I'm Mik. Model, mother, moron. Future meta-magician. Former logic clinician.
My better half and I own Brainfood Bookstore in Longmont, Colorado. It is the only exclusively indie- and local-lit bookstore in the nation. We meet a lot of crazy folks.
Testimonial from a former roommate:
"Living with you was like living with a quiet little opinionated deer person who floated around like a ghost and said smart/nutso things and ate seaweed. "
I love Colorado. I love mountains. I love hiking. I read and write. I raise my children to the best of my ability. I have lupus and have defeated early-stage cancer twice, so I pretty much fully support the use of medical marijuana.
I follow quite a few people with a range of problems— I mean everyone has problems, but you know. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, etc. I’ve seen a few eating disorder blogs publish asks in which an anon accuses the blogger of contributing to other girls’ eating disorders by being triggering, or are even convincing previously healthy girls to ‘start’ an eating disorder.
Just a thought— If you have an eating disorder or are recovering from one, you are generally aware of your triggers and need to make a conscious decision to stay away from them. But what about ‘causing’ an eating disorder in a previously healthy person?
My freshman year of high school, Xanga was the big thing. I know, I’m so old. I stumbled across a ‘pro-ana’ blog, and thought, “You know, I could do that.” I mean I’d been ‘dieting’ for years because that’s just how my family ate (mother is morbidly obese), but it had never occurred to me before that I could just stop eating.
So I did, and my life went to hell.
After eight months, my BMI had dropped from a healthy 21 to about 15. I had two heart attacks, permanent heart damage, and managed to develop an addiction to amphetamines, which I had started taking to lose weight. My immune system was shot, I was sick constantly, got several blood infections, and shattered my hip bones and collar bones on numerous occasions— from really stupid stuff, like getting knocked over by a dog that was trying to play with me.
Recovery was hell; I got fat. And then I got skinny again. And then I got pregnant and I was really fat. And then I stopped eating again. So on and so forth.
Did stumbling across an eating disorder blog ‘cause’ me to develop an eating disorder? I believe I was already predisposed. Genetically, I am on the autism spectrum, which has a high correlation with eating disorders; I have an autoimmune disorder, which has been thought to predispose a person towards eating disorder; I have a family history of eating disorders (mostly compulsive overeating); I have a family history of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is genetic and of which anorexia is one type.
Furthermore, I was socialized to have a just plain weird relationship with food. As a child, I was passed around a lot, living alternatively with families with no money and no food, and families who had a sufficient amount or plenty. In poverty, I learned to eat every single bite on my plate, whatever was available, and then to eat plants, things on the ground, or trash if I was still hungry. I was hospitalized twice due to malnutrition because I simply did not get enough to eat. When I was ten, I developed Celiac disease, which went undiagnosed for about four months, during which I dropped from 85 pounds to just under 50. I was mistakenly diagnosed with an eating disorder and was force-fed (both in a hospital with a tube, and at my aunt’s house, tied to a dining room chair, while she held my head and forced granola bars down my throat). What I was being force-fed contained high amounts of gluten, which my stomach had no way of processing (due to the Celiac disease), causing me intense pain (besides the pain of having it forced down my throat).
While recovering from malnutrition, both as a young child and at the age of ten, I discovered something: If you are starving, literally starving to death, people will do anything to get you to eat. You can have whatever you want. You can have milkshakes for dinner every night if that’s what you want. And you don’t have to chose between deserts: you can have milkshakes and cream puffs and cake and whatever else you want. When I went through periods of forced starvation, I never had choices about what to eat. I ate whatever I could, and it still was not enough. And when there was enough to eat, concerned family members were trying to make me gain weight, so I got to eat whatever was available then, too. Consequently, I never learned how to make decisions about what to eat. Now that I think back on it, that was my motivation for starving myself: I wanted to be so sick that I would be allowed to eat whatever I wanted.
That’s not really what I wanted to talk about. I just wanted to say, stumbling across an ED blog was what pushed me over the edge into the dangerous ravine that is anorexia. That is not to say that an ED blog ‘caused’ my eating disorder. I had all the predispositions, I was all fueled and ready to go— and seeing that blog simply turned the key in the ignition. If I hadn’t seen it, I probably would have still developed an eating disorder. Maybe years later— when Time magazine wrote a story on ceruleanbutterfly.com and I got sucked in again, or maybe when some kid at school called me fat, or maybe when I saw a picture of a girl skinnier than me.
But an ED blog is what started it all for me. And I would request to anyone out there who is also going through this hell, please think carefully before posting anything that encourages other girls to do the same. Maybe it will postpone their trip down the rabbit hole a little longer. Or, (and this is really going out on a limb) you could help by posting encouragement for health, both mental and physical; maybe we could prevent one more girl from going down altogether.
by Joyce Carrol Oates
You’re looking at me I wish you wouldn’t. Undressing me with your eyes like on the bus after schoool. Oh you may think— but say you’re a woman my mother’s age, or— no, some dirty-minded guy, trying to trap me in a net with your eyes a net of eyes but you can’t.
