I’m starting to think my roommate is in the thralls of mia.She and I have been friends since middle school and my little Na has always been slender. Not skinny, but small and compact. When we were eighteen, we moved out together and lived in a crummy little apartment. It was as far from home as we could get while still remaining in the same town. A year later we packed all our worldly possessions into my red beater car and drove 3,000 miles to a new life.
Over the next few years we wandered away from one another. Both of us keeping small pieces of our heart reserved for the other, but living with a whole state between us meant communication was tough. Still, I was the first person she called after losing her virginity. Na was the first to hear about my elopement. We were best friends, even when school and work and life kept us apart for months at a time.
I eventually returned home. Bought a house. Burrowed into married life. Years passed, our friendship on cruise-control, until one day I got a call. My little Na was broken. She left her long-term boyfriend. School was overwhelming. Debt was creeping in. Her local friends were two-faced. She was being evicted. I told her to come home. I cleared out the guest room. I welcomed her with open arms and warm thoughts. That was two years ago and I’m still hoping my little Na never leaves. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect roommate.
Lately, however, I’ve noticed that her eating habits have changed.
What Na didn’t confess until later is that she didn’t just overhaul her eating, she stopped eating. Thank goodness that only lasted until she lost the weight. Sadly, as we all know too well, once you head down the dark path of restricting it’s easy to fall back into old, or sometimes new, dysfunctional habits.
When she moved in I was thrilled with Na’s new relationship with food. I finally had someone to help me stock the house with produce. Someone to try out crazy new “healthy” recipes, chock full of bright yellows, oranges, reds and greens. Then I noticed the cheap frozen pizzas in the freezer. They would appear ten at a time, dwindling slowly over the course of a week. Then Banquet meals. Then those awful, pre-made frozen cheeseburgers. But Na was still eating mostly well, and her weight was stable, so I couldn’t begrudge her the not-really-food invading my house. She was healthy. I was happy.
Then the idiotic P90X fad hit. Na became OBSESSED. She completed at least one of the exercise videos a day, sometimes two or three. I admit after 60 days she looked fantastic. She dropped from 120ish to 102ish and was nothing but lithe muscle. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was burnout. She stopped the program, (like you do, because really, no one can keep up that type of exercise regimen for long) and went from energizer bunny to sloth overnight.
While following the P90X program, she was stuffing her face at every opportunity -- muscles require a LOT of calories. Unfortunately, she continued stuffing her face after the exercise stopped. Na gained back every pound and then some (like you do on fad weight-loss programs). I thought she still looked great. Na did not agree. She fell into depressed mode, rarely leaving her bedroom except for work.
That was about six months ago. Lately I’ve noticed that Na has been eating HUGE quantities of junk food (cookies, personal pizzas, soda, chips, cheez-its, etc.) and has not gained an ounce. In fact, it looks like she’s lost a few pounds. I know she’s not back on P90X because the PS3, where the videos are stored, has been unhooked for ages. And then last week all five of the GIANT Tupperware containers I own -- super cheap and they fit 24 cupcakes, exactly the right size for gifts, potlucks or special events -- disappeared. They would be perfect to purge into, something I thought about as I loaded them into my shopping cart. (Side note: thoughts like that run through my head constantly.)
I’m trying not to jump to conclusions. I know that having an ED makes you sometimes hear zebras where there are only horses. Still, the signs seem too obvious to ignore. But how do you talk to someone you love about a potential ED? Do you just ignore the elephant in the room? I do not want to force her into recovery if she has an ED, but I do not want to encourage the behavior either. I just want her to know that she is not alone.
I feel like the worst kind of hypocrite.