If the shoe fits

I've been adjusting to life outside The Boot. Though I still wear the silly thing on my commute to work, I have transitioned to matching footwear the rest of the time.

On Friday afternoon, I put a real shoe on my foot for the first time in a month. It felt freaky. Wrong. Abnormal. As if there shouldn't be something enclosing my foot like that. I kept it on for about an hour, and then took it off. Saturday, it was the same feeling. I actually went out in my nice new Nikes, a quick trip to the library and the grocery store, but I couldn't stop thinking about how odd my foot felt.

Sunday was better- my foot felt almost back to normal, and by Monday, it was just as if I had been wearing shoes all along.

All I could think was: if only I could get used to my healthy body this quickly! Of course, I was ill for about seven years by the time I truly returned to a normal weight, which is quite a bit longer than a month. But still, the feelings are the same. My body feels wrong, abnormal, itchy-in-a-metaphorical-way. It feels, well, huge. I still want to take my extra weight off, remove that freaky feeling.

I try to remind myself that this is like my foot, that I have to keep the damn shoe on and just slowly get used to it. Many times, I despair that this will ever happen, that I might just need to learn to tolerate and accept this feeling (as Tina eloquently captured here) and get the hell on with my life.

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anon mom said...

This reminds me of the phantom-limb story you (or Laura?) posted a while back. Your experience is striking in how we can normalize the abnormal ... your own two feet feel "wrong" while the bulky, extraneous boot feels "right." Think how the brain must adapt to starvation and weight loss along a continuum of time. It adjusts to all the magical thinking, rules, physical symptoms, emotional sequalae ... then, maybe after seven years, you suddenly change the rules, the experience, the body itself. All of the thought-restructuring patients learn in treatment is great but can likely in no way keep up with (and soothe) the neurobiology. Starvation became homeostasis (with its own new set of chemical and actual structural weirdness/change). It seems like almost what happens in SSRI withdrawal. It took time for the brain to accept and adapt to the new chemicals, so you take them away and people get brain-zaps and other unpleasant physical and emotional effects.

At least you get concrete visual feedback with the boot ... you can see that the rest of us don't have boots and that your new Nikes (and the feet in them) look just like Nikes on the rest of the shoe-wearing public. Yes ... if only it was so easy with body image.

mary said...

Darn chatty brain!
The world itself is filled with wrong information and if it feeds that past way of thinking, the sick way, your mind will keep trying to latch on to it as truth. I "thought" I weighed too much for 20+ years and then I gained some more weight. Truth was that I was a fine weight all along and it suited my strength and height fairly well but with all the outer chatter and BS about this number being high I thought I was bigger than I ought to be. Now I am working on how my body feels opposed to the new number on the scale and not by how my Dr. responded to a number. He never even took my blood pressure or asked one question about how I felt, simply read the chart and made some strange comments. I may write him a letter as he validated what is wrong with medicine. In fact he revealed to me just how ignorant he was which is quite scary. So with all the foolishness about keeping us as people in "safe" ranges, according to what, their book, and what they think they've learned, it's no wonder it's hard to keep our minds quiet. It's really hard to let go and allow our body to get to a weight that's really right for us. I am again working on listening to how I feel without thinking of myself as a certain number. I think this is key. I believe there may be many more folks with ED's than people who are obese but it's well hidden in the minds of many sufferers who go uncounted. I'm glad you put it right out there Carrie. It may be that you are still under your true set point weight ...and please go ahead and slap me...but also that you are thinking too much of a number rather than your energy and other factors that may tell you more.
I'm glad your foot is doing better!

A:) said...

It is definately getting used to a new body and a new feeling.

I am partially weight restored now and when I put on my shorts from last summer its like --- "where did all of this come from -- I used to need a safety pin!"

The change is hard. Especially because body composition in recovering ANs tends to be abnormal until stuff redistributes. This is something I am having a hard time with right now. But I AM trying to tolerate the weight gain step by step and realize that I will not feel this way forever. As with your Boot analogy, there is an exposure and desensitization process.

8 months ago I could never have imagined being at this weight and I am tolerating it. I still have a ways to go, but my point is, there has already been some desensitization to feeling different.

A really good post Carrie :)


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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