City of Roses
I believe that some things are about control--and others are about comfort and both of these are latent in all of us. It's when a desire becomes a compulsion--continued behavior in spite of consequences--there is where the problem lies.
And the problems do, lie.
I absolutely agree, Karen, and that's why I believe, perhaps, it would be helpful to detail more specifically how this precipitous experience for me occurred, so that others reading who may be experiencing or have tendencies of other pathological situations such as this can be able to notice when their desires are overwrought with compulsiveness.
Essentially, since my freshman year of high school, I've never had the urge to eat breakfast, and didn't get hungry until about noon before. Despite that, I ate really well the whole rest of the day, all the way through high school and up until I became a vegetarian a little over three years ago, also around the time I moved to Portland, Oregon.
My weight, which was between 155-160 prior to moving to Portland, stabilized for all those years because though I ate well, I lacked exercise having grown up in the suburbs, with the exception of cross-country running in the autumns. There was nowhere to go since I was reluctant to drive, so I was literally houseridden, sitting around too much playing non-rhythmic/kinetic videogames and watching lots of television.
But once I had moved to Portland, which was ranked #1 on the Top Ten Walking Cities in America list by Prevention magazine last year and #4 in a American Podiatric Medical Association study, because it is so easy to get around and there is much more to do here, my whole daily routine turned on its axis. What began as walking to the Hollywood/42nd Avenue light-rail transit station and back, eventually expanded into walking to the Willamette River RiverWalk and back, then walking all the way to Portland State University and back (3.2 miles there, 3.2 miles back) then walking all the way to Mount Tabor and back (5.7 miles there, 5.7 miles back). I developed not just a mad love, but hobby, of walking everywhere, seeing new things and walking to different places every time (thus explaining why many of my poetry titles in the past three years like "Equinox In My Heels", "Ephebism" and "(You Gotta Crawl) Before You Can Walk" reference movement) So I was eating the same way as before, but because I had carved out a new niche for myself in walking/speedwalking/jogging, I started losing weight in result, though at a natural pace at first.
A year and a half ago, the next major change ocurred, where that same non-urge of eating feeling that had taken breakfast hostage began expanding into lunchtime as well, and now I didn't have the urge to eat until between 2 and 3 PM. So I literally just woke up, showered, brushed my teeth, and just headed out the door without getting any proper nutrition, because whenever I tried to eat and confront that non-urge, a little defensive vomiting occurred sometimes. I think November of 2005 was where the crux of this problem began; the approximate time when I began burning more calories then I had consumed usually, usually only eating a good dinner. At that time I weighed 142.5.
Finally, last September, despite eating very healthy already, I've still always had an Achilles' heel with sodium intake, where even then I'd actually consume two to three times the amount of recommended sodium intake daily. Having heard numerous reports about how constant excessive sodium intake can lead to chronic high blood pressure and hypertension later in life, even with a normal body mass index, I compulsively decided to dramatically reduce my sodium intake to between 60-85% of the recommended daily consumption. And that's where everything just went out of control, where I lost 12 pounds in a single month, and then when I tried re-thinking my strategy last November, despite slowing down the loss in weight, I nonetheless continued to sink further into anorexic territory, eventually reaching the low of 114 pounds in early April.
I'm that sort of person who is very sensitive and had anyone said that I had chicken legs or skeletal arms, I would immediately emotionally respond and be committed in reversing the problem because I don't want to be pictured that way. Yet, there was a general silence, thus I wasn't even aware I was anorexic. I knew I was thin, but I didn't think of myself as anorexic-thin, simply because I never felt sick, even when I was sick in a more emotional and psychological sense.
Finally, early last month, peers at KBOO Community Radio began responding as the bi-annual Pledge Drive was ending, making me pause from my duties and saying, "Every time I see you around here, I never see you eat, and now you look thinner than ever. You're not feeling sick, are you?". I mentioned I honestly haven't felt sick to several fellow news volunteers, and they responded, "Well, you're looking worn out, look at your arms, they look like they barely have any meat on them anymore, and soon you may not even have skin on their bones. Please eat something, you're too young to wear yourself thin like this and you need your energy to accomplish your dreams and hopes from here on out!"
I started tearing up, and truly felt ashamed that I began to be pictured this way, and whereas previously I was never the type that really cared about appearances or looking in the mirror often, since then I'm often looking at reflections of myself in the mirror, windshields of automobiles, storefront windows, etc. I was sobbing on the inside and during the day on and off before I went to sleep on the outside, and that's when I knew I couldn't discriminate my eating habits like this any longer; that I had to break free of the anorexorcist's curse and rebel by summoning the familiar mirthful music of glockenspiels on wheels (ice cream trucks) and other such things I have always truly loved.
The first poem I wrote in light of my experience, "Wearing Thin", was inspired by the haunting shadow of myself I saw sized next to a stop sign. Looking at the silhouette of myself compared to that of the stop sign, I looked more emaciated than the stop sign, like a shadow of my former self, and I was standing there on the street corner, waiting for two hours before class, watching the world go by, from skateboarders to race cars to rusty pick-up trucks to dog walkers drifting by, and every minute I stood there, I felt myself wearing more thin by the moment, and that feeling basically helped that poem write itself.
I am currently in the recovery process, and during the next month I'll be meeting with some advisors to help motivate me and offer me some proper eating habits and move back to an ideal weight between 130-140. I'm quite fortunate I caught notice of this early, as I could otherwise have been hospitalized and y'all wouldn't have gotten to hear from me for a while.
So far the recovery is going great. I'm currently at 124 and continuing to gain, asking my mother to please intervene throughout the day I'm at home until I reach 135. I got to enjoy my usual vegetable, quinoa and lentil bowl yesterday, while also enjoy a great sticky slab of carrot cake with crumbled-up Reeses peanut butter cup pieces, some scrambled eggs, a bowl of wild rice sesame sticks and a fruit salad with whipped cream.
More poetry will pour out related to my experience, including what will be my longest epic poem yet which details the horrors of anorexia in our society in an artistic fashion and how it is even institutionalized unfortunately through Hollywood and the runways among other things, to be titled "Emaciation Proclamation". It will play off of both rock operas as well as Shelley's "Queen Mab", which I want to make this epic the "Queen Mab on eating disorders". Some at KBOO also have expressed interest in interviewing me about my experience in a special dedicated to understanding and fighting eating disorders, with some seeing my recent response to my anorexia as an inspiration.
A KBOO friend couldn't have said it better to me: "The answer to your problem lies in the first three letters of your last name, Noah. Eat!".
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"