Confession: I Have An Eating Disorder

FAT.
 
Fattie.
Fatass.  
Also pronounced “fuh-TAHS”, because that somehow sounds more regal.  
Large Marge.  
Similarly, Large Marge Squared (said in a Boston accent, I don’t remember why, some vestige of my college days). 
Beast. 
Gross.com.  
 
FAT.
 
These are the nicknames I have given myself.
 
I sometimes try to ignore her, this nasty voice in my head who says such terrible things.  It doesn’t usually work.  She’s very loud, insistent even.  I try to change the conversation and speak kindly to her.  She does not respond well to that.  She’s kind of a bitch, truth be told.  So usually, I just give in (me, who can argue anything, with anyone?!), resigned, and say “You’re right, I am fat.”
 
The first time I said the words out loud I was in Bali, about a month ago: I have an eating disorder.  I had acknowledged them, I had written them, I had hinted them, but had never come out and said them.  Before, I could somehow convince myself that it was normal to eat brownie mix straight from the bowl in lieu of dinner.  I mean, for me it WAS normal.  Like when I ate only Nutri-Grain Bars, Junior Mints and rice during my first year of college.  Or the bags of candy that I would “sneak” throughout the day in high school, although no one else was fooled.  All of those times I declined food in public, claiming to not like something, but going home and eating it in the privacy of my apartment, where no one would ever know; so many secrets.  Intense, grueling cleanses followed by sugar binges.  All or nothing, almost always; my personality so comfortable in extremes.
 
There have been stretches where the disorder recedes, a “remission” of sorts.  This month, this holiday season, however, has rattled me.  It started in LA, continued in NYC, followed me to NJ.  What began as a bag of candy on a long flight morphed into a brownie, followed by a cookie (3), followed by a cupcake (s), followed by wine, followed by…a seemingly endless stream of sugar and fat, of regret and remorse.  There’s no binge and starve mode happening here; it has been an epic 3 week food-fest, one hell of a bender fueled by holiday treats and year end stresses.  It has taken a toll on my body and my spirit.
 
I don’t see most people having these rapid downward spirals, although perhaps they do.  Maybe it is normal.
 
My hips used to regularly have bruises from pressing into the floor during yoga.  Faint black and blue marks that almost looked like finger prints.  There is now a soft layer of padding covering those bones.  They don’t bruise anymore.  I miss the bruises.  I mourn those missing bruises.  Is that normal?
 
I emailed a new friend recently and told her that I hoped to develop food poisoning, or a stomach bug.  How another friend told me to lick a subway pole, that could make me sick.  That since there is no subway in LA, maybe I would lick a yoga mat and hopefully catch something that would propel me into rapid weight loss (I was kidding–mostly.  She was aghast.)  Is that normal?
 
How do I know how to be normal when I don’t know what normal is?  Or if there even is a “normal”?
 
I can only come up with the things I do know:
 
-I don’t want to lie in bed, praying for sleep to come but kept awake by guilt, and shame about what I’ve eaten, and a stomachache that comes from being either too full or too hungry
-I don’t want to cancel dinner with friends because it’s a restriction day, or because I don’t trust my willpower when confronted with a restaurant menu
-I don’t want to ever again think “I wish I was able to throw up (I’m not), I’d feel so much better…” (or even jokingly utter the phrase “lick a yoga mat” again)
-I don’t want to feel this out of control, feeling like a slave to this binge/starve cycle
 
So why can’t I drag myself out of it?
 
My beautiful friend Sonia is a life coach, and explained to me that setting an intention is a great way to start making changes in your life.  You start the day with an intention, and that makes what you want clear and sets it out into the world.  It makes total sense, which appeals to my need for logic and reason.  And don’t things become more real when you write them down?
 
Yet one month after we had this conversation, I have not written down one intention.  No “Today I will eat healthy food that nourishes me”.  No “I will honor what my body needs”.  Not even “I will ignore the nasty voice today”.  It’s baffling to me that I cannot do something so simple.  Almost like I’m purposely refusing, rebelling.  Is it possible that I’m not ready to really give this up?
 
I have been asking a lot of questions in my writing, and finding answers and lessons when and where I didn’t anticipate them.  But this time, I have tons of questions, and no answers.  
 
I don’t know what I am holding onto here.  I don’t know why I can’t just get it under control.  I don’t know why it’s getting worse.  
 
