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Minimalist Packing for The Undeniable Tour

The last time I wrote about incorporating minimalism into packing for a trip, I was only going to be away for a weekend. I could write out the list of all the activities I would be doing and determine exactly what I needed to bring in terms of clothing. I ended up using every garment I packed.

Now I’m getting ready to go on a two-week road trip that spans from San Diego to Seattle, with temperatures that are expected to range from the mid-40s to the mid-80s and weather that includes sun and rain. This is also a trip that includes five speaking engagements, other professional meetings, a handful of meetups with friends, and working out. How do I pack for that?

The good news is I will be staying at hostels that have on-site laundry, so I really only have to pack for a week, and bring enough layers to accommodate the weather. I looked at a few videos online by minimalists who are on the road a lot and people who live out of a backpack while traveling for suggestions. Here is a partial list of the things I will take with me:

  • My Hustle Your Face Off shirts - made by Brand X Custom T-shirts

    My Hustle Your Face Off shirts – made by Brand X Custom T-shirts

    2 pairs of jeans – 1 pair that’s heavier weight for colder climates

  • My Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors – for speaking
  • Hustle Your Face Off” shirts – for speaking/meetings
  • Black blazer – for speaking/meetings
  • Hooded windbreaker
  • Zip-up sweatshirt
  • Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors

    Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors

    2 tank tops

  • 2 short-sleeve shirts
  • Running shoes
  • Yoga pants
  • Running shorts
  • 2 or 3 running shirts
  • Bathing suit
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments and socks

Since I’m going to be staying mainly in hostels, I will be taking a few specialty travel items like a padlock (to lock my backpack in a locker when I don’t want to carry it around), and extension cord, a camping towel, and gallon-size bags. I learned the hard way that it is important to have what you need to get ready for a day in one place for convenience and courtesy purposes.

When I stayed in a hostel last month, I didn’t lay my stuff out for the next day as well as I could have because my roommate and I realized that we were setting our alarms for the same time so I expected there to be no problem with turning on lights and making noise. Unfortunately, we were in a four-person dorm and we got a third roommate around 1:30 in the morning. I felt bad for our new roommate because I needed to turn on the light and dig around in my suitcase to take a shower, get ready, and pack my things while she was trying to sleep.

My plan for this trip is to put at least my shirt, socks, and underwear for the next day in one bag, my toiletries for the morning in another bag, and drape my jeans and camping towel across the foot of my bed before I go to sleep at night so it’s easy to grab what I need to hit the shower and get dressed in the morning.

I’ve never incorporated minimalism into my travel plans look quite like this, so I’m curious to see how well it works out. My goal is to pack lightly and still be comfortable at all times.

Rosie’s Schedule is My Schedule

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

For those of you who haven’t been following recent events, my basset hound Rosie was recently diagnosed with glaucoma in her right eye. Apparently it’s a common problem for this breed, particularly female bassets around age 6 or 7. (Rosie turned 7 in October.) When we couldn’t get the pressure in that eye to go down, we were forced to surgically remove it. She had already gone permanently blind in that eye so the surgery eliminated the pain caused by the glaucoma.

The surgery was a success and now I am the proud owner of a “Pirate Pup” as I like to call her. She’s been doing great since the stitches came out last week. Now that we’ve taken care of her right eye, our focus has shifted to making sure she maintains the vision in her left eye as long as possible.

Rosie is currently on 4 different eye drops. Two of them are available as a combination drug so we will be dropping down to 3 medications soon. Three of Rosie’s medications have to be administered every 8 hours. The other medication is a little more complicated – she has to get it every 12 hours, the second dose of the day has to be given by 6pm (according to her doctor glaucoma attacks are most likely to hit between 6pm and 10pm), and it has to be stored in the refrigerator. She also has an emergency glycerin kit. If she ever goes completely blind, I have to mix 50mL of glycerin with milk and pour it down her throat.

Footnote for my fellow science geeks: Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) + Gylcerin = Spontaneous purple flames. Neat Stuff!

So now Rosie’s schedule is my schedule. It’s pretty easy to stick to her medication schedule on the day she comes to work with me but I have obligations where she can’t come with me so for now she has morning medications at 6am and 8am before I head off to work, and then she gets medications at 4pm, by 6pm, and before I go to bed. If I ever want to go to bed early, I’ll have to set an alarm to wake me up at midnight for her last doses.

