into the white wall. I hated myself. It was unpleasant. And made me just want to be better, instantly, be perfect, with the snap of my fingers, never eat again.
Of course, that’s not the answer, and for better or for worse (for BETTER, B, it’s for BETTER), I can’t starve myself life I used to. I can’t feel hunger and not feed myself. I know that’s a really positive step. I do. But at the same time, I wish that I could do what I used to do without thinking, cutting my meals down into snack portions, a tiny portion of cereal for breakfast, plain yogurt with a third of an apple, a small bowl of salad with a splash of balsamic for lunch, a quarter serving of couscous with sauteed veggies and one tenth of a block of tofu for dinner. Tea. Water. Probably around 800 calories or less per day. It felt normal, but it wasn’t normal.
I can’t eat like that anymore. Over the last two years, my nutritionist rewove the fabric of my brain about food– noticing what’s too little, despite any ED logic to the contrary (“but I ate too much last night!” “but I just wasn’t hungry!”). And I know that eating too little just leads to eating too much. These things I KNOW.
But just because those are the facts doesn’t mean that I spend significant portions of my lifewishingbeyond belief that it were otherwise.
Wishing that I didn’t binge.
Wishing that I could “diet.”
Wishing I could stick to a firm food plan.
Wishing I could control the feeling of hunger and the feeling of fullness.
Wishing I could slice off the excess on my body and make myself lean, clean, just the core of me.
But I can’t. I can’t do it. I have to just go day by day. I have to let myself hate myself and then move on, because life doesn’t change in a day. I have to take each meal as a new challenge– a challenge I sometimes fail. I have to honor my hunger because I cannot control it. I have to find a way to love myself so that I have the strength to walk outside at all. I have to find a way to love myself because my whole life is comprised of meetings where I work to convince other people that they need me (for their play, their movie, their friend, their colleague).
It’s fucking hard, though. And I often feel like no progress has been made– that I’ve been mired in the depths of this disgusting, shameful disorder for years and years with no escape. I feel entrenched, suffocated, covered in fat and carbs and food I’ve shoved into my mouth. And I feel so angry that this happened to me, especially at this time in my career, in my life, where I NEED to be at my best, emotionally and physically.
But here I am. And I have come far.
I have talked to my friends about my feelings.
I have honored my hunger.
I have admitted when I’m at my worst, and honored it.
I have also sucked it up and ventured out when I’m at my worst.
I have never purged, no matter how many times it seems like the right idea, the solution to all of this.
I have forgiven myself, every single day.
“It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet.” –Tony Kushner, Angels in America
“Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change?
Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it’s not very nice.
God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can’t even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It’s up to you to do the stitching.
Harper: And then up you get. And walk around.
Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.
Harper: That’s how people change. ”
–Tony Kushner, Angels in America
I wrote a long post yesterday about it, but it got lost (I’m not sure I like this new wordpress).
Long story short, yesterday my best friend was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. It’s fucking weird. My best friend has cancer.
Over the next few days we’ll be going from appointment to appointment together. Luckily I can do that and she’s allowing me to. But that also means that posting will be sporadic. It’s funny how life can change in an instant.
I had also been on a very strict diet, just to see how I’d take to it and if it would help me, but once we saw that first doctor, everything just shifted. Now my meals and life are scheduled around my rehearsals and her appointments. Suddenly my food issues seem like small potatoes. It’s kind of nice.
Also, as a PS, I got a callback for that production of Titus in Philly. I went on Tuesday and read again and met the director. I felt really good about it. We shall see.
I also filmed an audition for a Showtime pilot. Which I will never book. But which did feel good.
All right, all. Stay strong. I’ll try to be around, since it does help me, but my life is literally completely different now. My friend starts chemo on Monday. She is almost certainly curable and completely treatable, so that’s great. It’s just going to be a really, really, REALLY shitty year for her.
I have bronchitis. Officially. IT SUCKS. I’m coughing up icky yellow stuff (and a lung, or so it feels like), I can’t breathe deeply, I have a nasty fever, fatigue, and no appetite. I’m fairly miserable, especially because I will have had to spend NINE DAYS in bed. Yep, this is day 7, and I’ve been ordered by my doctor to take my Zpack and stay in bed till Friday. Blerg.
Not only am I not used to being sick this long, I’m not used to staying inside this long. I’ve gotten pretty good at nice lazy weekends or long solo nights, but 9 days literally bedridden with not even enough energy to read. I’ve gone into work the last two days too, even though I’ve known it’s a bad idea, and even though my boss is out of town, because he’s paying me and there’s work to be done. I’m gonna do my best to do it from home, but lying prone with a fever and a hacking, lung-ripping cough is not the ideal work environment. I had to cancel my four ushering gigs at H2S this week because I’m supposed to stay in. I had to cancel last week too. I know it’s not my fault, but I’m not used to being unreliable. I don’t like it.
