Only Starved in the Mirror

Only Starved in the Mirror

There was a time when I couldn’t understand addicts, when I couldn’t understand why they’d dry a dangerous substance (like heroin) and keep at it, knowing how deadly the drugs they were trying are. How could they not? Anti-drug campaigns are everywhere, touting the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Yet, they keep using. Soon they’re spiraling out of control into addiction where a withdrawal can mean certain death. It’s almost like when they’re in the throes of their addictions, they no longer care if they live or die.

I got to a point where I didn’t care if I lived or died.

I was told that what starts out as a lazy ride down a river eventually turns into a tumultuous journey over a waterfall. You didn’t get in that canoe knowing the waters would turn rough. You didn’t get in it knowing you’d be dragged down by a waterfall. You simply thought it’d be a nice ride with a safe end in sight.

That isn’t how any addiction works. No one sets out to be an addict. I set out to get so skinny that I felt like I’d be able to disappear, but I didn’t set out to become an anorexic, no matter how cognizant I was of what I was doing to my body. By the time I realized how sick I was, it was no longer simple to just eat, no matter how desperately I wanted to. Just eating turned into binging. Binging turned into purging. And purging turned into more starving. Then purging eventually turned into laxative abuse. Then more hunger. Then severe dehydration.

Even though I felt starved, I only saw myself as starved when I looked in the mirror. I knew what I looked like. I didn’t struggle with body dysmorphia.

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From chapter 43 of Tokyo Ghoul :RE by Ishida Sui

You could say my eating disorder was a side-effect of the PTSD I was struggling with because my former boss’s boyfriend decided to sexually assault me one day at work. Back then I thought I should have seen it coming since there were prior events of sexual harassment that led up to the assault. But, in truth, no one can see anything coming. For that reason, I wanted to make myself so unattractive that guys would stop harassing me. I’m better at handling harassment now, though I still can’t go a single work shift without getting hit on.

Or you could say my eating disorder was a side effect of the snowball effect my life was currently undergoing when I decided dropping a few pounds was a better escape than, say, dancing or writing or any of the other coping methods I should have been using.

It doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that one day I was in the doctor’s office and I lost weight, though I didn’t know how much, because I was having issues with heartburn and so didn’t want to eat that much, and because I decided to go home and weigh myself and found out I weighed 112, I thought that controlling my weight would be the best possible solution to my snowball life, and I thought to myself, ‘I want to weigh 100 lbs…and then I’ll stop.’

It didn’t stop there, though. The lowest I got was 91 lbs…and that’s when I started binging because I was so painfully hungry all the time. I recall that one song, I can’t remember the artist, who mentioned she went home and binged on a box of Twinkies. I internally laughed. A binge for an eating-disordered individual is a box of Twinkies times ten. I ate so much to the point where I had to throw up to get rid of the pain from being so stuffed. I didn’t exactly feel bad after a binge, but I was determined to eat so little the next day. My goal was generally to keep below 500 calories, but it was more like 800, which is still abysmally, disgustingly low, considering 800 calories doesn’t even include what I burned off.

I purged with exercise. I’d run in place in my room at night in an attempt to burn even 100 calories. The less you weigh, the lower your metabolism because a larger body needs more energy to keep it functioning.

I joined an eating disorder forum, which was largely about support and help, but I was also looking for enablers. Before I even joined I read a thread where a member posted that you think you have a goal weight, but it’s not going to be enough. You’re going to want to keep going lower and lower. I scoffed. 100 lbs. was my goal. Oh, how right she was. I hit 100 lbs. My goal weight was then 95, and then I’d maintain. I hit that. Suddenly my goal was 85 lbs. Then maintain. That’s when I realized how enormous my problem was. That’s when I realized I really was in full-blown eating disorder territory.

Every day since then, I screamed at myself to just eat. Just eat normally again. Or at least maintain the weight you’re at. Even though it seems so easy, it’s not at all. Eating disorders, like drugs, are addictive. There’s a certain high you feel when you look at the scale and find you’ve been successful at dropping even .5 lbs. It’s an indescribable high, one you’ll only understand if you’ve ever had an eating disorder.

If it were just that easy to eat, no one would ever develop an eating disorder.