Did I mention each eye drop has to be given at least five minutes apart? Otherwise each medication won’t be absorbed properly. Lucky for me, Rosie is much better about getting eye drops than taking pills.

From what I can tell, this is going to be our schedule for the rest of her life or until better medication comes out or she loses the vision in her left eye. It’s an adjustment but I’m ok with that. I think we’re all on board with the program of making sure she can see for as long as possible.

Still Don’t Officially Know What’s Wrong with Me – and I Don’t Care Anymore

I love my running shoes.

I love my running shoes.

I am officially over my medical mystery. I don’t even want to think how much time I’ve spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals or how much money I’ve spent on medical tests related to my chest pains, dizziness, fatigue, and night sweats. And we still have no idea what’s wrong with me.

My cardiologists (all three of them) determined I have a hole in my heart but it’s a congenital defect that shouldn’t be causing my symptoms. My primary care doctor drew nine vials of blood and ran every test he could think of – CBC, thyroid, hormones, Epstein-Barr, other random illnesses – and everything came out negative or normal.

I’m annoyed that trying to do the right thing and take care of myself yielded no actionable results. It disrupted my marathon training and left me unprepared so I couldn’t finish the race. I feel like I wasted my time and I am frustrated that I don’t have any answers except what’s not wrong with me. I’m done doing this process of elimination. I’m ready to call it and apply Occam’s Razor. I say I have reoccurring costochondritis, fatigue from the fact that I work myself into the ground on a regular basis and have depression, dizziness from low blood sugar from my eating disorder, and night sweats caused by anxiety. I changed my linens and took the blanket off my bed so I’m cold when I tuck myself into bed at night, but it seems to be decreasing my night sweats so that’s good enough for me.

My Race Shirt for Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My Race Shirt for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

I’m ready to say “fuck it” and get back into cycling and running. When I go on The Undeniable Tour for two weeks, I plan to go running in every city I stay in. I am a much more balanced person when I work out on a regular basis.

Just in case some things really wrong with me and they just haven’t found it yet, I still don’t leave the house without my Road ID strapped to my left wrist. That way, if I collapse or something, my bracelet will contain the information the emergency medical team should know about my medical history.

Will I try to train for another marathon? I’m not sure. I workout more consistently when I have a race on my calendar and a training program to follow, so I’m looking for a race to train for – either a 10K or a half marathon. I’m contemplating doing a half marathon trail run in June. That could be really fun. We’ll see what happens.

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert for President 2016

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been listening to NPR so I’ve been doing a decent job keeping up with who has launched a steering committee or otherwise looks like they’re considering running for President of the United States. And so far, I’m not impressed. I haven’t seen anyone who I would want to vote for; nobody seems to have the “total package” for what’s required to be the political leader of this country.

For full disclosure, I am a registered voter.  I think I’ve missed one election in the 17 years I’ve been eligible; it was a minor school board issue and I don’t have kids. My right to bitch is fully intact.

I am registered an Independent – the largest political non-party. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans self-identified as politically independent.   This tells me that a lot of people are unhappy with both political parties. This is why I’m a registered independent – I think Republicans and Democrats are too extreme. I agree with each party on some issues and completely oppose them for others.

Because so many Americans are unhappy with both parties and so far, all the potential candidates are inadequate, 2016 is the perfect year for an independent duo to challenge for the presidency. I believe Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert could run as a successful campaign and be effective leaders. I am completely serious, and yes, I’m aware that it’s ironic to be this serious about a pair of comedians.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Stewart and Colbert could do what a lot of potential candidates are doing right now and start a steering committee or something to collect funds which don’t have the same restrictions as campaign fundraising through something like Kickstarter. I don’t think they would raise money as quickly as The Oatmeal did for his Exploding Kittens game, however, I think they could raise a lot of money. A lot of people trust these political comics a lot more than traditional politicians – just recently a poll said people trust Jon Stewart more than Bloomberg and The Economist. These people are known for saying it like it is, and calling out the ridiculousness of others’ behavior.

With other presidential campaigns, the vice presidential candidate is often forced to campaign with the presidential candidate because they don’t have as much influence on their own so it’s not worth it to separate them to cover more territory. But with a Stewart /Colbert ticket, they could divide and conquer and get massive crowds everywhere they go. The challenge for them would be can they fund this type of campaign.

