Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eating Disorders

Saying that I'm having "a bad day" sounds ridiculous.  I'm not homeless, I'm not physically ill, I'm not living in Syria or North Korea and I'm not an unemployed American suffocating under a mountain of debt.  But I've been having a bad couple of days.  I've come to accept that I need help beyond my weekly therapy sessions with the Doctor Leslie.  


I've been in the care of shrinks a long time.  Before Doctor Leslie there was Doctor Paulette, then Russian trail-mix eating doctor, then Doctor Snow.  Doctor Paulette was horrible and actually left me feeling dirty and violated after our therapy sessions.  Doctor Snow was a dial-tone and talked shit about my mom's religion, and the Russian doctor would sit and munch on peanuts and raisins while I talked of how my eating habits were ruining my life.  But Doctor Leslie is damn near perfect.  That said, while my eating disorder is more manageable than it was four years ago, it's still running my life.  


It started probably when I was 7 years old.  I didn't starve myself skeletal like the girls on Dateline and 20/20 news stories, but I would jump between hoarding food and shame eating, to near-starvation.  This see-sawed for years, worsening at the age of 14 when I finally did get so skinny that people around me became concerned.  It could be assumed that I learned the behavior from my mother, who had the same problem.  


Living under the mercy of a behavioral disorder is a pain in the ass.  You can't trust yourself.  It's like you have an asshole living in your brain, telling you to skip the morning workout and reward yourself with a little extra sleep, but then berates you for the rest of the day, telling you that you're so fat- too fat to go out that night- so you might as well order enough Taco Bell for three people and sit at home on the couch fantasizing about how it's all going to get better tomorrow.  Any time I feel like it might be okay to veer off from my good behavior and relapse by throwing up, skipping meals or bingeing, I have to assume my brain asshole is manipulating me and fight it.  After a few days of constant fighting, I'm exhausted.  I try not to give in, but I often do.  I end up bargaining with myself, earning relapse time in exchange for recovery time.  If I can stay on the wagon for three days, I can fall off on day four.  


I've seriously tried everything.  I've tried meditation (pointless), medication (ugh), lots and lots of therapy, books, documentaries, detoxes, month-long isolation programs (like rehab for eating disorders, which I have loving referred to as "fat camp"), journaling, hypnosis, denial, throwing away food, juice cleanses, and the list goes on and on.  Month-long isolation left me strong enough for two solid months of recovery without relapse.  Every other method of recovery, however, barely lasts a week.


Like I said, I've come to accept that I need more help.  The one thing I haven't tried is group therapy for individuals with eating disorders.  Eating Disorders Anonymous, if you will, with a 12-step program and everything.  And I'm in luck, as Los Angeles happens to have about a zillion meetings within a 15-mile radius of my house, not that I'm surprised.  


I've been putting off attending these meetings for a long time.  For one thing, I don't believe in ANY "higher power," which is the foundation of the 12-step program.  Second, when you put several people in a circle and have them talk about their feelings, someone always starts crying.  I hate that person.  I'm not a cryer, let alone a GROUP cryer, and it's always been a challenge for me to take people who have the ability to pull out the waterworks in front of an audience seriously.  While I'll admit that this lack of empathy is MY problem, I'll also point out that this has been one of my main excuses to keep me from having to go to group counseling.


Nonetheless, since group therapy is the one thing I haven't tried, it's time.  I don't want to say I'm desperate, but I'm not far off.  At this point, I will deal with the inevitable prima donna group cryer and hope that somehow I can take something valuable from the performance and apply it into my own life and find my way to a mentally, emotionally and physically healthy pattern of existence.  It can't hurt to try.  It certainly can't make my bad days any worse.