Cigarettes, Coffee, and Eating Disorders

I have always had a rather torrid lover affair with food.  At times we were so happy and brought each other joy and other times we were causing physical pain that brought tears and vomit.  I couldn’t tell you the exact moment that I didn’t want to be with food anymore, but I think it happened gradually.  As young lovers I would take my time and consume food in all of its’ forms, not just sweet, but savory and spicy.  As I grew older though I started to refine my palate and desired more complex flavors. This was the beginning of our downfall.

I wanted to eat all of the things but my body wouldn’t let me.  All of a sudden my body decided that if it wasn’t craving something, I just wouldn’t eat.  There were days when I would have to force small portions of food down my throat and try not to vomit.  When high school rolled around not only were my cravings getting more specific, but I also discovered I was lactose intolerant.  This limited the amount of food I could eat even more, especially being in the dairy state.

By the end of high school I was eating about once a day, usually dinner.  This didn’t seem too strange to me, I mean I wasn’t hungry first thing in the morning, I had stopped bringing lunch, and dinner was logically the only time I could eat.  I really didn’t think I had a problem, I was still within what my doctor called a healthy weight.  I’m only 5′ 2″ and I weighed 110 lbs at the end of high school.

I think that college ended up being where things really took a turn for the awful.  Initially I went off the deep end a bit, I mean I had access to shit food all the time.  It was either subs, salads, or burgers.  I ate poorly and my body pulled the old Freshman 15, not surprising.  I would have been fine, but my roommate had a scale, and the worst thing in the world is having a scale.  I would get out of the shower and stand on it and just stare as that stupid tiny number went higher and higher.  I fucking hated myself.  I was on a campus where people went to workout daily and I just felt like an out of shape loser. I would choose eating snacks and watching weekend long Harry Potter marathons over sweating and suffering in front of strangers at the gym.

I didn’t make a change until my second year, when I had a job that involved being on my feet.  This helped me feel more positive about my weight because I was moving around and snacking less and I wasn’t in the room all the time.  I looked healthier, was losing weight, and lived with Katie who could give two fucks about my eating habits.  I didn’t have a bathroom scale, had a supportive roommate, and was feeling good. Then my year in South Korea rolled around.

Korean food is absolutely delicious and it’s much less unhealthy than American food.  I was walking a ton, eating well, and felt good. The problem was that I lived with a girl who had one of the most severe eating disorders I’d ever seen.  We spent all of our time together and I ended up being sucked into her way of life.  I started eating less and less.  It went from two meals to one meal and then I just would have coffee and cigarettes and that was all. I want to say that I saw my problem and tried to change, but that would be a lie.  I reached a point where I would go days without eating and didn’t even notice.  I had finally found a comrade in my unhealthy eating habits, and I looked good.  I felt like guys were flirting with me and I was getting so much positive attention, why would I want to change that?

2014 right after my year abroad, and January of this year
2014 right after my year abroad, and January of this year

I had spiraled out of control and didn’t realise it until the next semester when I had a new roommate.  I remember her asking me why I didn’t have any snacks in my room and I remember just looking at her incredulously, “Snacks? Why would you eat beyond one meal?”  I was at the point where anytime I felt hungry I would smoke a cigarette and drink water.

I knew that my health was taking a toll around this point as well.  I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but all of a sudden the 50 degree weather was frigid and I was getting chills when it could barely be constituted as cold.  My heart would sometimes beat really painfully in my chest, and felt like I was being stabbed. My nails which are normally strong started to break more often.  I had an eating disorder, and I couldn’t stop.

It was only after returning home that I started the road to recovery.  My dear friend Natalie force fed me all of the food and snacks to try to fatten me up.  The depression that accompanied my return home made it more difficult to gain weight, but eventually I was back up to a normal weight within a year.  I admit there were days when I would fall back into my terrible habit of eating nothing, or just having coffee and cigarettes, but it was much less often than it had been before, so I took it as a win.

I was prompted discuss my eating disorder because of what happened last night.  I was at a friends drinking and got really drunk because I really hadn’t eaten anything substantial.  Part of me fears that I’m just one terrible bout of depression away from falling into that same malicious routine.  Weight is just a number, and even I am trying to accept this, but it’s really hard.  I will never weigh 100 lbs again unless I’m on the verge of death.  So many of my friends suffered and are suffering from eating disorders and I want you all to know that I know it’s hard, but there’s a difference between being healthy and being underweight and we’ve all danced on that line.

There are days when all I want to do is vomit until I don’t have a single ounce of fat on my body that , but then I remember I love the way I look naked, and at the end of the day it’s what keeps me going.  Fuck that bitch in fifth grade who said your thighs were jiggly, fuck the boy in tenth grade who said you’d be pretty if your face was thinner, and fuck any goddamn person who tells you that you can’t have that second slice of cake.  If you’re going through what I went through, I know it sucks, but your health is worth fighting for.  I think food and I are going to give it another shot.

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