I also made the grave mistake of watching the movie Contagion. Guess what the first symptoms are? Yup, a cough. And a fever. Oh, and then they all have seizures and foam at the mouth and die. And it’s passed on by simple contact– I use a glass and the busser clears it. I hold the subway pole and then you do. I cough near you and you DIE. I literally feel like a walking Contagion. It’s not so great for the self-esteem. People aren’t pleased when you’re ill near them.
All right, gonna go back to lying on my side and hacking up infectious diseases.
Blerg. I’m sick again.
Last night, I had a 2hr audition for the company that belongs to one of my college professors. It was like a “mini” one of their weekly training sessions– because most of the founding members met at Columbia’s MFA program under Anne Bogart (esteemed director), they have a shared system of group training which involves Viewpoints, Pilates, Linklater, Physiques, Grotowski, and Suzuki. It’s all high energy, highly physical, heightened text stuff. Four of my friends from school were also there, plus a bunch of randos. It was all stuff that I’ve done before, but not since sophomore year of college. It was super humid in the rehearsal space, so I was disgustingly sweaty by the end.
On the way home, I felt exhausted. I thought maybe it was that I was already sore from ballet, or tired from the gym that morning, or hadn’t had enough protein or something. Even by the time I got home, I felt completely massacred. I’d noticed a bit of a cough, but didn’t think much of it.
Whelp, good morning fever. SUCH a blerg. I went to therapy, and felt really irritated because I felt like such shit. Then I did my weekly grocery run at TJ’s and headed home. I really need to do laundry, but it ain’t happening.
When I’m sick, I find myself fall back into negative eating patterns. Just like my emotional feelings effect physical sensations, feeling physically ill leads to emotional responses which, for me, leads to screwy eating. Which obviously doesn’t make me feel better.
So now I’m watching bad TV and hoping to get better. I was going to go to a double-header open call in the morning, but I was already reconsidering before I started feeling bad (it’s useless to go to an open call if I feel I won’t be seen), so I won’t. Auditions like that make me hate the business. If you’re not union, you wait around for HOURS to get seen by assistants usually. If you don’t have an agent, you can’t get a private audition, which is really the only way to get parts. I really, really need my union card ASAP if I’m going to keep functioning in this city. I also really need an agent. But that’s a mission for another moment, and I really need to not stress out about it. PERIOD.
Oh, and I got a callback on Saturday. I wish I had a callback for something else, but. C’est la vie.
I hope everyone out in the world is feeling better than I am.
“If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way to make life more bearable.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
I have no idea what’s going on.
1) This cold is like the stereotype of a cold. I sneeze constantly, cough till my voice is crumbly, make ridiculous elephant noises why I try (unsuccessfully) to blow my nose. I am making grunting, loud breathing noises. And it’s not getting any better. What?!
2) I had huge anxiety today about eating. It’s been a while since I’ve had that experience. I ate slightly more than I planned to (not a binge, just more intake than I wanted/needed/felt like), and felt self-conscious and fat the whole rest of the day. And I stressed out about what/when/even WHETHER to eat. I haven’t restricted in months! It’s crazy! And then I did my weekly grocery shop and bought totally safe foods except my challenge for the week– single serve hummus cups. My nutritionist challenged me to bring them in, and I FAILED. I had a great, wholesome, filling dinner, and then I just ate all the hummus. I almost couldn’t believe myself as I was doing it. And then, of course, I felt depressed. But lately I’ve been so good at forgiving myself (and, for a binge, it was FAR from the worst I’ve had), and I know that all the food I have left is super safe, but I got inordinately pissed and down. And then, NOT abnormally, I feel like a lumpy whale. How the shit is this fair.
3) I burned the middle finger of my left finger last night and now I have absolutely no feeling in the pad of that finger. It’s trippy and I can’t stop touching it.
4) I found myself REALLY angry at my best friend in Acting for the Camera class today. I come from an 8:30 class to that class at 11:15 with no break, so I usually get a snack (since I won’t eat again till 2:15pm). I came to class today with a Kind bar (my faves) and a green tea. She had a tupperware with trail mix and a bag of baby carrots for her snack. I watched as she ate a couple of bites of trail mix, then put it back in her bag. A few minutes later, she pulled out the carrots, ate a couple, then put it away. Repeat for the trail mix again. She didn’t finish either bag. I ate my granola bar in one go (this was one of those times today when I had to actually CHALLENGE myself not to restrict), and felt GUILTY. She was anorexic, but she’s also probably the most with me in my recovery. And then she took off her sweater to do her scene and her arms are GORGEOUS (she works out a shit-ton). In the scene, she did a good job, but like usual, she took the notes like the best little actor ever– “oh yeah, totally,” or “oh, I tried to do that, but I guess it didn’t work, I’ll try something else” or “you’re totally right!” or “yeah, that did feel weird and wrong, I agree.” Like really OVER-trying to take the notes. She’s so GOOD. And I am no longer that GOOD, and I don’t want to be. But yet, when I see her, it’s like I suddenly feel inadequate again, or like I just want to quiet that voice in myself so it’s hard to watch her EMBODY that voice. I don’t know how I lived with her for three years. Not that I don’t love her (I love her more than anyone else in the world, probably), but she is wildly triggering for me right now. It’s kind of terrible to feel that way about a best friend. I know she’d understand, but I kind of hate it.
