A lot of people say that the Netflix film To The Bone glamourizes Eating Disorders. I totally disagree. I disagree that it glamourizes it and I disagree that an Eating Disorder can be glamourized.
You don’t eat – you pass out, you look pale, you loose your hair, your nails get brittle, you have low iron, poor circulation, dehydration, loss of bone calcium, muscle loss, weakness, fatigue, headaches, moodiness….
You binge and purge – you get tooth decay, acid reflux, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, intestinal problems, seizures, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, dry skin….
And for both of the above; the biggest side effect is death. Yes, an eating disorder can kill you. It will eventually kill you. And there is no warning. You don’t get a signal. You don’t get anything.
You. Drop. Dead.
People think they are invincible and don’t believe that it’s possible. But it is the reality of an eating disorder. You will eventually die.
When I attempted to do the program at Toronto General it was a huge mistake. The program focuses primarily on weight restoration. Everyone is on the same meal plan and it’s not a slow and gradual process. On my first day I was expected to eat a tuna sandwich, two containers of chocolate pudding, two cartons of chocolate milk and a granola bar. That was lunch. Talk about calcium overload. Snack time consisted of not one, but two bananas and a bag of pretzels. Dinner was pasta, a baked potato, vegetables and a chocolate brownie for dessert. Seriously?! I was ready to make changes, to get well, to put the work in – but those were unrealistic expectations.
The feedback was not positive from the girls I met at the program. Many of them were there for their second and third times. One was there for her 7th time.
A big problem with eating disorders is that is becomes competitive. I’m not as skinny as her, I am not sick enough to be here….Groups of people with eating disorders are problematic and a recipe for disaster.
I understand where I am and where I need to get to. I know I’m not fat. I do not look at myself and think that I need to loose weight. But this comes over time. Some of these girls and guys aren’t in that frame of mind yet so that is the reason I didn’t like attending group therapy. It was not for me. This is not a (pardon the pun) one size fits all disease. Personally, I think help needs to be on an individual basis.
I do want to get better. It’s not enough to say you have to get better. In order to get better you have to want it.
It’s hard to comprehend why someone would want to live a life that involves constant laxative overdoses. Taking hundreds of those pills tears your insides out and turns you into a zombie for days. Who the fuck would want that?
I remember one day at work last year when I had taken my gross, disgusting usual amount of laxatives. I was going to the doctor for my weigh in and I had to be sure it was as low as possible.
I was very strategic with timing out when I took and when I knew they would react. I had gotten so good at it. This time was no different. Within an hour I was sweating, dizzy, nauseous and had this overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. Most people would hate feeling like that. Me? I loved it. It meant success.
So I went into the washroom and spent the next hour and half in there. Sometimes the pain got so unbearable I would have to use my sweatshirt as a pillow as I lay on the floor.
A dirty, disgusting, gross, filthy, public washroom floor. When someone would come in, I had to jump up and get off the floor until they left.
When it was time to leave and go to the doctor, I had sense of accomplishment. That was ED. I also had a sense of disgust. A sense of embarrassment. A sense of shame. I felt like absolute and utter shit. That was Lisa.
I went to the doctor to get weighed. 80.4lbs.
80.4 FUCKING POUNDS. That is the weight for an average 10-14 year old girl. My doctor stared at me with such sadness. She had been trying everything in her power, but her hands were tied. One discussion we had was about me checking myself into emergency. Saying I had just overdosed on laxatives and the hopes would be to get into a program as asap. My doctor said that it was possible but it was also possible they would send me home. The latter was likely going to be the outcome. Fucked I know.
She, as always offered me support, encouragement and other resources. She also told me to come back next week for another weigh in. Medically she did everything she could and should’ve done to make sure I was stable and well.
That was the lowest my weight ever was. I did go back the next week and my weight was up. She was relieved. I continue to see her once a month for weigh ins, blood works, ECG’s and other tests.
I have my physical today.
I will be weighed. Part of me doesn’t want to know – part of me wants to know.
I am aware that my weight has gone up from my last visit. And I’m okay with that. I know that is suppose to happen. I know that means success. I know that means living. I know that means I am winning.
So I think I will find out. I will ask her to give me the good news.
It’s just a number. It doesn’t define who I am, what kind of person I will be and it most certainly does not put value on anything of importance. Just like our age. It’s just a number. I’m 43 – so what does that mean? It means I’m 43.