The category Me, myself and ED is the chronological narration of how Tulip came about, my battle and survival with EDNOS, AN (Anorexia Nervosa) and BN (Bulimia Nervosa). I will attempt to write it as factual and as honest as I can, keeping in mind I have not written nor spoken about it in the past 12 (or so) years.
EDNOS – Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified
I learnt something recently while reading an online article regarding the danger in not recognising the signs of a specific disorder, EDNOS. The start of my struggle with eating disorders actually had a name! And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I want to take you back to the beginning of my nightmarish journey, back to the year 1997:
I had an amazing year in sport. I achieved my highest ranking within my grade for WAG (woman’s artistic gymnastics) and represented my province at Nationals for a third consecutive year. I excelled in my track events during the athletics season and achieved personal bests in 400m and 100m relay. I was also more involved in school activities and enjoyed spending quality time with my horse – we discovered cross country and what a trill that was! I had a few boyfriends during this year, mostly casual friends with unsuccessful attempts at forming romantic bonds.
It was not until mid to year end that I started to notice my body had taken a course of its own. I use to monitor my eating habits as there were sudden changes in my dietary requirements due the different sports I participated in. For example (and I am no expert at this, but was told by a dietician): different muscle groups are used for different sporting events, and it can’t be more so for gymnastics and athletics. Track sprinting requires short bursts of strength and stamina with a lot of focus placed on leg and lung development. Gymnastics on the other hand require ‘longer’ muscles due to the flexibility aspect of the sport and strength training consists of full body and core. My diet reflected these differences: to help sustain muscle development for athletics I included a lot of protein and raw egg/milk drinks. And when gymnastics season started, I switched to a less high protein and more balanced diet, which included salads, fish and pastas. I was used to a 4kg fluctuation during the year.
A sudden change in my body (excessive weight gain) brought me to a catatonic stand still. I saw a photo of myself taken one early morning when I was out with my horse, a photo in which I didn’t recognise myself. I felt disgusted and utterly disappointed with myself. Both gymnastics and athletics had finished and clearly the lack of constant exercise and increase in food intake had taken my body on a selfish joyride. One day during class my best friend and I were discussing a topic raised during a church sermon I attended that previous Sunday, fasting. I knew about the ritual but didn’t really understand the reasoning behind it. My friend wasn’t a church goer, but she was willing to meet me half way and instead of placing the focus of fasting on God and meditation, we will spend more time preparing for our final exams. The fasting period will be between 6am – 6pm, Monday – Friday with only liquids allowed during the fast. We will hold each other accountable by presenting our exam preparations to one another on a daily basis. We also agreed that the fasting will only be for the duration of the term, and until our exams start.
The first few weeks was somewhat torture as my body (and mind) was trying its best to adjust to this new regime, one it didn’t like. I felt miserable and hungry, VERY hungry. But I soon found that water makes for a great placebo, and if you drink several glasses of water at the time you would have had a meal, it deceives your body into thinking that it’s full. Illusory became an every day game.
On weekends I was allowed to eat, and this is when my binge-eating disorder reared its nasty head.
To be continued