Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking Spring off

Okay, my last few posts were extremely negative, I know.
But I'm feeling a lot better now.
I talked to my parents a bit more and told them what I was planning on doing if I were to take Spring Semester off, and they (or at least my mom) seem rather favorable to it now.
I'm just so caught up in my ED and recovery etc that I just can't concentrate on school, homework, studying... I just feel so disconnected. The prospect of going home for several months, relaxing, getting treatment for my ED, and just taking an art class at a nearby college is SO attractive right now. Brown is a great school, but I feel like I just can't get as much out of it as I could if I were healthy and mentally prepared for an academic challenge. Right now, I'm exhausted, mentally and physically, the prospect of learning more material is just so draining. And I just can't cope with the whole social aspect of college.
I just really hope the outcome, staying or leaving, will be for the best.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Health and Sanity

I've come to a realization.

My problem with recovery is my shifting perception of anorexia. Some days, I think: "Wow, anorexia really is a disease, an addiction like alcoholism or drug abuse. It's terrible - a sign of weakness, a sign of uncontrollable obsession and addiction to terrible things. What loonies they are! In need of mental support, why, not much better than someone psychologically deranged, and yet we would never glamorize a crazy person for being out of their mind. I see emaciated, gray-faced girls with feeding tubes up their noses and think: why on earth would anyone want that? That is the lowest of the low. I want to be healthy, happy, able to go for runs and eat foods that nourish me and make me strong."
Other days, I am enraptured by the thinness, the self-denial, the will-power - all so impressive, so "beautiful". And I am disgusted by my "fatness".

But really, that's the nature of the beast. The latter point of view is twisted. That's why this is not just a physical disease, but also a mental health issue. That fascination with thinness is sick, it's irrational, deranged.

Change your point of view. Change your perception. Realize that wanting to be emaciated is crazy! It's sick. So... embrace the wonders of recovery (wow, that sounded cheesy). And realize that really, being healthy is just a sane thing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ah, the wonders of having an egotistical, self-centered roommate!

Okay. I must admit I am quite pissed off at the moment. II just feel like my roomate is so presumptuous sometimes. This evening we somehow got onto the subject of boys (but, with her, when are we not on the subject of boys?) and the topic of sexiling came up. Now, I know I'm at college. I know that people have sex, a lot, at college. And I know that sometimes one person will want to have sex in the room. But the way she phrased it! She just acts so entitled! She was just like, "well, this is college, I mean, this is normal... I mean, when The guy I'm interested in is standing at my door and I want to have sex, I'm going to be thinkin about what's best for the relationship... You know... (implicitly: not you!) I mean, this is a shared space... And you have friends you can go stay with, right?"I just feel like she has no consideration whatsoever about me, and she will do whatever necessary in order to advance herself and benefit herself, even if it means stepping all over me.
I mean, why should I be punished just because she is a whore and wants to sleep around with every guy on campus? She just makes me feel like I'M the guilty one in every situation for deigning to consider that I have any rights in anything. I mean, IT IS a shared space, and I deserve to be able to sleep in my own bed at night, and get enough sleep (yes... She gets up at 6:30am every morning to go to the gym because she is freaked out about the freshmen fifteen... Irony. And she she's it's "unfair for her to change her schedule" (Aka go to the gym in the afternoon so I don't get sleep deprived because "this is a shared space").
Ugh. I just needed to vent my frustration. I should go to sleep now. It's nearly midnight, and of course :) I'll be waking up at 6:30 tomorrow because my roommate can't help herself and eats like a pig and then must go to he gym and thus deprives me of sleep for her gluttony. Ah, the wonders of having an egotistical, self-centered roommate!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Okay... So this is the most random place to be writing a post... After an evening of going to an Asian food market in Sayles hall and watching Knightley's Pride and Prejudice with my Champlin friends... I'm sitting in saferide, winging my way back to my dorm - on the most circuitous route possible !

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving in to College

So, I've arrived at college.

Yes, it is kind of freaky, I must admit. I'm completely moved in, and everything looks pretty good, I must say. The only negative part of the environment is that my parents (and I) bought two large pieces of carpeting from this vendor who was selling rugs for dorms, and we lugged them into the room and set everything up.

I personally thought it was really nice (a wonderful change from Brown's sticky, cold, disgusting gray floors, in my opinion) but my roommate seems to be really displeased, saying "It'll be hell to clean," "I thought you were just getting an area rug..." and "Why don't we remove the rug when it starts to get warm again in Spring?"

So that kind of ruined my mood (and generosity, since my family was the one who payed for it!) But oh well. I like it. She can deal with it. The room looks pretty good, anyway.

I'm in two minds about the whole moving away from home thing. At first I was extremely excited to be studying away from home, living in the US again, and being independent. But now I feel extremely... odd. A feeling of loneliness is surreptitiously creeping up on me. I kind of miss my parents being around, hanging out with them, listening to poppy make dinner and listen to the news, talking with him about some random political issue I'm not interested in but that I talk with him about anyway because he likes it. I miss being able to cook food for myself, to wander around the house freely, and sit outside reading while having lunch.

I have a feeling I'll soon be annoyed with constantly being with other people. I am a very solitary person, really, so this should be a change. Random teens walking around the hallways, walking into our room, talking to my roommate J, etc etc. I'm used to living only with adults. The only teens I spent time with where my friends at school or at horse riding.

I also miss the luxuries of home - my own room and bathroom. The latter being clean, luxurious with nice soap, towels, perfumes; a space that was my own and which I could leave my stuff in - now I have to learn to live in a place that is not mine, that I do not own.

Anyway. I have to go to some mandatory meeting for my unit about alcohol and whatnot. So I leave you there.

I just hope the loneliness recedes and the joy of learning and being with new friends comes forth to replace it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Birthday in boston

So today is my birthday, and I'm sitting at a Starbucks in Boston typing on my new iPhone(!) in a bad mood, actually. As usual on my b-day my mom spent forever getting ready, and my dad and I waited for hours for her to be ready. She didn't bother reServing our rental car till this morning (my bday) and it just all culminated in my familiar sense of my bday being ANOTHER disaster. Oh well.

