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So maybe my expectations were a bit too high. Yesterday I went to the library and for over 3 hours had some pretty good focus going on. It wasn’t quite like the old days where I could get completely absorbed in my work and completely appreciate it, but it was a whole lot better than the focus [or lack thereof] that has come with the worsening of my eating disorder. I thought that I could go back today and have the same experience. I should have known better. I went, and of course couldn’t focus at all. It took me 3 hours to do half of what I got done yesterday. I want to want to study again. I want to love learning again. I want to have my brilliant mind back. Yes, I said that, I gave myself a compliment. I never used to give myself credit for being smart, but I was. I simply absorbed everything I needed to know just by attending lecture. I studied because I loved learning so much and I mostly learned extras that weren’t explicitly tested, but that gave me a greater understanding of the subject. I read books upon books for pleasure–all non-fiction. This semester I have finished a total of 3 books. Pathetic.
What have I done to myself? I don’t want to live this way anymore. I don’t want to go through another semester with an eating disorder. It sucks. And I can absolutely guarantee that if I try to go to medical school still completely steeped in this thing, I will fail. Fail miserably.
What am I even getting out of this ED? I haven’t lost weight. Even on an ultra-low-calorie diet, one that should have me at a skeletal weight, I weigh precisely what I have for the past 4 years. I have done this for so long that my body has adapted. I don’t even have the benefit of having lost weight. Instead I’m exhausted all the time, I can’t do my schoolwork properly, I can’t run, I can’t enjoy my friends, I can’t enjoy Zephyr. I can’t enjoy Life.