I could see a Stewart /Colbert ticket having a daily podcast or at least a weekly one, YouTube videos, and taking full advantage of social media platforms to campaign and reach more people much more effectively than other candidates have in the past.

Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show this year and at last I heard he is unsure what he is going to do next. I think he should run for President. I know he doesn’t identify as a politician, he’s someone who makes fun of politicians. And I think that’s what makes him so appealing – he’s not a career politician, he’s all about restoring sanity to the country, and he appears to have a good heart. I’d rather have that guy in the White House then someone who is self-centered, riding a party platform, and doesn’t seem to really understand what’s going on in the USA or the rest of the world from the perspective of the average person.

I’ve never worked on a political campaign or financially supported a presidential candidate, but I would support a Stewart/Colbert ticket. I think if these guys ran, we would get the biggest voter turnout in recent history. We would get more people watching the debates – those debates would be hilarious.

I am one person with a blog. I know I have no influence over these guys, but I hope the people who do are telling Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to give serious thought to running. As the Klingon proverb says, “Great men do not seek power; it is thrust upon them.” As long as you keep being sane and thoughtful, where you lead, we will support you.

Hostel vs Hotel – The Experiment

I did an experiment during my recent trip to San Francisco for the Dad 2.0 Summit. To save money during The Undeniable Tour which is coming up later this month, I thought I would stay in hostels instead of hotels. I used this weekend trip as a trial run and to compare the hostel experience to a traditional hotel stay. I spent my first night in San Francisco at a hostel near the conference hotel and I spent the second night in the hotel itself. Here’s how the two compared.

My hostel bed.

My hostel bed.

The Hostel
Until recently, I didn’t know there were so many hostels in the U.S. Unlike hotels that have a fancy front entrance, this hostel was a nondescript building that had the hostel’s name on the front door and window. At check-in there was a sign that said we had to show our travel documents (to deter homeless people and others who may try to live there). The clerk handed me my sheets, towel, and the key to my room and reminded me that I had to show my key each time I entered the building.
The Room: Tiny room with two bunk beds, a small sink, and a power strip plugged into the wall. One bed was obviously in use (rumpled bedding, suitcase next to it) and the other beds each had a folded comforter on it.
The Bed: My sheets were clean and soft and the comforter seemed as clean as any hotel’s. The single pillow was flat and made me wonder if there is a life hack for a thicker pillow for my upcoming tour. At the end of my stay, I had to strip my bed and turn in my sheets with my key.
The Bathroom: Divided into three rooms – sink in the dorm room, single toilet down the hall, and the women’s shower room with five shower stalls. The water in the shower was warm but there was so much air pushing it through the shower head that it felt kind of cold by the time it hit me.
The View: None from my room – just four solid walls.
The Price: I paid a deposit of $4-something when I booked the room online and paid the balance of $23 at check-in which included $5 to purchase a towel. I also had to give a $10 key deposit that I got back at check out.
Wi-Fi: Free public Wi-Fi throughout the building.
Roommates: I had one roommate when I arrived – an MBA student. We got another roommate around 1:30 a.m.
Amenities: Free coffee, tea, and cocoa available at all times; make your own pancakes in the morning; communal kitchen; communal lounges on each floor with tables, power strips, and books.

My Hotel Beds

My Hotel Beds

The Hotel
The Room: Two queen size beds, private bathroom, desk, table lamps, TV, and dresser.
The Bed: Beautiful white linens with five pillows on each bed.
The Bathroom: Private bathroom with more towels than I needed, a bath mat, and shampoo, conditioner, and soap; no issues with water temperature or pressure; no extra fees for the towels.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The View: One wall was a window that overlooked the Moscone Center and San Francisco Bay.
The Price: $199/night – and that was the special conference rate.
Wi-Fi: Available for a fee.
Roommates: None.
Amenities: Cable TV, ironing board, hair dryer, fitness center, concierge, and room service.

The hotel was about 87.5% (7/8) more expensive than the hostel, but I would not say that the experience was 87.5% better. I enjoyed the casual nature of the hostel and how friendly everyone was. For a person who is traveling on a budget and open to adventure, I think a hostel is a great way to go.

