Alcoholics & Overeaters Anonymous

On March 3, I went to my first AA meeting and now I’m on day 17!

I’m so proud of myself and so grateful for the support I have found in meetings.  So much of my chaotic life now makes sense.  Not that I am proud of it or anything.  Anyway, some other issues are more pronounced now that I am no longer drinking.  Relationship problems are one thing, my eating is another.

There are so few in depth personal accounts of adults living with major eating disorders.  So few detailed experiences.  It’s triggering for me and it takes a lot of out me to recount what I go through.

First of all, I quit the SSRIs. After two months of citalopram numbing me out completely, 1/2 a month off, and one month of escitalopram piling pound upon pound of what the citalopram started, here I am left with only my usual Wellbutrin. I think of everything in pounds lost and gained.  I weighed myself today for the first time since early December and I’ve gained seven pounds.  Somehow I’m happy about that – happy and surprised it wasn’t twice as much.

These days I don’t binge too often (maybe about once a week), and even when I do the amount consumed is much less than it used to be. I’ll buy a package of cookies and it takes me two and a half days to plow through it instead of twenty minutes, for instance. But I know which foods get me (cookies, candy, cereal) and whenever I buy them I know what I’m doing.  No longer am I restricting and over exercising, so I don’t spend an hour inhaling basic food like I used to (entire loaves of sliced bread, enough thai takeaway for three people, entire pints of ice cream, big bowls of rice, two packages of ramen, etc).  Now it’s more like consistent overeating – two lunches (one at 1pm and one at 4pm), three desserts (one before dinner as a “snack,” one after dinner, and one before bed).  I feel guilty about it and I am aware it will make me gain weight.  But I have a consistent feeling of testing myself.  That’s the only way I can think to put it.

Testing myself to see how fat “I” will let myself get.  Testing myself to see if “I can stand” being heavy in a world that discriminates against heavy women. Testing my boyfriend to see if he’ll be less attracted to me.  In my ind, I’m saying “isn’t this what you wanted? to not have to care? to not feel pressured to run 5 miles everyday? to not have to live off hard boiled eggs and salad?”  Those diet foods make me almost as scared as binge food makes me now.  When I think of returning to my restricting regimen, I have such a feeling of dread, hatred of my body, and hatred of my masochism, fear of regaining the weight and returning to what is really just a normal weight again.

I’ve learned from Health At Every Size podcasts and websites that if I restrict my calories, or even mentally restrict my food, it will lead me to binge.  Last week I told myself I would try to eat healthier and even that led to me eating more than I wanted to!

That’s what I would define as my problem right now. I’m not bingeing and actually I don’t even hate my body that much right now.  I’m 5-7 pounds heavier than I’ve been in over ten years.  Only once was I in this range before – when I binge ate my way out of anorexia.  It took me a few years to level out to normal after that first major increase.  But now I’m up there again, and it’s not even so bad.  What’s bad about it is the constant eating.  I just wait to be alone so I can eat.  Every time I have free time, I snack.  Every meal is boring or tedious because I’m eating with someone else and can’t stuff it down like I want to.

And the weight gain is simply the proof that I’m eating beyond what’s comfortable. The amount that I’m uncomfortably full these days is, in fact, just about equal to the amount I’m uncomfortably hungry when I diet. I find that really interesting. It’s this slight level – just enough so that I can forget about it if I do something engrossing, but can also default to it as an easy distraction when my mind has nowhere else to go.




That’s what the ED brain reminds me constantly, without actually saying a word. When I smile it says I look geeky and awkward. When I stand up it says I’m offending people with my hips and thighs (and now my new stomach). When I do dishes it points big red arrows at my backside that advertise all the extra snacks I’ve had that day. When I spend time on my appearance it asks me why I’m trying to dress up a lost cause.

I just picked back up with running, which I haven’t done for three months, and am surprised to find it feels good.  I trick myself into getting out there by reminding mysef I can go so slow, I can basically walk.  I can stop whenever I feel like it, and that nobody is paying attention.  It’s not easy.  I am out of shape.  But I always get at least one passing moment of freedom when I run and I treasure that feeling still. It gets me out of my hate brain and into my appreciation brain. Do I eat even more because I’ve been running? Maybe, just slightly. Do I tell myself it won’t make any difference to my weight? Yes, but that shouldn’t matter I have to remind myself.  Or – even worse – yes, maybe it will make a difference and imagine how thin I’ll be again!  I read about a lady who started running marathons and she lost 40 pounds.  I really have to remind myself that is not the point. But, my stints with exercise seem to always begin this way – taking it easy, then suddenly …not. It’s an addiction and I have to be careful with it.  Maybe I need to remind myself that the oozy, frothy-mouthed demon who asks me if I feel lazy and fat enough yet could simply be my eating disorder getting really mad that it’s being ignored for the first time in years.

