Fear of the Pill

As I hit perimenopause, my periods are more horrible and last longer than ever (and they have always been horrible and long.) And now, they come every two weeks. I am constantly hormonal and cranky, and really crampy and sick.

I am, once again, considering the pill.

When I was in my early 20s, the birth control pill triggered an anorexic episode that lasted for years. I went on the pill back then because, as I said, I have always had horrible PMS and long and awful, painful and miserable periods.

A doctor recommended I try birth control pills, which have been known to help ease menstrual symptoms. Unfortunately for me, whenever I take birth control pills two things happen – 1.) they make me crazier and 2.) they make me gain a whole lot of weight.

In my early 20s, I had just lost 80 pounds for the second time. Both times, I vigiliantly and fiercely starved off that weight. It was so difficult and the weight loss proved nearly impossible to maintain. I had to eat so little just to stay at an average, normal weight.

Once, I started the pill, everything bloated and fattened up. My already large breasts were tremendous and sore. Waist bands dug into my belly and left giant red stripes across my body.

It broke my heart. I was eating so little to begin with – I couldn’t stand to gain weight without even getting to eat. Heartbreaking, indeed.

And so, because I refused to gain weight, I pretty much stopped eating. And I found that I could exist (MISERABLY) on very, very little food.

But still, I hated the pill. The hormones messed with my temperment – I always felt like I was crawling out of my skin. So I stopped the pill, but was so enamored with my (lack of) food plan that I continued to starve.

I got very, very thin. And guess what – my period stopped. For years. I loved it. Who cared about bone density? Fertility? Estrogen? I was free from the misery of menstruation.

Luckily, I couldn’t not eat forever and re-gained enough weight to get my period again. It didn’t get better, but I figured that I’d rather suffer about a week each month, than suffer every single day on the pill.

However, now that i seem to be either having PMS or my period ALL the time, I guess I’m willing to try again.

I have to admit. I’m pretty scared.

Anorexic Limitations

Yesterday, I spoke with a young friend< Catie, who is working diligently on her anorexia and bulimia. She spent three weeks at an inpatient facility and is completing outpatient this week. Catie surely would have benefited from more inpatient time, but that's all insurance would cover.

Catie struggles daily with eating and weight gain. She misses the ability to restrict her food and control her weight, but she's trying.

At 26 – she never finished college and works a part time job. When she is done with outpatient treatment, she's going to go back to her job, go to 12 Step meetings and find a therapist.

But that's a pretty small life. The last ten years have been devoted to her eating disorder, in one form or other.

Catie reminds me of how I used to be. I lived in the bubble of my eating disorder for decades. I didn't finish college until many years later; didn't develop a meaningful career or loving relationships. My life revolved around counting my calories.

Back then, I said, and meant it, that I was my eating disorder. That was it. It defined me.

What a waste. In coming posts – getting out from under.

Freedom from the Eating Disorder

I say I was born hungry. I famously finished more bottles at the hospital than any baby before me. And I liked my bottle so much that the doctor put me on a diet at 6 months. If you look family photos from my early years, there’s my tiny 8 year old sister, my tall lanky brother and big fat baby me.

When I asked my mother why on earth she gave me so many bottles, she said, “You cried and cried and cried, until I gave you more.”

And there it was – that disease of more, but never enough. More, but never satisfied. I wanted more of everything -food, alcohol, drugs, love, money…it didn’t matter what it is was. I wanted more of anything on the outside to make me feel better on the inside. And when I had it, I was happy for about a second, until I was almost immediately – looking for more.

During a binge, I could have half the refrigerator in my mouth, but instead of being present with that, I was wildly searching for the next bite.

But the sad fact is that I was trying to fill the lonely emptiness within me with all sorts of things that couldn’t help me. No amount of ice cream, even the richest, most expensive Haagen Dazs can cure my sadness. No amount of red wine can help me face my fears. No amount of shopping can give me the love I so desperately craved.

The food served as quick relief from dealing. I buried my pain and fear under a sugar coma, but the problem is – they were still there.

But when I dealt with my pain and sadness and deep loneliness AND faced my fears and got through them, then I began to recover. And after many many decades of being a slave to my eating disorder master, I get to be free.

And I’m not just free from all my addictions, I am free to live life. Freely.

More on how to get there in upcoming posts.

Birthday/Cake

Today is my birthday. So far, it’s been a very lovely day. Everyone at work was sweet and cute about it. I got flowers, gifts, and cards.

