All About Control

I definitely saw some pretty crazy and intense things during my three-month stay at inpatient. There was one girl who came in for bulimia, and during the morning weigh ins, she would somehow smuggle rocks in her undergarments to make herself weigh more. Like I said, every ounce counts at inpatient. This was the same girl who used to throw up in the bushes in the middle of the night.

I was not without my own deceitful activity either, though. I already mentioned my “water loading” before weigh ins. Even though that was to make up for the abnormally high entrance weight, I had to keep it up, petrified that they would take away my walking privileges. I had to ride in the golf cart, or “People Mover” for weeks when I first arrived because my weight was so dangerously low. Also, after meals, we would play the card game, “Nerts.” This group game was a lot like “Speed,” and it got pretty intense. I would purposely get up and down out of my seat when things got really “exciting,” and jiggle my legs up and down underneath the table to burn calories. The nurses were totally on to me, and even wrote it up in my chart. Little vices. Little ways that I thought gave me “control.”

Because that’s the name of the game. Anorexia is all about control: Controlling your food, your portions, your weight, your exercise, etc. Your life is out of balance, and you feel out of control, so you latch onto the one thing you find out you can control: your weight. Inpatient strips you of that control. They tell you when to sleep. What to eat. When to eat. What you can or can’t do. Privacy is nonexistent. You couldn’t even flush the toilets by yourself – the nurses did for you. This was to ensure that there was no bulimic activity going on. Inpatient makes you surrender everything, so that you can “heal” and relearn how to trust food and trust your body. Not that it really gets to root of it all – it does get close. But I will say, that they save your life and get the weight on so you don’t die.

One episode that really sticks out in my head was when a bulimic patient came in who was addicted to drugs, and in a belligerent state – OD-ing on some sort of narcotic. I remember her arriving in handcuffs, chained to the stretcher, screaming profanity. We had to watch her go through withdrawal and it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen.

It was really eye-opening for me to hear the other women’s stories. There were former gymnasts and ice dancers, victims of rape or abuse, international women, and professional athletes. The majority of the women had been to inpatient before – some several times. There were a couple of women who were in their 40’s and had been battling the disease for decades. I remember thinking how sorry I felt that their lives had been wrecked by this horrible disease. Little did I know that that’s just par for the course.

18 responses to “All About Control”

  1. Hi. Thank you for reading and liking my blog posts. I have just completed reading your Feb. 2015 archives, learning my way through. I have a ways to go, but am looking forward to continuing on and completing your “book”. Thank you for your courage, heart and honesty as you write, as that will help many. God’s Blessings.

  2. “Inpatient makes you surrender everything, so that you can ‘heal’…” parallels quite appropriately with our submission to God, confession of our sin (admitting we have a problem), so we can be healed. Coincidence? I think not. Blessings, my newfound friend.

    • Hello again friend! You’re absolutely right. Submission to our Father and confessing when we’ve gone astray is the catalyst for healing and change. What a comfort and joy to know that He will turn us away, but will always welcome a sincere heart. Xoxo

  3. So, my question here, if anorexia is all about control, and control over your life is what you seek, why is it that anorexia is unable to give you what you want in such a manner of fulfillment (albeit through control) such that your life is satisfactory? You speak of ED as a demon (I don’t want to judge. I just want to learn.) He doesn’t give you what you want–why? Is the control over eating and exercise and weight not satisfying? Is something else more satisfying? Is there something else that only CAN satisfy and ED impedes such entity-and-satisfaction combination. Sometimes you mention that you still fight this. Are there possibly roots to a problem yet undiscovered and therefore, not understood?

    • It was never satisfied because it was never enough. There was always a new bar to be reached and new goal to obtain. Dan, I know you’re trying to understand, perhaps possibly push my buttons, but I’m going to have to respectfully stop answering your deep probing questions that are taking me back to that dark place. I am no longer there. I am free of that demon. And I don’t want to relive it. You will notice that I don’t write like this any more. And there is a real reason for that. Because thinking back to that time is very triggering for me. So I hope you understand that I am not going to answer these probing questions anymore and I ask that you respect that. Thank you.

  4. Good morning, my friend. First, I appreciate the insightfulness of this post – it is about control, assuming control of one’s life. A powerful statement. After reading the comments, they draw attention to a thought that has been brewing in my mind about revisiting these older posts and the impact that it would have one you. Does this return you to a place you have moved on from? Certainly, I am approaching you with a positive spirit, in admiration for your efforts to overcome these challenges and to better understand a fellow human’s struggles. I hope you are well today, and have a blessed day. S

    • Good morning! Thanks S for that question. It does return me to that place but instead of being enticed by it, I see it as how far I’ve come. If that makes sense. Thanks for reading. Hugs and love xox

      • It does make sense, I have been writing in my head a note to explain why I am reading your blog, to help you understand why your story is important to me. Part of that is hearing a voice that may provide insight into my own siblings’ struggles with addictions and self-destructive behaviours (phone auto corrects to British spellings); but also to hear a voice that will help me better understand my faith. When I have an opportunity, I will collect my thoughts and share them with you, but knowing how far you have come, seeing the other end of the telescope with your recent posts provides me with great comfort both knowing how you navigated your way to health but also to learn how I can best support those I love, myself, and maybe come to terms with my own relationship to God.

        Thank you for having the courage to tell your story, but more importantly thank you for reading my responses and being respectful in return.

  5. I appreciated your reply. I don’t know why I am bothered by the state of caregiving. It’s as if though I feel offended by the mere thought of others not having the gumption to go out of their way for their loved ones. I keep looking for a way to ignite others to become passionate.

  6. Yes! It’s all about control, isn’t it?! I’ve always thought that most of us who suffer from ED are type A, high achievers, need to be in control. I know that my ED gave me something I could personally be in control of. It was like my drug.

    And I also got really crafty when it came to “little hidden ways” I could burn calories. I went through this “clinching” period, where I thought if I could clinch my my muscles enough I would be exercising them and burning calories. Sheesh… what an idiot I was!

    But I think what really helped me was the writing… getting it all down and processing how stupid I had been. I didn’t start a blog (but you’ve got me thinking about doing that now)… I published my story instead. I really think the online interaction with others is something that could’ve helped me when I was in recovery… making those connections and hearing other stories and how others were coping…. what they were going through. And just knowing that I wasn’t alone.

    I’m slowly, but surely making my way through your blog and your journey. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Thank you Callie for sharing your story. You’re so right about that – it’s that need for control. But gosh, how freeing to just let go and embrace the messiness of life!! Haha and I’m with ya there — my journal I kept at inpatient was truly what got me through it. And heck, that’s why I published Bloom!! Congrats on your recovery, friend!! Big hugs xox

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