WARNING: numbers

First: it is very odd to me that neither of the gyms I’ve gone to now in AL have scales in their locker rooms… only ONE scale for the whole gym that’s out in the main area. Plus, it’s an old-fashioned scale. In NYC, you have old fashioned scales, maybe, but there are going to be at least three in a locker room. C’mon. What is this nonsense?

At my wig fitting a couple of days ago my hair person said that I’d lost weight since being here. I felt like it might be true– I eat less when I don’t have a nice boy to ask for desserts. Plus, I’ve been working out pretty regularly. A part of me felt a bit nervous about it– but not TOO nervous. My depression is under control, and I know my triggers. I’m not going off the edge, and I know that, 100%, with a confidence that really makes me feel strong.

Today, as I changed back into my clothes after a costume fitting, I pulled the scale down off the shelf and weighed myself in my show slip and socks.

I weighed the low end of what I usually weigh.

Part of me was disappointed.

COME ON, GIRL. GET IT TOGETHER.

I don’t want to lose weight– at the VERY least, my costumes need to fit for the next two months.

I’m not anxious or freaked out. I’m just always amazed at how ingrained our reactions to numbers are. I think that, at least for me, it has less to do with my ED than the constantly ingrained notion in our society (and my biz in particular) that we should always be losing weight… even if we genuinely don’t need to.

Life is weird.

Starting tech tomorrow. Here. We. Go. http://www.bykennethjones.com/elyzabeth-gregory-wilders-white-lightning-new-play-rum-running-racing-romance-premieres-alabama/

Trigger / Solution

So… I haven’t written about my eating disorder in so long!

Why?

Well, because I don’t need to, most of the time. I have been stable in both weight and mental health for going on three years now. I cannot tell you how lucky that makes me feel; how grateful I am for the people and institutions who supported me; how deeply I understand how FUCKING HARD it is to come out of this whole.

To everyone still working… keep working. Be gentle with yourself. Try everything once. And most of all, find happiness somewhere– anywhere– and cherish that as you fill that up that deep sinkhole that food used to control.

It’s all pretty words, but I want anyone who is reading this to know that it is 100% hard but 100% possible to be “okay.” Remember how I also talked about how many YEARS it took? Yeah. So.

Anyway, the reason I’m posting now is because in cleaning out my computer, I found an old document. I feel certain I found it somewhere, so wherever it came from… sorry for stealing your great words. It’s a list of triggers and solutions. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great resource. I invite you to check it out.

With love and affection,
B.

A series of unfamiliar situations, “unsafe” foods, unpredictable environments, restaurants, and social eating, like a vacation.
(Solution: Plan ahead, bring my own foods, get through as many challenges as possible, but keep as much consistency as possible.  Seek accountability with one or more of my traveling partners and be completely honest.)

Feeling strong, happy, and successful.
(Solution: remember that I must eat to stay this way.  All strong people eat.)

Conflict within a friendship or family relationship
(Solution: Evaluate my role honestly; make amends if necessary; set boundaries and get out.)

Sadness or failure
(Solution: let myself feel all of my emotions; be gentle with myself.  Remember that I need to eat to have strength to cope.  Remember that no one is perfect.) SEE INSIDE OUT!!!!! (that’s from B)

Stress or busyness
(Solution: make eating a priority to myself.  Eliminate as much stress as possible from life.  Make dates with friends to ensure that I eat when I am “too busy.” )

Weight gain
(Solution: follow nutritionist’s recommendations and forget about it.  Don’t weigh myself.)

Feeling overwhelmed
(Solution: have a friend or therapist help me evaluate and simplify my life.  If I am still stressed, realize that it is BETTER TO QUIT SOMETHING than to fall back into my ED.)

A friend’s ED, weight loss, skipped meals or odd food/exercise habits
(Solution: remember that I am following a perfectly prescribed diet and that I need to do what is right and healthy for me.  Realize that I probably have much more substantial nutrition knowledge than them.  Avoid meal times or diet talk with affected friend.)

Clothes not fitting
(Solution: throw item away and purchase a replacement, preferably a different brand.  Realize that it’s not my failure; it’s the clothing designer’s failure.)

