Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. And birthdays, of course, mean food. Lots, and lots of food. Birthday cake, eating out, having friends over, celebrating…all things that are really fun, unless you have an eating disorder. Birthdays (and not just my own) have been something I’ve dreaded numerous times over the last five or so years. I vividly remember my birthday the year I was to be hospitalized and diagnosed with anorexia, and to this day it’s one of the most painful E.D. memories I’ve kept with me. My brother and my birthdays are four days apart in the first week of September. That year, it was such a struggle to figure out how I could possibly evade all of the food I knew I’d be faced with the entire week. Friends want to get together, family wants to go out and celebrate…and all I wanted to do was go on with my exercise regimen, and continue eating the few things I’d limited my intake to, with no one else present. The day before my birthday that year, I didn’t eat anything but a small amount of whatever mom made for me for dinner. I also exercised for four hours. The next day (my “Special” day), I woke up and went to the gym, came home for our traditional birthday cake breakfast (yes, you read that right), and we proceeded to go downtown. I’d convinced my mom and brother that I wanted to go for a bike ride-which wasn’t very hard to do, since it was a beautiful day out and my mom’s always up for a bike ride-but my sole purpose of doing it was burning calories. I remember feeling close to passing out on much of that ride. I was hardly there. My friend’s dad had told me the week prior, when I’d gone to their house after having not seen him since July that I was “disappearing.” I told him it was merely a result of all the training I’d been doing that summer, saying that I was finally getting that “runner’s body.” I knew though, that a “runner’s body” shouldn’t have developed that quickly, over just two months. The change in my body was a result of running the heck out of myself, while also depriving my body of nourishment. I took the comment as “positive feedback”, though, and went on my merry way…probably to the gym, actually. Anyways, back to the bike ride. I really was disappearing. It wasn’t just my body fat anymore, either, it was my brain. I could hardly remember anything, and every time I stood up I had to hold onto something to avoid blacking out. Bradley and my mom and I found a “Great Harvest Bread Co.” shop along our biking route that served ice cream sandwiches with freshly made cookies. I don’t think I’d ever eaten something so delicious in my life. I still remember feeling like it was my first drink of water after hiking through the Sahara desert. I don’t remember the rest of that evening, except for what I got as gifts. I only remember them because I have pictures of me holding them that haunt me. A pink lacrosse stick, from my brother, a pair of silver and black Mizuno spandex, from my mom (for running, but which I began to use multiple times a day for body checking), a white North Face jacket that should not have fit me, and a Victoria’s Secret suitcase, which I fit in. I know that I fit in it, because yes, I checked, zipping it all the way up. How disturbing is that? I proceeded to fast the next day, and then returned to my normal limited diet the following.
Yesterday was a birthday much unlike the one I just described. It began with a trip to the gym, which only lasted for thirty minutes and did not include any cardio. Following that, I had an appointment with my therapist, and then went home to join my mom and brother (and my mom’s sweet friend who came over to help) in working on the yard. I was present the entire day, and able to enjoy my family and laugh with them. Unlike the previously described birthday, I didn’t alter what I ate the day before to compensate for the meal out we would be having the next day. I won’t be altering my eating today, either. I didn’t have a piece of my mom’s birthday cake yesterday, but I’ll get there eventually. I did eat at the food carts we went out to, which was a really big deal. I had yet to eat out at a restaurant where I couldn’t watch the food being prepared (ie: Chipotle or Subway). After some evaluation with my mom this morning, I realized that I probably did eat less than my exchanges yesterday, but I didn’t use a meal plan, and I’m back on track today, so that’s okay. It’s a progression.
And who knows? Hopefully I’ll be eating cake on my birthday, come this September 🙂