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Done with classes. Just one more weekend, then finals, and I’m done!  w00t! I spent 6 hours in the library today studying. Normally, for a library fiend like myself, that’s just warming up, but this has been an incredibly difficult semester. I might as well come out with it…my eating disorder is not just a skeleton in my closet, it has been incredibly present and disruptive in my life in the past year. I managed to still pull of school and everything else fairly well, though, until this summer.
To go all the way back to the beginning…just so it’s complete. [Beware, its a long one]
I don’t know that I can pinpoint a moment when it really started, I have bits and pieces of memories from many different years.
I remember in 6th grade my mother coming home after one of her stints in the hospital and having a brief “chat” where she told me to never get an eating disorder because I couldn’t imagine the terrible time those girls had getting over it.
I remember getting a sports physical the summer before my 8th grade year and having lost weight since my physical the year before. The doctor questioned me about whether it was purposeful, but I denied it. Honestly I don’t know if I intended to lose weight or not.
I remember at my 9th grade sports physical the doctor expressing concern over my jutting hipbones and asking if I was eating. My response: ‘I cook supper for my Dad and brothers every night.’ To which he responded, ‘That wasn’t my question, do you eat the supper you cook?’ I don’t remember how I responded.
I remember running track my 9th grade year and losing my period for the whole season.
I remember running distance that year and coming home after track and having absolutely no appetite. I remember cutting back on what I ate for supper.
I remember running every single day after school in my 10th grade year.
I remember running track my 10th grade year and losing my period again.
During that same track season I wrecked my car. Totally wrecked, upside-down-in-the-opposite-ditch-no one-know-how-I-lived wrecked. I was pretty shook up. Every time I tried to eat I would feel physically sick after only a bite or two. I went like that for 8 days. On the 8th day I nearly collapsed in practice. I made myself eat after that, but something was set…I could go for quite a while on very little food. And if I just claimed sickness I didn’t have people constantly on my case about not eating.
During the same season I remember doing circuits and getting huge bruises on my hips from an exercise called ‘stomach rockers’. I remember feeling ‘special’ in a way because I was the only one with that issue.
I remember running sprint hurdles that year and coming home from practice completely ravenous. I remember the unspoken family rule about not eating before meals and so I starved for 1 1/2-2 hours before supper.
During my 11th grade year I stopped eating lunch at school. Some days I would take an apple or a yogurt. Many days I didn’t eat. I remember thinking about how I went an entire school year without needing more lunch money and no one in my family ever noticed.
During my 11th grade year I developed this obsession with not eating before I ran. I wouldn’t eat 3 hours before I ran. I wouldn’t eat all day on meet days. I ran distance again and reveled in the lack of appetite. I continued running every day after school, all year.
The summer after my 11th grade year I woke up at 5:30 am every morning to go running.
My 12th grade year I continued to not eat lunch and stopped bringing even an apple or yogurt. I also stopped eating breakfast. If I didn’t have to be at family supper, I would skip that meal too. I very rarely had snacks.
My school started a cross-country team my 12th grade year. I ran and again reveled in the loss of appetite, loss of my period, and chance for more meet days as an excuse to not eat.
My brother was nearly killed in a car accident. I remember someone talking about how stress made some people eat and made others lose their appetite. I realized that I was a stress eater and vowed to change that.
My track season that year was precisely like the one before it.
The summer before college I worked 3 jobs, one of them hard physical labor, skipped breakfast, skipped lunch, and ran every morning.
My freshman year was like a dream come true. The dramatic shift of environment ‘reset’ me for a bit. I took 20 credits, studied obsessively, ran moderately, practiced flute like a fiend, aced my classes, rose to the top of the flute studio. During my fall semester.
In the spring semester things started catching up to me again. Know the old adage ‘Wherever you go, there you are?’ well, I definitely know that one to be true. I started skipping meals again, my running worked its way up.
The summer after my freshman year I returned home and worked at a nursing home 50 hrs/wk. My running continued to increase, I worked exhausting 8 hr CNA shifts without eating all day. When I got off at 11 I would occasionally eat something.
My sophomore year of college, I started skipping more meals. I still lived in the dorms and had a meal plan and it became sort of a numbers game, trying to get a certain number of meals left each week. At the end of each semester I would have accumulated so many meals that I took friends to eat every day for the last 3-4 weeks. I trained for my first half-marathon, got an injury from overtraining, and ran the half-marathon anyway. After a forced 6-week hiatus from running, I finally found a pair of shoes that would allow me to run without the pain of my injury, and my running rose again.
The summer after my sophomore year (this past summer) I moved to an apartment, the previous resident (an unfamiliar male) was still living there for a week, and I took the MCATs. Stress galore! I stopped eating, dropped a little weight, and started running more. I was excited to have conquered my stress-eating.
My running rose to unprecedented levels, I ran everywhere I went (my therapist, work, the grocery store, etc). All total I ran anywhere from 10-12 miles every day. All while not eating much.
I was attending group counseling at the University that summer. I mentioned this in one session and the leader contacted my regular therapist. She sat me down and a couple weeks later I found myself in a partial hospital program. I stayed for 2 weeks, ED screaming and getting stronger the whole time, I left against advice because I wanted to get back to start the school year on time. I stayed a little better for a while and then started to slide back down.
In late-September, early-October my therapist sat me down again and said that if I didn’t change things ASAP I would be headed back to treatment. I was in the midst of medical school applications and on track to graduate this spring so I most certainly didn’t want to withdraw from school for treatment. We made a contract, I agreed to eat a certain number of meals, limit my running, etc. in exchange for being allowed to stay. If I stepped one toe over the line I was done, gone, headed to treatment, no questions asked. This was scary and for a while I stuck to the guidelines, however as stress hit and eating became every more difficult, I began restricting and lying to my therapist and dietitian. I’m still living the lie. At the time the restriction didn’t seem too harmful. But now I’m in so deep I can’t stop. I can’t remember anything from my classes. I’ve never had to study in my life, and now that I can’t remember I actually need to study, but I can’t because I have zero concentration. I don’t enjoy hanging out with friends. I don’t even really enjoy my boyfriend. Even when I do want to eat I can’t because food terrifies me.
And that’s where I am now. Hating school, having a difficult time for the first time in my life, entering finals week knowing that I need to eat, but being so incredibly terrified of every bite that passes through my lips.

But on a lighter note: Some interesting things from the library. [My apologies for the grainy cell pics]

4 weeks ago on this library table there was a stack of books/notebooks with a note on top that said ‘Please do not take my books to the lost and found. I will come back for them.’ Since them I have watched various items come and go. This is a cup containing a toothbrush and toothpaste, and an umbrella.

I’m not sure how to flip this picture. But Fanta=yum. And the picture on the can is amazing!

And this is the pen that makes me adore writing and makes hours in the library enjoyable. Zebra F-301. I buy them in large amounts on the internet as well as the matching mechanical pencil Zebra M-301. This semester I have returned to writing exclusively in pen. Except for class evaluations and exams done on scantrons because 1) I don’t want to fail an exam just because I refused to write in pencil 😉 and 2) I like to give my opinions on evals, I can be as honest (brutally or nicely) as I want about what would make classes *excellent*

Tomorrow it will be Zephyr time in the morning and then library (it doesn’t open until 12:30 on Sundays). 5 days!

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