Reading about diets or seeing pictures of underweight celebrities
(Solution: don’t read it.  Get accountability in this area if need be.  If I am needing an escape, read a travel or home decoration magazine, or a Christian or psychology book.)

Sense of loneliness
(Solution: schedule time for meaningful interaction with another human—if I don’t have a friend, make one.  Be vulnerable and express my needs.)

Weight loss
(Solution: immediately evaluate the cause.  If related to illness, take time off from school/exercise/life to get better.  If related to ED behaviors, notify therapist and others and implement what is needed.  If accidental and repeated again the next week, add extra nutrition.  Treat it as a serious symptom.)

Headshotz Detox

** This post talks about food. And body. And stuff. So… FYI. **

Prepping for my headshots on Tuesday. The last time I got headshots, it was January of my senior year of college. I was deep in my disorder– unhappy with my body and terribly anxious for the future. I was flustered and overwhelmed.

The night before headshots, after taking my nutritionist’s advice and “pampering” myself (candles, hair mask, face mask, self-care), I binged on raw quinoa. Because that’s what you do when you have an eating disorder and you are incredibly anxious and vulnerable and alone.

The next morning, I woke to the overwhelming need to vomit. I did. Once, twice, three times. This is around 5am. My shoot started at 8am. I tried to go out and get a Starbucks egg sandwich, since I didn’t have any “tummy settling” food in the house (i.e. no carbs). On my walk home from the store, I felt a wave hit me again, and I found myself knelt over the lip of the sidewalk, vomiting my sandwich into the snow.

I have had worse moments than that, but none with such terrible timing. I gave myself food poisoning the night before my $875 headshots– my one main entre into the business.

So now I’m getting a second chance. I do NOT want to fuck this one up.

I’m pretty happy with my body now. I’m about where I want to be, about where I think I’m marketable. I’d like to stick here as long as possible, and having photos that show it will help me a lot. I’m also pleased with my hair color (slightly lighter) and my eyebrows (slightly lighter too, per my agent’s finally-heeded suggestion). But for the next seven days, I am on a Pre-Headshots Detox. Not a real detox, don’t worry, just one that I think will help make me the best I can be.

1. No morning EPAs.
No getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to audition for something I won’t book. If I’m meant to book a show, I’ll have gone to that audition. These can pass. I will survive. I have survived before.

2. Lots of sleep.
Along with the no morning EPAs, I need to let myself get to bed at an appropriate hour and get up at an appropriate hour.

3. Do the gym like I’m supposed to do the gym.
With no morning EPAs and no one to really impress this week, I don’t have to do my hair perfectly every day. This means I need to return to my gym schedule– 3x a week (Wed, Fri, Sun, Mon)and get those endorphins going.

4. WATER WATER WATER
I will drink AT LEAST 4 fillings of my 20mL water bottle. That’s 80mL. I did this today and I swear to god, I have never peed so much in my life. This is HEALTHY, people. I am clearly not doing a good job of hydration.

5. Cut down on salt.
Salt is bloating. Especially Sun-Tues, I need to avoid any added salt. Nothing more than a sprinkle on my eggs.

6. Veggies and less junk.
I am lucky enough to live with a lovely boy… who eats a lot of crap. He’s from rural America… it’s his way. I have eaten more crap since being with him than in the last 4 years combined. (just goes to show you that FOOD doesn’t make you fat, BINGING does). So, I’m focusing heavily on proteins (beans) and greens (kale, spinach) and fruits (apples). Not so much sugar. In fact, try not to do ANY added sugar besides my morning coffee.

7. No, I’m not giving up coffee.
Sorry. I have my limits. I’m not dependent on it, but I’ve gotta have some boundaries.

8. Any other recommendations?
I’ll take anything you have to share. I’m not dieting or detoxing… I’m just looking for a couple of simple adjustments to focus on so that I can look my best on Tuesday. This girl wants pictures that will make the casting directors drool. 🙂

xoxo,

B.

P.S. My birthday was great. 🙂 Happy 24th to me!

