Drunkorexia

Alright I am going to tell you guys all about a type of eating disorder many people probably have never even heard of. It is scary, because while you many have never heard of this condition before, I guarantee either yourself or some of your closest friends have engaged in some of the behaviors of drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia is when someone plans to not eat much when they know they will be drinking so that they can get drunk faster and not have to worry about alcohol related weight gain. Someone will deprive there body so that one drink is all they need to feel drunk. The goal is always to consume less and less because calories are the monster.

Too much alcohol is already not good for you at all, but pair that with malnutrition and we have an even bigger issue on our hands. Drunkorexia is SO common on every college campus YET WE DO NOT EVER HEAR ABOUT THIS!

Sufferers think it’s the calories that will kill them when instead it is themselves and their own behaviors that kill.

I suffer hardcore with this condition. And let me tell you about one of my worst nights ever because of it…

So it was my freshman year at Xavier University. I never drank much before  because I couldn’t fathom putting in these excess calories if my body did not actually need them.

It was a few weeks into school and my friends and I were feeling pretty bored so we decided to drink. There were three of us total and a lot of vodka was consumed that night. I know for a fact that that exact day I walked/ran about 6 miles and hardly ate a thing or drank any water.

We were drinking, having fun, and being stupid. The night was going great until I blacked out and woke up in the mental ward of a hospital. All the patients had cots we slept on and the only privacy was a little curtain. The person next to me suffered with schizophrenia. Every now and then he would scream or call out to people who weren’t there. I was scared; I was 7 hours away from home and had no idea what was going to happen.

I got so lucky that night that nothing worse happened to me. I got so lucky. I danced with death that night. I wish I learned my lesson after that first time.

I have a weird relationship with alcohol to this day. I like to go out and drink, but I hate not being in control. However, I still will purposely deprive my body to compensate for the alcohol. I never know what a night of drinking will look like for me. Some people call me lame for not always wanting to go out with them, but I have a bigger issue I need to take care of first.

This is important…to my friends just now starting college, or my friends who may see these behaviors in their friends. Help inform them. Help them. Help them realize something is not okay. I am lucky that my foolish behaviors didn’t get me in any worse trouble in the past.

I cannot stress enough how much more this topic needs to be addressed.

Here are some of the biggest symptoms:

  • Cutting back on food and increasing exercise to either speed or enhance the high from drinking
  • Engaging in bulimic-type behaviors: vomiting after eating, taking laxatives or using diuretics
  • Boosting exercise or eating less to offset calories from drinking: this could include drinking low-calorie beers or cocktails, skipping a meal or avoiding food all day, or exercising intensely

(http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/college-game-plan/drunkorexia-prevalent-among-college-students-study-finds-n614871)

With the school year starting it is so so so important that we get a step ahead of the game.

If you have more questions or want to know more about my personal struggles let me know and I will do whatever I can to help.

Hi it’s me again

I really did have every intention to take a break from my blogging. However, I realized that I benefit really well from publicizing my thoughts. I recently wrote an essay for a summer school class, I really had no idea what I was writing about, but knowing that I was writing and that others would view my work gave me a sense of pride. What made me even more happier was getting my scores back only to have extremely positive feedback. 

I do not think highly of myself very often, but one thing that I do consider myself to be good at is writing. I have this voice and I want it to be heard.

I recently weighed myself and I am back to the weight I was at in like October, a few months before inpatient and pretty close to what I used to weigh. I still do not know how I feel about it, but I need to learn to just not give a crap. 

I am writing this while I am sitting at the airport. I am about to travel to Canada to be with my best friends. I could not be more excited and thankful. I am thankful that I am healthy enough for this experience. I am thankful that I have the energy to get myself to travel. 

As I sit here and wait for my flight I see many people of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, abilities, ect. As I sit here and look at the strangers walking around I feel thankful because I know that I have a disease, but I am still capable of doing so much. I saw a girl much younger than me being pushed in a wheelchair. She cannot even walk and she still had the brightest smile on her face. Young, expecting mothers have walked past me with their baby bump proudly showing. This is something that I want later in life. I want to walk around carrying my own baby and I want to be healthy enough to do so. 

I am living in a body that I have abused and tortured so much. I have a body many people would love to have. I know I have a disease which messes with my mind. I know what I am doing is wrong. I am aware that I will have bad days, hours, minutes, weeks. 

I have this kid at camp who tells me my name is olivia because I love to live. This made my day but also broke my heart because I think about all the times I tried to no longer live. I never would have had an opportunity to work with some of the beautiful and special individuals I work with today. And for that I am grateful. I am grateful I did not give up when it got too hard. By continuing to write I am fighting Ana. She wanted me to stop writing. She tried to shut me up. But guess what Ana, I will always be louder than you. 

