November 29, 2020

Reader weighs in on eating disorder

So, you’re looking to lose weight? Perhaps secretly you’ve begun to think to yourself, “I can do this,” when considering, say, anorexia nervosa.

Let’s suppose that you can starve yourself thin, because there’s no denying it– you CAN. You can count and restrict calories, exercise hard daily, and browse through pro-ana, thinspo, and pro-mia websites to motivate yourself. You can do that. You can also succeed. But who has told you what happens in the process? I will.

Let’s start with your skin. That will get dry. Your nails and hair will become dry and brittle. You will need lotion and conditioner by the gallons but that won’t even help.

You will get cold easily. Your hands will appear stone grey. Yes, your hands, feet, face….eventually your entire body, all grey. You will resemble ashes. You will have dark circles under your eyes. You will bruise extremely easily.

You won’t be able to sleep for many hours and when you do it won’t be good enough. You will feel exhaustion that will not leave.

Now, your stomach. When you restrict food, your digestive system will empty out and your stomach will appear much flatter than usual. This is good, yes, this is what you want! But after a few days of doing this your body goes into what is known as “starvation mode” in which your metabolism and digestion itself slow down.

This means that food, even the tiny amount you’re now eating, will stay in your stomach much longer than usual. Your stomach will no longer be flat– it will round out in time. Also, when that food remains in the digestive tract and doesn’t move through as it’s supposed to, you will get sickening gas.

Your stomach will growl from the hunger, but that’s not the only sound it will make–  your digestive system will make the most revolting and loud sounds you’ve ever heard. Imagine sitting in a quiet setting with people and your insides are gurgling constantly for hours while they pretend to not notice. They will pretend not to notice a lot of things.

You will have diarrhea. You will drink water all day long to fill yourself up, to rid your body of weight-withholding toxins, and because it raises metabolism. Hey, if you’re eating less than 800 calories a day, you’ve got to burn that off right away, huh? You’ll chew on ice and take cold showers. You’ll have breath of churning stomach acid. Menstrual periods will be considerably lighter or disappear altogether. Your mouth will be dry.

I had less than 200 yesterday. Today I’ve had considerably more. It’s one of my “binge days” in which I eat as a normal person probably would. See, anorexia is a physical and mental disease. It becomes more than an active decision…once you make it.

You will get colds and other illnesses very easily. In fact, you will feel like you have the flu every second of every day.

Here’s your mind, now. The need to be thin has taken over everything. Don’t try to learn anything new because it will not stay in your head. Read it closely fifteen times through, go on. See if you understand it after that. You won’t be able to think with that constant headache.

That’s right, you’ll have a killer headache and it will never leave. Your head will fall down onto the table because your muscles won’t hold yourself up. Your mind will not function. You will not make rational decisions. You’ll have to read things repeatedly and then you still may realize that you missed entire words in the process.

You will have trouble moving your jaw to speak. Don’t like stuttering? Don’t like forgetting what you were just about to say? You want to be able to form a coherent string of words, do you? You will say, do, and feel extremely stupid things– things that YOU would never have done. You will become someone other than yourself…insane.

Anorexia-nervosa-2-287x300You’ll be light-headed and dizzy, too. You will sway from side to side and not be able to stand upright or even walk in a straight line. Your muscle mass will be so low that turning pages of a book will be difficult. You will be exhausted just lying on your bed.

Your bones will hurt when they touch anything….and, of course, you’re always touching something. Your teeth will become sensitive. Your face will ache. Your eyes will feel swollen and you won’t be able to focus them on what’s in front of you for much of the time.

Everything will be done very, very slowly. Imagine walking along and there, suddenly, are glowing white starbursts flitting in and out in your vision. You can worry about that when it happens every day. You can try to keep from fainting.

You cannot have a week or two of anorexia to lose those pounds, like a crash diet. Once you lose some weight you will continue. You will try harder, even though your digestion has severely slowed and your stomach is protruding. You will try to lose that by eating less, and it can work to an extent but this will always fluctuate. You will exercise for hours every day even though you are past exhaustion. You will do it anyway, because at some point, this is all there is for you.

Eating food will make you full immediately, and nauseous. You can enter a “recovery period” but you will hate the “binging” that people are making you do. They see it as healthy but they won’t know how badly your stomach is hurting from a meal, that you are doubling over from the pain.

They don’t know that the pain will last for many months before your body has a chance to get back to normal. You will relapse back into anorexia, secretly. You will inevitably get to a point where you don’t want to get back to normal because an empty stomach is comforting.

To you, it will be a sign of success and that you have the utmost control. Eating is a sign of weakness. Eating will make you fat immediately, and you’ll have witnessed this.

I am perfectionistic, and have depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, an inferiority complex, germophobia, an intense need for control of certain factors in my life, a hatred of my body, and an oral fixation. I am also a fantastic cook. I cook delicious meals every day for others– not for myself.

Half a cup of cereal, three spoonfuls and no more, etc. Everything must be measured. A square of sandwich cheese has sixty calories. Two tablespoons of ranch dressing have one hundred and ten fatty calories. Powdered coffee creamer has thirty calories per serving. Mustard has no calories at all.

You will know and practice little things like this. I fast quite often. I can easily go over two days with only water and coffee. I have always had an obsession with food and weight but have never been gluttonous.

Watch out for people who have issues. All of us are crazy but watch for those who are particularly odd– they are most prone to developing serious problems.

When you have this disease, the disgusting physical and mental effects won’t bother  you as much as they should– as much as they do now, while you’re reading this. And you’ll be left to wonder why. You’ll be too far gone. Your body will eat itself…its muscle mass and protein, even bones,  degrading for the sake of beauty.

I was emaciated in March of 2013. It is now June (of 2013) and I must have gained fifteen pounds, all fat, and continuing. From eating small meals and sweets as opposed to nearly no meals.

So, want to lose weight? Do it the healthy way–  the way I started out before this came up–  otherwise you will be trapped in a cycle. There is no temporary anorexic-diet that you can try out and then discard once you’re thin because you’ll just gain it back.

There is only a lifestyle that consumes you and it will kill you in many ways,  and very likely in the final way. You will feel guilt for worrying others but you won’t eat and you’ll continue to exercise ’til your muscles are screaming and you collapse. You will wish you could have a normal, healthy diet and exercise regimen without pain and shame.

Maybe I will someday, once again. I have bounced back and forth between illness and recovery and I think this time recovery will stick. I will ignore the pounds and pounds I am putting on. I must. And you must never consider living– merely existing–  this way.

Never make that decision, because most people do without knowing what will happen. You don’t just lose fat and emerge a beautiful person. It is not easy and there are severe consequences.

Make healthy decisions. Take it from me.


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