The Undeniable Tour will last fourteen nights and I will be spending eleven of them in six different hostels. I’m excited for the different people I will meet and the new experiences I will have by being in a more interactive environment compared to traditional hotels. I’m curious to see if my perceptions of hostels will change by the time I get back.

Pirate Pup

Ruth & Rosie - October 2014; Photo by Julia Kolsrud

Ruth & Rosie – October 2014; Photo by Julia Kolsrud

A few weeks ago Rosie’s droopy basset eyes were droopier than usual – so much that the skin above her eyes covered her eyes completely and she seemed to be in pain. We went to the vet and her first concern was that Rosie’s valley fever was back. She drew blood and sent us home with some pain meds. Two days later when Rosie’s eyes weren’t better, the vet called us back in and determined that Rosie didn’t have a recurrence of valley fever. She had glaucoma. Rosie was completely and permanently blind in her right eye and the pressure in that eye was 90. (20 and below is normal; anything above 40 is painful.)

The vet put her on heavy duty IV medication that started to bring her eye pressure down. She sent us home with five new medications – one for pain, two for her right eye pressure, and two to maintain her sight in her left eye. We went back for a follow-up two days later, and when they checked her right eye pressure, it was back up to 80. At that point, I accepted that Rosie’s right eye served no function and was only causing her pain, so I scheduled surgery to remove it.

Rosie’s surgery day was pretty uneventful as surgery days go. I dropped her off at the vet early in the morning and headed to my office where I had scheduled myself a full day of meetings to keep my mind occupied. The vet called at 3pm to say the surgery was a success and that I could pick her up in an hour when she was a little less groggy.

Rosie is so cute when she’s gorked. They had to shave the hair around her right eye and put her in a cone to keep her from scratching at her stitches or bumping things with her sealed eye while it was healing. The cone makes Rosie’s head about three times its usual size. It’s so big she couldn’t jump into a car so I had to lift her 65-pound body into the backseat. She has to wear the cone until the stitches come out.

Rosie's First Night After Surgery

Rosie’s First Night After Surgery

Rosie is adjusting well to navigating the world in her cone. She learned the hard way the first night that when the cone bumps into something, stop walking. Poor thing yelped when she bumped her eye on a door frame. It took a few days for her to learn how to eat and drink with the cone – to drop the front edge low enough that she can reach the bowl with her mouth – and how to lift her head and cone when stepping up onto a curb. With her little legs, she often bumps the cone against the ground and she’s taken to using a scoop motion so she can smell the grass on our walks without getting stuck.

Thankfully she was allowed to come to work every day during the initial healing stage. She has medications that need to be administered every eight hours. It’s been interesting to watch the skin around her right eye turn dark purple-red with bruising.

Except for the stitches and the cone, Rosie has mostly returned to her old self. She wags her tail like mad when anyone gives her attention or when we go on our daily walks. She’s super alert and interested in the neighborhood dogs, though I have to keep them away from her face. It’s funny to watch her try to scratch her ear through the cone. (Yes, I scratch it for her.)

It’s been wonderful to see how concerned and loving everyone’s been during this time – both in real life and online. I was very touched when Rosie and I woke up on Saturday morning and saw that are neighbors had left a get well card and a bag of dog treats on our door. They have an American bulldog/Shar Pei mix that adores Rosie.

What’s next? The glaucoma will likely take the vision in Rosie’s left eye someday, and she is on medication to delay that. Her stitches will come out and she’ll be out of the cone in the middle of the month and then she’ll be my happy One-eyed Pirate Pup.

Why Does the AZ State Bar Charge for CLEs?

Arizona has one of the highest bar dues in the country and it’s a mandatory bar so you can’t be an Arizona lawyer unless you’re a member (although the Arizona legislature may change that this session). We’re also required to complete 15 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) each year, including 3 hours of ethics training.

Photo by Ellasdad from Flickr

Photo by Ellasdad from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I just paid $475 for this year’s bar dues. That’s just the price to maintain my license.  (For anyone who still paying off their law school debt, $475 = 1900 packages of ramen.) The State Bar also offers a variety of CLEs, and recently there have been a few that I’ve been interested in attending either because I wanted the information or I thought it would be a good forum to make connections with other lawyers.

But I’m not going to CLEs that are put on by the State Bar of Arizona and here’s why – they charge for them. Why does the State Bar of Arizona need to charge for CLEs? In my experience, they don’t pay their instructors to teach and they own their building so they don’t need to rent space. So why are they charging $39 to $129 to let their members attend an educational event?