I've been reading some inspiring and uplifting blogs, which have made me feel better, so that's good. Now I'm just waiting for my parents who decided to walk over to the car rental place and sort things out. I SHOULD be looking forward to school, and moving in to my dorm tomorrow! And I am excited about it. It's just that that excitement has been slightly eclipsed by this sudden and inevitable sense of disappointment on my birthday. Oh well.

Writing this has been cathartic, I must admit. So Hopefully my parents will return soon. We're planning on going to a museum this morning, and getting organic (yes organic!) facials this afternoon (my mom and I.) So hopefully the day will turn around. I'm also kind of annoyed we might bot go to this cool restaurant which had awesome lunch options (omelettes, bagels, spinach pasta...) because it's so late (11:00). We did go to a great restaurant last night though, and I had a diving baked spinach dish .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Feeling beautiful

I feel beautiful today.

New clothes, new makeup. It will make you feel divine. I bought a gorgeous navy crew neck cable-knit sweater from Ralph Lauren yesterday. On sale. For $40. I also got some really awesome oxford shoes. Also only $40.

My mom and I went to Benefit the other day while shopping on Fillmore street in San Francisco. She got her lashes dyed for the first time, and a makeup artist gave me a makeover. I felt so beautiful afterward. I bought the Yourebel tinted moisturizer and the concealer he used. Simple. Basics.

Today I put everything together, cable-knit, oxfords, tinted moisturizer, concealer, and some blush of my own before going out to the Asian Art museum to see the Shanghai exhibit. I had my hair in a preppy ponytail. I felt wonderful. No shame about my figure, only pride. I encourage you to go out and do some sartorial upgrades! A few superficial items to enhance your appearance will make you feel great, I promise.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dead Certain

Thursday (08/12/2010) was a pretty busy day for me, and it certainly had an impact on me.

I started out bright and early with the first jog since my surgery. Actually, it was more like a walk/jog, because a) I haven't completely healed, and didn't want to compromise my recovery and b) after a week without jogging, spent mainly lying down or going on long walks, I was pretty out of shape.

Isn't that funny that when we're recovering from something like surgery, or cancer, or some other 'common' or 'normal' disease (aka that happens to, I wouldn't say everyone, but most people) we do everything we can to ensure a proper and speedy recovery, whereas with an eating disorder, we cling to our disease like starved beggars pulling at the rich man's cloak with vain hands, desperate to stay sick.


After that, it was a rushed trip to a therapist I was seeing for the first time. My whole family went. It was good, because she really explained to them all the intricacies of anorexia, the habits, the rituals, the thinking behind it, which I think my parents were relatively blithely unaware of up till that point. It also helped us establish that I've felt alone, unsupported, and unencouraged in my recovery, and that they really need to encourage me help me eat more and gain weight.
I realized that I need them to make it known that it is acceptable, it is okay, to eat. And particularly, that it is okay to eat this or that food.

That afternoon, we saw the Fisher exhibit at the SFMOMA - what an impressive collection of art! I loved Agnes Martin's subtle paintings, and Wayne Thiebauld's utopian view of San Francisco. Also, I found Cy Twombly's philosophy intriguing: history is fragmented, therefore any understanding of the past is incomplete. Ironically, I disliked his paintings. I found them dark, depressing, almost like Munch's nightmarish paintings.

After a hummus and pita bread appetizer we shared and a spinach and asparagus pasta, we went to Royce Gallery in San Francisco to see a play called "Dead Certain." It was a tiny space, with hardly a classroom size audience (about 30 people) in a cozy, intimate gallery space.

The stage was already set - a desk (with brandy, coke bottles, a first aid kit, play bills, scripts...), two armchairs, book cases, a female mannequin with a bright pink satin negligee, and no curtain to hide any of this.
There were only two actors: "Elizabeth" and "Michael". I won't get into the plot, which is extremely convoluted and mind-warping. I will only say that it was very good.
What I want to talk about is the fact that Elizabeth was in a car accident, and crippled for life. She spends the entire play in a wheelchair, rolling herself around now and then. She feels extreme resent at her handicap, and wants revenge on Michael whom she thinks is responsible (see? Here I am telling you the plot when I vowed not to.)

I didn't think much of it then, but the next day on my jog, I thought, wow, how lucky am I? I can run and jump and live. We, as human beings have been gifted with the faculty to move, to be physically active and capable! Is this not amazing? We are so, so lucky. I thought about Elizabeth, a former ballerina, now chained to her wheelchair, unable to ever get up and walk, play, do anything at all.

I would really go mad if I were in such a position of handicap, sitting at my desk all day, unable to walk down the stairs or move on my own, or shower, or do anything for myself, by myself. Then I thought, but... this is anorexia. When I was in the deepest, worst throws of my illness, I had so very little energy that I could hardly muster up the strength to run, or walk for long distances or periods without feeling utterly drained and exhausted. Even now, in the midst of my recovery, walking around the Museum of Modern Art two days ago completely sapped me of my strength - I could hardly get up off the bench to walk into the next room.

Actually, near the end, I was nearly dead on my feet. So, I want to let you know of a feat I performed. Isn't that ridiculous and pathetic, though, to consider things that normal people think are the easiest and most natural in the world, feats? Anyway, with about 3 more large rooms to go, my mom told me there was a rooftop café, and asked if I wanted to have a drink their to restore my energy.

We forged through the last rooms and I actually got a full-fat hot chocolate. Can you believe it? Every single time I order a dairy beverage (generally my favorite moccha latté) I specify that it must be made with non-fat milk. But this time I made no such specifications, and saw the very bottle of organic clover milk he used. And you know what? It was the best fucking hot chocolate I've had in my life. We sat out on the rooftop garden, lounging, soaking in the sun like deprived iguanas, admiring the various sculptures on display. Perfect.

