The Skeleton Is Out of the Closet

Starting is always the hardest part. How does one condense one’s life history into mere paragraphs? The answer is… you don’t. You use pictures.

Through the years

7 years ago, July 2006 – the journey into the devil’s lair begins. It was an innocuous, harmless intention that I’m sure could have bloomed in any normal 16-year-old teenager’s mind: I wanted to bake a birthday brownie cake for my junior’s birthday. Back then, I had limited zero kitchen experience and so turned to the WWW for guidance. The floodgates opened. Recipes, Allrecipes, FoodNetwork, individual blogs – I was bombarded with innumerable permutations of brownies, but most importantly was the “nurtition information” that accompanied some of these recipes. I was horrified by the copius amounts of calories, saturated fat and sugars of some recipes, yet enthralled by others that appeared so healthy. Being the perfectionist that I am, I started my quest to devise the healthiest brownies ever. In short, a simple idea of a birthday cake morphed into a complicated task. In the process, the Medusa monster called Eating Disorder reared her ugly head.

I think my condition could be described as “orthorexia,” otherwise known as healthy eating disorder. I started a food diary which made me aware of how much junk there was in my teenage diet. Then I started eliminating the fast food, the processed food, “unnecessary” drinks like bubble tea and snacks like cookies, chocolate and biscuits. I became conscious about serving sizes and started comparing my intake to others. Nevertheless, I never harboured an intention to lose weight but with such a minimal diet, the weight came off expectedly and unsurprisingly.

I was born with a small built, and remained skinnily scrawny as a child and teenager, despite my weekly McDonalds/KFC indulgences after band practices and snacking without care. At my heaviest I was barely 40 kg (1.6 m), and by December 2006, I was a ghastly 35 kg.

Through these trying years I am most grateful and indebted to my mum, although our relationship has been tested many times by ED. I was inpatient only once, in December 2006, where I nearly had to spend Christmas in hospital (the horrors!). Staying in that ED ward was a living nightmare: you could feel tensions and competitiveness in the air, among all the bulimic/anorexic girls. Furtive glances would be cast around during communal meal times, brawls and tears over food were common occurrences. It was a dreadful place and I wonder how could anyone really recover phyically and mentally under such depressing environments. I emerged from the hospital a couple more kilos, but mentally, I was still adamant that I did not have an ED.

Since then I have been switching dietitians and doctors as frequently as one changes one’s clothes (okay, maybe it’s a stretch of an exaggeration, but you get the idea). I’ve been to the doctors at SGH, RH, a naturopathic and currently a gasteroenterologist at GH. Clearly, something was not working right. The problem was I wasn’t fully committed to recovery. Each visit to the doctor was a chore, a dreadful task that I did on my mum’s behest, and each visit was uneventful, like a broken record on rewind mode.

Doctor: How are you doing?
Me: Uh, ok.
Doctor: Let’s review your meal plan.
Me: [describes meals)
Doctor: Let’s check your weight.
Me: (stands on scale)
Doctor: Hmmm… you’ve not gained weight. Do you think you could drink one more packet of Ensure every day?

So basically what they do is to prescribe more supplements when things aren’t right, though I can’t really blame them since on my part I wasn’t putting in much effort, or any effort really, to eat more.

And so 7 years later, I’m still stuck at square one. Actually, that’s a lie. Physically, I’ve regressed further to square zero. I hate to type the numbers out but I need to face reality bluntly and in the face: I’m 30 kg now and it’s horrible and dangerous (I think most of my weight loss is due to bone mass loss). Mentally, I like to think I’ve progressed a fair bit, in the sense that guilt no longer overwhelms me after consuming a cookie or chocolate or whatsoever. Still, that’s 84 months, or 30, 660 days wasted, and counting. I’m 23 now, just graduated from university, and have to face the working world soon. Yet I don’t look a day older than a secondary school kid. From an employer’s viewpoint, I understand that no right employer would even hire me. Reality has finally caught up and hit me in the face.

Not wanting to border on effusive prolixity, I should sum up my life story. Today and from now on, I am fully committed to recovery, to put in my best effort to earn back what was snatched away from me – physically, mentally and socially (yea, I barely have “true” friends since I excused myself from most social events). And so this blog will document this effort. It will be a test of discipline, determination, strength, hope and faith, but I know it is possible and I will show that it is possible. Apart from weighty (pun intended) issues, this blog shares my other loves in life too: good food (mostly vegetarian though I’m a great fish fiend as well), travels and of course, spiritual wellness. So expect recipes, restaurant and product reviews, travel photos to populate this space!

I would like to start a new habit, that is to end each post with a (relevant) verse from the Bible. And so for this seminal post, a good reminder is to have faith in the Lord.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:8

Oh, in case you are a complete voyeur (which I unashamedly admit), you can view my previous blogs here:

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Sabrina is passionate about all things health, wellness, conscious living and good vibes.

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