This— in fifteen minutes’ time precisely I am going to peel and eat eat some of it slow slow slow I’ll eat it slow. I know how to wait. I am practiced in waiting in a solitude you can’t know, seeing me with just your eyes. I will peel it slow slow slow smelling that smell I love, I love that rich ripe smell, it’s a fiery smell sort of, it’s a smell like burning wires from your nostrils straight to your brain. Oh God, my mouth is— watering. That’s disgusting isn’t it, that’s disgusting I hate that, like at, sometimes at nigth even, I’ll wake up, I’m asleep I’ll wake up screaming Mama Mama! —like it isn’t even me alive, bleating like a ridiculous little baby for mama’s milk, but somebody I don’t even know. I hate that. I’m a good girl, I’m a straight-A honors student, don’t look at me with your eyes in judgement, you nasty ones. I hate that, I hate to lie I hate lies and liars, but sometimes I have to lie, saying I ate some food I didn’t, saying I didn’t loose any more weight— that’s the sort of lie I’m forced to tell to keep prying eyes away, to keep prying thoughts away, wanting to enter my head like buzzing wasps.
Oh I know it’s you who own the world— but inside here. Inside here it’s me, it’s mine. You can’t enter. I can step out of this any time I like— but none of you can step in.
This— oh it’s almost time. I will peel it I will smell it I will bite into it one segment at a time, just one, my mouth alive, afire, tears in my eyes… Am I shaking? Am I trembling? Oh I’ll hide away in a toilet stall to eat my orange, I don’t want anybody watching I hate that, my girl friends even I hate that. There’s Cathy—she hides away too— but we don’t talk about it. Just looking at each other, we know. The Kingdom of God is within is what we know, God’s hunger, burning throbbing aching— the saints knew too, but they are all dead mostly. Except— Mother Theresa? But we’re not Catholic. We’re not anything.
It used to be, I’d stick my finger down my throat. I don’t have to do that anymore; I’m in control. The first time I did that it came to me just like God allowed me to know, it was Thanksgiving, it was nine of us at the table, Mama and Aunt Tess serving the food, and there was this, this gravy. This turkey gravy in this gravy bowl. And I saw how it was slick with fat I mean oily globules of fat— oh so disgusting so gross— and Mama saying, Take some gravy take some turkey take more mashed potatoes more stuffing more butter more cranberry sauce more turkey more gravy. Afterwards, I locked myself in the bathroom… I knew what to do… It felt so good after I knew I was saved.
So I went from 126 pounds to 120, to 115 to 109. Then it got harder, for a while… seems like certain kinds of flab are stubborn to melt away… Mama started asking, waht’s going on was I on a diet or something was I trying to starve myself what’s going on. One day she barged into my room fouling the air with her cigarette, and took hold of this ratty old sweater I was wearing— my favorite old sweater I used to wear around the house. And she pulled it tight and seeing how thin I was— she got scared. I saw it in her eyes. She was asking, Oh Jill oh Hun what’s going on what’s wrong what’s going on. And I— I said, Mama don’t touch! Don’t touch! Leave me alone don’t touch!
Now I weigh 93 pounds. Or this morning I did. But I’ve had some diet coke since then— four cans of diet coke— so I’m… heavier. Yesterday I had a 7-Grain Date Bar. Divided it into quarters cuz it weighs four ounces so I could spread out eating it over four hours in my room in the dark after they’ve all gone to bed— I’m happiest then. I can be happy at school, too, in a different way. Inside here. I divide up the diet coke, the diet chocolate cream, coffee— if it doesn’t make me too spaced out. What I hate is running to the bathroom a dozen times a day my stomach bloating I hate that you can see it can’t you, can’t you, it looks like I’m, you know, going to have a baby, pregnant or something. But I’m not oh no never I’m not no never.
I’m so happy you can’t know, you can’t trap me with your eyes, nor no Mama either with hear tears and threats and coercion, no other word but COERCION, she can’t get me can’t touch me. They say— the doctor she made me go to. The therapist. Oh, and the woman PhD that came to talk to as at assembly— telling us it’s a medical problem. An illness. Trying to scare us with— irreversable liver damage. But it isn’t. It isn’t physical at all. It’s here It’s God inside me. It’s mine. Like you— you’re all babbling in some foreign language.
My days my nights I love how they are divided— like this orange. Divided into segments I can pick apart with my teeth slow on the far side of my hunger, the face… the voices… You. Oh. Sure. I see you. I hear you. I talk with you. I smile at you. But I don’t care about you. I don’t. Not a one of you. Always I am thinking of this. Always I am thinking of… dreaming of… oh it’s like a fire, it hurts, it burns, the inside of my mouth is alive with fire wanting to bite to chew to eat eat eat alive like scurrying ants the hunger and the food collide— and it’s a pain. But it’s a good pain.
Sometimes— when I’m not weak or sick or— I know I must conserve my strength. I’ll like… crawl up the stairs… if nobody else is around…
I don’t want to be touched, I said. I don’t love you or anybody, love hurts my skin hurts don’t touch I said stay clear.
Now it’s time, it’s time, it’s that time now, I’m safe, nobody can see, I’m locked in this toilet stall, it’s the middle of the hour, nobody can barge in trap me with their eyes, I’m safe. I can’t be touched.