No

No means no. Why is that such a hard concept to grasp? Let me give you an example of how to respond to “no” 

If you ask someone if they want to move to Antarctica with you, and they say no, you cannot throw them on a plane and force them to live there. Why is no so hard to understand? My dog understands it better than some people.

I never came to terms with some things from my past. Never talked about it, never thought about it… Just always kept it buried down inside. However, with all the news in the media, things have been a bit triggering.

I transferred from the first university I attended. I just tell people it’s because I hated it there- which is true! But there’s more to the story. At this school some guy tried to take advantage of me.

I hate thinking it/saying it/ I don’t even know why I’m going to post it, but maybe talking about it will help me. I was drunk, he was drunk- people probably think it was “deserved” or “asked for.” … I DISTINCTLY remember telling this boy NO multiple times. Yet that did not stop him. 

I don’t remember much. It was not rape, but he definitely did things to me that I was not okay with. Now I am one of the most cautious people and others don’t always get why. Getting drunk with all my friends has never sounded fun. Sure, going out is nice, but I hardly had been eating enough to drink in the first place. Now I hardly let people in, or I let them in too fast. I forgot how to maintain healthy relationships with guys. I’m afraid to be taken advantage of again. I’ll keep someone too far or too close because I’m at a loss where I simply do not know what works anymore. 

Yikes. This is hard to write. Another vulnerable post. I do not like to be portrayed as vulnerable or weak. I may feel that way, but I like to think it isn’t true. 

Maybe sharing this will help me get over whatever it is I’m not letting go of. It’s been locked inside me for awhile, it’s time to get it out of my mind. 

I never really told anyone about what happened that night. I have enough problems, people probably already think that I do these things for attention. Heck,my own therapist told me that I have a problem with being the star of attention and that I will uncounsiously do whatever I think is necessary to get it. I know she’s right. I love attention, but I don’t want attention for being sick. It’s weird. This post is weird. Probably a mistake too, but I don’t know. 

Why I Will Never Buy a Fitbit

Fitbits are the latest trend. EVERYONE seems to have a fitbit or at least something that tracks his or her steps.

I think fitbits are an awesome idea, but I will never buy or use one.

For my 19th birthday I got a Nike fuel band. It is essentially the same thing as a fitbit. I loved my fuel band. I had goals to accomplish everyday. It is a really good idea to motivate people to be healthy.

However, in my case, my fuel band was counter-productive for me. I began to compete against myself.

“How many calories did I burn yesterday?” “I burned more calories yesterday I must do more today.” “I already went on a run today but I still need 500 more steps to reach my goal, better go workout again.”

I am obsessed with numbers. To me it did not matter that I met my goal, what mattered was that I did more than I did yesterday. Yet again, I began abusing my right to workout in a whole new manner. The worst part is that to me I did not recognize it as unhealthy or abuse; it was just a game between myself.

I got my fuelband in May and wore it everyday over the summer. I have memories leaving my dads apartment in California at 10pm to walk up and down the stairs until I achieved my goal. I remember doing sprints back and forth in the apartment when he was not home to hit that number.

I would run to summer camp, work for like 7 hours, and force myself to walk/run back even when my body was begging to stop. These are NOT healthy behaviors.

Before I transferred to Drake University, I made the decision to not rely on my fuel band anymore. I gave it to my mom to wear because I knew that my obsession was not healthy.

When people now talk about fitbits, I find myself wanting one BADLY. But I know, that no matter where I am at in recovery, I do not need this. I need to focus on being in the present and not focused on how many steps I had yesterday or how many I will get tomorrow if I run this far.

People talk about their fitbits all the time and how many steps they have. I feel happy for my friends when they achieve their goals- and I also feel jealous. I wish I could be able to wear a fitbit and not become so obsessed. It is silly to think that I can let a small piece of technology control me so much (similar to my number obsession with the scale…)

Fitbits are great, just not the right thing for me. I can’t speak for all survivors, but for me they are a trigger.

Exercise

The other day I went on my first run since before I went inpatient in February. This was a big deal for me because I LOVE running, but I was not allowed to run for a while. I had to miss out on participating in intramurals at school and for awhile I could not even go to the studio that I practice ballet at. It was so embarrassing for me to explain that I could not do these activities because I simply could not take care of my own body.

There are many reasons why I could not exercise. It is very common for people suffering with an eating disorder to suffer problems with their heart as a result of malnutrition. Along with that my body was also extremely dehydrated/still is from refusing to put anything inside. And yet with all the nasty side effects, people still glamorize this disease…

One of the biggest reasons I could not exercise was because I would have blacking out spells fairly frequently (as I fuel my body they start to decrease). In April I was hooked up to a 24-hour heart motor to see what was causing these constant blackouts. Turns out my resting heart rate averaged at about 35 beats per minute. I have bradycardia (abnormally low heart beat) but this was about 10 beats lower for me than normal.