Maybe I’m beating my own head and the overeating is my infantile way of celebrating freedom. Maybe I’m finally okay with growing up and taking up however much space I need to take up. But that doesn’t mean it comes easy. There are voices in my head that tell me I’d better f****** diet, just like there are voices in my head that telling me drinking for a day wouldn’t be so bad.  They tell me there’s nothing else that’s gonna make me palatable to other humans except drinking; there’s nothing that’s gonna make me a good writer except drinking; any guy who’s gonna be able to keep my interest will only fall for me if I have a dark side, too; my boyfriend does not want to be seen with a size 10; my friends are disgusted by my weight change and I have to fix it before I see anybody.

Today I had coffee with a woman I met in AA.  We have a lot in common concerning our romantic lives and being able to talk to another woman in her 30s who has had a string of tumultuous boyfriends (and happens to be single at the moment) meant the world to me. We talked about not making major changes unless you need to in order to protect your own sobriety.  She told me how much she is inclined to make impulsive decisions.  She told me that she is supposed to run things by her sponsor first (things like major purchases, vacations, moves) to make sure she’s not rushing into something that could put her in a tough emotional or financial situation that would threaten her sobriety.

It was really great to hear another grown woman talk about impulsivity as a challenge. That when you live to make things difficult, chaotic, or dramatic for youself, you are creating challenges which will ultimately control you not benefit you.

I am still sober after more than two weeks and I am proud of that.  I am taking it extremely easy, like they remind you to in AA. I am trying my best to accept that although I’m not entirely proud of my body or my eating behaviors right now, that either my eating behaviors or my perspective will change eventually rendering all this a non-issue.

In other words, I’m F.I.N.E. (F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional).











Motivation to Lose the Wait

I remember my motivation to get and stay skinny in 2009 began after seeing the first social media-oriented photo of myself playing a guitar on stage.  I was in Norway wearing a new pair of tight grey jeans I’d just purchased in London.  I felt like I owned the world and couldn’t wait for the excitement of tour and the future of my music career.  Honestly, I felt like I was on fire!

But after seeing that photo my heart sank.  My first thought was “Nobody will listen to my songs if they see me looking like that first.” The only mental image I had of a boss-like front woman was small, slight, and either fiercely self-confident or unequivocally burdened by shame. (I didn’t own a smartphone at the time, and hadn’t seen much live music growing up.  I was never allowed to watch music videos as a kid. During my middle school years, my family moved hundreds of miles from my hometown leaving me to endure preteen angst in isolation.  I didn’t make new friends easily and my social life was generally non-existent.)

I couldn’t “own myself” this way, I thought. It didn’t bother me too much in practice. I still ate and at the point never engaged in overexercise. But I was well aware that if I didn’t come across as visually female and hot, I would get nowhere.  Nobody ever told me this.  Nobody ever told me to lose weight if I wanted to “make it” (whatever that means), and nobody ever directly compared my physical attributes to another woman playing music. If anything, I received feedback that the music itself was good!  And partners over the years would reassure me that I was “beautiful.” (Again, whatever that means).

But I was absolutely sure that if I exerted enough control over not only the form my physical body took, but also my speaking voice, my word choice, my dress, and my possessions that people would pay attention to me. Instead of ever finding comfort in my own skin, or being able to shake the perpetual feeling of unworthiness, I concentrated on building a flawless version of myself.  I didn’t see it as fake.  I saw it as growth, betterment, maturity.  It was exciting when people took notice and I could hone my craft accordingly, cutting out intonations that didn’t garner affection or adding affects that filled me with surges of empowerment. I liked to appear easy-going and apathetic. The real me is fastidious and emphatic. To facilitate my faux calm, I smoked a f***-ton of marijuana and enjoyed many vodka cocktails and bottles of pinot noir.

I always looked to the men in my life to see how I was doing or to entertain me if my self-improvement goals got boring. I am ashamed to admit this. Especially because in conjunction with hating myself for who I really am and how I really look, I also consider myself a feminist. Well, these days I do. Focusing less on my body has offered me the freedom of feeling less threatened by other women, which has in turn allowed me to feel better about my body no matter what its shape. I enjoy this vicious cycle immensely.  I enjoy other women and their camaraderie, strength, and perspective.