 

Falling Apart but Just Fine

When A leaves, I fall apart.
The last two nights, I’ve binged myself into a stupor and found myself unable to get out of bed.

It used to be that I felt like I needed alone time in order to process and care for myself. It’s certainly true that after a binge or when I’m super hungry, I am completely shut off to other people. I retreat internally. BUT… when I don’t allow myself to binge or starve (i.e. when A is here and there’s no opportunity), I am fine. I fall apart when I binge and I binge when he leaves. Ergo: when he leaves, I fall apart.

I’ve got to get better at this, since A is in the Army reserves and has to leave for a weekend every month (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter). Plus it’s not a great system to completely depend on my boyfriend to help keep me stable. But it’s been working. And living with him has been a great gift for that reason (among many others). But when I’m alone again, the bad habits overwhelm me and I fall apart.

The funny thing is that although I’ve been eating less “healthy” than I do on my own (no smoothies for breakfast, more carbs than I like to allow myself, dessert most nights), my weight has stayed stable, and even dropped a little bit. I KNOW, RIGHT?!
It’s actually a kind of remarkable lesson that as long as I’m not freaking out– not binging, not starving– my weight will be fine. I don’t have to starve myself.

So I’ve actively been trying to stop the “freaking out” and stop thinking about losing weight. Because if I just allow myself to focus on my relationship, and allow food to just be food, no matter its calorie content or perceived healthfulness, I’m gonna be just fine.

A’s back tomorrow night. We’re making dinner. Thank god.

Happy Right Here

I told my therapist, when talking about my agent, that I was willing to lose weight, but that I refused to give it my whole brain. I choked up spontaneously as I said, “I’m just so relieved to not be putting my whole brain onto making myself a certain way or fulfilling some expectation.” I was really proud of this statement.

The truth is, I would LOVE to lose weight. I don’t know how much I weight right now (scale is packed, and I’m fitting into my clothes but I’d say definitely more bloated than usual from the BC), and frankly that both excites and scares me. I’ve never been an excessive “weigh-er,” but knowing my weight really can shift my mood and my brain all day.

This morning my boyfriend told me he felt “apathetic and useless” this week. He’s been really busy (both of us have) but when he’s not busy, we’re lying in bed and watching Slings & Arrows, or eating baked goods I made, or watching movies and drinking wine. He says that on the way home from house managing (at like 11pm), he knows he “should” and wants to be writing, but he ends up just sitting.

How familiar does THIS sound, ladies?!

My therapist calls these kinds of things “shoulds.” I’ll talk to her about a day I had and accidentally throw in a “I should have gone to the gym” or “I shouldn’t have reacted that way” and she’ll catch it. “Who says?” “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t?” Sometimes, now, I feel like I give myself too much slack (stayed in today instead of going to an open call audition in Brooklyn, planned on going to ballet class but didn’t), but again, who says I “should” do anything? Why should the “shoulds” control my life?

I told my boyfriend some of my rationalizations: “You’re tired. You’re exhausted– your body and brain needs a break.” He says, “I’m happiest when my brain is going. I don’t like not using it.” And I replied, “Sometimes even brains need a break.” I realized that this conversation was exactly like a conversation I have had in my own head countless times.

Something I’ve learned in the last few years is how to respect what I want, not what “they” think I “should” do. No one is watching me. Brain can’t handle reading right now? Okay, it’s tired. I’ll listen to music on the train. Body refusing to want to exercise? Maybe try again later, but maybe just assume that it’ll be ready to go again soon and it’ll let me know. Dreading an early morning audition I’m not prepared for? Don’t go. Sleep in and don’t freak yourself out.

It’s constant negotiating; constantly reminding myself that I can be the decision-maker.

Now, I live with a boy. A boy whose diet is very different than mine (I don’t eat meat, he’s a carnivore, among other things). I’ve had more ice cream since moving in with him than I’ve had in the last year combined. I don’t think I’m gaining weight, though. I think the abundance of food is a comfort… I don’t feel like I have to gorge. I get to eat breakfast and sometimes other meals with him. I don’t feel like a pig when he’s around. I’ve barely binged two or three times. Sometimes overeating, but nothing that derails my day or even necessarily puts me over a major calorie edge. I can’t weigh myself. And y’know, I think I’m just all around happier.