Okay, where did this digression come from? Anyway, to get back to my point, I see anorexia as a type of chosen handicap, often used to incite compassion and love (I certainly felt so) among other things. We are purposefully restricting our power, our range of movement, possibilities, ability to go out and run and jump and do sports, to goof around and play with our friends, to live. By choosing anorexia, we are choosing to be Elizabeths. We are choosing to be the withered cripple in the wheelchair, whose life holds no hope nor possibilities.

I choose to be the athlete. The person who has overcome their disability with physical therapy. The person who has chosen to live. Of that, I am Dead Certain.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Late night insomnia

So it's 4:30am, and I've been awake since 12:45. What on earth are you doing up, Lexi?! You may be asking. Insomnia, my friends, insomnia. It's been like this the entire summer - waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, then having trouble getting back to sleep - but never this bad.

My problem is that I drink way too much water before bedtime - I have about 2 half-liter bottles at dinner. I have this weird compulsion to drink a sip of water between every one, two, or three bites. It's a way of pacing myself, an anorexic habit to ensure I don't eat too much. But now it's just biting me in the rear.

So there's the drinking thing. The other problem is that, as I recover from I my surgery, I am forbidden from any strenuous exercise. So my daily or quasi daily 30-45 minute morning run went down the drain. The lack of physical exercise - and the ensuing sedentary state before my computer, has made me restless. My body just doesn't feel like it needs rest.

Also, when I wake up, I often find myself extremely hungry. My dental surgery meant that I basically switched to a liquid diet because it was too difficult to eat hard foods. My diet now consists of:

-1 mashed banana
-1/2 cup of oats
-1 cup of water
All heated up in the micro together, then splashed with soymilk

Mid-morning snack got nixed because sans early-morning run, I get up late.

-soup: 1 can of campbells creamy broccoli soup (oh my god, this stuff is absolutely divine. Seriously. It's my favorite soup ever. It's rich, creamy, and tastes like broccoli. You have to try it.) or reduced fat mushroom soup, or Whole Foods/Trader Joe's butternut squash soup. Obviously no bread to go with that.
-Dessert is either sorbet or apple sauce or a Light & Fit yogurt by Dannon.

-soup again! Or, the past two nights I had refried beans, which were good, I guess, but a large bowl of pure refried beans is also just a bit much. If I could have it with a tortilla or sour cream or guacamole, that would be divine.
-Squash, mashed potatoes, or mashed yams/ sweet potatoes
-Dessert: sorbet or apple sauce

The soups are good, but having them for lunch and dinner everyday for 6 days is just too much. I also generally fit in a jamba juice Berry Fulfilling or a non-fat moccha latté in there, somewhere, too. Either mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

So here I sit, at my laptop, drinking a cup of tea and eating a Luna Bar, trying to satiate my body with the bar and my mind with the tea. This is the first crunchy thing I've had since Thursday 5 August. Well, okay, I had a salad of tomatoes, avocados, and feta cheese last night, which was somewhat solid - and so hard to eat! I had to mince each little piece of tomato or avocado with my front teeth! Terrible.

Anyway. That's it for now. I'm off to... I don't know what.

P.S. Guess what! A stitch just came out! Okay, that was probably TMI, sorry!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Early morning depression and wisdom teeth removal

This morning, I must admit, I was feeling super depressed and was seriously considering giving up recovery, giving in to ED, and just going back to being all skinny and depressed all the time.

I think the reason why this was is because I hardly had anything for breakfast. I had a tiny peach (about 30 calories), 1 cup of Kashi cereal (70 calories), 1 cup of soymilk (80 calories), and a wee bit of flax seed (10 calories). Which equates to 190 calories. I really notice a link between the quality and quantity of my food intake with my mood level. For example, the other night, a friend of ours came over and had dinner with us. We had burgers (healthy ones - I had a portabello mushroom in mine, with lettuce and tomato, no cheese or juicy substances), some sliced zucchini, and homemade healthy oatmeal cookies. I felt so alive and energetic and loquacious. I could think clearly, could respond to what people were saying and provide interesting points (we were discussing the ban on the Burqa and the Niqāb in France). It was great.

On the other hand, this morning, with my 190 calorie breaky, I felt angry, depressed, moody, sad, and was extremely quiet the whole morning. I guess when I eat low-cal or little food, it really triggers me back into my anorexic mindset. In any case, today, this combined with what I perceived to be my father's antagonistic attitude towards me the past few days (I felt like he was annoyed and tired of me, and just hated me) made me fall into the dumps. I was disgusted with my body, which I deemed fat and podgy in my well-fitting Zara shirt and small skinny jeans from Abercrombie. These jeans were perfect for when I was 92 pounds (aka my worst) even roomy. Now, I feel like they are super tight around my hips, they come too low on my abs (seriously, like, right above my pubic hair!), give my stomach a muffin-top, and overall remind me that I'm fatter now than I was then. And my shirt... ugh, awful. It's a tight-fitting, black and white striped, three-quarter length sleeved shirt. And it hugs my no longer perfectly flat (nay concave) belly. I had to constantly be sucking in my stomach, and even then it still showed some hint of bulge. Not pretty.

So, all that said, I was feeling disgusted with my physical appearance. I realized that I would never again get the love, support, concern, and worry my parents lavished over me when I was extremely sick and emaciated, if I gained weight. I will only get that repulsive indifference, or worse, disgust.


Okay, I wrote this last Tuesday (3rd of August) and never quite finished it. I got up for something else I suppose and must have forgotten about it.

In any case, I'm in a much better mood right now, so all's well. Oh, and I got my wisdom teeth removed! My face puffed up like a chipmunk (I literally look obese right now.) I have felt very little pain though (faithfully taking my Vicodin every 4 hours has done wonders) and my mom has been taking very good care of me and loving me to bits, so all is going really well.

I've been on a relatively liquid diet, but composed of healthy liquids, like soup, chocolate pudding (yes I know, crazy right? 300 calories for 1/2 cup!), sherbet, smoothies, mashed potatoes, and yogurt.

