‘Thinsane’ – An Anonymous Story about Anorexia
I could stop this any time I feel like it. That’s what I’ve always told myself ever since this thing commenced. Firmly, I believed I was playing a game; that all of this was some sick kind of put-on. I had to be faking it. After all, I was a boy. How hard could it be to just start eating normally – to start eating in general?
I could stop this any time I felt like it. But I was wrong. I was lying to myself. None of it was ever a put-on; I wasn’t just playing some part in a movie. This was my life and it was being swallowed whole by an eating disorder – restrictive anorexia nervosa, to be precise. Perhaps the restrictive eating seemed to be a choice I was making, but it was never my choice to suffer body-image distortions. And honestly, I didn’t plan to be so terrified of gaining weight.
Where did it start? If I could answer that question, I would gladly tell. The truth of eating disorders is that there really is no beginning. One day you wake up and you’re sick, but not. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that one day you realize you’re sick but not, but it’s all the same; it just happens. Also, disorders are not as picky about the people they choose to torment as society would like to think. Eating disorders do not purposefully target females. It just appears that way, probably because doctors are all the more likely to diagnose them with one.
At a young age I could’ve been termed ‘impressionable’ just as every other kid could be. Simultaneously, I was very precocious. I like to think I picked up on things other kids did not. What I know for sure is that I was determined to be the image of perfection. My mom, who struggled with weight issues throughout her life, was always dieting. There was a new diet all the time, but I never understood why. She seemed to be a perfectly fine weight to me; she certainly wasn’t obese. Perhaps slightly overweight, but it seemed rather insignificant to me. All the same, in my head I got the idea that dieting was what being an adult was about. I figured if I went on diets, too, I’d be considered mature and perfect. Besides, my thighs were a little too heavy for my liking. I can remember being in third grade when I said, “Mom, I need to go on a diet.” Her remark was whether I was talking about a diet to lose or gain weight. Dieting to gain weight seemed like such a ludicrous idea to me that I exclaimed LOSE WEIGHT enthusiastically. Obviously, she told me I needn’t worry about such things. But still, she packed only vegetables for my lunches for awhile. That diet, of course, didn’t stick with me at such a young age; however, when I would gain weight (say, from sixty pounds up to seventy pounds), I would worry that nobody else was doing the same.
Crossing over a ten-pound mark (90, 100, 110) has always been especially difficult for me.
By middle school I was successfully skipping breakfast every day. It was fairly easy; all I had to say was that eating in the mornings made me sick. Still, I would eat lunch regularly and would definitely eat supper. Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary, except that I would constantly weigh myself and examine my body in the mirror. If only my thighs weren’t so massive. As I got older, I started skipping lunch as well. Sometimes friends would get me to eat something, but it didn’t bother me too much…though I was sure I was on the verge of obesity. It wasn’t until high school, sometime in the tenth or eleventh grade, that I started completely restricting. As a child, I could barely go an hour without snacking; now, eating every five hours seemed like overindulgence.
A very close friend of mine revealed to me that she binged and purged. Worry overtook me at this point, so much so that I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. Of course, it’s easier to worry about something when it’s happening to someone you care about; I didn’t particularly care for myself. All I knew was that I had to be skinny, that everyone would like me if I was thin, and I knew I couldn’t do it her way. Throwing up didn’t appeal to me, so I opted for cutting out the middleman – the food. Mom was somewhat of a workaholic, so it was pretty much get your own supper, which made it extremely easy to skip. I would open cans of soup, pour them into bowls, and throw the soup out. Anorexics are very sneaky.
Walking up the stairs at school was becoming very fatiguing; my muscles would ache and I would need to catch my breath. To top it all off, I was dizzy almost constantly. But still, if only my thighs weren’t so fat. People would tell me I was looking very skinny, which would make me elated, but then say I should really gain a few pounds, which made me think they were crazy. If anyone in the class needed to lose weight badly, it was me. Then it happened, out of the blue. What I knew would happen if I kept this up, but somehow never expected.
