I’ve been traveling for the past month. From Canada, to India, to Jordan, to Israel, to Egypt, I’ve been backpacking with my friends, seeing sights and making memories. There are a lot of things I could talk about when it comes to eating disorders and traveling, but I think I will save them for a future post. For now, here’s a life update.
About a week ago, I was in Jordan. My brothers and I were hiking into Petra. Petra is a famous archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert and one of the 7 wonders of the world. However, the key word to note here is “desert.” It’s very dry and very hot. We were entering Petra from the back and hiking up to one of its most famous monuments, the “Monastery.” I was feeling strangely out of breath. I’m not an athlete or anything, but I was surprised that I was out of breath so quickly. I put the thought out of my mind and figured I would do more cardio when I finally returned home. My brothers and I explored, took pictures, and finally settled to eat lunch around 1pm. I was feeling rather sick and thought that eating might make me nauseous. I do not typically skip meals, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat the bread and hummus we had hauled around all day.
As we continued to walk around Petra, I realized my breathing was getting worse. My little brother had an inhaler in his pack and I took a couple of puffs, but didn’t notice any positive change. We got back to Petra’s visitor center and I called our friend to pick us up since I couldn’t walk the mile to our apartment.
When we got back to the apartment, I was starting to cough and struggling to breathe. I took off my pants to put on shorts, only to find that my legs were covered in a bright red rash. Despite all my protests, my friends dragged me to a Jordanian hospital. A shot of epinephrine and some oxygen later, I was feeling a lot better. Apparently I had an allergic reaction to something I had eaten. That night, I still couldn’t eat. The next morning was no better. For about three days, I only had a few bites of pita bread and fruit.
I blamed my “sickness” for my lack of appetite, but in the back of my head, I was happy for it. Now I had an excuse not to eat. After a few days of not eating, your body grows used to the lack of food and you don’t feel hunger anymore. After struggling with binge-eating for so long, not feeling hungry feels glorious. However, I do feel weak. I need a substantial amount of energy to keep up with our active traveling lifestyle (hiking, backpacking, camping).
I write this article, not to offer words of wisdom or advice, but to let you know that recovering from an eating disorder is a long process with many ups and downs. I still struggle – a lot. I’m not back to eating normal yet, but I did have a few bites of pasta for lunch, which is certainly an improvement. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall. Be honest with yourself, learn from your mistakes, and move on as a wiser, stronger, and healthier person.