The ironic conclusion I’m reaching is that it seems in the last six or seven years, social media has begun a progression from feeling voyueristic and violating to feeling truthful and cathartic. I still do not feel comfortable with my specific truth being broadcast online. But I do appreciate that social media has been helping women and feminists in music and in other realms to connect and support each other. I honor nonconformists who unapologetically install themselves and openly discuss their vices and victories. To be honest, I need them. Lots of us need them. One of the beauties of having diversity availble at the touch of a screen is that we now have access to confidence we may momentarily lack. Every time I see frizzy hair, thick legs, small lips, and unique style served up on my feed like the juicy main course, I feel a huge amount of hope.

There is a girl out there deserving of respect and power. She is ready to find her place right now. She doesn’t need to hesitate or be concerned. She’s totally capable of killing it.  Finally, the world is singing her praises.

On the fourth (edit: and last) day of sobriety,

I think of Januaries and Februaries past, smoke a morning cigarette in the rain, and cave in to taking my antidepressants again. Wellbutrin has been a mainstay on and off for the past five years but constantly since last May.  And Citalopram (though not without its grueling and, in my opinion, life-withering side effects) has according to my significant other changed my personality for the best.

Nothing is going well.  Since November I’ve gained about 20 pounds and now rely solely on leggings and long shirts.  I haven’t put on a bra most days, because I stopped calling my friends and never leave the house.  I want to blame it on the winter and the rain.  They don’t help, but the real problem is I’m too dark to have anything good to say and too embarrassed to hear myself speak to anyone.

Last night I tried to speak to T about the side effects of my medication, but as usual he implored in his aggravated affect why I couldn’t just “force myself to work out?” or “have something good to say?” or “get involved in an activity?”

The most irritated he gets with me, the more my self-confidence dives.  I try to tell him the depression itself is what’s making those things seem overwhelming and painful, that I”m scared and confused and alone, that I’m freaking out that my small efforts to improve are doing next to nothing. A couple days ago he said it was “pathetic” that I wanted to kill myself.  That I’m being “lazy” in failing to find something to keep myself occupied.

And while I can see where he’s coming from, those comments alternating with ones about how much he loves me make me hate him.  Who does he think he loves? I wonder… And what kind of child thinks he can get a real relationship without a real person?

But even though I hate him for his comments, and even though I think he’s being insensitive and not the type of person I can live with forever, I always turn it back on myself.  I think “yeah, he’s right, I’m pathetic.” and “yeah, he’s right, if I weren’t so lazy I wouldn’t be so fat.” And when he asks me to switch his laundry to the dryer whilehe’s away working, I do it.  Even though I burn with resentment. Would a pathetic partner do this for you? Would a lazy partner do this for you?

Just because he keeps himself busy doesn’t mean he’s being good to me.

Last night he told me that if I didn’t have something to say besides

being depressed,

being fat, or

wanting to kill myself

then I shouldn’t talk to him at all.




this doesn’t have to be my new identity and it doesn’t have to define me

i’m freaking out and reeling after looking at pictures of my ex online.  he looks good. i look terrible.  when he looked terrible i pitied him.  i empathized with his embarrassment (ie the embarrassment i presumed he felt) over shitty pictures being shown to the public.  i pictured him depressed, having a hard time getting over me.  when i see him looking good i wonder if he’s depressed about ME.  then i realize, maybe he’s just happy.  maybe he’s moved on.  maybe he just doesn’t even give a shit and that’s why he looks good.

who knows why anyone looks good.  maybe i even look good to other people, but i sure as hell don’t feel good.  if i’m not anxious, i’m nauseous.  if i’m not nauseous, i’m lethargic.  if i’m not lethargic, i can’t sleep.  and if i can’t sleep, i’m anxious.  i still drink too much and every day i think about how much i’d rather be sober. then the next afternoon brings feelings of emptiness, loss, confusion, fear, and i’m suddenly opening another beer telling myself “it’s not like i could face an entire future’s worth of sobriety anyway!  never drinking is abnormal so why not just accept me for who i am instead of always trying to cut things out”

it feels like my envy-for-my-ex-looking-good and my not-being-able-to-stop-drinking occupy the same place in my den of low self worth. they are both things other people have achieved which seem utterly out of my grasp.  these things make me want to stay in bed instead of taking small steps toward bettering myself.  they make me embarrassed of my life embarrassed of my body, and embarrassed of my choice of clothes.  they make me paranoid – wondering if people who no longer talk to me are talking about me behind my back instead.

