I wasn't sure where to post this and maybe I shouldn't post it here at all given the subject. This is just my go-to place it seems.
I need to know if I should be concerned. In August I stopped eating. Not totally but would just allow myself a couple crackers throughout the day. At first I was just depressed and it made me feel better to do that. Later it made me feel good because I had control over something. Now it's become an obsession that is taking control of my life.
Now it's December and I've lost 30 pounds. I was never overweight to start with so the weight loss is dramatic. I have been eating a little more lately but have been smoking when hungry and taking laxatives to keep from gaining anything from what I do eat.
It's not something that I just do anymore. It's something that I can't control. I weigh myself over ten times a day to make sure it hasn't gone up even an ounce. If it does then I withhold food from myself until it goes back down.
I don't know if I should get help or not or if it is even a problem. I'm just worried because it's all I can think about now and I don't feel like I can stop. I'm not asking for medical advice because I know you are not doctors, I'm just asking what should I do?
I don't know why I continuously make choices that cause me more harm. It makes me so angry with myself.
Posts: 283 | Registered: Aug 2006
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You sound just like me a few years ago. When I was 18, I had just started college and my mother had run out on me and my dad and became a drug addict. It was as SUPER stressful time for me. I tried anything I could to keep myself distracted so I thought I would try getting healthier and more active would make me feel better. Before then, I was never overweight but I was a little chubby. I ate very unhealthy and I never ever exercised. I began eating just whole grains and counting calories...along with exercising. Before I knew it, the weight was falling off. I began to get all kinds of compliments about how I looked "so much better" and also compliments from concerned people who would say "I think you have lost too much weight." Both of these things began to feed a need in me to continue to lose weight. I eventually cut out all meat, and cut out all sweets too. I was hardly eating 700 calories a day, if anything at all. I would exercise to the point of exhaustion and my joints would swell in pain. I tried making myself throw up as well..but wasn't very good at it. So, starving myself was the way to go. It got to the point where I had no energy at all, couldn't concentrate on school work or function at all. My period went missing for over a year and I then developed a thyroid problem that I now have to take medication for the rest of my life. All I could think about was calories. I counted them 24/7 and had so many food rituals that it wasn't funny. My dad and boyfriend expressed a lot of concern for me and was warning me to stop. I don't know how or why, but eventually, I got better. See, I always had dreams of dancing ballet and I knew that would never happen if I continued to do this. I slowly had to start eating again and ease myself back into eating "forbidden foods." I was so afraid in the beginning that I would just gain weight uncontrollably...but you know what, I didn't. Looking back now, I see that I had a very serious eating disorder. Mine didn't fall into a neat category so I call what I had "disordered eating." Here is the thing with eating disorders, they are VERY life threatening if left untreated. Most people cannot get better on their own either, not saying it can't be done, but usually you have to have some kind of intervention. The power that any obsession can have over you is amazing, especially when it comes to our appearance. I mean, I know what you are going through. It is like the disorder becomes your best friend, you hide and protect it, you love and hate it at the same time, you feed it and nurture it. It becomes a part of you...a part of you that gives you a VERY satisfying feeling of being in control and feeling attractive. There were so many times where when I was able to deny myself food for an entire day, I would almost feel a "high" from it. I suffered low self-esteem my whole life and came from a very critical family...and I felt like I was shoving this in their face like "ha ha, I am skinnier than all of you and you can't call me fat or ugly anymore." It felt really good to feel that way.
To answer your question, I completely believe you have an eating disorder, it sounds like a textbook version of one really. YES, you should get help, I would suggest telling someone close to you about it that could help point you in the right direction of recovery, and maybe even a volunteer on this site can help with that. Your behaviors are causing you harm, you are right about that. I am sooooooo proud of you for having the guts to admit all of this and for knowing that you need help. That is such a smart move on your part. I know you are feeling angry with yourself and I can't stop you from feeling it but just know that in so many ways, you really can't help what you are doing. It is an illness, believe me, an illness that people die from everyday if untreated. I am a very well educated person with a degree in Psychology and this illness even grabbed ahold of me. Yes, you can physically control what you do but not without being in psychological distress from it. Anyone will continue to do something that eases their pain, and obsessions of any kind really cause a lot of pain when you don't "give into them." This is not your fault, these things happen in life and you are no lesser of a person for having these issues. Eating disorders often start out very innocent i.e. made your depression feel better but they turn into a full blown illness quite easily. I had no idea how serious it would get for me, after all, I only set out to get healthy and lose a few pounds. But since this started from depression, it sounds like you might benefit from some counseling to sort through the origins of this disorder. I have been going for a long time now and it really does help. It also helps to be close to people who love you. While some eating disorders can be just strictly about weight, it usually isn't. They have roots such as abuse, self-esteem issues, dysfunctional family life, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. You have to sort out the core of your problem in order to treat it. You may be able to overcome your eating disorder but you are unlikely to stay recovered if you don't sort through what brought you there in the first place. This need for control that you have is coming from the feeling that your life or yourself is out of control in some way.
