“Vegan” Means “Alien” in the Omnivore’s Tongue
As per ED Has Two Mommies: It’s amazing how an ED can thrive on social pressure. Even under the guise of change and growth, an ED can wriggle its way underneath even your healthiest habits and cause them to decay from within. Habits that you try to change by drastic measures become the drastic measures that your resort to when life goes off the rails. And ED is there as always, waiting with a “safety net” of routine and dysfunction to catch you as you fall.
The day I decided to do my 30-Day Challenge, the day I became a vegan, was the day I chopped off all of my hair (again). It was the day that I committed to losing 10 pounds by November. It was the day that I hung a pair of black shorts that hadn’t fit me since the height of my anorexia on my wall and decided that I would wear them on my birthday.
The day I became a vegan was supposed to be the day I broke free from the strict lifestyle of the figure competitor, the day I broke free from calorie counting, eating small meals every three hours, and using cardio/resistance training as an excuse to excuse myself from social life.
I was working full time and doing yoga every day. I used my days off to do doubles, or tried to fit doubles in at 5 am and after 6 pm on days I worked the early shift. I still ate every three hours and counted the calories in my seitan-on-sprouted grain-bread sandwiches. I practically moved into the farmer’s market down the street, since I was consuming pounds and pounds of vegetables in my daily juices and green smoothies (and became more tied to my kitchen than ever for easy access to the juicer and blender). My other meals were made up of giant salads mixed with fermented tofu or in various forms (mainly tempeh)–or else I would forgo the actual “meal” and just eat a meal replacement made of various combinations of sprouted legumes, grasses, and green things.
ED was there, perhaps wearing different clothes, but meddling in my affairs all the same. And, as always is the case when ED starts to meddle, the black clouds began to roll in.
I grew increasingly defensive of my food and lifestyle choices–apparently “vegan” translates to “alien” in the omnivore’s tongue*–and I felt like I was therefore more and more justified in my isolation. And isolation, if you remember, is ED’s favorite food.
Now, before I go any further, I am only writing the following to provide context for the descent into depression and disorder that follows. Let me also say that I know that I am just as at fault for any bad juju that was stirring between myself and my roommates up until this point–ED had turned me into a depressed, shrewish hermit, and my roommates’ inability to clean up after themselves simply brought out the best of my by-this-point well-cultured passive aggression.
All of that said, things went definitively south when one of my roommates asked if one of his friends could stay with us for a couple of weeks while she searched for a job and a place to live. Okay, fine, I said. As long as it was only a few weeks.
And I won’t go too deep into the details of this invasion of my home, but I that’s what it felt like–an invasion. Instead of being ignored, my food choices were suddenly questioned and made fun of. (Ew, what is that green thing you’re eating?!) My routines were called out and disparaged. (You’re seriously going to bed now? Fine, well, we’re going out. Don’t wait up.) I felt like I was living under a microscope, with all of my deficiencies on display and my habits the subject of analysis and debate.
And the more I was analyzed and debated–the more I heard the hushed behind-my-back and outside-my-bedroom-door conversations and the second-hand gossip at work–the more I became the depressed, crazy, creature of habit that our guest was talking about.
All of this, and she didn’t have to pay rent.
As the days turned into weeks turned into months, I grew more and more despondent. My roommates grew less and less tolerant of my presence in the house. I wasn’t the cool, fun roommate anymore–far from it. I was the annoyance who was lucky I was being allowed to pay rent. But for work and yoga, I confined myself to my room or a corner of the kitchen around the clock.
And, on top of all of this, our guest got a job at my Kool-Aid store. So now I was with my roommates and their guest around the clock. Not only did I have no relief from my roommates’ presence, but my promotion also turned out to have brought more responsibility without any of the joy I thought would come of it.
My only comfort? ED. ED wouldn’t lie or disappoint me. ED wouldn’t judge me–if anything, ED would keep me on track. ED was the only thing I could think about or else I was sure I’d go crazy. Unfortunately, ED was the very reason I felt out of control and crazy to begin with.
*I cannot even begin to quantify the number of times I’ve been asked, “Wait…does that mean you eat fish?” during my stint as a vegan. No, it does not mean I can eat fish. Veganism means eschewing all animal products, up to and including the bee pollen I was mixing into my daily oatmeal. No eggs, no honey, no fish, cheese, or cows. Not even chewing gum made with shellac or other animal derived products (and you’d be surprised how many there are). And if you’re really hardcore, no leather or animal-made nonedibles either.