Its the second weekend since school started. Instead of being home working on secondary applications, homework, putting together my thesis committee and thesis question , I’m on vacation in Jacksonville. My family
abandoned me moved down here last July after my mom made some what of a career move. Long story short, she was unhappy where she was and was looking for a very new and different place to be. 1,000 miles later………….we are in Jax.
My trip had a rocky start. I had to acclimate to the harsh environment, and I’m not talking about the oppressive heat and humidity. I have a very loud, in your face, hold nothing back sort of family. It mostly stems from my mom, who I have a love-hate-love sort of relationship. I am the eldest of my siblings; the other two are 14 and 8. My mom often comes to me for advice that I usually can not give. For example, when I arrived here she begged me to talk to my older brother about his eating habits. He has taken to harsh calorie cutting to lose weight to look better for swimming. Sorry mom, my unfortunate past experiences with disordered eating do not make me an expert therapist for children with eating disorders.
I have told my brother what happened to me, and have explained to him the dangers of what he is doing. Do I think he might have a serious problem? Maybe. Some studies have suggested a genetic component to eating disorders and my mom and I have both dealt with it, so maybe it is something genetic in my family. But I am NOT a therapist!
I fear that if I go into more detail with my brother about what I did and how I risked my life, that it will only give him ideas of what to do next. I was there….an impressionable teenager with the pressure to stay thin for ballet (I’ve danced ballet most of my life). Any diet “tip” I heard, I would try to implement. I was never diagnosed with an official eating disorder, but I most definitely had an ED-NOS. From the DSM-IV, an Eating Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified would:
- Meet all criteria for anorexia nervosa except have regular menstrual cycles
- Meet all criteria for anorexia nervosa except their weight falls within the normal range
- Meet all criteria for bulimia nervosa except they engage in binge eating or purging behaviors less than twice per week or for fewer than three months
- Purge after eating small amounts of food while retaining a normal body weight
- Repeatedly chew and spit out large amounts of food without swallowing
- Meet criteria for binge eating disorder
I’ll spare you all the criteria for anorexia or bulimia. But I had this, no doubt. And I could have died. I began abusing laxatives like no ones business. At the height of it, I had to take 10 extra strength laxative pills just to be “regular”. I also experimented with ipecac, an emetic which used to be used for accidental poisonings. The American Academy of Pediatrics has since recommended disposing any you may have at home because it is easy to accidentally overdose on it. Repeated use can damage the heart muscles and cause death. It was blamed for Karen Carpenter’s death.
I knew all of this beforehand, and I still used and abused ipecac. I’d like to think I’m a pretty smart, cautious, pragmatic person. All of that goes out the window when you are desperately grasping for some control in your life. At that time, I had just started college and been given the dancing lead in the Nutcracker. Under this pressure, I did the Freshman -30 instead of the Freshman 15.
I think most kids would be scared straight by telling them what my eating disorder did to me. I was depressed beyond belief, staying in bed for days at a time missing school, exams, and parties. Sleeping hurt because my hip and shoulder bones would dig through the shitty dorm mattress into the wood panel underneath. Ipecac left me lethargic, and like I had barfed up my soul and then some. The taste of bile is no fun either.
I don’t want to tell my brother any of this. Because if he is anything like I was back then, he will be tempted to try it. And if he is anything like me, he needs professional help. I had 3 years of therapy, plus some anti-depressants that eventually did the trick. I have reached a point in my life where I have so much other stuff to think about, that obsessing over food and dieting is not even on my radar. And as I’m writing this, I feel a twinge of “ooooh, this is inappropriate to talk about! People are going to think you are Craaazyyy”. Well, I’m sick of the stigma that still surrounds mental disorders. I’m here to tell you that I did suffer from this, but I came out the other side a wiser, stronger, healthier human being. yay me!
I think my brother has a better head on his shoulders than I did in this respect, so I hope it is just a phase.
ANYWAYS.…having this be one of the first things I encounter in Jax left me upset. The next day was kinda rough too because I woke up expecting to spend the morning with my family, but they had left to [who knows where] to do [who knows what]…without me. I didn’t come down here to spend my vaca. alone!
Yesterday was great though. It was my dad’s birthday, and after an awesome breakfast we went kayaking and then my mom and I swam some laps. It was the second time in over a decade I swam as a workout. I used to be on a swim team in middle school, and was told I was pretty good. I was pretty pathetically slow yesterday. But after talking with my boyfriend (who is an avid and talented runner, triathlete, super cute, awesomeness) I realized I can’t dwell on sucking. I gotta start somewhere right. I can only go up from here!
After swimming, we ate a butt-load of food at Bahama Breeze, my dad’s pick. The evening was spent at home, digesting 🙂
So after a rocky start, I finally settled into a comfortable spot within the family. I woke up this morning practically crying, because I will have to leave tonight. There is something definitely missing back at home. My family makes me feel whole. This school year is going to be stressful and busy, and I wish these people that drive me absolutely nuts at times were still a 5 minute drive away. I’m lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend and extended family that have helped me deal with being so far away from my parents and brothers.
Got up pretty early today because I was thinking about starting this blog(and I wanted to say goodbye to my baby brothers who were off to school). I’m glad I did. Airing out my dirty laundry is sort of cathartic. Sorry if its stinky =P
Must go and do homework/work-work now. This vacation may not have been timed well, but it has given me a nice respite before getting back to real life.