And yes, there was cake.

I used to hate my birthday. Mostly, because I was lonely and sad and unhappy. But also, I used to be terrified of cake. I was terrified of food in general and of course, of gaining weight. But the idea of eating cake during the day. After a meal. Horror.

For many, many birthdays, I refused to eat it. Often, I would tell people ahead of time – don’t you dare get me cake. I pretty much cried when anyoene gave me any food. And expected me to eat it!

It didn’t matter where I was or who was offering it – my boss, a boyfriend’s mother, a boyfriend – I pretty much told them, in a variety of words, to fuck off and get their food away from me.

The world was trying to make me fat, I was sure, which I found confusing because the world had been so cruel when I WAS fat.

Now, although I doubt the world cares what I weight, I do what I want – easily, comfortably and happily.

Today, I had a moderate lunch AND a slice of cake and thoroughly enjoyed both. Tonight, I will have a moderate dinner and yes, there will be cake again. And I will have a slice. That second cake was made with love, and I refuse to hurt a loved one’s feelings.

Tomorrow, I most likely won’t have cake. But for today, I’m good. It doesn’t matter if I eat a bit more than usual one day. It doesn’t mean I’ll end up bingeing. It doesn’t mean I’ll make myself starve. And it certainly doesn’t mean I will berate myself for enjoying cake on my birthday.

In coming posts, I will write more about where I was, where I am now and how I got here to this place of peace.

My Day with an Eater

I spent today with a very athletic friend. She’s training for a 160 mile bike race and riding very long treks most days. Yesterday, she traveled 110 miles.

So, today, she was staaaarving. All day. The old me would have hated that she snacked all day – on all the foods I rarely indulge in. I would have been jealous and angry (furious.)

Back in the day, I hated anyone and everyone who a.) didn’t have an eating disorder b.)wasn’t overweight by nature c.) enjoyed exercise (weirdos) and d.) could eat plenty of food and not get fat, like I would.

I’d sit with my poached egg and lettuce and hate with all my heart and soul. Jealous, jealous, jealous.

Today, I didn’t mind at all. I did notice that our activities needed to be curtailed regularly so my friend could feed her starving belly, but I had no desire to join her. It was 95 degrees and sunny and humid, and I wasn’t hungry. I wanted water, but not food.

Later, at the diner, while she ate her hungry man dinner and dessert, I sat happily with my poached egg, toast and veggies.

Afterwards, she explained that she doesn’t always eat so much. Just days after long rides, when her metabolism is really fast and she needs to re-fuel. Usually, she eats a granola bar at 6 am. Yogurt and fruit at 9:30, a sandwich at noon and then grains and veggies with protein for dinner.

BORING!

She, the healthy one, thinks about food way more than I do!!!! Must be so difficult…Hahahahahahaha

A New Set of Rules for ‘Dressing My Size’

When I was skinny, I loved shopping. I thought everything looked fabulous, whether it was tight, loose, short, long, high cut, low cut, cheap or expensive. I happily and easily wore EVERY style.

Today, forty pounds heavier, not so much. My new body, apparently, needs to be covered.

I googled dressing tips for bigger bodies, and here’s basically what every site said, “Your main focus when buying women’s plus size clothing is to create a slimmer and trimmer silhouette that makes the eye go up and down, instead of side to side.” They all talked extensively about how to strategically cover those “lumps and bumps”. ‘Lumps and Bumps’ seems the official way to describe a larger woman’s curves.

But what’s wrong with having a curvier (lumpier and bumpier?) body? Why is ‘slim and trim’ a goal? What if I’m not slim and trim and don’t feel the need to pretend that I am?

Why are we so prejudiced against thighs, bellies, breasts and hips? It’s very weird, as most women have them!

Body Confidence: One More Thought

One more thought on my last post; while I completely idolized plus-sized models, I 100% assumed that if they had their druthers, they’d be thinner. I figured they’d made peace with the bodies God gave them and refused to starve down to an unnatural size for them, BUT if it were easier, they’d rather weigh less.

I don’t think that way anymore. Now, I assume that these women hav many more important things to worry about other than what they weigh. AND, I have no idea whatsoever what their preferences are.

I was just so sure that every single human being on earth would prefer to be thin – quite presumptuous, no? Plus-sized models say they’re perfectly happy and enjoy their bodies (and their lives!) In my own way, I was kind of calling them liars. Not very nice. But I was so sure…..

It’s a joy to see a change in my thinking and my beliefs!