As an outsider looking in, it appears that the State Bar is milking its membership for money any chance it can get. I’m already unhappy with the way my State Bar is running the show. (The legal industry is a self-governing profession and I voted in the last Board of Governors election so I’ve maintained my right to bitch.)

Now there may be a legitimate reason why the State Bar has to charge for CLEs. I responded to a recent announcement about an upcoming CLE with that very question because I am genuinely curious why they charge. If there’s a real reason, I’ll respect it. So far they haven’t responded.

I can’t change the fact that Arizona has a mandatory State Bar (for now) or that we have mandatory CLEs, but I can put my money where my mouth is and get my CLEs  elsewhere – like ASU CLE. They don’t pay their CLE instructors to teach either but all the money goes towards law student scholarships. And ASU Law School alums get to choose what they pay – so I could get my CLEs for free if I was so inclined. (Hat tip to ASU Law for thinking about their students educational needs after they graduate.)

Is the U.S. Government Causing & Perpetuating the Obesity Epidemic?

I recently re-watched the documentary Fed Up about how the U.S. government has basically subsidized the obesity epidemic in this country. It continues to perpetuate the problem through policies and regulation that enhance the financial success of certain food industries at the expense of public health.

In the 1970s, we were told to decrease the amount of fat in our diets. This resulted in the creation of low-fat and fat free products where a fat was replaced with sugar. And it’s sugar that is largely responsible for our problems with obesity, diabetes, and other related problems according to this film. We have our society of people who don’t understand what proper nutrition is and it doesn’t help that our school system is feeding them junk food and tells them that French fries and pizza are vegetables.

Exercise is not enough to combat the problems caused by our horrific diets. This problem is not to be resolved unless we drastically reduce the amount of processed food that we eat.

After watching this film again, I scrutinized the labels on foods in my pantry. Now, I have a pretty healthy diet. Besides putting sugar in my coffee, I didn’t think I had that much extra sugar in my diet besides the sugar in my morning coffee. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, baked chicken, cottage cheese, and I thought most of my processed foods were on the healthier side. I was surprised that the second ingredient in my rice squares cereal was sugar and the first ingredient in my gluten-free barbecue sauce was high fructose corn syrup. (I’ve been more mindful about avoiding gluten in the last few years because I think I’m sensitive to gluten.)

Sugar by Moyan Brenn from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Sugar by Moyan Brenn from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Now that I’ve seen this movie again, I want to be more mindful about avoiding sugar (with the exception of my morning coffee). I want to limit my portion sizes of certain foods that contain excess sugar and eliminate others altogether – like protein bars. When it comes to sweet foods like jam, barbecue sauce, and desserts, I can at least use brands that don’t use high fructose corn syrup and use these foods as something to have on a special occasion.

In my gymnast days, my teammates and I avoided fat like the plague while we were indulging in sugar filled foods like Snackwell cookies and artificially-sweetened diet sodas. Based on the information in this movie, we would have been better off having an apple and a glass of water.

I’ve asked my friend who is a bariatric surgeon about what I should eat to manage my appetite. He suggested that every meal should contain fiber, protein, and fat; and there should be no limit on the number of fruits and vegetables you can have. In his experience, one of the best things a person can do for themselves is learn to cook. His patients that learn to cook instead of eating processed foods are the ones who have the most long-term success with weight loss. And when you cook you understand what you’re eating and I think you take more pride in what you make for yourself.

Some people may say that it’s their right to fill their body would junk food, and would agree with that. However, just like with cigarettes, I would endorse the government imposing taxes on unhealthy foods. These funds could be used to offset the government’s cost of health care and/or providing healthy lunches to children in school. I would support this, even though it would mean I would have to pay more for some of my favorite treats that I still occasionally indulge in.

If you haven’t seen Fed Up, see it and decide for yourself what role you want the government to play when it comes to your food.

Rosie’s Seeing-Eye Person

I have a new job – being Rosie’s right eye.

Rosie Peacefully Snoozing - March 1, 2015

Rosie Peacefully Snoozing – March 1, 2015

Last week Rosie started showing signs of being in distress – panting, lethargy, and excessively droopy eyes (even by basset hound standards). Her eyes were so droopy that sometimes the upper skin hung over her eyeballs, essentially blinding her and making her look like a zombie. I had to be careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally step off curbs or walk into walls.

