edit undo

some responsible things i need to say here, first – i have gone to therapy and got help and whoever you are reading this, you can too and it will help. also there’s https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ which has a live online chat, or the ANAD helpline at (630) 577-1330. reaching out is brave and your experiences are never too small or too big to be valid and worked through with others.


so,

im feeling sad about food, running and food, running from food

last night i cried to {professional runner, almost olympian} lauren fleshman’s dear younger me as she writes to her high-school self:

Depending on the methods you used to fight your body, you may end up destroying your relationship with food and sport for years to come. You won’t go this far, but you’ll see so many of your friends and teammates do this. In your age group, the mortality rate from anorexia is 12 times higher than any other cause of death. You will see some come close.

& she’s talking about how female runners see how skinnier means stronger, thinner means faster, at least temporarily, at least until everything breaks

and so then i read up on the National Eating Disorder Associations risk factors for females, including:

〈♦〉”sports that focus on the individual rather than the entire team. For example: running”

〈♦〉”endurance sports such as track & field/running”

〈♦〉”overvalued belief that lower body weight will improve performance”

〈♦〉”training for a sport since childhood”

〈♦〉”low self-esteem; peer, family and cultural pressures to be thin”

〈♦〉”coaches who focus primarily on success and performance rather than on the athlete as a whole person”

and its check mark, check mark, yes, yup, that was me, that is me, that was my team – it may continue to be my team, the only difference is me – the not-me – the too-big space i and others left when we quit

and let me explain, freshman year of college was a hurricane, an earthquake, a natural disaster with me as the casualty. someone close attempted suicide, i thought it was my fault, i shut down. my running suffered, i suffered. and amidst this personal whirlwind:

a new team that doesn’t eat hamburger buns.

there are veggies in the pasta sauce all of a sudden, and nobody eats the breadsticks at team dinner anymore. dessert looks like cereal, and i learn that dairy is capital-b Bad. When i do weights next to the FastGirls i am squat and short and wide, how have i never realized that my thighs are so ridiculously large, why are my calves are so big, and all of a sudden its also looking like

eating so much oatmeal it hurts to walk.

this – this is what is confusing, isolating, scary, shameful.

and its not new, i had strategies in muk for stopping eating when i just wanted to keep on, keep on, but there i was star athlete, top student, homecoming court, asb-secretary-overachiever – confidence high because compliments were high – and its different here, here i’m Bad, i’m hurting people, im not a good runner anymore, im not special, im just me and suddenly a very quiet shy me and thats not enough, thats not enough at all

{and again, a pause to say these are lies – these are all lies my brain told me – because people are never Good and Bad, they are complex people ! – and being introverted and quiet is normal and okay – and so am i, i am okay, i am okay}

but there in sticky hot salem im eating a costco size container of granola bars before workout and i have such a bad stomach ache at practice and its this – this inability to even control my hunger, my cravings, my food, this hurts in a way thats different: i want to be able to starve myself thin, i want to be able to say no to the food but i cant, i never can, i do for a day or a week and then i fall so hard

and then one day over winter break i end up back at home, wrapped up in the scariness of so many things and im at dinner with my parents with dressing-on-the-side and take-home-boxes and im in the bathroom before a toilet, with my hand down my throat and again im failing in so many ways because

what kind of gender studies major wants to be bulimic  (edit: nobody wants to be bulimic)

what kind of bulimic cant even throw up (edit: there are so many kinds of disordered eating)

what kind of runner cant be skinny or be careful of what she eats (edit: eating for health and performance is different than starvation)

what kind of person can’t stop eating (edit: the question im trying to figure out)

and its never worked, this – this lowest moment – its never worked, okay.

and now i can see – foggily, murkily – that every time ive ever stood over a toilet bowl and  havent been able to, well, thank god –

because i love my hair and my nails and my teeth. because i love to climb mountains and run far and bike with my brother and dance at concerts and walk hours in new cities abroad and backpack to faraway mystical lakes. being active makes my life worth living. i have so many places to hike to and countries to travel to and stretches to do and walks to take

and because i love to run.

and these stories ive been taught – thinner is faster, thinner is better, thin is what you need to run

thats the story that takes running away for real.

thats the story, too familiar, of hospital beds and brittle bones and no running, no competing, for a long time, for maybe ever

and so, luckily, amazingly, while i write this post, my running shoes still somehow wait for me in the car.

ive never fully figured out how much food a run equals, or how many calories i burn per mile. ive never learned to truly track my food, though ive tried many times, and i know the fitbit is wrong on the calorie count. ive tried and tried to make running work as a weight loss solution. but its never worked, not truly, not all the way

so i still have the freedom to run for the joy of it.

im mad, im devastated, im full of regret that i had to quit competing at the collegiate level

but i still have the freedom to run for the joy of it.

and i still cant figure out why sometimes i want to eat everything in sight. after i do i feel dark dark dark and sad and thats when i head for the bathroom door, wanting to reset, to turn back time, to undo what ive done. its scary and i dont know anybody quite in this situation. ive been figuring out, though, that maybe my world is less so that when my mental state is poor, i eat in disordered ways

but moreso that

when i eat in disordered ways, my mental state is poor

do you see the difference? and of course its both at once but, notice, the food is more central than maybe ive ever admitted. and i want to stand there with lauren fleshman at the “you wont go that far” stage, but also, maybe i have gone pretty damn far

 


so,

a few weeks ago my friend visited and he asked me ‘what do you like about yourself?’

and i said, i’m brave

ive boarded flights to other hemispheres all alone and scaled icy mountainsides solo and

now

letting myself speak – to fight – like this

its the most brave thing ive done yet.

-h

 

 

 

 

 

 

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