Your mind fights with you 24/7. It’s a nightmare. You think about food all the time. Calories. Planning what foods you’re going to eat for the entire day. How much you’re going to have to exercise to burn off ‘x’ amount of calories. How you’re going to get away with not eating a meal you know is going to be high in calories. How you’re hungry all. the. damn. time. Sometimes you’re abysmally tired, though I only felt this when I was lacking in B12–because of the anorexia. It was like the part of my brain that should have told me I was tired was shut off. I was still able to do ballet as well as I was able to do it before anorexia. In fact, my stamina got better because I started jogging to burn off calories. It only hit me when I began the re-feeding process forced upon me by a four-day hospital stay. One day for every month I was trapped in that nightmare. My brain seemed to have woken up. I nearly sprained my ankle at the barre since I lost my muscular endurance for being able to stand on half-toe for an extended amount of time.

I felt bloated all the time during the re-feeding process. I didn’t fight it when I was hospitalized. Thank God I was hospitalized. I was severely dehydrated on the day I was admitted. If two friends of mine hadn’t finally intervened and told my parents what was going on, I probably would have fainted from dehydration…or worse. No amount of drinking water was going to replenish my hydration levels since I lost so many electrolytes through laxative abuse.

It’s like I needed permission to eat again. I didn’t fight the re-feeding process. I only fought when my parents wanted to limit how much I ate due to a fear of me binging.

Recovery was easy for me. I was happily not in the throes of my eating disorder for long, even though I lost weight so fast. Unfortunately, recovery isn’t easy for a lot of those with eating disorders. I was lucky. The way I acted during recovery you would have thought I never had an eating disorder to begin with. Just this illusion that I lost all of that weight because of a B12 deficiency.

Other than recovery, there is only one outcome for an individual with an eating disorder.

It’s not pretty.

Some novels about eating disorders will use flowery language to describe the hell of an eating disorder. Believe me when I tell you there is nothing flowery or poetic about having one.

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My New Future Career

My New Future Career

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from MenScience

One of the reasons my blog has been rather slow lately is that I started studying for the ACE certification exam to become a personal trainer. This actually became a recent dream of mine, one I thought about for a month before deciding to go with ACE. I didn’t want to immediately start studying for it as soon as the thought entered my head, simply because I wanted to know whether or not it was just a passing whimsy. So I spent an entire month doing research on it to ensure it was something I wanted to do before forking over the cash to start my studies.

At first I was a little discouraged due to the fact that some gyms only pay you on commission and you’re forced to “work the floor” to find your own clients. Yet, others pay an hourly wage, handing you your clients instead, though you are paid considerably less. I was also a little discouraged because of the idea that you are forever having to earn continuing education credits in order to stay certified, which means you’re forever forking over cash. But the more I thought about these cons, the more pros began to enter my mind, and the more those cons actually aren’t a big deal. I have a background in sales and marketing. There are tons and tons of fitness centers in my area, so I’m sure I can find one that pays hourly. Even if it doesn’t, well, I don’t mind a little challenge–not to mention I’m super passionate about health, so I think I’ll be able to convince someone of the importance of being fit and going with a trainer to help you achieve that goal. I also actually love the idea of having to receive continuing education credits, as the research for exercise science and nutrition is always changing; thus, it is important as a trainer to stay on top of this information and prove you’re continuously honing your knowledge.

Now that I’m actually studying for it, I’m even more excited about being certified.

Now what on Earth inspired me to suddenly take this route, especially since I’m so close to graduating with a degree in English? Well, I started following some lifestyle blogs, and I came across Lauryn Evart’s The Skinny Confidential. I started searching for lifestyle blogs to help me change my diet, to help me eat clean. In her bio, I read that she is currently studying for a certificate in nutrition, and she’s going through ISSA to do so. I thought this was interesting, so I decided to look it up.

There is no unified body that aspiring personal trainers must study in order to be certified. ACE and ISSA are just two of many schools of thought you can use to become certified. After looking through ISSA, I remembered when I was working an event at a fitness center. I saw a personal trainer in action, and I thought his job was pretty cool. At the time I thought you had to have some sort of degree in wellness, but luckily for Lauryn’s blog, I discovered you don’t need one, though it can better your chances of finding a job. I was already passionate about being fit and healthy. I want to share that passion.

Now what prompted me to want to start eating clean and exercising more?¬† I suffered with an eating disorder for four months, which is another reason my blog has been a little empty. That is another story in itself, but I was spending two months trying to recover from it. Yet, during my eating disorder, I did tons of research on nutrition and fitness and found all of it interesting. Unfortunately, I used the advice to fuel some bad habits, but even after recovering, I didn’t lose my desire to research nutrition and fitness. This time, however, I want to use nutrition and fitness to remain healthy, to be the best me that I can be. During my time in inpatient, I remember seeing a few diet commercials. They made me so livid. They fuel people’s insecurities and are ultimately unhealthy.

