The Truth Behind the Lies Of An Anorexic Mom

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Note:  This blog contains descriptions of eating disorder behaviors.  Although I have tried to be mindful in writing about specific behaviors, there are parts of  that may be difficult to read for those actively struggling with an eating disorder.  For support please see the "resources"page on this site.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Until recently, I had a voracious sugar free gum addiction. For years I carried pink packs of Trident bubble gum everywhere I went. I stashed them in my purse, my glove box, and my tennis bag. It started about eight years ago when I was trying to maintain the weight I had lost and needed something to keep my mouth occupied so I wouldn’t reach for more chocolate (another little addiction). Over the years, it also served as a stress reliever, a time-waster, and, it wasn't long before I constantly craved the sickly sweet chewy little gems. It was a habit that left my jaw sore and my stomach gassy and distended. I had tried half-heartedly over the years to kick it with no success. Until this past October, when I had enough of feeling like crap, and I was pissed the gum had so much control over me, so I decided to quit. For real. Since I was headed on a girl's trip to hike in Zion National Park, I figured it was the perfect time to try to go cold turkey (although my travel buddies may not have appreciated my timing). And it worked. I quit. Because I could. I had a full functioning healthy brain that said: "Hey lady, it's making you feel sick, so stop doing it!"

No gum was consumed during the taking of this photo. I begged my kids to take it away right after. Tempting little demons.

That wasn't always the case.

"I cannot believe I let myself get this bad," I said to my dietician Gretchen. Again. We often started our sessions this way, with me berating myself for allowing anorexia to become a thing for me, "why didn't I stop this before I made myself so, so…. Sick!

“Oh sweetie, you have been living with two brains, she explained, “the normal Sherri brain, and the anorexic brain. They have been fighting for space in your head, and for years, the anorexic brain has been dominating and protecting the illness."

I knew my behaviors caused my body to shrink, but I had no idea my brain had shrunk as well, changing its shape, its chemical structure and its ability for rational thinking.

Slowly over the past decade my anorexic brain (I nicknamed AB while in treatment) became much louder and bossier than my Sherri brain, aka SB (creative I know). Even when I became aware I needed to make changes like eating more and moving less, I was never able to do so for more than a day. AB was very persuasive.

When my hair was starting to fall out leaving clumps in my brush and clogging the shower drain, I chalked it up to an allergic reaction to my new hair color. After my period stopped arriving month after year, I Googled and found that amenorrheawas common in runners. Chipped and cracked teeth were a result of too much sugar, my skyrocketing cholesterolwas hereditary, and my poor digestion was due to stress, being dehydrated and the fact my body didn't care for hidden preservatives. I had a rationale for everything.

Yes, I had a doctor I saw often. She suggested I add avocado in my diet. Yes, I had a dentist I saw every six months. He shoddily pieced my teeth back together. What I didn't have was a healthy brain to scream at me, "Hey lady, it's killing you, stop doing it."

Self conscious of my thinning hair, I began to wear a lot of hats. (2013)

  • sherrisacconaghi

What the heck, I thought to myself, why not?

Marc and I were at a resort in the Florida Keys, at one of those spoil you rotten reward trips that insurance companies put on for their big producers, and Marc had produced big so he, meaning we, had been invited to attend. The premiere event on this trip was a big Super Bowl party, complete with huge TV screens, endless food buffets, and free-flowing alcohol. It was like an adult version of a celebrity kid's birthday party complete with a portrait artist, face painter, and a psychic.

I loved the portrait artist, too.

"Wanna check out the psychic?" Marc asked.

"Nah, I'm not into that woo woo stuff," I replied. I had been to a psychic once before and was left unimpressed by the experience. So, one set up at a insurance party reading the aura's of drunk exec's was not all that appealing.

"Oh, come on, what else are you going to do?" Marc asked convincingly. And he was right. I was not at all interested in participating in the food and drink fest. I was very uncomfortable around the abundance of decadent food at these events. I found my self-control kick into overdrive, leaving me to watch in envious judgment as people balanced their frosty cocktails in one hand while loading plates with fare from pasta bars, burrito stations, and "make your own sundae" carts. God, these people have no self-control. Disgusting. I needed something to occupy my time during the game until the commercials came on. So, psychic it was.

"What's wrong?" Marc asked as I walked towards him fifteen minutes later, a dazed look on my face. "What did she say?"

