Dr: So, how’s your appetite been?
Me: I don’t have one.
Dr: Oh…well that was instant.
I love food. Or at least, I have always loved food. In high school I was the skinny girl that ate all of the food on your plate once you announced you were done. In college, in life, I’m the [relatively] skinny girl that lives off of pizza and cheesecake and Coke Zero…my favorite foods have stayed the same since I was what, four? I eat PB&J and Easy Mac and McDonald’s and chicken fingers. Bring me a pepperoni pizza and I’ll love you forever.
For a time I lived off of rice cakes and peanut butter (which I loved) for three meals a day. Sometimes to change it up I would eat celery, even though I don’t actually like it. I obsessed about weight and calories and I loved being hungry. It’s a story for another time, really; I went to therapy and tried every way possible to escape from my eating disorder. Then I moved to Argentina, where there are no mirrors and no scales and every meal is colorful and fresh and non-processed and wonderful. My love for food overwhelmed my love for hunger, and I began to taste everything for its beauty and its nourishment. I gained weight and looked at myself thinking, “I enjoyed every pound.” I ate nothing unless it was delicious, and everything was delicious.
I loved food again.
But last fall, I lost my appetite. And I don’t mean because of some gross octopus video or a bad car ride or a break up. I mean…I lost it, and it never came back. At first I just felt nauseous any time I ate, so of course I didn’t really want to eat anything. I couldn’t tell you what “sounded good” for dinner, everything just sounded like I would get sick afterward. I’m not sure when the feeling of “hunger” finally left, but that’s what no appetite means now…I don’t get hungry.
Nothing sounds good. Nothing tastes good. Nothing even smells good. I resent the fact that I eat lunch and then a few hours later have to eat dinner just because I know I should. Of course “dinner” now consists of maybe half a PB&J before I feel so full I’m going to be sick. I stand in my kitchen staring at the cabinets, knowing my boyfriend will yell at me if I skip another meal. I buy groceries only to have them ruin because I couldn’t force myself to eat them.
I don’t know if it’s my medications, my mood, stress, the City, or something more serious. All I know is that “I’m not hungry” has never been so true for so long. I rely on medications (take with food) and my vigilant boyfriend to remind me to eat, and sometimes I get that shaky low-sugar feeling that warns me its been too long between meals. Often it means: time to eat the other half of your bagel from this morning. I know I don’t have enough calories. I stopped working out because I just can’t consume enough to support it. My skinny jeans are baggy.
Sounds like a problem most people would love to have, right? Even I have said, “losing weight would be so easy if I didn’t like food so much.” But imagine not only not liking food, but not liking the sound of it or smell of it or feeling sick every single time you consumed something. It’s not fun. It’s a little dangerous. And it’s just one more bio-chemical piece to the ridiculous equation of my bipolar.