I was kind of worried that I would be chained to my bed and fed entirely by my parents, who think I eat nothing, and would starve for about a week, but they've been quite liberal in their feeding of me, and I've actually been on my feet for a while, and occasionally feeding myself.

Another good thing is that, yes I have puffed up like a chipmunk, but my parents still love me and have still been caring for me. I have had a deep rooted fear for a long time that once I gain weight, they'll hate me. But this has kind of alleviated that fear.

Anyway, I'm off for a short walk with my dad.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer reading list

Okay, this post is going to be slightly different from the rest in the fact that it won't be eating-disorder related. Buuut, this summer I'm basically spending jogging, reading, and preparing for college, so I thought I'd let you know my literature of choice.

1. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Read. An amazing, amazing book. People are generally dissuaded by its length, but in fact it is written in 8 parts, and each part is made up of about 30 very short chapters (I'm talking 2 or 3 pages.) So it is completely feasible. I thought I would begin it for pleasure and never finish it, but I did, and in less than two months!

2. A room of one's own - Virginia Woolf
I'm actually nearly done with this, and quite liking it. She makes some interesting points about the nature of sexual discrimination, and made me consider female rights and feminism in a new light. Kudos for Woolf!

3. Macbeth - Shakespeare
A classic, what can I say? I loved studying Hamlet this year, so hopefully I'll rediscover that with Macbeth.

4. The Waves - Virginia Woolf
I actually started reading this during the school year. It's in the stream of consciousness style, and I quite liked it. However, her prose doesn't seem to be very well glued together - it rather lacks structure, and even seems rather nebulous at times. It's certainly innovative in terms of style and structure. But I liked what I read, so I'd like t finish it this summer.

5. Carpe Diem Put a little Latin in your life - Harry Mount
My uncle gave this to me, long ago. It seems like a humorous, light read, but interesting in terms of etymologies of our current vocabulary. I absolutely adore words, so this should be interesting.

6. Le Père Goriot - Balzac
Okay, I admit it, I probably won't get to this, but it's on my bookshelf, and I know I should read it, as it is a classic.

7. The Brothers Karamazov - Dostoevsky
I'm actually taking a course on this next fall at Brown. I thought it would be good to have already read it, but when I saw on amazon that it was over 1000 pages, I must admit, I winced.

8. The Dew Breaker - Edwidge Danticat
I actually had to read this for Brown, and write a letter to my advisor about it. It was good, I suppose. Not a favorite, though.

So, that's my "schedule" for the summer!
Oh, and I know this post is not eating-disorder related, but I thought I'd share a quote with you I forgot to put in my last post.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tips for recovery from an eating disordere

Sometimes I'm amazed I'm still anorexic. Odd words flying from my mouth, huh? But it's true. I do wonder, at times that at a bmi of 16.5-16.9, I'm still under that 'anorexia landmark.' Let me explain. At night, and sometimes at lunch or breakfast, I eat a normal amount of food. At dinner, I eat all that is on my plate. Actually, the other night, my dad brought out this huge piece of gooey, oozing, gushy blueberry pie. It was enormous, no hyperbole whatsoever. And I ate the whole thing. Yes, I, an anorexic person, at a monumental, prodigious slice of pie. I even scraped my plate afterward. Sure, I felt absolutely sick, and had the strongest urge to purge I've ever had in my life, but I still ate it.

In any case, what I wanted to talk about positive, helpful things you can do to help you along your road to recovery. I am, of course, by no means recovered, but I have found some useful things in my quest for health which I thought I would share with you.

1) Don't think about eating disorders.
Ha, impossible, I know. But seriously, if you try to avoid things like pro-ana sites, anorexic vlogs, calorie counting, etc, it will really help. There is a chance that you will freak out and start thinking about it more, but I think it can help overall. Instead of these anorexic-related activities, try to occupy your time with things that have nothing to do with your disease and will help get your mind off of the desire to be thin. So, what activities would these include? Going to see a movie with your friends, listening to great music, reading, writing (fiction or non-fiction, but something about the world outside and around you, which does not overlap with your eating-disorder world; slightly distanced from you), drawing, doing art, going shopping, spending time just walking around the city or countryside deeply aware of the beauty and life of your environment, taking a class, doing a fun (not one that is punishing or aimed at burning calories) preferable new and unusual/complex sport like yoga/pilates/horseriding/dancing...
The aim of this is to discover that there is more to life than your eating disorder, that you can achieve superior things than having counted your caloric intake or skimmed another pound of vitality off of your body. The other goal is to disassociate yourself from your 'anorexic personality,' and develop your real identity. Because who you are is not this. Anorexia, and eating-disordered tendencies, are not you. They are superficial accoutrements that you use to distract yourself from who you really are, your soul, your personality. Can it be said that anyone, any soul in this world, is composed of thoughts pertaining to food and calories? I mean, when you think about it, that's kind of ridiculous. What do we remember people for? How do we conceive other human beings?
Okay, picture a soul. A yellowy, ephemeral substance, smoky perhaps, hanging in limbo, composed of intangible thoughts and feelings. If you were to see Baudelaire's soul, for instance, you would probably see a (I concede, dark) smoky curl, filled with beautiful linguistic images, an aesthetic view of the world, melancholy, but finding higher truths, more poignant ideas because of his spleen.
Take any other figure in the world. Obama, Dan Brown, Jack Johnson, Ellen Page, Leonardo Dicaprio even. What do they think about all day? How do they define themselves? What is their inherent value based on? They think about what they love, what they're passionate about, what they think is important. They'll be remembered for what they accomplished for other people, not how much they ate or their body type.
Realize that most people really don't care what shape they are or how many calories were in that food that I ate at lunch.
So, try to remember (or grasp) that there is so much more than weight and appearance, that we accord way too much importance to these superfluous, superficial things.

