America’s insurance companies suck in case you haven’t experienced living “in the system” yet. In order to prove that I have a sleep disorder, I had to undergo a sleep study. No big deal right? The catch: going off of my ADHD medication that works magically in three ways:

1. It keeps me awake throughout the day

2. It keeps me calm*

3. It elevates my mood

Pretty awesome medication right? So when the neurologist who was ordering the sleep study told me to go off of it, I told her that would be a problem because I wouldn’t be able to function (thinking I’d just be sleeping all day long).

My theory held true for about two days. I slept 12 hours the first day throughout the day and 15 hours the second day. When the third day rolled around, I was highly energetic. This energy continued and resulted in being hospitalized a few weeks ago for “exhibiting manic-like symptoms”. *I do not have Bipolar Disorder, I have severe ADHD. I stayed in the hospital until the day of my sleep study as I was highly impulsive and unable to predict my behavior. I returned to baseline functioning once I resumed taking the medication.

Yet, I digress because this post is not about a sleep disorder. Since I had an excessive amount of energy that wouldn’t cease, I began to think about ways to calm down immediately upon admission to the hospital. A thought came to me that food was giving me energy, so if I restricted my intake, my energy would be reduced. The following conveys some snapshots of each day. I’ve included how much I walked because I wear a bracelet that I synced upon discharge which tracks my fitness throughout the day in steps and miles.

 

Results from days 1 (consumed approximately 300 calories from time of admission and walked 12 miles) , 2 (consumed approximately 200 calories, walked 4 miles), and 3 (consumed approximately 350 calories and walked 12 miles) of my experiment had me thinking that my theory was off. My energy was still present in high amounts. I wasn’t sleeping unless medication induced and even then, barely. On day 4, my energy slowed down a little and I still managed to walk 5.4 miles. Perhaps this was because I had 30 minutes of sleep the night prior. On Christmas, I walked 5 miles and ate 500 calories. On the first day of Kwanza late Christmas gifts were given by the hospital to the patients. Many patients received stockings with candy, I did not. Some peers were kind enough to share, and I accepted and consumed some candy.  A social worker saw me eating candy and made snide remarks about how I don’t eat food, yet eat candy… not trusting that this was the first significant amount of nutrients I had consumed during my stay. To sum it up, during those six days I consumed in total no more than 2,500 calories. 

It was easy, too easy. I have always struggled with my eating patterns because at my mom’s house it was no junk food allowed whereas at my dad’s it was a free-for-all, no healthy food allowed. When grocery shopping with him, if I picked up something that is considered healthy he would say, “Put that back.” These polar opposites are why I have reason to believe I developed an eating disorder.

Once, I walked into the room when my mom was exercising and she wouldn’t talk to me in detail saying she had 10 seconds left to burn 500 calories. You’re supposed to cool down at the end…

   Luckily my therapist has extensive background in eating disorder treatment. She’s the head of a partial hospitalization program for eating disorders. I know I need help and at the same time, I’m in school and school is the one good thing going for me right now. I’m looking into evening programs. An Eating Disorders Anonymous Meeting just began about one hour from where I live, and I attended the first meeting last week.

During the meeting, people spoke about the origins of their disordered eating. Most people were unable to pinpoint exact time or reasons. I mentioned that I believe mine began at the age of 3. My father would lock my brother and me into cars and hotel rooms so that he could go do what he needed/wanted to do. I presume that when this occurred, I didn’t know when, if at all I would have food. Additionally, the aforementioned circumstances in each home environment play a contributing factor.

At the moment, I’m taking one course in school. My school does this during January so students have the ability to take a course they would not traditionally take during the other terms due to time constraints or other reasons. The course I chose is Philosophy of Simplicity. There is one week in the course where we go on a retreat to a Buddhist temple and practice meditation. Most students will be silent for 36 hours. I’ve chosen to remain silent the entire week.  Apparently in the past, participants have complained about the food served there. The professor summed it up as, “Really, you could go the week without eating and you’ll be fine.”

People laughed. I smirked. I know I can go that long without eating. It actually got easier for me as the days wore on in the hospital. I’m competitive, this seemed like a challenge. I’ve not eaten well since being back at school, eaten too unhealthily and have done many unhealthy behaviors to compensate for the unhealthy food. This seems like the perfect time to restrict. It’s so tempting to continue with my unhealthy ways.

When I mentioned this and other events to my therapist, she was aggravated at people’s absence of awareness when they speak (regarding the food comment by said professor). She thinks this week will be good for me in terms of practicing mindfulness. The other week before my behaviors started to get really out of control, she said, “You don’t want to have an eating disorder. You think Borderline is hard to treat, an eating disorder is harder.” Little did she know that I had begun my down spiral. She had me log my food. This turned out to be really bad because I obsessed even more with what I ate and consequential behaviors when I was constantly reminded of the foods I consumed throughout the day. She had me stop the food logs after noticing this pattern.

This week will be a challenge in practicing mindfulness in a healthy way.

 

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