So I have an eating disorder.
I guess I should just stop denying it, renaming it, ignoring it, and accept the fact. I have an eating disorder. Something I've denied for over two years.
I can tell who my very good friends are (even work friends) because they are the ones who look over and aren't even remotely surprised.
And Gannett is almost hilariously bad at handling it.
I explained to my psychiatrist that I felt like I was being forced to eat more, that I was doing it for other people rather than for ME. And she basically went "Well that's good."
No, honey. No it is NOT. If I am just eating for YOU people, what happens when I leave you all behind in a year? What happens when I do get to a proper weight and you people are no longer metaphorically forcing this food down my throat?
I relapse, lose the weight again, and keep going down this path. I need to eat for ME, not for YOU, and right now for "me" is not healthy and for "you" feels uncomfortable.
And telling me to just "ignore" labels and my OCD? No. It's not that easy. I have been given the advice for eating, the tips for food, and it takes a conscious struggle; I don't know the techniques to keep it up. Maybe right now I am nibbling on a cookie while waiting for dinner to cook, but tomorrow I may very well go back to saying "No it doesn't matter if your stomach is growling, you must wait until dinner."
I can't just "ignore" schedules. IT IS TOO DEEPLY INGRAINED.
Oh and when I mentioned I felt like I must eat at specific times she asked "Can't you just get up earlier?" Um. YOU TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT. I shouldn't consider it a crime and a sin to eat a second dinner or what not past 9PM at night if I am hungry enough for it. I KNOW I shouldn't. There's this part of me that knows all of this insanity with schedules and rituals and not eating at certain times is ridiculous but I can't STOP IT.
It's taking conscious effort on my part to remember have a glass of milk with my dinner instead of water to get more calories, or to understand that dessert IS acceptable (yes, I have stopped eating dessert, only recently putting it back into my diet when at the dining hall. I don't know when or why it happened.), or that my knee-jerk nausea reaction to eggs (a recent phenomena) IS silly.
But I don't know how to keep it up. And I fear that I will get tired and this control is going to SLIP. I knew about my anxiety for years but even now I can still barely control it and fight it. My depression got pretty damn severe once the meds were taken off.
Are we going to wait until my weight drops so low I risk hospitalization before we actually address this?
Hell, why did it take this long already? I've seen a nutritionist for two years. Why did it take a casual mention of my food OCD last week to bring this all to light? A teacher noticed my weird eating habits four years ago when I was a senior in HIGH SCHOOL before Gannett or even myself spotted it (I just denied it was a problem).
Am I that good at hiding things? The dining halls did make me eat a little more than usual, and made breakfast for easily obtainable, but even then I had my weird quirks, my tendency to reject a food just because it looked "funny". The teacher was worried because even back then all I really ate was pasta, cookies, and the occasional fruits and vegetables.
And why, oh why, is my psychiatrist so concerned with just getting my weight up in general instead of actually trying to ADDRESS THE EATING DISORDER AND THEREBY GET MY WEIGHT UP?
I feel like I poured out all of my concerns about my weight, my body image, my eating habits, and it fell on partially deaf ears.
I shouldn't be eating for other people. I should be eating because I want to. Because I realize my weight is low and that food and a varied diet are good, proper things to have and there's nothing wrong with it.
I realize my weight is low, too low. I hate how skinny I am. I look freakin' skeletal.
But I don't have a good enough relationship with food to fix it.
And that, Gannett, is what you need to realize, and address, because otherwise, that precious normal BMI you so crave is never going to come... Let alone stay.
So what are these weird eating habits? What's the history?
In sixth grade I decided I didn't eat healthily enough. Hell if I know why; sixth grade was a weird year for me. I know I started obsessively reading nutrition labels, but I guess something else was going on, because by high school I recall my mother mentioning how much "healthier" I ate than the rest of the family. In eighth grade or so I discovered factory farming and vowed to someday become a vegetarian; I achieved that shortly after graduating from high school. I was always incredibly skinny, even when I was a very little girl.
Senior year of high school I started to truly, significantly lose weight. I reached a low of 114 and was put on calorie drinks, as the doctor thought my calorie intake was too low. That worked, and brought me back up to 121lbs. The doctor suspected I was anorexic. Friends had accused me of that before; I hated the accusation, because I did not consider myself fat, or not eat. I once got accused of it while eating a fucking cheeseburger. My mother brushed off the doctor's concern as well. And the thing is, I am very much not anorexic. I know for a fact that I'm way too skinny, and I need to gain weight, though due to general nervousness about the unknown I'm wary of gaining as much weight as would be healthy (I'd be okay with being 130lbs. That's 10lbs below what someone of my height SHOULD weight. I could probably be taught, with ease, that those extra 10lbs would be nothing but a good thing, hell I know they likely would be).