I don't know how much this will help you but I personally have OCD. With OCD comes lots of anxiety and lots of obsessions. I truly believe that my eating disorder was mostly just one of my obsessions...which is why I was able to get over it without any medical treatment (though I did go to counseling). My obsessions can manifest themselves in many ways and for that while, my OCD preyed upon my stressful life circumstances and my low self-esteem. Eating disorders aren't always tied in with another mental illness, but just wanted you to know that mine certainly was, so maybe that is something else you can explore. BTW, you may not have just regular depression in general but an actual disorder of Major Depression. I am sorry about this being long but I just wanted you to know that others have been where you are and that you can get better. I can give you some actual medical information that would dispute some of your thinking about weight gain, but I really don't think that you would benefit much from it. If you want to ask anything or talk, I will be around. I wish you the very best.
Posts: 172 | From: USA | Registered: Jun 2011
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Thank you so much for your post. I really appreciate you sharing your story with me. I can relate to you in so many ways. Like when you said you would deny yourself food and then feel a "high" from it. I do that too, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something major when I can go to bed "empty." If I have consumed anything I feel tremendous guilt and regret.
If I have eaten too much I feel so guilty and cannot be content until I make myself throw up. I am never satisfied though because afterwards I feel like even with purging I haven't rid myself of everything I ate so then I take laxatives and will fast until I am satisfied that my stomach is completely empty again.
I know that I am not fat and yet I still can't eat normally because I am terrified of gaining anything. Friends at work are starting to ask me questions and I'm running out of excuses. I need this to stop.
I have a therapist that I see weekly. I just needed to talk to someone before getting up the nerve to say something outloud to her. I wanted to feel validated because I know a thirty pound loss isn't that big of a deal.
I understand what you are saying, really, it sounds very typical of an eating disorder. You aren't crazy, or bad, you just have an illness. The fact of the matter is, laxatives and purging don't do you a whole lot of good because your body has already digested most of the nutrients and calories already. That is why a lot of people who are strictly bulimic keep a reasonably healthy weight...they don't gain or lose any weight drastically. What you are really doing is purging water out of your system which leaves you dangerously dehydrated. Our bodies are made mostly of water so not to sound gross but you can purge or defecate a lot of it and not lose any real weight. What you do lose is a lot of vitamins and minerals your body needs, and you are murdering your organs by constantly stressing them. It sounds like you are both bulimic and anorexic (which you can be both) and the combo of the two has made you lose significant weight. 30 pounds IS a big deal, a very big deal, even for someone who is overweight, which you said you weren't to begin with. Also, this may not be how you are feeling but what you are saying about "even with purging, I haven't rid myself of everything I ate so then I take laxatives." This thinking is common in eating disorders because the individual doesn't like the feeling of "fullness" in their stomach because it feels like "fatness." I know what that feels like. Having a full stomach makes me feel satisfied and good now...but then, I felt like it was protruding outwards and that I was an out of control "fat person that had no self-control." I would feel this way from eating a normal meal, not even a lot. I felt guilty for feeling this way because I felt bad that I was insulting people who weighed more than me and for not being able to control my appetite...but I couldn't help it, you can't help the guilt either, even though you shouldn't feel that way, you do. I am glad that friends are asking you questions because that tells me that there are people around you who may suspect you have a problem, maybe you should try to reach out to one of them? Part of the reason why people may add bulimia onto anorexia is so that they can appear to be eating normally to other people, so that no one suspects anything..and then they "get rid of it" when they are alone.
Please try to tell your therapist about this, or anyone really who you trust to help you. Believe me, this isn't like having any other mental illness that you can just live with forever, this disorder has a set lifespan and it WILL run out. Your body will eventually give up on itself, that is just nature. You risk randomly fainting, dehydration, panic attacks, stroke, heart attack, and so many other dangerous things happening to you if you continue to do this. Not to mention, the longer you do it, the more damage your organs take, that may not be reversible. Believe me, I know how massive of a hold this can have on you but you have to, you just HAVE to dig as deep as you can into your strength and try to get better. I have health problems now that I didn't have before, and my disorder wasn't nearly as bad as most cases I have heard about. I messed my thyroid up and I have to take medication for it forever. My blood sugar gets low really easily if I don't eat within the span of 15 minutes when I feel hunger and I get really sick and shaky. My period eventually came back, but it came back really badly. I also have chronic back pain. Some of that may not have been caused from my disorder but I do know that before then, I may have been unhappy with the way I looked but my body felt SO much better inside and out than it did afterwards. I was very lucky though to get out of it as well as I did. My eating habits aren't the healthiest as I was never able to make myself eat some of the foods I used to eat before but I can honestly say that I know I am getting enough calories and I do not let myself go hungry. I eat whatever I want and I am halfway into my second season of ballet. I ended up getting to a healthy weight, that has stayed pretty constant for the last few years which totally shattered my thinking that "weight is uncontrollable." There are days when I still feel an urge to make myself throw up...or deny myself that meal, but I don't give into it. My life has been extra hard and unrewarding for a very long time now, but even so, I find reasons to want to be healthy. I figure, I may be poor, I may be in pain, I may not be happy with how I look, things in life may not be the way I want them to be, BUT, I have an awesome boyfriend, an amazing dad, I graduated college, and I have 3 adorable doggies that I love being with, and oh yeah, I actually made the ballet thing happen! You have to find those things in your life that make you want to get better too. Even if it is the most insignificant thing in the world, if it means anything to you at all, use that as a reason because believe me, it is not too late for you and you can get better. I know that may be hard for you to imagine now with all those troublesome thoughts in your head, but it's true. You should feel validated, this is your life, the only one you will ever have, and you are fighting for it. That not only makes you super awesome and brave, but most definitely validated
Posts: 172 | From: USA | Registered: Jun 2011
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