I want to be part of a future that emphasizes good nutrition without resorting to fad diets, along with exercise to help others live a long, fulfilling life. I don’t want people to have to resort to dangerous fad diets or extreme exercise programs you can find online from people who aren’t experts in order to achieve their ideal images. I want to be part of a growing movement that puts importance on health at every size, which has been proven to help fight obesity without fat shaming. I received this tidbit of wisdom about HAES from my ACE personal trainer manual.

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from My Gut Tells Me

I want to show people that exercise doesn’t have to be stressful or time consuming, but fun and fulfilling. Since I started eating healthier and doing more exercise than just ballet, I have so much more energy, I’m handling my anxiety much better, my mood is steadier, my stress levels are in check, and I just feel overall great. I want to help people feel all these wonderful things. I’m also not about helping people achieve their dream bodies. Sure I’ll help with that if they want it, but I also want people to know their health is more important than a chiseled body. I also want to help prevent eating disorders, which are the deadliest mental illnesses out there. It horrifies me that I was diagnosed with such a deadly illness and absolutely would have died if it weren’t for two amazing friends of mine. Educating the public about health and nutrition, working closely with people who want this for themselves, I think can help combat body image issues and hopefully help those using eating disorders as a coping mechanism to find a much better way of handling stress.

Wanting to become a personal trainer was actually inspired by my disease, which is Anorexia Nervosa. I was able to make something good come out of this horrible illness.

Overall, I’m super excited to see where this career takes me. I hope to take the exam this December, around the time I should be graduating.

Now that you know this, you can check out my other blog that I stared a few months ago.

Books With GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) Characters

Books With GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) Characters

As a little bit of a tease, I do have some great news to share, but I can’t share it right now until a certain condition is met–and another piece of awesome news, but the details are still being worked out. On the other hand, I can give you a hint about the latest book I’m working on: this book contains an asexual male. This book is actually a re-vamped version of a book I started last year, so it’s a dramatic change, but one I’m sticking with because I finally want to delve into writing contemporary YA issues-based books. The Stars Trilogy will probably be my last and only trilogy/series.

With that in mind, I have been reading¬†a lot of books along the GSM spectrum, and while I haven’t been able to find any books with asexual characters you don’t have to analyze to know they are asexual, I’ve still found a few golden reads, and I’d like to share them with you. With the increasing attention the GSM community is getting, I think it is vital that people start to read books with GSM characters in order to understand what it’s like living with sexual and gender identities that are neither cis nor hetero.

Now keep in mind that these are all YA novels, because they are primarily what I read, but they still give you a fantastic glimpse of what it’s like for people in the GSM community.

  • LunaLuna by Julie Anne Peters. This book involves the story of a transgender teen wanting to transition from male to female. She calls herself Luna (real name Liam). She only feels safe transforming into Luna in the safety of her basement bedroom. This is the first book I read with a transgender teen, and I’m going to try to find others to read as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • freakboyFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark. Brendan Chase feels like he’s in the wrong body–but then sometimes he doesn’t. He’s actually gender fluid, and this was the first time I learned about gender fluidity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • safe Safe by C. Kennedy. All Caleb wants to do is protect his boyfriend Nico from his father. This book was actually quite a shock to me, because some scenes were a little more detailed than what YA generally allows. But its publisher, Harmony Ink Press, is about pushing the boundaries of YA literature, do I figured I would throw this one in the list for breaking boundaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • HeavyweightLGHeavyweight by MB Mulhall. Ian’s crush on Julian Yang threatens to reveal that he’s a gay youth living in a backwater southern town. This book is unique because it isn’t just about a gay youth, but a gay youth who also struggles with an eating disorder. It’s uncommon to find books about males struggling with eating disorders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • scarsScars by Cheryl Rainfield. Kendra is self-harming to suppress some horrible memories of childhood sexual abuse. I chose this book because it doesn’t even revolve around Kendra’s sexuality at all. Yet, near the end, she has a girlfriend, and she never once thinks that it’s unusual. So this book treats homosexuality like heterosexuality, and that’s what I liked about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently I’m reading Tales from Foster High by John Goode, and it seems like the series is going to revolve around several gay youth during their high school years. I might post a review on this when I’m done with it.

I definitely recommend checking out these books. Also check out Harmony Ink Press for more books, because they are about publishing books with teens in the GSM community.