It’s ironic that I created a blog on the day I had a meltdown. Today was a learning experience though and I was able to calmly (after the meltdown in the bathroom stall, that is), reflect back on my emotions and why I reacted.
My professor didn’t realize that this Tuesday is a study day and therefore, we don’t have class so, in her unorganized, whimsical way, we crunched 3 hours of lectures into 90 minutes. This meant that we were not only hitting Mood Disorders and Medications but Eating Disorders as well.
It’s not like I needed a heads up for this or anything, I’m quite okay talking about it. So I was surprised with how emotional I became by the end of class.
We watched a video of a woman who suffers from bulimia and in this video, she was speaking the camera about a recent binge. She listed all of the food she ate and our professor, wrote every single thing down on the board in an attempt so show us “the big picture” of what a binge looks like. As this woman was listing off the foods, the rest of the class was horrified. I heard laughter, gasps, a lot of “oh god! ‘s”. Someone made a comment under their breath about how it was “no wonder why she puked after”.
“… I’ve done worst”.
Any other day I might have laughed at the reaction of my peers. I’d laugh at their ignorance and think about how much of a shock they’ll have when they move on to volunteering in crisis centers or first step foot into a psych ward. If this shocks and offends the average 3rd and 4th year PSYCHOLOGY student, then perhaps I am better suited to being a therapist than them. One day. Maybe.
Today though, I felt my face go warm and I avoided eye contact with the projector screen. I concentrated on my notes but I could feel my body physiologically reacting to my emotions. Anxiety grew in my chest and I tried to focus on my breathing. My body was hot and I could feel the sweat on my back, my chest flushed and my face turning red. For those few minutes, it honestly felt like I was being personally attacked. Like it was MY interview up there and they were responding to MY binge.
It was embarrassing which is strange to say because, it literally had nothing to do with me. I was scared people could see my face and see how I was reacting to this video. Would they suspect I had an ED? Was it written all over my face with the rest of my shame and guilt?
I ran to the bathroom stall and messaged my girlfriends in our Facebook chat. I was stiflings sobs into my sweatshirt and silently reprimanding myself for being such a baby. I came out of the stall when it sounded empty. I had mascara all over my cheeks. I left my sunglasses in my car and the parking lot was about a 10 minute walk across campus. Fantastic. I tried my best to wash my face and avoid eye contact.
I drove the highway with all of my windows rolled down despite it being cold out. I stayed in the right lane, for once, and took my time on my one hour commute. I drove in silence as my head was pounding and I really wanted to be alone with my thoughts, to reflect on what just happened.
I’m not normally sensitive. In fact, I’m known for being quite the opposite. I’d rather get shit done than get emotions involved. So why is it that I found myself choking on tears in the middle of class?
Well, here is where I had a bit of a life lesson when it comes to learning what my ED triggers are.
For once thing, I hardly got any sleep last night. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe a solid 3 hours. I didn’t feel exhausted but I was definitely tired and was looking forward to a nap later in the afternoon.
This week has also been crazy. With two papers due and a midterm tomorrow morning, I’m really feeling the pressure now. I wouldn’t say overly, ripping my hair out stressed, but definitely how a student is expected to feel.
Since I was running so late this morning, I didn’t take my medication with me during my breakfast. I have to take it with food or else I get a major heartburn and so I figured I would just take it when I got home for lunch. This usually isn’t a big deal, I do it often. But considering the other factors, it probably wasn’t the best idea.
Last but not least, it’s a holiday weekend coming. I’m hosting a dinner for six in my tiny apartment. Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around food. Food is what controls me. I feel okay with it this year, perhaps a bit anxious but nothing I can’t handle. But knowing how much cooking and cleaning and entertaining I have to do, while I somehow manage to find time to do some reading, studying, and writing papers (not to mention, I’d like to be able to socialize with friends for at least a lit bit during the holiday), it’s no wonder it’s stressful.
These triggers are nothing new to be and are kind of obvious but at the time, my brain couldn’t comprehend this. I thought I was being over emotional and dramatic. I even texted my mother who lives an hour away from the university, to come and get me. I’m 26 fucking years old. What would she do? For one thing, campus is so big, she wouldn’t even be able to find her way to me, let alone coax me out of the bathroom stall and then drive me one hour into the opposite direction of her house, to my apartment where she could tuck me in.
She’s had to come to my rescue like this before and it’s mortifying. I hate putting her in that place, especially before a big Thanksgiving dinner where I’d have to pretend it never happened just a few days before.
I also learned that the reactions of my peers were normal. Some laughed and made jokes because they were uncomfortable and that was their way of dealing with it. They were shocked and horrified but you know what? Emotions like shock and horror, when connected to a memory, are what make people remember them. This was a learning experience to my peers. Sure, they need to REALLY work on their reactions so they won’t offend a future patient, but they were 100% real reactions.
They learned something today and maybe, they’ll change the way they think and see eating disorders. Maybe they’ll stop telling people how they “binge ate an entire pizza” when their boyfriend dumped them because now, they know a binge really is 100x more than just eating an entire pizza to oneself. Maybe they won’t make jokes about induced vomiting just so they can “make room for dessert!”.
These are all comments I hear frequently. Like I said, despite today, I’m not normally an emotional person and I don’t usually take these kinds of things to offense because I know people are ignorant and don’t usually know what they’re talking about. But these are comments I hear ALL. THE. TIME.
I’m thankful for today. And I hope it’s something that sticks out for them too.