after having sex last night i realized my relationship may be doomed due to one and only thing – that i hate myself totally, completely. that i cannot even fathom another person finding me attractive.  that i hate myself so much, i don’t even think i deserve to enjoy sex.  while we’re doing it all i’m thinking is about when he’ll get off, if i’m doing the right thing, if i look okay, and why it doesn’t feel better to me.  then he comes, then we keep going, and i keep thinking the same things (also, remembering what it’s felt like with other people, wondering what he’s thinking about, wondering if he is trying to please me or if this is what he’d prefer to do), distracting myself from the bottom line:

that for some reason, this doesn’t feel great!

i don’t feel violated at all, i just feel bored.  and transactional.  i don’t feel turned on, beside myself, hot, transported, or even enjoyment.  i feel apologetic, like i want to make excuses for myself.  i feel angry, that after a year he isn’t tuned into me or my sexual desires at all.  i feel scared, that this is the kind of sex i am worthy of. and i’m distracted, mostly, by not knowing if this is bad enough to warrant a break up and throwing my life into chaos because i have to move yet again.

the hallmark of all this confusion is the recurring see-saw between

(1) knowing for sure that i’m worthless and this guy must be eagerly anticipating every second he can get away from me and

(2) wondering why i settle for someone who drank and lied his way through the first ten months of our relationship and also isn’t very good in bed.

Yesterday I ate a lot of carbs on purpose.

A few weeks ago, I traded in binge eating for overeating at every meal. It’s the only thing that seems to keep me from bingeing at this point.  But then the overeating started making me feel guilty and began morphing into more…well, chaotic eating.

For example, eating a secret snack before breakfast, eating breakfast with someone, then having private dessert a hour later, waiting two hours, then having lunch the same way.

I’m still taking Wellbutrin but this time it’s had barely any effect on my appetite, which is disappointing and confusing.  When I tried to quit this medicine in September and again in October, all I did was binge til I exploded.

It’s now been a solid three years of binge eating – set off with an extreme weight loss in summer of 2013 (down to 118 from 138), and punctuated by a regain to 142 in fall of 2014 (when I vowed not to diet, but to accept myself) and a second extreme diet in early summer 2015 down to 118 again, then a regain back up to 142 in November 2015, then another early summer diet down to 125.  The second two diets were both set off by Wellbutrin – a conscious decision I made at the time because I felt too fat and knew it would cut my appetite.

Now I’m 140 and on it again, though.  and instead of binging and purging with excessive exercise, like I always do, or regulating it with sugar cleanses, sobriety, or big salads, I’ve been listening to body positive podcasts.

Because I can’t keep doing this.

Obviously my body wants to be at least 140, just like it was in my early twenties before a series of major life stressors and family illnesses caused me to tailspin into panic and paranoia and lose my appetite. And just like I was when I finally moved in with someone I truly loved and felt totally accepted. Then stupidly told myself he would never love me at 142, so we went on a diet together.

I read once that if you gain more than 10 pounds over your high school weight, your risk of breast cancer goes up 50%.  I was terrified. I’m still not sure if that’s even true.  Every time I gained weight back, I felt my boobs there and my stomach would drop.  It’s only a matter of time before these turn on me, too.

Why couldn’t I just let myself be…?

And that’s where I am again today.

I was a little heavier when I started dating T last Christmas (135 pounds), but I was embarrassed about it completely. When I started my medication and lost some weight this summer (125 lbs), we finally started having more sex. Now I’m even heavier than when we started dating (140 pounds+) and I don’t fit any of my pants.  I think I lost some muscle too because even though the number isn’t that high, my legs don’t squeeze into anything.  All my underwear is tight.  my stomach looks bloated from my erratic eating.

I’m plagued by a feeling of wanting to give up completely.  I’ve been running slowly, at least every other day mostly to deal to anxiety.  And it does help.  In a couple weeks we go to Mexico and I am so fucking dreading it.  I want to start writing more about this effort to eat intuitively because I have no idea what’s going on and I want to be able to help someone else in the future.  I can’t find anything online about the actual struggle of going from binging to eating intuitively.