Third period, right before lunch (which I wouldn’t be participating in), biology class: it had been roughly a week-and-a-half since the last time I’d eaten anything. We were, rather appropriately, learning about blood pressure. Dizziness took me over like a blitzkrieg. My heart started pounding violently like a tribal drum in my head and I was getting more hot flashes per minute than a menopausal woman. I felt like sickness personified. To the friend beside me I whispered, “I feel sick,” and the next thing I knew, everyone was in a panic. I couldn’t understand what had happened. All I knew was I was now on the floor, in my friend’s arms, and the teacher was coming at me asking, “Does anyone know if he took anything?” I hadn’t taken anything. I had done this to myself, but I hadn’t. Someone ran to call the ambulance while I was wrapped up in blankets and given something to drink. Apparently my face had gone black – lack of oxygen – and I felt terribly guilty about interrupting class in this fashion. My mother and the paramedics arrived around the same time. They took my blood pressure; I guess I could’ve died. Naturally, after an IV was inserted (rather roughly) into the back of my hand, I was rushed to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor was Russian or Polish or something and very hard to understand. He asked if I ate and I assured him I did. I did, after all, eat occasionally. I said I didn’t eat breakfast and that it was right before lunch – omitting the fact that I wasn’t going to have one. He proceeded to tell me food is important for a person because it’s like fuel for a car. As if I didn’t know this already, as if I wasn’t seventeen. Then he discussed my depression. He asked what reasons I had to be depressed, said I couldn’t just be, and then concluded that it was the winter blues, despite it being May.
Following this episode, my mother became more vigilant about my eating. It became increasingly harder to hide the fact that I wasn’t having enough food. This upset me because I was sure I was now becoming obese; if only my thighs weren’t so huge. Eventually, I picked up smoking for two reasons: 1) I had heard that smoking helped you lose weight and cut back hunger pains, and 2) smoking cut back stress and I was in constant state of stress. That year, I cut back eating as much as I possibly could. I was out of the house a lot more than usual (new friends and work and all that), so it was fairly easy. Still, my friends made sure I ate at least something. My mother moved away the following summer and I moved into a new house, which meant restriction was on the rise. I would go days without eating, and then make sure I ate something just so I wouldn’t pass out. My hunger sense really began to cut out; I could go three days without eating or drinking anything before actually feeling the hunger. I would smoke pot to make me less anxious about eating – it worked. And still, my thighs were those of a monster.
I walked to work as much as I could – you know, to exorcise / exercise the demons. I would make deals with myself, such as: if I go for an eight-kilometre walk tonight, I can eat this sandwich. If I add four more kilometers, I can eat a chocolate bar as well. Occasionally, I would get very dizzy and have to lie down, even in public, just so I wouldn’t pass out. I knew it was coming. And sometimes, I would get so hungry at work that I would buy twenty Dollars’ worth of chocolate and chips out of the vending machines and eat them all at once, until I felt I was going to be sick. I never was. Then I found that not eating but drinking seemed to be fine. So I wouldn’t eat anything, just drink chocolate milk. People at work questioned if I ever ate and I assured them I did, just not in front of people.
About a year afterwards, I was kicked out of that house and had to move back to my old house – alone. My cupboards had some things in them, but my fridge was always empty. Maybe sometimes there was something to drink. Luckily, my friends came to get me nearly every day, but they couldn’t be sure I was eating. Sometimes I would buy a bag of rolls and allow myself three rolls daily; nothing more, nothing less. And then, it happened. This time, I was completely unprepared.
I was hanging out with my friends, we had been smoking pot, and I was going to allow myself to get soup. Dizziness invaded me like a Nazi again. I told one of my friends, but not in enough time. Sitting in a chair, I thought I’d be alright, but I was terribly wrong. I had a mini-seizure; I went very pale, my eyes rolled up into the back of my head, and I “did the floppy chicken”. I opened my eyes and I was in my friend’s arms. All I knew was that my head hurt; I had banged it against the table on my way down. Paramedics arrived; we went over the eating thing. They considered drug use as a cause for the seizure, but concluded that it seemed more likely to be from malnutrition. I wasn’t forced to go the hospital; I knew my friends
would look after me better than any doctor.
Later, I confided in the friend who held me that I thought I was suffering an eating disorder. She said that made perfect sense. And now…now, I eat because I have to. I want freedom from my eating disorder, but it’s not that easy. I eat about one meal a day. But still, if only my thighs weren’t so flabby. Obsessively, I weigh myself; currently, one hundred and five pounds point something. I think I should lose about five, but I know I’m being unrealistic. Counting my ribs helps, sometimes. But I could stop this any time I feel like it.
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