2) Keep your depression in check.
When you think about it, have you ever seen a happy anorexic? Anorexia and depression go hand in hand, so if you're feeling depressed, your more likely to begin feeling negatively about yourself, and then the thinking pattern will resemble: "Oh no, everything in my life is terrible. And that must be because I'm such a terrible person. Oh well, I'll just restrict and lose weight and then I'll get some control back into my life and garner some self-worth." The reverse is also true: when you're under-eating, you will be in a bad mood. I promise.
Again, a nigh-impossible task I'm setting you. But don't worry, it's not as absolute as it may seem. My therapist gave me a worksheet to help me in times of lowness, and I'll share with you the main points, as summed up by her.
1. Increase regularity of psych sessions when you notice increased negative thinking or when you can see you are under increased stress
2. Use relaxation recordings.
My therapist actually did an audio-recording of her walking me through Progressive Muscular Relaxation (stress relief), and some hypnosis sessions, so you could look into finding something on Youtube or making one yourself, if you so desire.
3. Try to always have a major PLEASURE to be looking forward to
4. Try to maintain positive social interactions
5. Get the negative emotions out- Talk or Write
6. Keep a photo out always visible, that prompts you to think about a time and place where you are happy
7. Never under estimate the power of exercise
8. Eat Healthily :)

3) Exercise
Okay, this one you have to be careful with. I want to give exercise in this point a different connotation than in the previous point. By exercise, I don't mean work out on your exercise bike until you collapse and go unconscious. Do not over-exercise. I don't know about you, but when I was at the worst in my anorexia, I really had no energy to exercise. Before sports class, I had to eat something, and even then I would have strength and energy for about 10 minutes before feeling drained. I had trouble walking up the stairs at my school, and would sometimes have to stop mid-flight and lean against the wall, exhausted. I was just so, so extremely weak.
However, during recovery, I've taken up jogging. Let me pre-establish something with you. I hated running. I would run for about 5 minutes, then feel sick. I would watch people running, and turn in disgust, commenting on how they seemed to be suffering so much, breathing hard and sweating like pigs. Yes, very negative view. Nevertheless, after a trip to the East Coast to visit my two college-choice contenders, Mount Holyoke and Brown, my perception was altered.
My host and Mount Holyoke College (from Paris, as coincidence would have it!) actually discussed the Freshman 15 with me. Yeah - shocking, right? Anyway, she was warning me that "Though you think 'this will never happen to me,' it will, I promise you." So, that kind of freaked me out. But, she said she was getting back into jogging, and going to the gym. And she's from paris. I do not know a single French woman who jogs. Especially not a French female teenager who lives in one of the most polluted cities in the world and is concerned by fashion. Nevertheless, that gave me a kick up the rear. The second thing that encouraged me was that we were in Boston during the Boston marathon, and on our flight home, there were about 15 people who had been run in the race, and my dad (also a skinny but healthy runner) and I talked to one, so I had real contact with a runner.
When I got home, I started jogging a bit (very, very slowly, and combined with bouts of walking) and slowly, with training, my endurance and speed has really improved. I can proudly say I ran in the Wharf to Wharf race last weekend, from Santa Cruz to Capitola, a distance of 6 miles, in total of 1 hour and 4 minutes.
Anywho, after all that digression, my point is to find a sport, while you're recovering, which will make you feel toned and happy about your body. When you're anorexic (usually - it was the case for me, anyway) you're generally just a skinny blob. All your muscle mass has atrophied, and all you have left is skin, bone, and a little bit of fat left. Seriously. You have no muscle definition at all, and usually resemble a pathetic, white form of skin.
Exercising will also make you feel better about increasing your calorie count. If you know that you have used your body physically during the day, that you did something good for it, that you did something healthy, it will encourage you to eat something healthy later in the day, too. You won't be as likely to nix your meal plan if you know that you are becoming a healthier person, and that the food will help you become healthier, by giving your body the nutrients it needs. Food is just fuel for the body - it is not bad, and it is not good. It's just necessary.
If you exercise more, and think more in terms of "I am working towards making my body healthier, stronger, toner" it's a lot better than "I want to starve myself and become as tiny and weak and emaciated as possible." When you think about it, what would you prefer between being a weak, emaciated, pale blob, and a strong, healthy, toned human being?

4) Be mental
Go crazy! No, but seriously, try to shift from an obsession with what is physical to a focus on mental things. This is kind of similar to what I talked about in point 1). Try to decrease the importance you put on superficial things, on the physical aspect of your body. Realize that inherently, your self worth lies in your mental capacities and knowledge, not your physical appearance. Try to develop your cognitive abilities. People tend to develop anorexia when they feel worthless. If you work at your intellect, and recognize that you are smart, and have self-worth for that reason, you will be less inclined to try to achieve self-worth through your physical appearance, i.e. starvation and thinness.

5) Associate with people who have a sane approach to food and eating
This is rather difficult for me, because my mother is overweight, and has very mercurial eating patters. She will have a huge breakfast of eggs and cheese and this and that, will snack in her study on yogurts and pots de chocolat, will "forget" about lunch and then make a big deal about it later, saying "Oh, I forgot to do the whole lunch thing. I feel so dizzy." in a bragging way. Or else she'll have hardly anything for breakfast - a tiny bowl of cereal she picks at and eats with her fingers, maybe, or a yogurt and an apricot. She'll come into the kitchen and chop up carrots into little sticks and then eat a few of those for lunch. I don't know. She's very irregular and has always posed as an extremely negative and unhealthy role model in terms of eating.
Then my dad. I always feel like both of my parents are judging me when I eat, actually, but I feel particularly self-conscious when I eat around my father. He is very physically active, and very skinny. Before, I felt like he ate very little, and thought I was fat. Now, he seems to eat a healthy diet (not too little, in any case), and actually eats generous portions.
However, when I'm with friends who aren't all stressed out about losing weight, or who naturally don't eat much (and don't need to!) I feel so much more relaxed about eating. If your fellow diners eat till they are sated, do not restrict, and find pleasure in what they are eating, you will probably feel more comfortable eating sanely, and will simply be more inclined to.

