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Eating Disorder Recovery Message Board

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This is a long bizarre story but I will try to condense it as much as possible.

I have posted all over healthboards (although not the ED board yet) because I have had a "mystery illness" for over a year. I have been to several doctors but no one can figure it out yet. First I should mention, before this whole thing started I was very thin and had what most people considered rigid and extreme eating & exercise habits (vegan, no grains, mostly raw vegetables, several hours of exercise per day.) I just thought I was healthy and they weren't... I did not consider myself to have an ED but maybe I have the tendency to it. Okay, then this "mystery illness" started and I totally lost my appetite. I always believed you shouldn't eat if you're not hungry, so I started eating less and less until I was regularly eating a few hundred calories per day. Then weird things started happening. One day I noticed my face was swollen. Then my collarbones were no longer visible. Then my abdomen was distended. Basically I started progressively swelling up like a balloon, and along with this I *gained* enormous amounts of weight. Within a few months I had gained 50% of my original body weight and was swollen into a barely recognizeable form of myself. Needless to say I was horrified. I thought there was something horribly wrong with my metabolism and started eating even less. I fasted completely for weeks at a time. I exercised up to 6 hours a day. I continued to gain weight. Finally I woke up and realized this had nothing to do with food or metabolism, it was WATER. So I stopped drinking water and eating foods with water in them. FINALLY this worked, I stopped gaining weight. I became absolutely terrified to put ANYTHING in my mouth, since most foods contain water. For a few months I lived on a small handful of raisins daily. I stopped buying food. I stopped using my kitchen. Eating seemed like this bizarre alien ritual that other people did several times a day. I lost about half the weight I gained and looked like a semi-normal human being again, but my quality of life went down the drain. I was EXTREMELY, unbelievably thirsty all the time. I was also weak, dizzy and COLD COLD COLD. Eventually, the thirst would get so bad that I would completely lose control and drink whatever water was in sight -- mud puddle, dog dish, you name it. Then I'd make myself vomit the water back up. Sometimes I was vomiting three or four times a day because I could not stop myself from drinking water.

Well, I recently started a new job, and in the interest of being able to function normally at work I thought maybe I should start to eat or drink at least a little bit. I started eating small amounts of watery foods again, like oranges, cucumbers and tomatoes. I took occasional sips of water or tea. Even though I was still eating less than 500 calories per day, I felt much better. BUT I started gaining weight again, and now I am terrified, and torn about what to do. Relentlessly gain weight & blow up like a beach ball again but live without the constant, awful thirst and weakness and cold? Or consume NOTHING and avoid having to buy new clothes every single week? I feel like neither of these options is feasible long term.

It has been a long, long time since I ate anywhere near a normal amount and I have a hard time thinking of eating as a normal thing to do. I am horrified and disgusted with myself when I take a sip of water or eat some huge amount like (gasp!) a WHOLE orange. I weigh myself mutliple times a day and am furious with myself when I gain. I may not have had a full blown ED before but this weird situation has induced an ED way of thinking. The fear of weight gain has taken over my life... and unfortuantely it is a very justifiable fear. I can easily gain several pounds EVERY DAY if I let thirst get the better of me.

I am waiting for my health insurance from the new job to kick in before I start seeing doctors again. But it's been a year and I am losing hope that this will be figured out anytime soon. In the meantime I don't know what to do and the obsession with weight is making me miserable.

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