I learned a pretty strong lesson about how bad it is to not eat when I ought to yesterday.
Like I expressed in my post about feeling ugly, I didn’t (and still don’t) really think that my struggles with not eating was “bad enough” to be considered something to take seriously. I read some pretty heartbreaking accounts of “real” anorexic people, seeing them bravely share pictures of themselves looking just skeletal (and that’s definitely not me). Meanwhile, mother also would say how I never could be anorexic growing up; I was too “spoiled”, hadn’t the stomach for it, not unlike when she’d say I was too spoiled to do anything good or noble. Maybe that’s another reason why this became a problem for me, to prove her wrong. Who knows.
For the past several weeks, I’d been skipping lunch every day (and dinner too, once or twice…I think). I was just so tired of depending so much on others until my second job starts later this month (thank God!), so I decided to cut my bills with less groceries.
I even framed it in my mind as a prayer, to ennoble it; they say some solid steps towards holiness is Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving, right? Maybe if I gave up lunch, I’d become holier, and have the inner strength to overcome all the horrible, distressing stuff I’m facing. Maybe if I gave up a meal or two, my parents, my uncle, and remaining family members would do the right thing, take proper responsibility, and make right all the wrongs they’ve done in my, theirs, and other’s lives before it’s too late. Maybe I’d even have siblings again; I lost what family I had when my parents turned even them on me. The list goes on, but looking back, I think I was just trying to deceive myself, to have a good reason to do harm to myself.
I sure fell for it either way; that’s what I honestly believed for a while, that I was doing the right thing. For that while, I just felt very hungry in the middle of the day, but that soon faded. I’d noticed in the past how hunger seems to just go away after a point of not eating. I soon started to have less and less energy, but that was fine, too; I don’t physically do much most days anyways. These seemed like very minor bumps in the road, and that ultimately, going down this path was worth it.
It was around this point that I told my therapist, having skipped meals in the past out of depression or self-punishment. He told me to talk to my priest friend about it, knowing my history of skipping meals for less healthy reasons. Both of them were quite concerned for me, and the latter made a point to tell me more often how bad it was to my health.
I didn’t care though, and largely pushed what they said away (though I dropped the idea of it being a devotion). I’d just felt so awful, humiliated, and hopeless, depending on other people’s money, especially the unwelcome money my parents send to most likely buy back my loyalty, which I had no choice but to accept (though I only did after the others encouraged me to accept the money, not the manipulation). I’d just keep hearing my mother’s voice in my head, louder now, telling me how incapable and irresponsible I was when I’d calculate my budget, how fat and ugly I was whenever I looked in the mirror.
“I’m being responsible,” I told myself. “I’m saving money, and being less of a burden. It’s worth it.”
These past two weeks though, that’s when I started having my first doubts. I made a lot of bad choices that might’ve been avoided or lessened if I had more energy. I’d almost fallen dead asleep at church, having to take a long rest after I stumbled into the car so I could drive home safely. I had dizzy spells, headaches, and worse, every time I actually would eat, I often had to make a conscious effort to keep it down.
It was the nausea that got to me, being one of my least favorite discomforts; it was here that I decided to see if skipping meals could be related to it all. That’s when I learned about what having low blood sugar meant, and what happens to your body when it’s on “starvation mode” (the slowed metabolism part made me feel very cheated what’s more, let me tell you). Everything matched up, and according to the articles I was reading, a step or two after the state I was currently in was when medical attention would be needed.
This made everything my therapist and confessor was saying painfully real to me. I sent the latter an apology, and told him in that apology that I was going to the store, to hold myself accountable. Then, true to my word, I went to the store. I shut out mother’s voice about the bill, and decided I’m going to start packing lunch again.
I know how horribly expensive it is to be sent to the ER and the hospital, even with insurance, especially if I had to have an ambulance take me there (I forget the exact numbers, but my one trip to the hospital resulted in bills being sent to me for months). It didn’t take much math to realize that a few extra dollars to buy more groceries a week would be way less expensive than a trip to the hospital would be.
I don’t know if I’m just extra weak or whatever, but that’s what happened. I still don’t think what I was doing was bad enough to be considered real anorexia (I’m very sorry to anyone who did go through that, who might feel insulted by my pitiful example), but I can see now that it was starting to go that way. I hope that I can use this experience for the future so I never let it get worse than the occasional loss of appetite or self-punishment, and maybe get rid of even that.
Whatever reason I come up with, I can see with better clarity now that it’s not worth it.