Thursday, October 15, 2009

Counter-intuitive

Many of us begin our eating disorders (not intentionally, of course) out of self-preservation. We do it because we feel like we have to do it to survive and to function. Because it keeps us calm and in control. It gives us a high, it makes us feel alive.

But before too long, it starts to kill us. Our personalities and our smiles and our skin and our hair and our very bodies begin to fade. Soon the addiction switch is stuck to ON HIGH and we are out of control. We are barely functioning, barely surviving, yet we refuse to let go of the one thing we think will save us, keep us sane, when in reality we are dying; for our eating disorders are killing us.

I have been dead-alive for so long. You know, that state where you are breathing and blinking and going to work and being a robot and getting through the day, but you are not smiling and feeling and experiencing. Anorexia did this to me.

As Caden is sick right now with his kidney problems, I have been really struggling. His pain and his medical problems have brought up a lot of really scary and traumatic memories for me, particularly in relation to when I was in the hospital at the age of five, preparing to die. I see him screaming in pain and the doctors holding him down doing things to him that he doesn't realize are to help him get better, and him looking at me with his big blue eyes screaming MOMMY HELP ME and he doesn't understand he's where he is because I'm trying to help him. And I go home and I cry because I don't want him to think the only thing there is to him is being sick, like I grew up thinking. I don't want him to realize so early that the world is scary and that you could be taken from it at any time. I want to protect him, dammit, and I can't.

I was telling this to W yesterday in therapy, and I was telling her that to cope with these helpless feelings of motherhood and being unable to protect my son, and how I feel scared and am hurting so desperately for my baby, I wanted to screw my mealplan and eat (or not eat) whatever I wanted. I want to stop taking my meds (particularly my life-saving lung meds) and I want to run away and stop going to all my appointments, too. I know I was being entirely irrational but I just thought that I would feel better, more in control, if I could do things my way, because hell, a lot of things aren't going my way, my dear son's health being one of them; and I wanna be holding the reins on something in my life.

And that's when she looked at me and said something like this:

"Do you realize how counter-intuitive your anorexia is? Do you realize you want to run back to something that will make you sick and numb and weak, and you will grow ill and unable to take care of your son, which you've spent all session telling me you want to do, and you somehow think that by starving yourself you'll be better equipped to do this; to handle his medical problems? How the hell does that work? If you get sick, you can't be there for him, physically or emotionally. If you don't take your lung meds, you will be in the hospital within a few days, not taking care of him. are you getting this??"

And, yeah. I think I'm getting this.

Beat it, anorexia. You've stolen too much of my life and my time and my health and my sanity.

I'm going to go take my lung meds now. And eat.
And then I'm going to leave work and take care of my perfect little boy.

10 comments:

kristin said...

That was a powerful post, Brie. I very much enjoyed reading it.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Great posting. It sounds like you are going through a really difficult time. I hope and pray that your son is better and that you have more peace.

Anyway, I just wanted to leave a note of support and to tell you I love your writing.

inthemainstream said...

Beautiful and brave, Brie. Big hugs for you.

Heather Lindquist said...

Wow, Brie. So sorry Cade isn't feeling too hot. I really, really hope things turn around for him so that he can be healthy and happy. Also, I obviously agree with W......and I know you you do too. It's so not easy.

All of this, your struggles and challenges remind me of the kids in my class at recess who adore the Monkey Bars. So many of them only make it about 2-5 bars in, and then they hang there crying. Crying out, "My hands hurt! My hands hurt! Help me, help me!" I or the assistant then rushes over and grabs hold of their legs so they can either make it to the end, or drop safely into someone's hands. However, there is the kid, from time to time, who makes it half way, cries that it hurts, but will absolutely NOT receive any help. Eventually, they allow themselves to fall. Then, they turn right back around and try it again. They manage to go 1 or 2 bars further, then they cry and fall yet again. This goes on and on (sometimes over a span of days), until one day, they're able to make it through ALL the bars to the other side without any help whatsoever.

I see you hanging on those monkey bars. Your hands are hurting like hell. You're scared. You feel all alone. You want help, but also want your pride. You are desperate to get to the end and each time you fall, you do it again, but go at least 1 bar further. You do this over and over, despite the pain, but you've built up a tolerance nonetheless. You see health, your family, your friends, and happiness at the other side of those monkey bars! Your determination to reach your goal on the other side is what keeps you hanging, and despite the pain in your hands, you move from one bar to the next, one day at a time because you know you're building up strength each time you get on those monkey bars. You know, deep down, that you CAN get to the other side. It'll hurt, but it'll be SO WORTH IT!!! You know this, and thus you do it. The goal is so much better than the pain you feel now, and you want it with all your heart. Go get it Brie! Continue to care for yourself, even when you hurt, and know that all of us are here to hold a leg or two if you get a bit wobbly. I'm sending you much love and hugs! Sorry this was a bit long! : $

now.is.now said...

My therapist says, all the time, "Anorexia is the inside-out illness. According to the anorexia, starving is living; not eating is good; eating is bad; eating is dying; up is down; forwards is backwards; what's healthy for the entire human race is unhealthy for you;" She's right. So is W.

I'm glad you have W.

Gena said...

Brie,

Your posts never fail to touch me. This one touched me in a whole new way. Being the mom with the daughter who is sick with anorexia is killing me. I am the one who wants to run away but can't. I am the one who feels powerless and can't fix it. She stays mad at me, yells at me, or gives me the silent treatment and I just have to grin and bear it because I love her so damn much.

You hang in there. I hate that your beautiful boy is sick. I hate that the sickness that you are fighting within your own body is so freaking powerful. But I love how you love your son and the little one you are growing inside you. You will make it. You are strong and the love you have for your children makes you even stronger.

I am so glad you write. You give me hope. You give my daughter hope. That is what we cling to. I will be praying for Cade and for you.

Gena

Krista said...

Brie thanks so much for writing this. I have been agonizing over similar battles in my own head. I know you love Cade and your family more than anything in the world. It just shows how scary powerful anorexia can be when we get so desperate that we are willing to run-away from what we love most. I know you can beat this. Keep putting up the fight. You are so inspiring to me.

Marissa said...

Brie, this is so sad and so hopeful at the same time. I am praying for Cade, and I think about him all the time. He is such a beautiful, perfect little kid, and I hope that when I get back we can hang out and he'll be all better. I'm so sorry that you're having a hard time. I can't even begin to imagine the worry and panic and sadness that would accompany my child being sick. I know that you are strong enough to take care of Cade. I know that Heavenly Father gave him to you because you have the capacity to take care of him and that YOU are the best possible person he could have gone to. I believe that he's going to be all right, and so are you. Whatever you have to do to help him and to make sure you're with him, then do it.

I love you lots and lots, and if I could, I'd be sending you encouraging/funny/insane texts to help. I miss you tons!

Sheryl said...

HELLS YEAH! That was GREAT!

Brooke said...

Beautiful. I love your therapist. But, really, how true is it that? Your disease wants to take a hold of you and put you back into a helpless place; a place where you can't function. I hate anorexia. I understand the overwhelming feeling of feeling so sucky but at the same time finding the bravery it takes to take care of my babies. It is scary sometimes because i just want to let my illness take over so I can get the easy way out. It is so incredibly hard sometimes.

Keep working. I'm here for you.