Yesterday, I made the decision to once again stop tracking my calories and weighing myself for at least the month of February. For the past 4 months, I have been inching my way back towards this leap with my dietician — increasing my calories very slowly, and only moderately successfully. I was due for another increase yesterday, but I wasn’t even consistently hitting the previous increase. I also had my first ever doctor’s appointment where I actually told the doctor about my diagnosis (OSFED – atypical anorexia subtype, in case you were curious – meaning having lost a significant amount of weight due to obsessive caloric restriction but not yet being classified as having a medically underweight BMI). And something hit me…
It wasn’t that long ago that doctors were calling me an athlete; now, they are calling me anorexic. And, I had the thought: what do I want to be called? Anorexic or an Athlete?
I was so proud the first time someone referred to me as an athlete. It’s not a title I ever thought I’d carry. Athleticism was not a part of my personality! Athlete means dedication, focus, commitment, discipline – it means all the good qualities I want to have. 100% I want to be called an athlete again.
But, if I’m honest, there’s also a part of me that wanted to be called anorexic. But, really, what I think that part wanted was for it to be obvious that I was in pain. Anorexic means “I’m not ok, and I need help.” Anorexia communicates that when I feel like I can’t.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few days telling this part of myself that giving up anorexia doesn’t mean that I can’t communicate my pain. And, in fact, giving up anorexia is likely to mean stronger pain, not less of it — because it means giving up the thing I was using to self-soothe and numb that pain.
A few people in my support groups have asked me “how? How did you make this decision? How did you get to this point?” Even I was asking myself if I’d find this point again…just this weekend, I was asking it. Well, a few things…
First, I have the benefit this time of already knowing that intuitive eating works well for me and that there are very good things on the other side of eating disorder recovery. I’m not nearly as scared this time around, because I’ve done it before.
Second, I have been so overwhelmed and stressed lately — daycare closed due to a COVID outbreak there, and I had to work full-time while caring for my two young children.
The eating disorder adds so much stress and pain on top of all of this other stress and pain. In a moment of clarity, I had to genuinely ask myself why I wasn’t choosing to take control over the one thing I could actually change to make things better?
For months, coming to this decision has felt like the hardest thing. But, in the end, it is really pretty easy. You really do…just do it. And anorexics are stubborn, strong-willed people. When we put our mind to something, we do it. 100%.
I don’t know what exactly will happen now. Though I’m not clinically underweight, I’ll still probably gain some weight, and that might suck. Hopefully, the people who matter to me won’t care about that. Hopefully, I won’t care about that too much.
I’ll try to document it some on here — this starting over again journey back to intuitive eating. I’m only a day and a half in, and I can already tell you that it is both immediately freeing and frightening. But, mostly freeing. And already worth it.