5) I’m also starting to a little bit dislike the guy I work for. I mean, three and a half years later, I SUDDENLY realize he’s kind of a dick? I really like the “job” part of my job (grant-writing, check requesting, calling guest artists, scheduling, etc) but sometimes I feel like he treats me like I don’t know anything– constantly double checking my work and whatnot. It’s weird– maybe it’s only NOW bugging me because I really DO know what I’m doing? Who knows. Hopefully this too shall pass.
6) Blerg, I feel like shit.
7) Double blerg, I want that boy to take care of me. For some reason being sick like this with a really cute roll of toilet paper in my bed brings me back to my ex-boyfriend from high school. On Oscar night that year (a big night at my performing arts high school), he was really sick. It was also the day of some sort of sporting event (? how should I remember), and I went with a box of kleenex and hot tea and a blanket to his dorm, tucked him in in the common room couch, and sat with him for a couple of hours. That night, he was able to suck it up and dress up for the Oscars, even though I told him he didn’t have to. He regularly talked about that experience as a time I was a really good girlfriend. I regularly remind myself of that experience as proof that I can really love someone (and that I really did love him– and I did).
8) So… weird subject change… I’ve never really been a cutter. I’ve cut myself twice– once when I was nine or ten, and once this last summer. Neither were very major (fingertips with scissors and shaving razor on hips), and I stopped after a few cuts with the distinct knowledge in my head that I didn’t actually want to be doing this. But lately, I’ve kind of wished (worst word for this sentence) that I was a cutter. I’ve felt this need to sort of break myself open. Maybe this transition away from the binge/restrict cycle is what is doing it. It usually happens after an ED behavior… almost like if I could slice open my skin, the nasty feelings and self-consciousness and hate and disgust would drip out with the blood. Oh Jesus, I’d get sent to the principal’s office if I wrote that in a middle school notebook. But whatever, this is my blog and ***important note*** : I don’t plan to cut myself. I don’t want to. It’s just a passing feeling… I’m “passing strange.”
9) I tried to organize an impromptu trip to DC to see my sister this weekend, as she’s in town on a school trip. I was amazed that she was into the idea, but despite our finagling, it’s not going to happen. I also made the somewhat poor choice of getting my mother involved (she ended up trying to plan the whole thing), but the fact that my sister REALLY wanted to see me, and was willing to give up some of her trip to hang with ME felt… well, really goddamn good.
10) My clothes, which have been hanging to dry in my apartment for a good 36 hours, are not even close to dry. NONE of them. Is there no air here?
11) The first donation to our major fundraising campaign came in today (our HUGE email blast went out today), and it’s for $500!! I mean, come on, y’all, even for a company with a budget that’s about 15 times that, that’s not nothin’. WHOO!
12) The only appropriate word for how I feel right now is this:
What did women do before Liz Lemon? All right. Time to speak. Maybe everything will turn rightside up in the morning.
Another time I wished in a Liz Lemon world:
Hope your week has been better than mine. I’ve just been in a crappy mood, as is obvious from my last post. Today was a big day full of talking and interacting with other human beings, which is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do. Therapy, then nutritionist, then endless work on theatre company stuff with colleague, then a show at my school. I was out of my house with no break from 10:30am to 9:30pm. But I managed to get through the day with a minimum of wanting to die. I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a turnaround for the better. The bad news is: I’m getting sick, I think.
Luckily the week is almost over and I’m hoping to really take good care of myself this weekend. Some candle-lighting, maybe I’ll try and see a show on Sunday, maybe just veg and try really hard not to get any sicker.
And now it’s Friday evening. How did that happen? Anyway, I still feel kinda crappy, even though emotionally I’m doing a bit better. Boy, I don’t know what to write. Honestly I don’t have the energy for much else, but I don’t want to make the blog super boring…
Alright, here’s a picture of the woman I met today in my Senior Audition class (she’s a grad of my school, and YES, she is that charismatic and gorgeous)
Some of my favorite things she said:
“In the theatre, the playwright is in the room. But in film, the screenwriter is miles away, drunk. Seriously, he’s out there in drunk because in film they just don’t care, and that’s sad. The playwrights in the theatre just get drunk later.”
“I walk with my characters… It’s not hitting me as words, it’s hitting me as emotions.”
“Acting is a craft, and our goal is always to lift it to art.”
“If I’m gonna be naked, it better be big and it better be great, and it better be on top of Sir Ben [Kingsley, in Elegy].”
“I often do movies that four people see, but I don’t care. I love those four people!”
“There is no character you will pay that you don’t know.”
“Let the character be IN you, not ON you.”
“If your friends don’t believe in you, then don’t be friends. You need every ally you can get.”
Well, that’s plenty of quotes for tonight. Wish me luck with my snot.