There’s no answer.  There’s no lesson learned.  There’s no take away. 
 
There’s just….me.
I want to be able to hear only my other nicknames.  From my mom, who calls me Kate Face, or Sweet Peach when she’s feeling especially nostalgic.  Ka-elly, what my dad says when he starts with my name and finishes with my sister’s.  My friends’ variations of my name…Kate, Katie D, KD, Kitty, even K-K-K-Katie.  The nicknames from people who love me, who sustain me.  
 
It would really be great if I became one of those people.

27 thoughts on “Confession: I Have An Eating Disorder

  1. This post is bravery and courage in the face of something terrifying. I know you don’t see your way out, but naming it begins to take the power of the eating disorder away. Thank you for sharing. I’m really glad I found you and your wonderful blog.

  2. “I don’t want to lie in bed, praying for sleep to come but kept awake by guilt, and shame about what I’ve eaten, and a stomachache that comes from being either too full or too hungry” This is where I am, now, as I read this post … which I could have written (were I honest enough, or as brave as you).

    I don’t have the answer either; I wish I did. I do know that it helps to feel less isolated in the feelings – thank you.

    • But guess what? You did just write it. You ARE honest enough, you ARE brave enough. I am realizing–it doesn’t matter how many people you tell, or how you tell it. If you share it on Facebook, or write it down just for you. The reaching out is the important part. And you’re there. You have made me feel less isolated as well, so I thank you.

    • Thank you, again, always. Your support has almost baffled me…to be so kind, so generous to someone you haven’t even met face to face…you are a very special person. It is all appreciated. And you do so much to help. Truly. Thank you.

  3. You *can* become one of those people. You *are already* that person! You just have to love her more so she she shows up. And if you learn how to do that, please post step-by-step instructions immediately! 🙂

    My prediction for you: in a year’s time, or less, you will be writing in *her* [your] voice. You will have made room for her [yourself] at the table, and she [you] will be the one who shows up. Have a pretty chair ready!

  4. You’ve said it better than I ever could. This hit home so much for me. Hugs to you, my dear. Here’s hoping we come out on the other side of this on top! 🙂

  5. I’m so proud of you for putting this out into the world. I too am a person who wants to be my own cheerleader and biggest supporter. This hit home and thank you for saying everything I couldn’t. We will prevail and find our voice that will tell us everyday how we deserve health and happiness. Can’t wait to see you in a week!
    Merry Christmas my dear friend. XO

    • We are getting there though, aren’t we? I hope? I’m very lucky to have you in my life for support. I look forward to seeing you next week and reminding you how grateful I am. Merry Christmas!!! xx

  6. Pingback: Confession: I Have An Eating Disorder. A Guest Post. « The Manifest-Station

  7. Thank you for sharing, Katie. I feel like, in the face of so much shit coming from all sides (media, society, etc etc), it’s a miracle that any women in the U.S. don’t have eating disorders. I’m so happy that you’ve taken the step of publicly talking about it. It’s such a huge first step! I wish you so much strength, but I think you’ve shown you have it by posting this.

  8. great job, katie. this really touched me. both to know you’re going through this and your bravery in writing about it. you have taken a major step. we haven’t seen in other since we were kids, literally, but i’m proud of you, impressed by you, and rooting for you. rock on, beautiful you, hang in there and take it all one day, one breath, one thought at a time. xo

    p.s. in utterly different circumstances (post traumatic stress round one, severe postpartum anxiety/depression rounds one and two), the negative self-talk has been a destroyer for me – try to focus on it when you’re in the midst, really ty to short-circuit it. it’s so damn hard, but one of the most enlightening, helpful things i’ve done. i didn’t realize how much it was strengthening, furthering my already negative and critical thoughts.

    • Thank you Merranie. I love hearing from you. I have ALWAYS looked up to you (literally, haha), even while not seeing you, and your support means so much. I take your words to heart and will be focusing on this for 2013. Thank you. You will always be “Nole” to me! xx

  9. love this. so much like me, SO much… having kids somehow helped me – maybe a hormone change? maybe being so busy & tired that i dont have time to obsess over food?

    • then there is hope! now where to find those kids to knock me out of it…. 🙂

      thanks for reaching out. miss you and hope all is going well for you and your gorgeous family!

  10. Pingback: Katie Devine – “Letter of Closure” | The Ugly Ducklings

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