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The scariest thing. June 21, 2008

Posted by phledge in black bile, family, fat, health.

I can’t eat.

I admit freely that I eat more when I am stressed out; personally I’m inclined to believe that this is a function of a very perky adrenal output, which biochemically stimulates appetite, but I’m not in the mood to fight for why I am who I am.  It could just be that I, in the immortal words of Po the Kung Fu Panda, eat when I’m upset.  But this time is different.

I have, since Wednesday afternoon, eaten a baby yogurt, a piece of white toast with butter, three bites of Chicken Rice-A-Roni, one piece of four-cheese foccacia and a third of a lovely salad at Sweet Tomatoes, and four Altoids.  I am drinking plenty of water but nothing else.  Everything tastes like sand, hurts my stomach, looks like those crazy dull pictures of the outdoors until, as if by magic, Claritin lifts the screen and colors leap to life, vibrant on the television.  Beets look brown.  It’s not that I haven’t tried—I’ve been mentally scanning the lists of foods that usually break me down into Homeresque slobbering.  Fuck, even Indian food sounds banal right now.  I would eat some of my Puerto Rican aunt’s arroz con pollo if I could gain access to it, but even my normal grand portion would be way, way too much for me to work through.

There’s a preteen in my head saying, ‘Yessss!  We finally got anorexia!’ 

I am mortified by this thought, the simplification, glorification of such a horrific disease.  And yet I can’t shake the idea.  Do I think that I have control over nothing but the torture of my body?  Am I harboring some sort of bizarre fantasy of being thin?  What right do I, a 260-pound Kung Fu Panda, have to think of the A-word?

I surprised the hell out of my husband, who finally is starting to believe that, yes, I am actually really truly honestly hurting, and not just trying to manipulate him or make him feel guilty.  Why?  Because I’m not eating.  He has called me four times today from work, asking me gently how I’m doing and have I eaten yet?  Will I, please?  He has called a mutual friend (the wife of the aforementioned wingman, see previous post) and asked her to check in on me, which she has.  We had an excellent talk; she has known him almost three times as long as I have, and had shared his bed long before me, so she was a good source and a kind listener.  I still am not hungry, or, rather, I am somewhat hungry and not interested in food.

I wonder if the attention is the addictive quality.  I wonder if the sense of bewilderment my body is feeling right now will go away.  I wonder if just sitting down and getting through a plate of something would shake my appetite back to a state of arousal.  I wonder if it’s normal to feel smug that Mr Phledge will be rushing home to see me whole and alive and then he will encourage me to eat something.  I wonder if I’ll be able to do that, to assuage his panic that he really has well and truly fucked me up, and that he might not be able to fix it.  I think these last couple of days have been about his denial that this could possibly be a real problem, that I’m not strong or independent enough to handle it, that I’m not just manipulating him with my tears for some unspoken gain.  It finally occurred to him, last night as he yelled and I sobbed like an incoherent junkie, that I had met official criteria to be hospitalized (not sleeping, not eating, suidical ideations); his whole being shifted and he gently asked me if I needed to be taken to inpatient.  He believes me now, and he is scared, scared for both of us.

We see the marriage counsellor on Wednesday.


Thanks to everyone who has graciously offered their well-wishes, advice, affection, and recipes for world peace.  This blog is probably going to be a big part of what saves me.



1. bookwyrm - June 21, 2008

There’s stress, then there’s life altering. Stress can be relieved by any number of methods: deep breathing, primal screaming, massive caffeine consumption,aromatherapy, eating.

Life altering, not so much. Life altering isn’t so easily conquered, and your brain knows that. My best advice is to just make sure you don’t starve yourself to death or dehydrate yourself before you have the chance to start working it out. Even though liquid calories are “evil” if you can manage to drink better than you can eat, I’d suggest drinking milk, juice, soda, anything to keep your body going. Calories=energy, and you aren’t going to get energy back by depriving yourself of it.

2. fashionablenerd - June 21, 2008

I ditto what bookwyrm says. How about smoothies? Smoothies are good, and can get you some vitamins and such in your system.

Sending healing vibes your way.