Okay, this blog post is super super long - I'm sorry! - so I'll stop there. I hope these tips have helped, and stay strong all ye recoverers out there - you can make it, and life will be so much better when you do.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Letter to my adviser, lack of motivation, guilt, loneliness

Hmm... It's been a while since I last wrote an entry here, but I've finally gotten around to it. Sound noble, magnanimous, and selfless? Unfortunately, no. The reason I'm writing is because I'm actually feeling rather low - as in the hollow, mid-afternoon low, not severe depression.

I've come back to the States, and so my life in France is officially over. No hard feelings about that, though. Maybe it just hasn't quite sunk in yet.
The reason for my blues is that I'm supposed to be writing a letter to my to-be adviser at college, based on "The Dew Breaker," a book we were meant to read this summer, which was to serve as a starting point to introducing ourselves, our interests, our academic goals, etc. Well, obviously I've read the book, and I've actually written out a fair amount of notes about it, but my perfectionist nature is interfering with me actually furthering my work on it. I've started composing, but I'm getting all obsessional, reading and rereading the different instructions they've published in various locations on the university website, in their e-mails, their letters, blah blah blah. And the frustrating thing is that each set of "instructions" for the letter is different. So, I feel rather uncertain about whether the letter should be a reaction to the book, an analysis to give us conceptual and philosophical material to discuss upon our meeting, or more of a quick critical analysis of an interesting aspect of the book before making a quick link to myself and expounding on who I am, and what I want to do.

Ugghhh, this is frustrating!

Oh well. The other annoying thing is that I view this as an important task at hand which I really HAVE to do, and it's causing me stress and guilt for not having yet accomplished it. I'm experiencing similar feelings to those I had in June, when I was meant to be revising for the BAC, but was feeling exhaustion and extreme lack of motivation, and thus ensuing guilt.

Part b of this is that, though this is summer, I feel I must accomplish this task, and cannot do anything else (read: anything pleasurable) until I've accomplished it. Sooooo, I'm sitting here, at the desk in my dim little attic room, suffering self-inflicted isolation and penitence, combined with temptation and deprivation. I just... feel lonely. Whenever I'm at work on my homework, my parents feel like I need to be left alone - or at least my mother does. I've told her, many times, that no, I do not need to be abandoned in a corner to slog away at the unpleasant task at hand. But she just doesn't seem to get it. In any case, it's times like this, when I have a lot of work, that I feel the most alone. My parents "leave me be," with a feeling of self-righteousness, as though they are accomplishing a difficult, heroic task, and I, in my solitary confine, find myself in an dark void, unsupported and unloved, with nothing to occupy my time with but unending toil.

To alleviate the solitude, I try to garner some sense of closeness to other human beings, and stretch out my soul on youtube, watching various people's vlogs, as they talk about themselves, their day, yada yada. It helps fill the emptiness. I also do research, on EDs, on college courses, etc, etc.

However, the downfall of the emptiness and this subsequent coping device is that I lose my time in what others would deem "procrastination." But it's not even procrastination! It's a feeble attempt to make myself feel less alone. Nevertheless, I spend much less time working on what I should be doing, and my feeling of lack of motivation and depression escalate until they reach dangerous levels.

But all the while, my parents blithely go through their day, lost in their own little world, as though I don't exist and they really don't care about me.

It's a horrific cycle, really, and I don't know what to do about it.

I think I'll try to go back to my letter to my adviser, now. I'm not even going to reread this, because I always cringe when I reread my writing, or the expression of my emotions. Sooo, sorry if there are any terrible typos or wonky sentences.
Ta ta for now!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What is NORMAL eating?

As I think I mentioned in a previous post, I'm heading off to university next year. Well, as with all eating-disordered, I have spent excessive amounts of time looking at the food selections, the diners, the nutritional values, etc. I came across a page which described "dietary guidelines" and how to eat healthy. And what's great about it all? They didn't evoke the whole "you have to eat 2-4 servings of fruit a day, and 3-5 veggies a day, and eat your whole grains, and avoid all saturated fat and sugar" and yada yada... They approached eating and health with, I believe a much more sane and accepting attitude, which I love.
I must admit, trying to eat healthier again, and recover from anorexia, I am still bombarded with the weight loss articles and healthy eating articles which impose extremely strict guidelines that no one can follow. I don't know about other people, but when I was severely anorexic, I still ate 3 meals a day, small, and low calorie, but still "healthy" in that I would eat fruit and vegetables, and grain breads, and STILL have a small dessert of some type. I never did the whole "Oh, am fasting for the next three days, who wants to join me?" only to binge afterward. I ate regularly and, even 'healthily' in that I ate relatively nutritious foods. My problem (or trick, however you view it) was that I ate low-calorie plant-foods, and never indulged in a binge.
But I digress. I'm just really happy that people are finally promulgating normal, healthy eating, focusing on nourishing your body, on feeling satisfied, and feeling happy with who you are. So, without further ado, I really recommend reading this page, for anyone, whether you are overweight, underweight, anorexic, bulimic, obese, or even normal. It really can help anyone realize that food is just food. It's an inanimate object, that fuels our body, and should not be disproportionately feared or adored. It's just food, there to allow us to live the best life possible, to do whatever we want to do, and to provide satiation and satisfaction.

Of particular interest was this passage:
In the end, it isn't about being perfect with eating; it's about healthy, normal, "good enough" eating. Ellyn Satter, RD, defines "normal eating" this way:

* Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it - not just stop eating because you think you should.
* Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
* Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way.
* It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
* Normal eating is overeating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

