What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Portrait of the artist as a diet speed freak.
Hearken unto me, beloveds, and hear my cry: Do not ever, ever, ever take diet pills. For last night I did such a thing, and lo, it was bad. I mean, really bad.
First, let me explain myself. I do not, as a rule, subscribe to the idea that weight-loss "supplements" are a good idea. In fact, I know that they're awful. Not only have they been linked to all sorts of unfortunate maladies, from diarrhea to heart conditions, but they promote the idea that healthy weight control comes in the form of a pill.
And as we all know, because we are very smart and because we are bombarded on all sides by this sort of information from the time we are babies, the only healthy way to lose weight and keep it off is through portion control, good food choices and/or regular exercise. Preferably all three, although I can only usually manage one at a time, if that.
So why the effing eff did I take a diet pill last night? Well, it was part of my research for what I think is going to be a pretty funny post for this here website (there will also be waxing, and spray tanning, and the wearing of silly garments, and a hair modification, and face paint of the makeup sort).
No one forced me to do it or anything; in fact, it was my own bright idea. I like stunt journalism, where a reporter lives like a cat for a week or learns to set house fires from a pro; these things amuse and entertain me, and save me the cost and effort of actually having adventures on my own.
In this case, my "common sense" mind said, "Well, diet pills are a dumb idea, but a funny one, and they probably won't do a damn thing, and I can make fun of them when I write this article."
But my DEVIL MIND whispered, "And if they do work and I drop, oh, 15 pounds in a couple of weeks, I'll have cheated on my way to my goal weight, and then my only job is to maintain that weight through bathing suit season so that I am sufficiently slim and pretty enough to be loved by other human beings, myself and God. But I will not put that in the post; I will just act like it is all so silly and I am so above it all because I am a Fourth Wave Feminist ™, which is not even a real thing, la la la, ha ha ha, whee!"
And oh, what a gnarly-ass web we weave when we practice to deceive (the XOJane reader).
My dark odyssey began, as so many do, at Wal-Mart. My brother needed to pick up some photos, and I needed to get giant sports bras (the post I’m researching also involves Pilates and spinning), shorts that wouldn't ride up on my ladyjunk during exercise, and some sort of at-home fitness gear (I settled on those stretchy bands that weigh nothing and take up very little space in one's house.)
Plus, Wal-Mart carried the particular brand of diet pills I desired -- a two-week regimen of daytime pills and nighttime pills. Once we grabbed our stuff and I hid fearfully from people I maybe sort of knew in high school (this, as my brother pointed out, is part of the hometown Wal-Mart ritual), we high-tailed it back to our parents' house.
Our mom had bought us a bunch of sushi, and "America's Got Talent" would soon be on. The stage was set for a lovely evening of family togetherness. I did not tell my parents I was going to take a diet pill, because in their mind I am often on the brink of mental collapse (this is based on my colorful history of mental collapses) and they would undoubtedly take this as evidence of some sort of impending "Girl, Interrupted"-esque phase (which we went through as a family last summer, and which is not to be recommended) when really, it was all about chortles and good fun!
The diet pill instructions said I was supposed to cut out dairy for the two weeks I was on the pills, and drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of protein, and a bunch of other stuff clearly designed to cover their asses and force you to just live a healthier life so you'd automatically lose weight anyway.
The diet pills also noted that I should cut the daytime dose in half if I were sensitive to caffeine (I am, to the point that my local barista will not sell me a certain drink because I tweak out) and that I should not take the daytime pills after 6 pm. (It was 6:45 p.m.) I was also supposed to take the pills with my biggest meal of the day. I took them with one handful of vegetarian sushi rolls and another handful of edamame because who cares about instructions, right? Right? (Let us note that even if I hadn't disregarded a few precautions, I know the pills would still have done a number on me.)
I felt normal for approximately 15 minutes, at which point I started to feel agitated and weird, with a slight headache. I began pacing like I do when I sneakily order the forbidden coffee from an unknowing barista.
"I just need more food," I said. "Biggest meal of the day!" So I had two bowls of Special K with skim milk, which is a great thing to add on top of sushi. Then I began to get nauseous. I was still hungry, so I added honey mustard and onion pretzels, because that is obviously going to settle any unhappy tummy.
My heart was going pitter-patter and I felt anxious. According to the pill bottle, I'd taken in as much caffeine as I'd drink in two cups of coffee, but I'm pretty sure that was bullshit. This was not like two cups of coffee -- more like two or three shots of espresso on an empty stomach while floating in a queasily swaying boat.
I also started to feel short-tempered and aggressive, and was more horrified than I ordinarily would have been when I tried to watch an episode of "Girls" with my parents. We switched to "Game of Thrones" because the naked scenes were more family-friendly, what with their gentle imagery of smoke babies crawling out of haunted pussies. Also, Peter Dinklage is the best.
But soon, the flickering lights and motion of the TV show began to nauseate me further. I retreated to my parents' guest bedroom and pulled down the shades, hiding my head under a pillow. I tried to check my cell phone but found the bright light too grating.
"America's Got Talent" came on, and I am not one to miss the winning combination of Lambily Alpha Sheep Nick Cannon's unstoppable charisma with the judges' alternately sweet and tart pronouncements, so I got my ass downstairs again. But I found I couldn't sit down -- I had to keep pacing in order to work off some of the energy I'd suddenly acquired.
The nausea increased, until finally I decided to just make myself barf it all up already. This decision was met with disapproval by my parents, who felt that ginger ale would've been a better move, but fuck it; they weren't the ones whose evening of "America's Got Talent" was being ruined by nausea. So after some enthusiastic rounds of puking and crying, I felt marginally better. My brother the nurse encouraged me to eat ginger (we had plenty left over from the sushi), and I slowly began to feel less nauseous, although my desire to pace did not stop.
After a customarily heartwarming episode of "AGT" (it is seriously so fun you guys, so beautifully manipulative and delightful), during which time I power-walked a path in the family room carpet, it was bedtime. I was super-jittery and it was kind of late, so I occupied myself with texting my still-wide-awake West Coast friends about the horrors of diet pills and the inescapable cross-generational appeal of Nick Cannon. You're welcome, West Coast friends! Then I decided to try to sleep.
That was 12 hours ago. I'm still awake! Wheeeeee! I finished Alyssa Shelasky's new book "Apron Anxiety," which I'm gonna interview her about for this very website. I listened to my favorite podcast, a series of dharma talks hosted by Tara Brach. I peed eight times. I wondered whether "Breaking Bad" is filmed in New Mexico or Arizona. I reflected on how I really ought to start watching "Breaking Bad." I thought about moving to Los Angeles. I fearfully obsessed for hours over my impending bikini wax, wondering if 'tis better to show up drunk to such an occasion or if prescription pain medication should prove a more effective accompaniment to the unnecessary agony. My psychic friend emailed me, "You seem happy but nervous. Is everything okay?" I emailed back, "HAHAHAHA I AM FINE WHEEE WHEE WHEEEE DIET PILLS HAHAHAHAHA." She responded that I was never allowed to have them ever again.
And now I still can't sleep, and probably never will ever again. The moral of the story is this: diet pills are for suckers. Do not want.
I am going to go count the tiles on my parents' bathroom floor now.