Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eating Disorder

Day 293

Today I found one of my old journals I wrote in 15 years ago detailing my experiences with Anorexia and my hospitalization in Denver. I am always so surprised how quickly my mind smooths over certain memories- making it easier to move forward. I remember when I wrote this particular entry. I was 14 and sitting in my hospital room a few nights before heading home. I wanted to write my thoughts about my experiences so that I could just leave them there, in the notepad. I felt like if they sat on paper, they didn't have to waste any more toxic space in my brain. Obviously I'm a little embarrassed by the content, and how disjointed my thoughts were, but I was 14 and it's as real as it gets.

"November 16, 1997

It isn't that I wanted to kill myself. I am well aware that taking my own life is morally illegal. But I wanted to die. There is a big difference between suicide and just wanting to die. I remember several months ago, standing in my kitchen. The ticking of the clock above the stove was melding with the chirping of the oven timer, and the fan that was humming in the next room. I could feel the warmth of the kitchen, and smell the earthy scent coming from the plants in the window. I leaned down and opened the oven door just a crack, enough to feel a puff of heat attack my face and I just stared at the chicken baking for an embarrassingly long time. I remember putting my nose close to it and inhaling its perfume over and over. And I was interrupted by my brother, Doug, who was leaning against the door of the kitchen, and had obviously been watching me. "Why don't you just eat some? You make all this food and never eat it." When I tried to leave he grabbed my arm and said, "I know you're starving yourself. You are going to die." I can still remember his look of desperation. And I can still feel how real his words were, and how little I cared. After almost a year of starvation I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take the emotional trauma, the physical pain, and the frequent, pointless hospitalizations that kept sustaining me for a few more weeks in this agony. I remembered hearing somewhere that the body could only survive for a few days without water- and that's when I made the conscious decision to let myself die. I stopped drinking. I had long stopped eating, but I suddenly stopped drinking...anything. Several days went by and I could feel myself slipping away, but it wasn't happening quickly enough. Finally I got my hands on some water pills, in hopes that these drugs would finally drain what was left of my life, and let me finally rest. Death wasn't scary to me anymore. Death seemed peaceful. But the few pills I found in my sister's drawer weren't doing anything. I needed more. So I lied (I had become really good at lying) and told my Dad I needed feminine products. He drove me to the store, gave me cash, and waited in the car as I bought my form of suicide. I wasn't emotional as I locked myself in my room. I was actually more focused than I had been in months. My heart was calm. I didn't feel like crying, or writing a note, or praying, or listening to music, or reviewing my life. I just slowly pushed each pill through it's foil blister packaging until my hand was full of them. I didn't even take a deep breath before swallowing the lethal dose. I just did it. It was a weird feeling, stretching out on my bed, and just waiting for the poison to take effect. I could feel the pills dissolving. It happened quickly, and my blood turned thick. It was like syrup oozing through my body, painfully. I remember having only one thought, "I wonder if dying hurts." The room started spinning and I felt extremely hot and tried to stand, only to find that I couldn't. The next morning I woke up to excruciating pain in my stomach. I will never forget the unbelievable waves of pain pulsing through my muscles, and bones. The spasms were uncontrollable. I knew I was going to vomit and tried to run to the bathroom only to collapse on the floor. I couldn't hold my head up as I began spewing blood on the tile. I couldn't see anything, but I could hear my mom screaming and feel her arms holding me in support. My heart was pounding in my ears and my clothes were drenched with sweat. The next thing I knew, my mom was on the phone with doctors in Denver. I watched, helplessly, as she gathered clothes, enough for two or more weeks, and I wondered why she was bothering. I just closed my eyes and waited to die. A few days ago, my dad told me that during this time, he and my mom would watch the sheets near my mouth to check if I was still breathing. I was spiritually dead. I was gone. I was 79 pounds and you could see the shadow of the organs in my abdomen. I couldn't even stand or walk. I remember my dad carrying me to the car, and nothing else until we were in Denver. When I opened my eyes in the hospital, I could barely make anything out. I could see outlines of people fussing over me. Watching me. I noticed a TV above me, and a window that was letting comforting line in the room. I could hear the beeping of monitors. I tried to pick up my head but it was too heavy and full of pain to move significantly. I couldn't breathe. My chest hurt, and I could see tubes in my body, and feel them. I could hear my mom talking to a friend on the phone, "They don't think she's going to live through the night. Her heart rate won't come down." But deep in my heart I knew I was going to live. I knew I was being cared for by the right doctors. I have been in this hospital for a little over a month now. I have been gaining weight and watching some others shrink still. I eat in a little yellow room called the "Sunflower Cafe" with other emaciated people, and nurses watch our every bite to make sure we're actually eating. We chew to the beat of music playing on a little stereo. We only have 30 minutes to eat meals, and 15 to eat snacks, and if we don't eat every single bit of our food we have to drink ensure, or have a feeding tube put in our stomachs. They lock the bathrooms for 1 hour after each meal. And we have to be weighed each morning, stepping on the scale backwards so we don't know our own weight. I watch girls cry, and scream, and spit their food at nurses, with tendons and bones jutting out. Some have died. There's one girl, Katie, who was purging her meals into zip lock bags and keeping them in her suitcase. She had to have a feeding tube put in when they figured out what she'd been doing. I watch these girls hide their food and try to trick the system, and all I want to do is get better. It has been so amazing to be here. I am with doctors that have the ability to help me. I honestly thought I was never going to be able to put a normal sized amount of food on a fork, and put that food in my mouth, and actually swallow it ever again. I was willing to die just a month ago! They have finally put me on a combination of medicine that has changed everything. I am not as scared as I was. They said I have obsessive compulsive disorder, and since I've been here, so many of my crazy thoughts and feelings have disappeared. I don't fear food like I did. I can actually eat foods with color again! I am so thankful my Heavenly Father let me live. I can't believe I didn't die. I know I have a reason to be here. And I am so anxious to get on with life, and go to high school, and maybe get married someday. Dr. Seigal told me that I've done a lot of damage to my body, and that it will take a lot of time for the muscle to rebuild, and for my bones to strengthen. He also said that I might not be able to have kids. But I'm just glad to be alive. I'm not sure how long I'm going to be here. Hopefully I'll be home before Christmas!"


