This is a bit of memoir about a time when I probably had a type of eating disorder, or was moving towards developing one, though I’ve never discussed it with a doctor.
I don’t know whether or not the eating habits I developed were related to my OCD. According to an article on the website of the International OCD Foundation, eating disorders and OCD are separate disorders, but they have things in common.
Thankfully, after this particular time period passed, I never had the problem again.
But when I remember this time, I remember it almost as a warning to myself.
Walk, walk, walk. Walk fast, keep walking. Walk, walk, walk. No buses. No cars. Just walk. Walk, walk, walk.
Walk off those calories. Walk off what I eat. Walk off those calories.
Eat according to plan. Eat according to plan. Eat according to plan.
That was my mantra for the first semester of my second year in college. Walk everywhere. And eat according to plan.
Things were not going well.
I had moved out of my first suite and into another suite with three new women. While they were nice and we got along, it was a change, and I wasn’t handling change very well.
I wasn’t handling anything very well. I walked around in a fog, unhappy and hopeless. I was afraid of everyone and everything. I went to class, I did my homework. And not much else.
But I did walk everywhere, and I did eat according to plan.
I had been to the doctor’s office the previous summer and my mother had found out that I had gained 10 pounds during my first year of college. She expressed how she felt about it—“I knew you had gained weight”—telling me that if I didn’t watch it, I would gain more.
I wasn’t overweight, but I decided to lose weight and get back down to my starting college weight, which was really underweight.
I started out by counting calories. I knew the calorie counts of all the foods I ate, and I ate pretty much the same things day after day, at the same time of the day, day after day.
I wrote down everything I ate and the calories and constantly added them up during the day. And I felt particularly successful if I could keep the calorie count low.
I lived in campus housing away from where the classrooms were. I could have taken a campus bus to class. But I didn’t want to be on a crowded bus. And I wanted to walk the calories off.
So I walked to class every day, and went early so I could avoid walking through the bigger crowds of other students.
I remember every morning at around 10 a.m. I had a break between classes and sat in one of the wide windows in the classroom building and ate a cereal bar. I knew the calorie count, of course, and that would get me through until I could make it back to the apartment to eat lunch.
Because I avoided the lunchrooms on campus. I avoided being around other people except in class.
I lost weight. I got back down to my starting-college weight, and maybe even a little lower. I was definitely underweight. And tired. So tired.
But I felt triumphant, too, that I could lose the weight, that I could control what I ate and how much I moved.
The feelings of hopelessness and despair, the desire to be alone, the fear of being around others: I know for certain that I was depressed and anxious. I didn’t seek help for those things. Instead, I walked everywhere, and ate according to plan.