Sorry this is so late this week! It’s been a really rough weekend for me (in which I felt like an invalid because my mum came around to take care of me, but sometimes you need that). These things happen, and we move forward.
I dealt with this feeling of ‘needing a head start’ a lot with my eating disorder. Any time I lost some weight, these voices just told me to keep going, based on the assumption that at some point I was going to gain all the weight back and more, and that I’d need as much of a head start as possible. No matter what I weighed, it was never enough. I always had to lose more. On top of that, feeling hungry actually gave me this intense feeling of euphoria, a huge feeling of control. I just felt better when I was starving myself.
At least by this point, I was starting to recognise that these voices may not have been trustworthy, even though they were as loud as ever.
It’s been a constant balancing act for my doctor between keeping my emotional health a priority and looking after my weight. Generally those two are in opposition - when we focus on just the emotional side, I lose weight, but when we focus on bringing my weight up, I become even more depressed. She’s trying to make sure that we always keep my personal safety as the forefront goal, and as drastic as it sounds, be realistic about which is more likely to kill me at any given time - the depression or the anorexia.
It was a truly wonderful experience to feel to ‘up’. So on top of everything, so well, so happy. I wondered if other people feel this way all the time.
Based on some feedback from some readers, it looks like there’s a possibility that this mood elevation relates more to an issue of bipolar disorder than it does to the specific antidepressant, but for those who were wondering, this is when I went on Lexapro.
This is pretty uncharacteristic for an antidepressant. Most will make you drowsy, and cause you to put on weight. But this particular one affected me very differently, leaving me with so much energy regardless of what I ate. You can see how dangerous this could have been, given I already had issues keeping myself at a healthy weight. My doctor had to weigh up carefully the benefits on my mood and overall emotional health with the effects on my appetite.
The new antidepressant hit me so differently from my first. I felt invincible. I couldn’t believe a tablet could make such a huge difference. It just shows that everyone’s body chemistry is different, and when you find a good balance, it can do wonders for your depression.
For the record, I don’t customarily throw my pills Ellen-style into my mouth. I’m not that cool.
After my initial experience with trying new antidepressants and feeling like they destroyed my creative self, I was so apprehensive. I didn’t want to turn into a useless zombie. I think it’s pretty common to have these fears around new medications. I chose to just trust my doctor and hope for the best.
This was a pretty terrifying moment for me. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it was just skin stretched over bones. Yet when I stepped back and looked straight at my reflection, I was still as fat as ever. I tried again to catch myself in my peripheral vision again, bending at different angles, and I got a flash of my back - ribs poking through, bony shoulder blades, stretched tendons of my neck. Yet once again when I looked squarely at my reflection I saw a chubby blob. It made it so evident to me that my eyes just weren’t working - these two images couldn’t possibly coexist - and that I had to learn to see myself honestly. I’m still working on that.
Follow your doctor’s advice kids. Rock climbing when you’re nutritionally deprived is a terrible idea. It takes the body a long time to recover from starvation, and I had the mistaken idea that as soon as I started eating again, my body would function amazingly. Part of recovery is learning to listen to your body’s signals and take it slow when you need to.
Please, please, do not abuse laxatives. I’m glad I only did this for a short while, because you can do serious, irreparable damage to your bowels with laxative abuse.
It started because I was suffering such severe constipation (which turns out was mostly a symptom of not eating enough) and fibre supplements were not enough. Finally one day I just took a bunch of laxatives to see what would happen. I overdid it, and was in agony all night, but by the time I’d finished the next day, I felt so relieved. From that I adjusted the dose and developed an unhealthy habit of using them every weekend for what I came to think of as a ‘cleanse’.
The reality is that there was nothing cleansing about it. The weight I perceived myself as losing was mostly about losing water and dehydrating myself. I was putting additional stress on my bowels for no reason, and in the mean time, wasting a huge amount of time and pain on the toilet.
For more information about the consequences of laxative abuse, this page is quite informative.
Way back when I originally wrote the notes for this page (I scribble down notes, later convert them to storyboards and eventually draw the full pages) it felt like a stupid thing to admit that I was scared that I’d never stop eating/never stop gaining weight. Since then, however, I’ve had a sizeable number of people write to me and confess that one of their biggest fears in recovery is that they’ll ‘just never stop’. The early phases of recovery felt so terrifying because my body desperately needed to gain some weight, and I just felt like it would go on forever until I ended up obese. My feelings about the weight gain were obviously very out of proportion to what was actually happening, but the feelings were overwhelming. I realise that not a lot is really ‘happening’ in the panels on this page, but when I focus on this feeling, that is all I see - my huge rounded stomach, my fat folds, my sagging breasts. It’s so illogical and I know that, but it’s easy to get swallowed up by that fear.