We went to the vet and their first thought was she was relapsing on valley fever. They took an x-ray, drew blood, gave us some pain meds, and sent us home. The x-ray didn’t show anything was obviously wrong. When Rosie didn’t bounce back after 36 hours, we headed back to the vet. During this visit, it was obvious to our vet that Rosie’s right eye appeared to be bulging out. She checked the pressure in that eye and it was 90 (normal is below 20). She started Rosie on IV medication to reduce the pressure and sent me to the pharmacy down the street to get prescriptions filled for various eye drops.

When I dropped off Rosie’s new medications, my vet told me that Rosie has glaucoma in her right eye. She is completely and permanently blind on her right side. The glaucoma hasn’t spread to her left eye yet, and hopefully the medication will prolong Rosie’s vision in her left eye and allow her to keep her right eye. Rosie is currently on 6 medications (4 eye drops and 2 pills) taken at 8-hour and 12-hour intervals – so I can’t be away from her for too long.

For now, my job is to be Rosie’s right eye, especially while she’s adjusting to her changed vision. I try to keep her on my left side when we’re taking a walk so her blind side is closest to me and I try to be extra careful when were near gravel or uneven walkways. Being partially blind puts Rosie at a disadvantage, but I hope she never feels that way. I try to keep her alert to what’s on her right side that she may not notice unless she turns her head.

Rosie’s pain seems to be much more manageable than it was a few days ago. My beautiful brown-eyed girl is sleeping soundly in my reading chair as I write this post, occasionally sighing and stretching in her sleep. All I want is for her to be comfortable and to know that she is loved. And that will never change even as her vision gets progressively worse.

Nobody Knows I Have an Eating Disorder

Warning: This post may be triggering to some people. Please seek help and support if you need it.

Photo by SLR Jester from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Photo by SLR Jester from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

From the outside, many people would say I’m young, successful, adventurous, and happy. I’m a daring entrepreneur and an outspoken writer. They have no idea that I struggle with an eating disorder.

As a size 4, I’m small but not emaciated. I don’t have the stereotypical eating disorder “look.” Most people don’t know that you don’t have to be severely underweight to have a serious illness that attacks your mind as much as your body.

They don’t understand how hard it is for me to eat. Most of my meals and snacks are carefully planned to keep my calorie count low. They don’t know how often I make a mental list of everything I’ve eaten that day to make sure I haven’t had too much. If I could give up food completely and just wear a calorie patch every day, I would.

They don’t know how I critically examine myself in the mirror, yearning to see more of the bones of my rib cage, shoulder blades, and collarbones. I don’t want to be horribly underweight, just “a little bit thinner.” They don’t know how important it is for me to be able to touch my fingers around my wrists. That tells me I’m still small enough. They don’t know how guilty and disgusting I feel when I’m having a “fat day.”

They don’t know how soothing it feels to devour a carton of ice cream or a big slice of cake, only to have that feeling overtaken by tremendous anxiety and shame – so much that I stick my fingers down my throat until I throw up again and again. There is no moderation in my world.

Burdened by Shame by John Hain from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Burdened by Shame by John Hain from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I once described my disorder as having a Get Out Of Jail Free card. I can eat whatever I want without worrying about getting fat. (Never mind the toll it could be taking on my internal organs.) It’s like being able to drink and being able to make yourself instantly sober again.

Every day is a struggle for me. My mind is filled with anxiety when it comes to deciding what to eat, when to eat, and when to stop. I constantly deal with the fear that if I start eating I won’t be able to stop, and if I over indulge myself that I’m going to get really fat. And in my mind being fat means I’m undisciplined and possibly out of control, which is ironic because having an eating disorder means I’m out of control when it comes to managing my emotions. So I use food to manage, medicate, and escape my feelings instead.

Having an eating disorder is painful – both physically and emotionally. It is truly an illness; it’s not a diet; it’s not something I do to get attention. On the contrary, it keeps me depressed and isolated from the people I love because my shattered self-esteem tells me no one cares. And intellectually I know that’s not true. But this disease doesn’t care about intellect. I can’t think my way out of it.

Having an eating disorder is a bitch.
And most people have no clue that I have one.