This post comes from guest blogger, M. M and I were in drug rehab together over a decade ago. We bonded over our shared experiences with eating disorders. She was in her early to mid-20s – just a kid, really. Here she is, all these years later, writing about some of the consequences of her ED. I am so grateful to her for her courage. Here’s M:
Scare tactics – Doctor’s telling me the ways the eating disorder could kill me – those never motivated me to seek treatment or work towards recovery. We all know the dangers – the main ones they tell you all the time: heart attack, organ failure, ruptured esophagus, permanent colonoscopy bag. Maybe I didn’t think things could really happen to me, or maybe I did not care at times. I was deep in my eatin gdsorder. And I risked it wiht behaviors that could have, in ways should have, killed me. I escaped that, but not free and clear. My dietician tells me that everyone hteir “Achilles heal” and that you never know what restricition, purge or other behavior will be the one to set it off.
So mine, so far, is my endocrine system. After my last significant relapse with anorexia, I started noticing symptoms Many were not dissimilar to the eating disorder. Exhausted all the time, debilitatingly so, dizzy spells, fainting, foggy brain and what I explain as just not what I expected to be right. But Doctors blamed it on my eating disorder and pretty much blew me off as just complaining.
Finally, a doctor identified my fluctuations in my blood sugar levels, and I started following a low GI meal plan and testing as needed to keep myself safe. We thought maybe my body was taking a while to re-regulate to nourishment after my relapse an adjusting to maintaining my weight after regaining. But still I felt ill. Frustrated was an understatement. One day, a Luna bar caused an ambulance ride to the ER from the floor of my office.
Fast forward about four years, I mentioned that I suffered from PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age) to my dietician after another blood sugar crash that left me on the floor. Turns out that held part of the answer to my insulin resistance. (Women with PCOS often suffer from excess insulin.) THAT was my Achilles heel. And all the years of starving and bingeing and starving again only made it worse. My eating disorder in combination with the PCOS was taking me down.
At that point, I kept trying to manage my health, but then things starting getting worse. I tried to talk to my primary care physician, but once again, I was blown off.
I made an appointment with an endocrinologist. Finally a doctor was taking me seriously (turns out passing out in the Doctor’s office helps with that.) After having to go through a multitude of really unpleasant tests with a neurologist and cardiologist – ruling out all sort of potential scary things – I am finally being treated for the endocrine problems. I still have to be careful of what I eat which can be triggering. I wear out easily at times and sleep way more than I want, and there is the piece that I struggle with every day – my body said’ fuck you” to me with this one. All the imbalances caused significant weight gain. This is something i will have to manage for the rest of my life – but somehow i am alive to manage it with a heart that still beats for me 24 hours a day.