"That was…..amazing," I said, trying to maintain my composure, “ I didn’t even say three words!” I proceeded to tell Marc about the session, well, part of it anyway.

"She said that Dylan is pushing my buttons, and it is making me crazy. I need to maintain boundaries when he pushes limits" I relayed to Marc, who was nodding along in agreement. "She also said that you and I need to be on the same page because he is running the household instead of us."

"She's whacked," Marc replied and headed back to the festivities inside.

She wasn't whacked. She was right. Dylan, who was twelve at the time, was constantly testing us, and his mouthy, disrespectful, and increasingly volatile behavior was stressing me out. Where I was overcompensating by cracking down hard with consequences, Marc was more lenient, and sensing the divide, Dylan was taking advantage.

A rare lounge chair moment. I wasn’t one to spend vacations sitting still. ( Key West, 2013)

Needless to say, I was sold. The woman knew her stuff, which made the rest of my session, the part I didn't share with Marc, hard for me to ignore. Although I tried. I spent the rest of the evening, making mindless small talk while sipping my one self- permitted glass of wine, avoiding the ravioli, and counting the minutes until I could go back to our room. But once in the quiet of my own space, her words began spinning in my head like letters in a Bingo cage and spilling out onto the pages of the journal in my lap.

Saw a psychic today. She told me:

I isolate too much. It's essential not to do that even if it means I must push myself to be social.

I need to learn how to go with the flow more. I have too many rules and have created too much structure in my life.

I'm not in the right business, but should stay for now as it keeps me from isolating.

I am really meant to be creative. I must find an outlet.

I am a person who always needs to be in control.

It accurately described the person I knew I had become but, sadly, not the person I knew I really was.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Inflexible, rule-bound, and black and white thinking, I’ve written a lot about some of the more challenging aspects of my character. But, when well managed, there is an upside to having an over controlled personality. I get things done!

I make decisions the same way I shop for clothes. I try on ideas, see how they fit, check them out from different angles. But when I make a decision, boom. It’s done. Like, when I decided it was time for Marc and I to get married, I threw down a quasi ultimatum, and eight months later we were walking down the aisle. Or when I;

· Was ready to have a baby. Two glasses of chardonnay and nine months later, hello Dylan.

· Wanted a more kid-friendly house. Up went the for sale sign, maybe while Marc was on a business trip.

· Needed to get serious about losing weight. Out came the food journal and jogging shoes, and I made that happen.

· Wanted to become a health coach and then a personal trainer. Done and done.

And most notoriously, I’d try and fix anything myself, rather than wait for someone else. There’s not a dishwasher, garbage disposal, or washing machine in my house that I haven’t taken apart and, for the most part, successfully fixed.

I was a rare sighting at B’s early morning soccer matches as they often interfered with my workouts. I am still working through regret over the stuff I missed. (2013)

By 2013, the thought of gaining a little weight had been simmering in the back of my self conscious for a while, but it was beginning heat up and boil over, spilling into the forefront of my mind. The ICU trip in Bend, the coffee convo with Ronni, and the recent photographs that I was not particularly eager to look at were all signs that were getting harder to ignore. I always figured when I was ready to gain weight; I would easily be able to do so. When I made that promise to my grandma, the one to get healthy, I meant it. My decision made, I was confident I would make it happen.

With my health coaching/personal training background, I was very well aware of what needed to be done to gain weight. Five hundred extra calories a day=one pound a week. That’s a little less exercise and a little more food a day. It was akin to the work I did with some of my clients, just in reverse.

Every day I woke up with the resolve that “ today would be the day.”

I would go to the gym with the plan to leave after an hour, but, as usual, end up staying for two. I planned to add more olive oil into my lunch, but could not bring myself to add an extra tablespoon and instead promised myself I would add more to dinner. And the cartons of Tillamook cookies and cream ice cream I purchased for a nightly treat sat untouched (by me anyway) in the freezer night after night while I nibbled on a small square of chocolate instead. I’ll start tomorrow. I promise.

I loved healthy food, but meals like this ( at my favorite True Food Kitchen) were not exactly moving me towards my weight gain goal. ( Phoenix, AZ, 2013).

In my heart, I meant it. I didn’t want to be so thin. But my desire to gain weight , was overshadowed by the fear that, perhaps I was facing something much harder to fix than a Maytag.


Thanks for your interest in Skinny: The Truth Behind The Lies OF An Anorexic Mom. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to get in touch and I will get back to you soon!

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