15 years ago there weren't enough doctors that were familiar with eating disorders. One of the reasons my problem got so out of hand was because there was so little information available at the time. And would you believe insurance wouldn't cover hospitalization until I reached a certain weight? Back then, it wasn't based on electrolyte imbalances, or how damaged the heart was. I had to be on my death bed before we got the green light and it was all based on the number on a scale. It's so insane to remember where my mind was during that time. I was too sick and emotionally busted to realize, or even care that I was killing myself. I didn't even see it that way. I honestly didn't view it as suicide. In that moment I felt like I was just handling the situation. I was putting an end to something that needed to be dealt with that I felt nobody else knew how to deal with. You have to understand, an eating disorder takes your soul. It wipes you of your spirituality and your ability to reason, and use logic. It almost robbed me of my life, and my salvation. Obviously it's a little nutty of me to share this with the world. This is extremely personal stuff and I run the risk of being judged on a whole new level. But I guess I wanted to share this with my kids more than anything. I want them to know who their mom was at 14. I want them to know that even at 14 year old I knew there was a reason I was given the grace to survive. My purpose is them. I lived for them. And I will continue to live for them, and my wonderful Trenton. I have been blessed beyond my means.


1 comment:

  1. So terrifying and beautiful at the same time. I'm so glad you were able to get the help you needed. I remember my mom telling me that you were in the hospital and that they were very worried/scared for your health. You did have a purpose (do still have a purpose), and you are a wonderful mother, and a beautiful person inside and out, and I'm so thankful that you are here to share this with us. I can't imagine having to overcome such a difficult trial with your own body and mind, but you did, and you are a stronger person for it. You have been blessed and you are a blessing to those around you, too, I hope you give yourself credit for that. :)