So yes. I’d gladly lose weight. I know that I “should.”

But I’m so enjoying living in this moment, so enjoying not letting obsessive thoughts and other people’s “shoulds” get in the way of my happiness, that I wouldn’t sacrifice any of it.

I’m not fat.

I’ll dye my hair for her. I’ll get new pictures for her. I’ll learn how to put on makeup for her.

But my happiness is more important than a number on the scale. I may lose parts because of it, but I won’t lose the ones I’m mean to have.

I’m happy right here, thanks.

I believe that we, that this planet, hasn’t seen its Golden Age. Everybody says its finished … art’s finished, rock and roll is dead, God is dead. Fuck that! This is my chance in the world. I didn’t live back there in Mesopotamia, I wasn’t there in the Garden of Eden, I wasn’t there with Emperor Han, I’m right here right now and I want now to be the Golden Age …if only each generation would realise that the time for greatness is right now when they’re alive … the time to flower is now.”
Patti Smith

I’m crying, and I don’t know if it’s joy or sadness.

“The hardest group to represent is young women. And even harder is young white women. There are too many of you, and, unfortunately, it’s all about looks.”

“I’m tired of waiting for a year for someone to realize that their picture isn’t good enough or they don’t do what they need to to compete with the other beautiful young women out there. I don’t want to waste my time when that’s what the business is concerned with.”

“You made one mistake in coming to my office without an ounce of makeup on your face… I know it’s summer. I don’t care.”

“Your hair is pretty good. Is that curl in it natural?… no, don’t straighten it, I hate that.”

“You need to lose about 15 pounds. That’ll take all that out from under your chin and accentuate your cheekbones. You have full cheeks, it’s your youth thing, but you’ll just look better. And if you lose a little weight, you can play even younger.”

“I’d send you out for like… sixteen to twenty four. You need a picture that says, ’16/17,’ a pretty picture, and a picture that says ‘young professional.'”

“Make a list of all the roles you could conceivably play, in TV, film, theatre… realistically, within the age range I’ve given you.”

“Yeah, if you lose that bit of weight, fix your resume, wear something a little tighter…”

I’d love to sign you.”

Emotional Soup

Tonight I smoked a bowl and took at least three hits from a vaporizer that looked like a walkie talkie. I’ve smoked a few times before, but I NEVER feel high.

(actually, the woman whose bowl I was smoking is an actress who was in Hair on Broadway– among others, including Rent– and told a story about how Jonathan Groff had never “felt high” before and needed to because he’d booked the Woodstock movie, so Will Swenson got him shitfaced)

Tonight is the “highest” I’ve ever felt, but I don’t feel “high.” I feel buzzed on alcohol– lightly so, to the point where thinking and my lips are slower, but I’m still generally clearheaded– but no great relaxing high. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I don’t know (although of course now I’m thinking that I’ll read this tomorrow and realize I was a mess), and it’s okay. I don’t really like smoking anyway.

I’ve had a lot of the “emotional soup” lately, swirling thoughts and anxiety, highs of determination and lows of self-disgust. This is not shocking, as I should get my period tomorrow, but it’s unwelcome.

This Monday is a big, big day. It’s hard yet to know quite how big. Basically, it’s our special “industry” performance, so the house will be stuffed with casting directors and producers and Broadway actors and directors– all people who could give me a job. A big job.

So the swirling thoughts mostly focus on my body, of course, because while I’m self destructive, I’m also obnoxiously proud of my work. They may hate my performance, but I know I’m doing my job– the director, the playwright, and I am happy with what I’m doing.

I think about the roundness of my arms in my costume tee shirts. I’ve been freaking out over what dress to wear (maybe buy a new one? No, stop! You don’t have the money!). I’ve already fallen head over heels in love with an actor who is coming and has never met me, or likely ever dated a non-soap star. I am again convinced that looking the way I look, I will never work again.

I’ll get through it. I’m just already predicting a week-long dip in the “emotional soup.”