Wednesday, July 17, 2013

So there's a thing that exists that is bad and scary. Well. There are a lot of those things, but only one that i'm talking about right now.

That thing is "pro ana" culture. "Ana" is short for "anorexic", and "pro" means exactly what you think it does.

There are people who believe that anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, are perfectly fine and valid and healthy ways to live. In fact, at the very far end of the spectrum, there are people who speak directly to "Ana". You could say they worship her. They ask her for the strength of will and body to deny themselves food. They believe that they have been chosen for something special. And they look down on those who try to emulate them, calling them "wannarexics".

In middle school, and in high school, and in college, and this week, i am and have been a wannarexic.

I lack the willpower and physical strength to deny myself food entirely. If i skip a meal and do not snack, i am shaking and nauseous and dizzy and seeing spots by the time the next meal rolls around. One meal is all it takes, and i'm falling apart at the seams.

I used to be angry with myself for this. I used to be angry that i couldn't hold out for more than one meal a day, angry that i could rarely go more than a few days in a row before i stopped skipping meals and ate regularly, angry that i couldn't just stop. Stop everything. Stop being fat, stop being ugly, stop being awkward, stop feeling uncomfortable in my skin, stop feeling uncomfortable in my head, stop saying and doing embarrassing things, stop being lonely, stop being afraid, stop being sad, stop being numb, stop being.

When i got a little older and a little wiser and learned a little more about myself and nutrition and mental health, i developed a healthy fear of that anger. I figured out better, healthier habits that would actually result in weight loss without making me physically ill. I climbed mountains, i swam oceans, i lost the "freshman 15", i gained the sophomore/junior 20ish, i lost the senior year haven't-even-been-weighed-in-years-but-all-my-pants-keep-falling-down, put on the real job with an actual paycheck and car now-i-can-afford-food-and-don't-have-to-walk-two-miles-for-it. And none of it bothered me that much. I would like, even now, to jiggle a little less. I would like to feel healthier and happier in my skin. But i would also like to eat all of the chocolate cream pie right now please, thankyouverymuch, and then you can bring me the fresh bread with butter and the beer and the buffalo chicken waffle fries with extra cheese and then maybe a bowl of whipped cream. To dip my peanut butter cups in.

Anyway. I'm mostly in a much better place, and things were going well for a while, and then i lost my gym momentum and while the ten pounds i lost in the first quarter of the year have stayed off, none of their friends have joined them.

And lately i've been depressed and anxious, what with all the uncertainty about jobs and student loans and will i even be able to afford groceries this winter and oh my God what if something happens to my car and everyone in my family keeps getting rushed to the emergency room and my boyfriend and i keep having uncomfortable conversations and i can't sleep and i really wish my thighs were a little slimmer, a little firmer. I wish my stomach was flatter. I wish i didn't have the tiniest shadow of a double chin. Because somehow, if i could magically become super hot and fit overnight, that would obviously fix all of my terrifying life problems.

And then i start to feel out of control.

And then i start to wish that i was chosen. I start to be angry at myself for my lack of control, for eating more food when i really wasn't hungry (even though the "more food" was fresh veggies, or raw almonds with dried fruit, or chicken lettuce wraps). I'm angry about my lack of motivation to go to the gym. I'm angry at my apathy. I'm angry at my depression. I'm angry at my body. I'm angry at Ana.

This week, i have honestly and legitimately had a lot of work to do, and it's been hard to go home for lunch. And every day, there's been some fresh disaster on top of the huge piles of work that i didn't get a chance to finish the day before. And ordering out is, unfortunately, not in my budget right now. So i really don't have a lot of options.

But i could still leave my desk and go eat lunch. Nothing i do at my job is so urgent, so crucial, that delaying it for an hour would spell the downfall of Western civilization. It wouldn't even spell the downfall of my job. And i could still pack myself a lunch to eat at my desk, knowing how hard it will be to get away and go home. I don't have a lot of options, but "not a lot" is more than "none".

And yet.

I keep skipping lunch. I skip lunch and i eat a spoonful of peanut butter at my desk, and then i go home and eat a snack and get busy until it's too late to eat a full meal, so then i go to sleep hungry. And then i wake up hungry and don't have anything fast and easy, so i eat a spoonful of peanut butter at my desk, or some almonds and dried cherries, and i drink a lot of water and tea and pretend that the hunger pangs are dehydration.

I don't have anything clever to say about any of this. I don't have any hope to offer. I don't have a light at the end of the tunnel. But it is two o'clock now and i am heading home for lunch.

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