I went from having eggs and bacon to barely managing oatmeal due to a tendency to throw up or feel nauseous. I denied I had anxiety, but shortly before coming to Cornell that flared up in a way I couldn't ignore.
I gained weight at Cornell, hitting 128lbs give or take a few pounds. This even after becoming a vegetarian. But I still didn't eat very much. I picked at food, ate mostly snacks. My morning diet returned to more or less normal due to the convenience of the dining hall, but the rest of my eating could be fickle and odd. I never ate very much.
Sophomore year is when the diagnosis of eating disorder first came up and I rejected it, because it seemed ridiculous to me. I ate, didn't I? Then I went to Germany and lost weight. Didn't eat much. People worried about my diet and how little variation it had. I brushed off their worries; I just liked pasta, so what?
After I got back to the states I was put on medication that made me gain even more weight, but I hated the medication for other reasons, and I didn't know what to think about the weight gain. It didn't seem to be going to the "right" places. I could still feel my ribs and see them. That didn't seem right to me. It still seems sort of awkward, but hey, maybe if I got to a more normal weight those pesky ribs WOULD get some fat build-up, who knows?
I've always been picky with food, and at some point obsessed with it. I am paranoid about expiration dates, about having more than one container of a kind of food (sauce, cereal, etc) open, about nutrition. When anxious or otherwise stressed my eating goes down the toilet. And if I feel sick I don't eat at all, nervous about throwing up or otherwise reacting poorly. Since when I am anxious I DO feel more sick, this starts a cruel cycle that just results in me not eating.
Most of the time, I average two big meals a day. I wake up "too late" for breakfast, skip straight to lunch, then have dinner, and the rest is snacks. And lately there's become nothing unusual to me about not eating breakfast. I feel too sick for it, or am too hurried. Last semester I would often skip eating anything altogether until after my first class; this semester I've at least put in a calorie drink when I remember.
And then there's the obsession with healthy eating. I don't know how long it's been around. But I am paranoid about my nutrition, convinced I'm not getting enough of this or that, even as I barely vary my diet to compensate. I grew up in a fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie "healthy" household. I was raised in a household where fatty stuff was considered bad, and I struggle to consider it otherwise.
Then my mother joined WeightWatchers while I was in college. She gets mad if we make stuff that isn't WeightWatchers-friendly, even as I struggle to explain I don't need that. She critiques my diet, telling me I eat too many carbohydrates, that WeightWatchers recommends more protein. She brushes my reasoning that I don't need WeightWatchers and their recommendations aren't for me. Once she brought home a WeightWatchers pamphlet for vegetarians. She is not a vegetarian. I am.
If a food looks or smells funny, I refuse to touch it, sometimes even get nauseous or feel sick if it smells weird enough. There is no criteria; any food at any time can suddenly look or smell weird. And I've noticed that slowly, things I used to eat are disappearing from my diet. Ice cream. Milk (I'm slowly forcing it back in). Eggs (also slowly forcing in). Cheese. Oatmeal. Cereal. Milkshakes. Burritos. Cakes, pies, desserts in general. Breakfast in general. My diet has been reduced to pasta, tofu, vegetables, chocolate, and cookies (and then only VERY specific cookies).
Most of it, I could not give a single reason for why I suddenly stopped eating it. Right now I can't even really think about or see egg foo yung without feeling like I will throw up. I've barely managed to keep that from spreading to eggs in general; it almost did.
Certain foods I just won't eat 99% of the time. Nuts (I've forced myself to eat almonds, but haven't in a while). Avocado. Beans. Rice. Potatoes. Sandwiches (slowly forcing them in). Pizza (slooooowly...). When I do eat them, it's only in very specific situations (pierogi for the potatoes, Trillium burritos or Mexican restaurants for the rice and beans, who the hell knows for the avocado and nuts and all else).
It's restricting. I discovered when I started tracking calories on Fitday that my average is maybe 1000 to 1500 calories a day. At first I thought about how BAD that was but even then it was more of a "Oh so that's why I can't really gain weight, I'm impressed I don't lose more!" instead of a "Maybe I should fix this."
It's just hard to convince myself there's a problem. I'm also nervous my therapist will try to tell me the vegetarianism is a part of this. Neil thinks it is (meat eaters, they so weird).
I don't know.
But I think I need to swallow my pride, and admit it.
I have an eating disorder.
Now maybe the health center can help me fix it.
(In regards to the title of this post: Depression, OCD, GAD, social phobia, and now EDNOS -- Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. I'm a freak.)