27 August 2002

Confessions of a Borderline Eating Disorder

I started dieting at 14.

I started out just by eating healthier. Cutting out sweets, ice cream, fried stuff. With all the ballet classes, the baby fat started to fly off. Within a year, I was obsessing over fat grams and calorie counts. I wasn't exactly anorexic, nor exactly bulimic, but a 14 year old should not be able to quote exactly how many grams of fat and calories are in a Snickers bar. The summer before I turned 16, my body decided to rebel by hoarding any calories it came across. Puberty, after all, is something that won't be denied. And so began the yo-yo cycle of dieting.

I would eat lettuce and celery, as the low calorie content actually insured that your body would burn more calories in digestion than you had ingested. Carrots and yogurt. I would force myself to eat grapefruit and drink grapefruit juice to help burn off the calories, even though I fucking hated the taste. I tried drinking syrup of ipecac a few times that I ate something "forbidden", or tried gagging myself with a toothbrush. Never really worked though. Instead I would skip meals, try crazy diets. A friend of mine swore by the Tootsie Roll diet, nothing but the sugar from Tootsie Rolls to keep you going through hours of rehearsals. At one point, I ate baby food (just the fruit kind). There were some weight loss pills with chromium picolinate that helped speed up your metabolism; you were supposed to take two a day, max. I would take up to seven. They made my hands shake. I would drop the weight, and then start eating like a normal person again. And the weight would come back. And I would diet. Again.

When you deprive you body of sustenance, it goes into starvation mode, hoarding any calorie you ingest. Eventually, your body will begin digesting itself, out of sheer desperation, beginning with the muscles, including the heart.

I never got *that* bad, but boy oh boy did I fuck my metabolism right up. It took two years here for my metabolism to even out. I ate and drank what I wanted, and walking everywhere on a daily basis helped keep my weight on a somewhat even keel. I eventually dropped two dress sizes, and I was eating like a pig. Partly to do with all the fresh food here, and I have a sneaking hunch that there aren't as many chemicals, additives, and hormones as in the states, either. It was nice having a decent metabolism. Even nicer was eating what ever the hell I wanted, with no qualms what so ever. Even if I gained weight, it wasn't that big of a deal. The boy I was dating at the time certainly didn't have a problem with it. I stopped judging myself in terms of a scale. Diet was a word eliminated from my vocabulary. I began feeling comfortable in my own body and stopped looking obsessively in mirrors for tell-tale bulges of fat.

Oh, how I'd like to say this has a happy ending.

So the year 2001 was my personal year of hell. I was constantly upset, to the point of feeling nauseous whenever I ate. It got to where I preferred to skip eating. First dinner. Then I was skipping lunch. I was existing on cigarettes and cappuccino. People began to tell me I was too skinny. Then they started asking if I was sick. My friends and I would go out to dinner and they would tell me to eat more, geez, you've barely touched that. My hipbones and sternum bone began to jut out, I dropped a bra size and my clothes began to swim on me.

It wasn't fun.

I've begun to realise it's a control thing. When I start feeling panicky, like I can't control things in my life, I stop eating. It's something I can control. Obsessively. Thankfully, it's not a constant thing. Just when I am really, really upset, which takes a massive amount of button pushing to occur. Call it shades of anorexia, if you will. I eventually pulled out of last year's messy depressions, and ditched a lot of the stuff in my life that was making me unhappy. And my friends here helped a lot. A girl couldn't wish for better friends.

Call it a semi-happy ending. Hey, at least I got my tits back. :-)

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