Today, I feel like a failure. Today and yesterday have been surrounded by behavior use. I had every intention of being "better" or being "good" or, shit, being "perfect."
Lets talk about perfect for a minute. Ed really likes to use perfection as a side kick. Its almost like perfectionism is a piece of Ed. "If you aren't going to be perfect today, then be really bad. Lets be perfect in our eating disorder, lets binge and purge five times today, and then skip dinner." How is this logical? I mean, ok, so you slip and engage in behaviors once, why does that mean the day is shot? I can tell you why it means it for me.
My main behavior use is binging and purging. Just writing that down makes me cringe. When I think of eating disorders, I think of glamorously thin people who have so much will power that they are able to turn down food. I always wanted to be like them, but I couldn't. I would even wake up and say, "ok, I'm going to eat virtually nothing today!" and then 11am would come around and I would be famished and binge. I then felt like I failed at my eating disorder, so I would try to make myself feel better with the only way I knew how, binging and purging, which would make me feel gross, so I would comfort myself by binging and purging. It is not unlike someone who has an addiction; in fact it IS an addiction... to food. The act of stuffing yourself until you can't even stand up straight, and then getting rid of almost all of it and feeling completely empty is unlike anything else. It makes you feel amazing-- for about two minutes, and then it makes you feel worse than before. The reason that it's hard to pull myself out of the cycle once it's begun is because it is the only thing that makes me feel THAT good. The problem is, that feeling leaves very quickly and you're searching for your next high.
The only way to pull yourself out of it is to remember and accept that NOTHING will ever this good. you see, the feeling of euphoria is concentrated. What we need to remember is that sustainable happiness is a slow-release, not a flash in the pan. We must change our expectations in order to experience what really feels good--living.
I thought that I could get through this on my own. I mean, if I go and get help what will everyone think? If I go and get help, I'll have to put my life on hold and tell everyone where I'm going. If I go get help, then my dirty little secret will be out in the open, and I won't be able to engage in behaviors. If I go get help, I will lose my best friend, my eating disorder. Yeah, my ED was my best friend. Sometimes I still miss her. I mean she brought me comfort and a since of euphoria, I lied to my OP therapist... a lot. This might sound counterproductive (because it is) but the reasons behind why I lied are so layered and complex. Lying to her was lying to myself. "See, I'm not that sick. I mean, I don't look sick." but I was, and I needed to get help. I needed to put my life on hold, because, quite honestly, I didn't have much of a life to begin with. I didn't have to tell everyone where I was going. Fuck them, I don't owe anyone anything. I told the people who needed to know so that I could get support from them. If they judged me, that was their stuff, not mine. I bared my secret for all to see so that she lost power. My biggest fear was that I would be forced to go to treatment. At the end of the day, it wasn't my therapist, or my husband, or my mom, or my best friend who forced me to go to treatment. It was my eating disorder. How could she betray me like that? I gave her everything (i mean EVERYTHING) and this is how she repays me- by shoving me into a house where I literally couldn't take a piss by myself? Yes, because ED was never my friend, she was always the one that was going to send me away. I don't know how I didn't see the warning signs- the fluttering heart beat, the extreme lack of energy, the foggy brain, the shame and guilt, the swollen parotid glands, the muscle cramping. But somehow, all of these things seemed to pass over me like a thief in the night; not being heard, but taking all of my shit.
Going away didn't send ED away, she still comes around from time to time, and sometimes she stays around. (that tricky little bitch). But, going away saved my life, because now I know how to ask her to leave.
In March of 2017, I came down with a stomach virus. I wasn't able to keep anything down, and my body had no reserves. My hands, feet, legs, face, and even my tong began to cramp. My hands were stuck like clam shells, my toes were stuck pointed, and I was alone in my house waiting on my husband to get back with some medicine. I was unable to walk because my body was so depleted of nutrients, that I fell onto the floor of my bedroom. Luckily, I was able to grab my phone and call my husband who rushed home and rushed me to the ER. When I got there, my worst nightmare was confronted. I had to tell the doctors that I had an Eating Disorder.
Normal Potassium levels are between 3.5-5. Potassium isn't measured below 2. Mine was below 2. My magnesium was also very low. You see, when you spend a majority of your day purging everything you eat, it tends to fuck with the electrolyte levels. On top of that, I was also running long distances in the south Louisiana heat-- that's a recipe for disaster.
After spending 24 hours in the hospital, I was released and promised everyone that I would get better, that this was my rock bottom, my wakeup call, and that I could do it on my own. I couldn't. In November of 2017, I ended up right back in the hospital, quite possibly, worse than the first time. I was admitted into the ICU so that they could keep an eye on my levels. My body was not only cramping this time, but also uncontrollably shaking and twitching. (this was due to the, you guessed it, low potassium)
I began to think that I might need a higher level of care for my eating disorder (I wonder what gave that away...) I began to look up treatment centers online, but I was still dragging my feet and still engaging in behaviors (that's ED talk for purging, over-exercising, restricting, self harm, or using another behavior that's linked to the ED.)
It wasn't until my mom came to my house and basically became a puddle on the floor, begging me to go, that I decided to get serious about it. She said that she was afraid I was going to die before I could get the help I needed, and you know what, she was right. I almost did die. Twice. It's still a miracle that I didn't go into cardiac arrest. If I ever questioned the existence of a higher power, my faith is now solidified. If there's one nugget of info you take from this post, it's that you don't fuck with Potassium. That shit is important! Oh yeah, and eating disorders suck.