This sucked. I spent the majority of the month of April having to take breaks walking up stairs because my body physically could not handle it. I went from running 5 miles to hardly being able to walk up a flight of stairs.

I kept telling myself I need to do this for the boys I watch. I love to run around with them, but my body was starting to not be able to handle it. It was not fair to them if I couldn’t race around the block anymore because I could not get myself to eat lunch.

This was and still is my motivation. I know I should aim to recover for myself, but the boys I nanny and the kids I work with really is what gets me out of bed on rough days. They are my happiness when I cannot find happiness within myself.

So going on this run the other day was monumental. The best part about recovering is when I am allowed to do the things I used to enjoy so much again.

There is only one thing that scares me about being able to exercise again. I am afraid I will lose control again. I am afraid that I will start to abuse my running. I over exercised to the point of exhaustion far too frequently. I used to not let myself get off a bike or elliptical until I hit my “perfect” number. Even when my body was begging me to stop I would not do it. I am hoping that by being aware of this problem that I will not take advantage of it again. Running makes me happy- it should not be making me sick.

With the summer camp I work at starting up soon it is so important that I am taking care of my body. My work hours are going to be long and I NEED to be healthy to do a good job. I owe it to my coworkers, the kids, but most importantly I owe it to MYSELF.

The Return

One of the hardest things for me to get used to about the weight restoration process is the return of Mother Nature’s monthly gift. Well, I guess it is more like mother natures sporadic gift for me because she still does not visit me too often. Regardless, each time she comes it sucks.

I know it is a sign that I am getting better. I know it is normal to get my period but for some reason every time it comes I am filled with stress.

To me, getting the period means that I have enough fat on my body again. I do not look on it as a good thing. I do not think about how normal it is.

If there is one thing that I can count on to bring me immense amounts of joy it is working with kids. I LOVE to work with kids and when I am older and ready I hope to start a family of my own. I cannot be a mother if I am malnourished. I need to be healthy for the sake of my future family. No, I do not want to have kids right now- that is the farthest thing from my mind, but eventually that is all I want. I need to start taking care of my body now so that I can have kids one day.

So yeah, getting my period is a good thing. It means I am getting better. It means my body is getting more nutrients. It means one day I might actually be able to have a family of my own.

Ana likes to look at it as failure. She tells me it’s bad; that I am a failure. But who I am failing? I certainly am not failing myself, which is what the most important thing is. It is a sign that what I am doing is working. I cannot stop now just because my ED is upset that she is getting weaker. I need to embrace how much stronger I am getting. Hopefully soon I will not have to drink ensure plus. Hopefully soon my lanugo will stop growing. The side effects of ED are not pretty. And it certainly is not worth not being able to accomplish my dreams.

So to all my friends recovering from an ED (except if you’re male because well the return of a period does not really happen to you, but still you guys can relate to other things returning!) embrace the signs of getting healthy again. Do not let your eating disorder convince you that it is bad. The sign of normal body functions returning are a good thing. Yeah, it is hella scary after not experiencing it for so long, but it is truly for the best.

Eating at Home vs. College

I recently started blogging for NEDAs youth outreach website, http://proud2bme.org/. The first post I wrote for them was about how to cope with moving back home. I gave some pretty good coping skills that I use; yet here I am not following them.

Being home is so much harder. Being home feels like everyone is secretly monitoring your food. Constantly being asked, “what did you eat for lunch today?” Not to mention being back with friends who want to go out to eat to catch up. I haven’t even been home for a week and I already am feeling STRESSED OUT.

When I am on my own at college, I am able to control my meals, I see my friends all the time so I do not feel bad not going out to eat with them. I have nobody asking me what I ate for every meal or secretly monitoring every bite. Just because I have anorexia does not mean I need to be force fed like a baby. This is my internal battle. I need to know people trust me.

Now I keep my food diary for my therapist, but that’s the only food monitoring required. I no longer have to have someone sit with me for every meal or be banned to use the bathroom for a set period of time after meals/snacks. I need people to just trust me at home. I am eating. Please do not pressure me- it s t r e s s e s me OUT.

I knew being back home would be challenging especially because I have some over protective people here. My house is filled with delicious foods that I normally do not keep with me at school. We have ice cream in the house…the temptations are too high.

I know it is good to be challenged like this, but sometimes I just do not feel like I am ready. I have the skills to cope and I have great support, but inside I am petrified. Food is still something I think about daily. My last article I wrote about the scale living upstairs. I have not been good at avoiding the scale. I have weighed myself EVERY DAY. I need to find my strength. I cannot succumb to the scale. I cannot let my ED ruin my summer. I do not want to go residential. I want to LIV{e}.