Finding beauty

I was filling my basin with hot water to wash my face this evening, and of course, standing in front of a mirror, what else do I do but peruse the state of my reflection?
I was actually surprised. I realized, as I observed the white skin and reddening lips, that I look okay. Despite weight gain (though I'm nowhere near recovered) I actually look... dare I say it... good - I've retained that quirky, elvin look that comes from being small.
The most shocking thing is, I look better than when I weighed 5 or 6kg less. At an end-of-year pool party one of my friends hosted a few weeks ago, my friend displayed a slide show of the past three years of high school. There were very few pictures of me (partly because I wasn't in the core group, partly because of my appearance), but those that were displayed were... disturbing. One, in particular, showed me beside my best friend, smiling into the camera. My face was overwhelmed with wrinkles from lack of facial fat. As one internet blogger nicely put it, the smile took over my face. My skin was sallow, and the smile strained. I realized, in that instant, how horrific I really looked at my worst.
Now, as I gain weight, I admit, I abhor my fat, pancakey thighs. My face and neck look just too chubby, some days. But today, I realized, it's not that bad. I actually look better, now, than I did then. Sure, some parts of me no longer look stick-thin. But when I tilt it the right way, my face looks beautiful, and so, so much better than before.
This whole process is extremely stressful. Trying to abandon all these notions I've held to so tightly for so long - restricting, liking the number on the scale decrease, eating low calorie foods... is almost impossible.
But my face looks okay. There is a happy medium. You can be healthy, and still beautiful. Millions of people are. So... why not us?
I remember thinking, one day, in 10th grade (as I was planning my weight loss), that everyone else could just be pretty naturally. But I, I had to lose weight on my face to look pretty. Sure, my body was okay, but my face was the problem: it was too chubby, plain, ordinary, and had no natural beauty. To be beautiful, to even attempt to compete with these 'lucky girls' I had to be thin.
But it's not true! Even in the worst case, you can use makeup to enhance your bone structure, you can dress to emphasize the positive points of your body.
So I challenge you to find something that is better about your body or your life now, in recovery, than when you were very sick.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From rock bottom to recovery

My experience with anorexia has lasted two years. Well, it began physically in Spring of 2008, but mentally it began much earlier, perhaps Spring or Fall of 2007.
It has been a very dark, horrific experience. I've suffered from severe depression, suicidal thoughts, lack of energy, constant fatigue, isolation, estrangement with my mother, deteriorating relationships, loss of concentration, mental clarity, and elocution.
However, 7 months ago, my mom finally got it together enough to arrange for me to see a therapist, after I reached my lowest point, and had starved myself more than ever, and was actively considering suicide. My friend had told me, on Friday "Looks like you've gained some weight." (By the way, worst thing you can EVER say to someone suffering from anorexia) and what else could I respond with but "I'm trying"? To which she drove the nail deeper: "You can tell."
I felt a hopeless wreck after that, and wallowed in depression for two days. I starved myself, purposefully avoiding meals altogether (throughout my entire anorexia, I never once purposefully skipped a meal. Shocking, no? I actually dropped down to 42kg - 92lbs, on my 5'7 frame by eating three times a day, every day. Even if the meal was just an apply and a carrot, I still ate three meals a day - unless I had gone out to lunch, and we'd eaten a large lunch and even my parents skipped dinner). I couldn't bring myself to do my homework, which was extremely unusual, because during my anorexia I was the biggest workaholic ever - I worked, went to school, and spent an hour playing the piano and 3 hours horse-riding. That's all I ever did. Finally, I broke down at dinner on Sunday night (after refusing to eat most of my meal) and told my parents how depressed I always was. It turns out, my mom was supposed to have been working on getting me a therapist for about a year, but just never got around it, and pulled out a bunch of excuses.
I started seeing a psychologist every week, and since then, I've really improved. I'm trying to recover, but anorexia and restricting is still a huge part of my life. I have, however, really reduced my depression. So now... I'm just going to keep plodding along the road to recovery, and hope, someday, I will finally make it there.

Summer, becoming vegan, and spiralling down into a hopeless disease

That summer (2008), I really began to eat healthy - I would eat low-calorie oatmeal, salads for lunch, etc. Then, the fatal blow, I suppose you could say, was the book "Skinny Bitch". An acquaintance had read it and said she had thus become a vegan, and was losing weight. Score! I thought. I'm going to read that book, and lose more weight! So... I did. I became a strict vegan. No meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, even butter, would pass through my lips. I also began jogging (very slowly, and for short distances, haha.) All this accelerated my weight loss, so that, when I returned to France for the school year, and finally bought my own scale, I found that I weighed 47kg. At 5'7, I was anorexic, though I did not yet realize it.
I just told myself that my stomach was the size of my fist, and I could not eat more than that. At lunch I would have part of a plate of veggies, and some lettuce or half a grapefruit. My weight spiraled lower and lower, until, when I visited the doctor in November, she declared I was underweight and anorexic.
My parents had been annoyed at my choice to become vegan (more cooking for my dad) but didn't really comment on my weight loss. I suppose, up till that point, I felt we were in two different worlds, they completely oblivious to my emotions, my depression, my social life, my disgust for my body, and my lack of self-worth. Suddenly, they seemed to care that I might have to go to the hospital. But they were still basically clueless - I remember, during one of my first meetings with the doctor, she was saying that I should see a therapist. My dad turned toward me and said "Can't you just start eating normally?"