3. Becky - June 21, 2008

I’m the same way as you as far as stress and eating… with mild to moderate stress I eat more but with severe emotional stress like you’re going through I stop eating altogether. And I have in the past had the same positive reaction as you to that, so you’re not alone on that one. If you can do so without vomiting, try to force yourself to eat, no matter how unappealing it is. I’ve found that the longer I go without eating when I’m in one of those states, the harder it gets to eat, and you don’t want to go down that road.

I’m glad to hear your husband is taking you seriously, good luck with your first marriage counselling session.

4. Piffle - June 21, 2008

I stop eating when I’m upset too, really upset that is. Don’t fret yourself about it unless you continue not to eat; I don’t think this is anorexia. I also stop sleeping, I just lie there and fret.

You could try, if you wished some camomile or valerian tea, they are calming. Or if there are any smells you associate with relaxation, you could use them to calm yourself a bit.

Try, if you can, to connect with real life friends with hugs and touch. People need to touch. Perhaps a massage would be worth thinking about too.

Best of luck with getting counselling and figuring out what is best for you, whether it’s staying or going. You are not being manipulative with tears, that he thinks that makes me feel angry for you.

5. DawnD - June 22, 2008

[warning: advice ahead. Feel free to discard if inappropriate]

When the man who eventually became my husband broke up with me the first time, I couldn’t be bothered to eat for quite a while (like, months). I got through that one by being in a friend’s production of “Echo and Narcissus,” playing Echo, and getting to die on stage of a broken heart over and over again. Very cathartic. :^) (Funny thing, I just saw that friend tonight after over a year. Not funny thing, it was because we were both at a wake for another mutual friend.) I recommend any version of this that you can arrange (screaming, crying, throwing thrift-store plates at a brink wall somewhere, etc)

Others have recommended that you “force” yourself to eat. I’d echo that (ha! :^), though I’d say it more like “support any urge you have to eat anything whatsoever”. I got myself all messed up WRT food just last week, and had to go through that process. Nothing sounded good, but I was pretty sure part of why I felt so bad was because I hadn’t really eaten in three days. I took a HAES approach, and gave myself permission to eat ANYthing that sounded even remotely good. Favorite foods for me at that time are ice cream and mashed potatoes. Sometimes it means just a few bites of something, but that’s a start. Milk works for me, and juices, because it’s easier to drink than to eat. Chocolate milkshakes are therefore nature’s most perfect food at such times, IMO. :^) Yogurt smoothies can work, too.

And it’s OK to be happy at getting his attention this way. You NEED his attention right now. You also need your own attention. Do whatever you need to get yourselves to that first counseling session together. If you need to do nothing but eat bon bons and watch Mythbusters for the next 3 days, then do that. If you need to go to school and work as usual and pretend that nothing’s wrong, then do THAT. Call all of your friends, one by one. Keep the suicide hotline number handy, just in case. You (and he, to a much lesser degree) are in crisis right now, so do whatever it takes to keep your body functioning and alive till you can get to the help you’ve already arranged.

Good luck with all of this. Your reactions are normal, expected, and not crazy in any way. Hang in there as best you can. It CAN get better, as long as you stay on the planet and give it time.

6. nuckingfutz - June 22, 2008

I went through the same thing after our D-Day (Discovery Day). I couldn’t eat for an entire month. It got so bad that I lost 2 clothing sizes in that one month (I’m not sure exactly how much weight I lost because I didn’t own a scale at the time).

I have to third what bookwyrm and fashionablenerd said. I think the only thing that kept me going was the milkshakes I was drinking. I knew not eating was not good, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to eat something – so I DRANK my calories instead.

Most people would say “oh but you’ve GOT to eat something!” But, having been there and done that, I know it’s not that easy. However, you DO need calories and nutrients, so if drinking them is the only way you can get them down, then by all means, do that.

And I don’t think your thought processes are all that uncommon. I remember thinking that if he would notice the fact that I couldn’t eat (couldn’t, not wouldn’t), then maybe – just MAYBE – he would realize how much he hurt me. And my Hubby, just like yours, finally did notice and became extremely worried.

It goes away after a while. When the pain stops being quite so intense and instead changes to a constant dull ache, your appetite will probably return. If you’re like me, it’ll come back slowly. You’ll be able to eat a little bit more each day until your appetite eventually returns to normal.