This is what I need. I need to feel supported but not on a tight leash. I need to challenge myself and go out and enjoy life. I need to wean away from the scale. I will admit, I am scared. I do not feel strong anymore. However, I do not want to miss out on more events because I am too malnourished to participate. This is a hard transition for me and I am petrified.

I am lucky to have great support. I need to utilize what I have learned in treatment. I need to fight- but it is so much easier to say than do.

Fat is NOT a feeling

These past couple of days I havent been too good. The main reasons are because well I am “feeling” fat. I keep thinking about the food I indulged in and the drinks I drank- how disgusting. Why is it so hard for me to enjoy food. Why cant I eat chipotle and not feel guilty for days after. I am so sick of this feeling that every bite of food I eat will make me gain 5 pounds.

I used to think that I would rather be dead than fat. How awful is that? There is so much negative connotations around being fat that the idea made me sick. But honestly, why is it such a big deal if someone is fat or skinny? Shouldnt we be striving to be healthy? Shouldnt we be working on loving the person inside our skin?

We are so used to hearing that fat is bad and being too skinny is bad. Nothing ever seems good enough. One day they say “love your curves” or the next day its all about the flat stomach. Some people are just not born to have curves or flat stomachs and thats okay! So can we stop making these things we try to obtain? I know for a fact that I will never have normal posture because my legs are extremely hyper extended. There is literally no way to fix this, so instead of feeling ashamed of the weird bend in my legs im going to embrace it. The media is constantly putting people down for the way they look, but why? This is just making people critique their own body and others. Nothing will ever be perfect. Perfect is unattainable. I like to make my life look perfect, but its just a facade. Thats all perfection will ever be.

So right now here I am hungry and afraid to eat. I have made too much progress to obsess over eating chipotle. Yes, this past week I indulged more than I normally do, but who cares. Moderation is key. I need to enjoy life not hate on it. If my friends want to get froyo, I am getting froyo. If my friends want to grab a drink, I will grab a drink. My anorexia already took away so much from me, and I am sick and tired of it. She does not get to take anything else from me.

I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach. I will not be a hypocrite. I  will try to enjoy food. It wont be easy, but I need to make the effort. I am not feeling fat, I am feeling upset. FAT IS NOT A FEELING. It is sayings like that that make people ashamed of how they look. So lets refrain from saying, “omg i feel so fat now” because all we are doing is making people even more self conscious. Fat is not a word to describe feelings, nor is skinny.

So bye, I am going to go get froyo with my bff now.

But, I’m Allergic…

Ohh allergies. A blessing and a curse. Recovering from an eating disorder would be a little bit easier if there was more food I could actually eat. It would still be hard because well food is still hard to eat, but I would at least have choices of things to eat.

I am not allergic to that much… I mean I have celiacs so I cannot have anything with gluten and I have been a vegetarian since I was 9.

A lot of people assume I went vegetarian because of my ED, but thats not the case. I have my own separate reasons for being a vegetarian that I might explain in a later post. Celiacs however is not a choice- I am extremely allergic to gluten. Even touching playdough gives me a rash.

This has it’s complications

My little eating disorder voice in my head (I refer to her as Ana) loves the restrictions. She is never tempted by food because she knows I cant eat it. If someone brings a treat to class, she has the excuse to not eat. It is great! I get to sit back and starve while other people eat. No one can force me eat it like what I am normally used to. “HA! Take that, I win”, Ana says.

But now that I am trying to shut up Ana it is getting harder. I want to be able to eat with friends when someone brings a treat. I am sick of nibbling on lettuce while other people enjoy pizza. It makes me feel like a rabbit, not like a human. I dont feel “normal”.

I want to be able to enjoy food, I truly do. But being allergic just always gives Ana that excuse to restrict. Going out to eat is always a challenge to find something to eat. The worst thing is when Ana starts to play tricks. Ana has learned to tell people that I am allergic to food when I really am not. But who is going to stop and question the girl allergic to so much other stuff?

I can always find a reason to not eat something. It may be true and it may be false.Even back before I was allergic, I would tell people I was allergic to certain food (Like I couldnt eat pretzels because of the salt…such an absurd excuse) Ana is manipulative, but Liv is not. I know what is right. I know that there are many gluten free options I can eat.

I wish I didnt have celiacs so then I would be forced to get over my fear foods. I would be able to have a more normalized recovery. I wasnt always allergic to gluten, so I have tried recovery while eating gluten. It was easier, because of the options. So now I just have another hurdle to overcome… I guess it is a good thing I tried hurdles in eighth grade track!!!

Following a vegetarian, gluten free diet is hard, but not impossible. I just need to find my niche. If anyone can recommend recipes or ideas to help that would be greatly appreciated ❤

keep fighting,

Liv