The beginning of my anorexia: 10th grade

10th grade is when it really hit. I guess during the summer I had been hyper health-conscious, and when I went to Lycée (High-school) I began restricting my intake. Also, I was separated from my best friend Fiona, and began spending all my time with Mathilde, who was in my class. She was paranoid about her 'huge, muscly thighs', and I began to think I needed to lose weight. My parents bought a scale, and I started weighing myself, disgusted to find I weighed 55kg. We didn't even own a scale until that year, so I never weighed myself, except once at the beginning of 9th grade, at a friends house, and I felt so good that I only weighed 51kg.
Sometimes I wonder... if my parents hadn't bought that scale, would I have felt so much anxiety about my weight? Would I have developed an eating disorder at all?
Anyway, I began restricting, and at lunch, I would have some veggies, a side of protein (meat or fish) and some lettuce or half a small grape fruit. It doesn't sound that small, but it was still really restricting. My friend, with whom I always ate with, would have all that plus a yogurt and bread. In the afternoons, I would have two apples I'd saved from lunch, and I'd be feeling starving. Then when I got home, I would snack on whatever was out in the kitchen (bread and butter, was, as I remember, divine) and my dad (who would be cooking dinner) would stay "Stop, you'll spoil your dinner!", to which I would respond "But I'm starving!" And what would he say? "Good. You need to feel hunger."
However, this mid-day starving led to compulsive overeating later in the day. And try as I might, my weight ballooned to 57kg over the course of the year.
Then, for a period, my dad began to eat an apple and some almonds for lunch. I was shocked at how little he ate, and thought, wow, I eat so much more than he does... Okay, now I'M going to eat only almonds and an apple for lunch. The plan backfired, however, as I would feel starving in the afternoons and have something like 2 or 3 cubes of chocolate over the course of the afternoon. After over-indulging during the afternoon, I would feel so guilty and terrible about myself that I would sometimes force myself not to have dinner. I would be in two minds about it, till the very last minute, then I would finally say, no, I'm not having diner. I felt so much anger - the self-denial was a painful torment. I would actually sit at the table with my parents and watch them eating dinner. What hurt me most was how easily my dad accepted it. I would say "Oh, I'm not hungry, I'm not going to have dinner tonight." and he would just respond "okay." Hw really could not care less whether I ate or didn't eat. He did not notice anything was wrong at all.
I'm still rather pissed off at my parents during that period for not noticing anything was wrong with me. I wonder, if I hadn't lost so much weight afterwards, if they would have realized there was a problem at all.
Anyway, at the end of the year, I really began to restrict, and I would have my apple and almonds for lunch, and a small, light salad for dinner. I also started watching anorexic vlogs, the "supersize vs. superskinny" show, as well as reading pro-ana sites, and doing research on how to lose weight. I started going on long walks with my dad in the forest, and performed self-hypnosis on myself to reduce my desire to eat. It worked. I lost a few kilos.

The origin and history of my anorexia: 9th grade

The next year, 9th grade, lightened up a bit, but that's when I became obsessed with health. In previous years, I had becoming more health-conscious, and came to believe I had to have a big healthy breakfast every morning. So, I would have oatmeal, or 2 scrambled eggs, with veggies and a croissant or pain au chocolat. Not exactly healthy.
Nonetheless, during 9th grade, I revved up my exercise, doing an hour of badminton on Tuesdays, 3 hours of horse-riding Wednesday afternoons, 2 hours of sports with the school on Thursday afternoons, and 15 minutes of sit-ups/ random stretching and exercise every morning. I also became paranoid about food, and every Wednesday, I was afraid I hadn't had enough to eat, and wouldn't have enough energy for horse-riding. Thus, I would buy an egg and cheese crèpe after school (talk about high calorie!), then when I got home I would probably have a piece of chocolate (another 134 calories there...), and then, driving to the farm, I would have a high-calorie energy bar.
I also started eating more, I think, in general. Hence, weight-gain.

The origin and history of my anorexia: 7th and 8th grade

Things evened out, after a while. My friends grew closer, and 7th grade had to be my best year of collège, or middle school life. Fast-forward to quatrième, or 8th grade. Pleasant at first, my two best friends quickly abandoned me to be 'popular'. It was a terrible time for me. Combined with the fact that my dad left to spend a month in the US for business, and I was left with my mom who... leads a very unstructured lifestyle. She wakes up (or stays up) at ungodly hours, sitting in her study, working on her computer, then sleeps sporadically at all hours of the day. She can hardly speak French, has suffered injuries from a car accident, falls, etc. She is overweight but in denial about it - she first blamed her pregnancy with me, then the fact that she 'has to eat when she's stressed out' (which is always), and now it's a thyroid problem... Basically, a very difficult person to live alone with, especially when you have to face the world outside your house, and attempt to lead a relatively structured life. Increasingly, she's been a very inadequate role model.
Originally, we were extremely, extremely close, but over the years, especially upon the advent of my eating disorder, we've grown estranged. But I'll get to that later.
Anyway, back to that month. Abandoned by my friends, my father, and living with a struggling mother, as well as rattled up by an apparent break-in to our house while my friend and I were alone, I realize now how dark my life was - I was suffering from acute depression, sad, solitary, procrastinating with my school work, and finding myself unequal to completing the assignments.

The origin and history of my anorexia: Moving to France

I thought I would write about my history, and my experience with anorexia in this post. It turned out to be an extremely long post (over 2000 words), so I've broken it up into bits for easier reading!

When I was 11, my family moved to France. They simply decided to go, because I had finished primary school, my father had been laid off from his work a year previously, and they just loved France. Prior to this, I had been attending a French-American school in the US. I was not in the least consulted in this abrupt decision, and had no desire to leave. My parents left for about a week, and I was left to stay with friends, who, I believed, did not particularly like me, and also, whom I was not particularly close with. In that week, they chose our apartment, my new school, and a university at which they would be learning French.

Thus, I felt a large sense of resentment and anger. Looking back at it, I was a powerless pawn the King and Queen were directing. Perhaps, if they'd as little as asked me whether or not I wished to move to France, I might have consented, and said "Ooh, that sounds cool! Let's move to France!" (although, I rather doubt that would have been my reaction.) The process would have been a lot less painful, and I might have been happy to go. Or at least, I would have felt that my opinion mattered, that I was respected.

In any event, off to France we went. Unsurprisingly, I had a difficult time there. I had trouble connecting with my peers, and I felt plunged in a dark world without a smooth transition. I was shocked by the fact that 11 year olds were swearing, not doing their homework, and walking around town alone. So it was a rather biting thrust into what I considered 'adult' or at least teenage life, for which I was completely unprepared.


How to begin?
I started this blog for a few reasons. First of all, it's summer vacation, and I finally have time to actually write and do things for myself. Secondly, I'm trying to recover from anorexia, and figured that a blog would be a cathartic and therapeutic way for me to express my emotions, to process what I'm going through, and hopefully to reach out to others and help them either through support in their eating disorder, or to help prevent potential anorexics from developing this terrible disease.
Other than my eating disorders, I'll probably be writing about college - which I'm starting in Fall! - my various passions for art, writing, literature, and Asian culture.
So... Yeah. I just wanted to make it clear what this blog will be about, and encourage people to comment or send me a message if they so desire!