I’m keeping you in my thoughts, Phledge. {{{hugs}}}

7. mrs.millur - June 22, 2008

There are no words that can make any of this better, and I’m in no position to offer advice. So I’ll only say: if you keep writing, we’ll keep reading. You’re not alone.

Prayers ascending.

8. Mercy - June 22, 2008

I’ll second/third/whatever the advice to try non-water drinks (juice, smoothies, milk, fruit Kefir or drinkable yogurt, lassi, ayran…).

Also, DawnD’s advice to “ ‘support any urge you have to eat anything whatsoever’ ”. I’d expand that to not only what you’d like, but the amounts, too. It’s ok if you won’t want any more after a few bites –don’t let that stop you from eating those few bites; you can always put the rest away for the next time you feel a little hungry.

Also, is there someplace around there, restaurant-wise, that has arroz con pollo, even if it’s not your aunt’s recipe?

9. TropicalChrome - June 22, 2008

I’ll offer up some advice that was given to me when I was going through a similar but not matching changing up of my whole world in case it helps you as much as it helped me.

A friend told me that during times of great stress/trauma, try eating with your hands. There’s something very basic and primal about feeding yourself with your fingers. Sandwiches, vegetables and dip, chicken nuggets, M&Ms. Somehow it made it a lot easier to eat, and it was very comforting.

I know it will take time, but I wish you the best in this journey.

10. littlem - June 22, 2008

Muscle Milk comes in lots of different flavors, with 28 gms of protein per bottle and around 300 calories per serving. You could have six per day and have a decent nutrient intake.

Do I think that I have control over nothing but the torture of my body?

A lot of anorexics do think that.

I wonder if the attention is the addictive quality.

For a lot of anorexics it can be that.

You’re under a great deal of stress. Your serotonin, and other neurotransmitters’, balance has shifted. Is there anyone in your program, or ahead of you in your program with clinical eating disorder experience, you can talk about it with?

11. fillyjonk - June 22, 2008

That is scary, for sure. But if it’s possible, I wouldn’t stew too much over whether you’re being ED right now and whether that’s bad and how you can stop. Not just this instant. Things are incredibly difficult and stressful and not at all normal now, and you don’t need to add to your stress by overanalyzing your eating. I think it’s great that you can be this analytical about your reactions, of course, but it might be something to shelve for now. Are you engaging in ED behaviors, using your interactions with food for control and attention? Quite possibly (you could also just be not hungry because of emotional turmoil). Does that need keeping an eye on? Probably. Does it need to be your main concern right now? Not really. I agree with Dawn: get through at least the first counseling session, whatever that takes, even if it’s something that’s temporarily harmful. If the harm persists, you deal with that after you start dealing with the harm he’s caused.

That said, you do need some calories in your brain if you’re going to get through this. Muscle Milk is a great suggestion, or something else liquid and high-calorie. I found milkshakes edible while grieving, when nothing else was.

The way I read it, you’ve been remarkably strong. You can keep it up. We’re pulling for you.

12. spacedcowgirl - July 1, 2008

I agree with everyone else… I’ve read, on Feed Me! and by following the links Harriet gives, that refeeding is a huge component of getting on the road to recovery from anorexia–i.e., if I understand it correctly, the more you don’t eat, the worse you feel and the less you feel like eating, and this can continue on and on. Kind of like the longer you go without eating, the less “qualified” you are to objectively know how much you need to eat, if that makes any sense. The more you eat (including plenty of fat and nutrients), the better equipped your body is to get out of crisis mode and heal, and the better equipped your brain is to work on the psychological recovery. Even though this probably isn’t anorexia, I imagine the same principle would apply. (Though obviously I’m not an expert so this is just a “feeling” moreso than anything else.)

The only thing I have to add, and this may be way off base, is that it seems to me like you might want to avoid your very favorite foods right now (unless, of course, you find you are hungry for them and need to take that opportunity to get some calories into your body). This is because I can see these foods possibly being “ruined” for you in the future if you associate them with this time, and as trite as it sounds in some ways, it would still suck to have favorite foods taken from you along with everything else that has been taken from you.

Again, I’m so sorry your husband did this, and that you are having to endure this kind of fallout.

13. jaed - July 13, 2008

Phledge, are you OK? It’s been a while since you’ve posted. How are you doing?

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