For the first time in three years, since having surgery on my knee, I have started to workout again. I have run for some time, but recently introduced weights and clean eating.
It’s been just over a month, and I’ve only lost five pounds.
The rational part of my brain understands I have gained muscle, lost inches and am on my way to a fitter, healthier me. Yet, my eating disorder bites on my ear, leaving sentiments of insecurity and control. It seems with each nibble; she whispers manipulations of how much easier it would be if I starved myself and purged my food. A constant itch I’ve been scratching since I was in my twenties.
Yesterday I had a piece of pizza, and as the last bite filtered through my throat, and hit the lining of my stomach, my eating disorder reared its ugly head.
I could feel the anger building up inside, my inner dialogue riddled with self-deprecating words. What are you doing? You are fat, look at your stomach protruding over your pants. How could you be so stupid, have you no self-control? Why. Did. You. Eat. That.
I have suffered from bulimia since I was twenty years old. Bulimia is akin to your first love, you heal from the heartbreak, yet the pain of that broken heart quietly lingers in the background the rest of your life. My eating disorder has become a part of my every day. No, I don’t purge my food anymore, but there are days it beckons me. Those days I find myself standing at the edge of toilet bowl pleading with the desires to expel my food, to please stop.
Starving to consider myself good enough to occupy my skin.
It took the pregnancy of my first child to stop my purging. The health of the baby I was carrying inside me became more important than my need to feel invincible and thin. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle daily with its affliction.
Recovering from my eating disorder was and is, a mind-altering hell. A constant hot-breathed voice upon my ear hissing, you are never going to be thin enough. And Sixteen years later, regardless of whether the voice has dulled, ever so often I can hear it begging me to come back.
It is hard to let go of the control I once relished. The ability to govern my surroundings by regulating my weight with a purge was a powerful ally. In the early years, I used Bulimia most often when my world became chaotic and spun out of control. Later, after recovery, I found myself recalling the idea to purge when I was unable to exercise.
Approximately five years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I worked my ass off. I ate clean, worked out six days a week and drank enough water each day to bathe in. Truly the healthiest I have ever been.
I dropped four sizes and had never felt better; my energy level was marvelous, my muscle tone incredible. Moreover, for the first time in my adult life I loved my body(-ish). Having body dysmorphia hinders full on love for the body. Nonetheless, I felt fantastic. Working out had finally eased the whisper of Bulimia.
Then snap. Like a rubber band breaking or a bag of pop rocks poured into a can of soda, my knee wasn’t where it was supposed to be.
It was during a ball game when my knee fell out from underneath me. I felt the ligaments give way as I was running to catch a ball in the outfield, pop, pop, pop. Suddenly I was lying on the ground writhing in pain. I tore my ACL, LCL, and PCL. For those of you that don’t know what those are, in layman’s terms, they are what keep your knee together. Anterior cruciate ligament, Lateral cruciate ligament, and Posterior cruciate ligament, the only damn ligament I didn’t tear was my MCL. I had one CL left, and it was really of no use without the other CLs.
Just like that I couldn’t work out. Depression set in quickly. It’s astounding how relevant the knee is to running, working out, playing ball, chasing your kids, WALKING. I couldn’t do anything. I was on crutches for weeks, and then on a waiting list for knee surgery for over a year. Not even the incredibly expensive custom knee brace I was fitted with assisted my mobility adequately enough to exercise vigorously. I started to gain weight. The weight I carry on my body to this day.
It wasn’t until after my knee surgery and the six months I spent in physiotherapy did I begin to grow confidence in my knee. However the almost two years I spent unable to exercise the way I was once accustomed, wreaked havoc on my psyche.
I fell deeper into depression. And the further I fell, the louder Bulimia murmured. Becoming the closest to relapse I had been in my sixteen years of recovery.
That is until yesterday. When I found myself up to my old tricks.
After I let that hindering piece of pizza sit in the bottom of my stomach, my mind was overcome with shame and disgust in myself.
Fat disgusting, sickening shame. I quickly chugged a glass of water. My subconscious was working out exactly how I would purge the pizza without making a sound. Every moment premeditated, from the act of eating the pizza and including the manipulation of mind over body, my brain telling my stomach it felt sick. Unbelievably after sixteen years, still a pro. I stood at the toilet, my stomach convulsing through mind manipulation. Just as I was about to purge, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
“You fucking idiot, sixteen years.”
This disease is powerful and still has a way of playing games with my mind; I know the power it holds, I live it daily. Also, I recognize its ability to rear its ugly head when it decides. I didn’t purge yesterday. But I thought about it for the rest of the evening and into this morning. I will continue to fight the battle of Bulimia, and more importantly, I will find a way to love my body, whatever it takes.
Bulimia started out as me controlling what I couldn’t, but what people misunderstand about this Eating Disorder, is it quickly takes control of you. It has never been the easy way out. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t caress my stomach to feel how fat it is, even if it is not. Or find myself looking at a reflection as I pass by, to make sure I don’t look disgusting. I have fought its influence for over twenty years and am to this day in recovery. Sadly due to the mind games this disease presents I’ve been left with a mild case of Body Dysmorphia. Bulimia is real; it’s messy and extremely hard to control. There is nothing peaceful about it.