Some people are saying you *HAVE* to let yourself have anything because otherwise you’re restricting – either with calories or emotional shame – but when I let myself have anything, I only choose sugar and carbs, and I have a lot of trouble stopping.  And even when I’m able to stop, I spend the entire period between meals anxiously awaiting thenext time I get to eat.  I’m so ashamed of my embarrassing thoughts.  I dread that T can hear me getting fatter and that when I finally do eat next to him, he’s horrified to be dating me.  I don’t even hate my body *that* much, though I am not proud of what the overeating has done to it… it’s more that I’m so ashamed to be always thinking about food.  If anyone could hear my thoughts, I would die.  I just had tea, with a cup of oatmeal with banana and a few apple slices. I thought that would be a nice small size, I can eat lunch in a few hours at 1:30, and feel okay about everything.  But I just want to pretend I didn’t eat breakfast at all and go eat cookie dough.

I know I won’t do that.  Usually in the mornings, I can talk myself out of it because I know living with that feeling all day will kill me.  I’m freaking out and I really need help.  When I finally worked up the courage to let T in and tell him how much I’d been binging, he said “everyone needs to eat and that I should talk to him when I feel this way.”  But every time I try to talk to him he gets very agitated and says “we just talked about this last week – how you think you’re fat and don’t know what to do.  well, DO SOMETHING about it! do something that makes you feel fulfilled!  You’re skinny there’s no need to worry about it!”  He thinks it’s no big deal.  So he cooks us dinner and thinks he’s helping provide security, which he his.  But, I just keep hiding from him.  He doesn’t understand.

As with other times

as with other times
i smoked a joint yesterday an ended up depressed as fuck
usually i just eat the weed – little nibbles, tiny nibbles – to bring me a small relief from anxiety, a bit of dream state to my normal. But i ended up with drinks under my belt, walking in the balmy aumtumn evening with a man who says he loves me and will marry me when we feel the time is right, and me thinking to myself ‘when can i be alone?’

an eternal need to be detached from anything i’ve known or built suffocates me daily.  i’ve lost so much breath i fail to even examine alternatives at this point, but lie in wait of the day to strike me dead or slap me with some fashionable sense of inspiration that i will then broadcast to the sphere we have been trained to think of as Earth.

In the woods I wear a red bandana.  Much like I do when I clean dishes, make food, clean spots below waist-height, or predict i’ll be sweating.  (I don’t often sweat noticeably, unless I’m indoors and confined to oppressive environments – the gym, the doctor).

I think to myself every 30 minutes, “I could lie down here.” Because I truly want to feel the water from the rain held by the mulch, seeping through my cottony spandex pants and cooling me until I remember all the times I spent in the woods as a kid. I truly want all the spines and stickers of the unknown pricker bushes to catch me as I become the tiny creature without a care beyond finding a tidbit to mend my hunger.

And in the midst of this longing to be so simple and immediate, the Me comes and tells me I need to remedy my living. I must plan my job and my next residence. I must worry about the nightmare that woke me at Eight.

In this nightmare, I begin as having just escaped a terrible accident.  Driving along a river road through evergreen forest much like the ones we frequent between here and the coast, a sudden turn arises along the guardrail and I brake just before rear-ending a car which has just rear-ended a first car.  We all halt in the mist of a late afternoon cloudy November day. I hop out and we convene.  Everybody’s okay and the tow truck is en route while we gather by the slim-shouldered roadside and fake finding comfort in each others’ strange company.

In a flash, a comet car rushes in and crushes all of us! Zooming from the right, slamming us all deep into the rushing river… covering my face melting crying into foreign surroundings, I scream out for …my phone, which I guess was still in the passenger’s seat.

When I wake up, I go for a run, which is really at least a quarter ‘walk.’  I tell myself, “IT”S OK.” Because for the past month, I’ve completely given up. I’ve been listening to body positive podcasts everyday, reading about eating disorder recovery, trying to find a good therapist, making sure to stay on my Wellbutrin, making sure to try and be kind to myself.  But the truth is, it’s all devolved into just being lazy.  And lazy would be fine with me if it really made me happy but it hasn’t. Instead, I feel sloth-like and dead to the world.

I have been receding from reality, telling myself that everybody else should live their lives but I’m going to disappear.  It is not good.  I stopped being able to taste food last week, sometimes.  I will tell myself to move, but I can’t.  I will tell myself to respond to someone, but I can’t… etc.

In the midst of my dreamy deadened state, we plan our trip to Yucatan.  It excites me, somewhat.  Mostly, I fantasize finding the meaning of life there and never returning to this dismal hellhole again.  In a more realistic sense, I imagine it will be a good time.  The weather will be mostly agreeable, the food will be tasty and novel, we will take pictures, and kiss, and plan, and accomplish our journey.  We accel at accomplishing journeys and that is a strong point of our relationship in my opinion.