Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's Not An Official Diagnosis

"People with anorexia nervosa .....see themselves as fat even when they are very thin."  --Web M.D.  ( because we should all check WebMD all the time....there are things wrong with you and you don't even know it!)

This is a very serious disease that can lead to numerous medical problems and even death.  

This is also NOT WHAT I HAVE.

What I have is the exact opposite of this.  It doesn't have a name, but I assure you it is very real.  I remember clearly the first time it came to me that something might not be right with my thinking. It was 10 years ago, in January of 2005, and I was on a cruise with some girlfriends.  Now, if you haven't been on a cruise you may not know this, but they take your picture all the time!  Its a little like Disneyland, where they are constantly taking a photo of your group and then trying to get you to buy it for some ridiculous amount of money.  So, on formal dinner night, we were all herded in front of some obnoxious backdrop and they snapped away.  Just like Disney, they also rapidly print all the photos (while we were eating!) and then fill the lobby area with them so you can search for yours, exclaim of its loveliness, or not, and proceed to the desk they have set up and pay.

Me on the cruise, far left, all in green for some reason

Now, there were a lot of people on this cruise so my girlfriends and I split up and started searching these large rolling bulletin boards for our photo among all the others. As luck would have it, I was the one who located it. Then is when a very strange thing happened.  Before I tell you what it was, there are a few facts you need to keep in mind.....

I had lived in this exact body for 36 years at that point.
I had the exact same face for 36 years at that point
I was wearing a dress that I had owned for 10 years (don't ask)
I had known all the other people in the photo for 20 years

So, as a looked over the board, I ran across our picture.  As I stared at it, all I could think to myself was this....

"Well, theres J, and J and T....but who is that fat girl with them?"
"When on earth did they have their photo taken with someone else?"
"Was there some way this could be a mistake made by the photographer?"

I have no idea how long it took me to realize that I was the "fat girl" in the photo!  In my memory it seems like forever, but it probably was just a couple of seconds in reality.  However, it really startled me to realize that I had been momentarily unable to recognize myself.  

That is the first clear instance I recall of this happening, but by becoming aware of it, I have been better able to tell when its happening. Isn't that what they say?  Admitting you have a problem is the first step to doing something about it?  10 years later I am still waiting for step 2 to kick into gear, you know, the part where I do something about this, but I have got step one down to a science. 

Put me in a department store with a rack full of jeans or shorts without tags and ask me to pick the pair I think is my size.  I have actually done this to myself (minus the no tag part.....I don't rip them all off or anything, I prefer not to get picked up by security).  I will pick one at least 2 sizes smaller than my actual size.  And I have been this size for YEARS.  It is not a new thing.  Conversely, when I pick up the pants that are my size, I stare at them thinking, "these can not possibly fit.  They are HUGE"  They fit every time.  Apparently my minds eye works a lot like the side view mirror on my car......where objects are not their actual size.

If it only happened occasionally I guess it would just be a weird random little quirk, but it happens all the time!  Every time I get dressed and look in the large mirror in my bedroom I am surprised by my size.  It's the same damn mirror I walk past 15 times a day!  Of course,  I realize that as far as large people go, I'm not really that large.  But you should see how thin I am in my mind!!!  I look good. It probably also explains why I haven't really lost any weight over the years.  Oh sure, every so often I have done some damn Atkins, South Beach, calorie counting thing and knocked off about 15 pounds, but then, as I get closer to matching the inside and outside, I totally slack off.  I put it all back on, plus a few friends it picked up while it was away.  But inside, still skinny!!!!  I also realize that I purposely fool myself!  I wear the same certain clothes all the time, the ones that make you "feel thin" (you know what I all have them) and I can occasionally stand in front of the mirror in a certain way to minimize anything I don't want to see so I can proceed to live in denial-land!

It is actually a pretty nice way to live, when you can get away with it.  The problem is when you can't, when you are jarred into reality.  Since that happens regularly, it can be kind of difficult, being all happy and getting ready to go out to dinner one minute, then all of a sudden feeling like you have been tricked and better just drink water and eat a salad!

 Above:  Thinking, Hey I look Ok in this one!

But then I turned sideways......OOPS!

This is the entire driving force behind all the shopping I do also.  I don't really care how fashionable anything is, what color it is or where I might wear it.  The only question I ask myself in the dressing room is "Does this make me look fat?"  I would, in all likelihood, purchase a 60's purple polka-dot mini dress if I thought it made me look thin.  The funniest thing about that statement is that I logically know that clothes do NOT "make me look" thin or fat or anything else.  I am what I am, and if I "look fat" in something it's because I am, not because of that particular pair of shorts.

As if all this isn't bad enough, now that I have reached a certain age, the same damn thing is happening with my face!  I have been looking at my face long enough that I can actually brush my hair, teeth, etc without really seeing it, if you know what I mean.  But take a selfie?  Catch myself unguarded in a reflection?  All of a sudden I am completely freaked out and wondering WHEN DID I GET THIS OLD AND HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME MY FACE WAS WRINKLING UP AND SLIDING OFF???  

I understand why people have plastic surgery now.  They have scared the shit out of themselves in the mirror and are trying to do something, anything, to rectify the situation.  I, however, cannot afford plastic surgery, so mostly I just sit around looking at The Hub's and saying things like "It's Ok that we are getting old, right?"  He assures me it is.  Except for the part where his hair is thinning.  He hates that.  

Funny thing is, I could not care less about his hair.  It wouldn't matter to me if he went completely bald, but it totally upsets him every time he sees it in a photo.  I guess we will just have to proceed into the next stage of our lives deliriously delusional and assisting each other with our respective phases of denial.  

Not a bad way to live at all, if you can get it.  But seriously......Im going to have to do something about this weight.  

Just not today.  I have been invited out to dinner.

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