One of these things is not like the other

I am, yet again, brutally exhausted. I don't know where it's coming from (well, okay, I guess I kinda do), and it's annoying me to the nth degree. My body has taken quite a beating over this past decade, and I think the wear and tear is beginning to show. I'm not bouncing back like I used to. I often feel like I could sleep all day--not in the depressed asleep-is-MUCH-better-than-awake kind of way, but in the my-veins-are-seriously-filled-with-lead kind of way.

Maybe it's a psychosomatic thing, these feelings of heaviness. Could there be a relationship between exhaustion and feeling like I am detectable on radar? Or between tiring out at the slightest exertion and those feelings that I am generating a massive gravitational field? I don't know. I feel like I have gained back all of the weight I lost during this last relapse and then some, despite evidence to the contrary. I know I'm gaining weight, but I have nary a clue how much that is. My "skinny jeans" still fit, although they're a bit tighter. I know I couldn't get them on at my usual weight, so there's that.

But when I look in the mirror, it's all over with. I look in the mirror and I see someone chubby. Overweight. Someone who could use a three-hour-long kickboxing class to get her lazy ass in gear. Someone in the "before" weight loss pictures. It's what I see. It's reality- my reality, anyway. The real reality is that I have no freaking clue what size I am.

Here's a little secret that I'm not proud of: when I pass other women in the store or on the street, I want to try on their pants. Not because I care what size they are, but because I want to know what size I am. Does this make any sense? Some people, I know that I'm probably bigger (i.e., the kindergartner in pigtails) or probably smaller. Many times, I think I'm bigger than the "average" person I see walking down the street. Although I'm probably skewed in guessing other people's sizes, I know I'm a bit more accurate than when I look at my own reflection and just go "Ewwwwww!" If I can figure out what size I am compared to other people, maybe then I can get an idea of what size I actually am. Hence my undying need to try on other people's pants. I really have no idea. None. Whatsoever.

(EDITED: see Laura's great post on body schema and body image here)

This is understandably hard for other people to understand. I do okay with determining my height in relation to other people, though being of average height, that's not too difficult. But the rest of my body image is pretty much this nebulous haze of (what I perceive as) excess adipose tissue. I don't know that I would have understood this phenomenon if I hadn't lived it. I also realize that being afraid of food is something that's hard to understand unless you've been there. My mom joked once, a long time ago, that she could never be anorexic because she likes eating too much. But an anorexic is obsessed with food, in love with it, even. Just so long as she doesn't have to actually eat it.

I still don't like eating and I'm quite frankly tired of it. I'm sick of facing food six times each day, an endless parade of meal, snack, meal, snack, meal, snack. I cringe at the knowledge that I am getting bigger and fatter with every bite I take and that this is the only way out. I then get wondering whether out is better than in and the so-called Point of it All. I hate that the happy little routine I had going for myself has been rudely interrupted while everyone else's life gets to go on as usual.

I get that I have an eating disorder. I get that basically not eating and exercising compulsively for two months (two weeks, two days) is a Very Bad Idea. I knew that at the time, I just didn't care enough to stop. I get that what I see in the mirror and what other people see when they look at me are two completely different things. I understand this and I don't. I want these realities to match up.

Maybe this goes along with my ability to "see things differently"?


licketysplit said...

I think the same thing all the time- about wishing I could try on someone else's pants so I could know what size I am. I will even confess that when I have had roommates I did just that, but it didn't seem to make things any more clear than they were before.
I hope that gradually you will be able to get to a place where the realities will become similar and eventually mesh and things will become clear. And until then, just keep trusting that your view is completely obscured by E.D. and let others be your eyes.

Tiptoe said...

I resonate with you Carrie. I have such a hard time with my perception of my body. It really does drive me nuts, because I want to be able to "see" like everyone else in this regard. I don't want to be clouded by the ED and have to rely on people for my own account of my body. Though I know my perceptions can get to that point, it still feels like it is a fruitless endeavor at times.

Hopefully, we can get there.

Libby said...

I used to play a little game with J. I'd (discreetly) point at a woman which implied the question, "Am I bigger than her?" He figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't really a helpful game... and refused to engage. Probably for the best. But like you say, some of it was out of complete curiosity and desire to understand how my notion of size and space in relation to myself is so skewed.

At one point in my career I had to take a humongous psych exam. It was something like 700+ yes/no questions, things like, "Do you hear voices speaking to you who clearly aren't present?" It flagged the ones that might be of potential "concern" for someone in my position (eg dealing with sensitive data).

Well one of the questions was, "Do you seem to experience things that other people don't experience?" And I answered yes. And another was, "Is the way you see the world different from other people?" And again, I said yes. And I totally got flagged on those two.

I got to spend an hour explaining to their shrink that A) I've never been abducted by aliens or sent to an alternate universe... I've simply been chased by a rabid groundhog and a few other things like that that really don't seem to happen to other people. And B) what I see in the mirror is not the same as what other people see. When I see an airplane seat or a narrow doorway or a turnstile, my brain tells me, "Wow that's tiny. You surely won't fit." But somehow, I always seem to...

Like you say, I think this is one of the hardest things for people who've not been in an ED world to understand (especially when I'm an expert at the "will these leftovers fit in that container?" game).

sarah said...

this post really hits home with me - i feel you - and i think i am very much in the same place. i wonder all the time what the point of all this is, and if it really is worth it in the end. i have to believe it is though - it is one of those blind faith type of deals. there has to be something out there better than this ...

and as far as the jeans thing goes - i get it. like someone said earlier, i have also tried on my roommates jeans before ... and really, it doesn't help much. they were big on me - so i knew i was a little smaller than her, but than can rationalize away the reasons that may have been wrong or does not apply to the rest of the world.
ugh! i hate ED sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Throw away those skinny jeans!

A said...


I wanted to say I can 100% relate. I have gained approx half my weight back since I started refeeding -- to myself, I think I look like I am at my target weight -- I really honestly cannot tell the difference and if I hadn;t been weighed on the same scale each time, I would say my dieticans scale is badly off. I look so disgusting it isn't even funny. . .

So I can relate to feeling like this. If it helps you, I can tell you I also felt like this 3lbs up, 5lbs up, 10lbs up -- you will ALWAYS feellike you are at target:( -- it is an unhappy fact of the ED -- but you know that.

People tell me things will become clearer. I am still waiting for that <3

Hang in there -- this is painful and it hurts and sometimes reminding yourslef WHY you are doing it is just silly.Just do it and ask quesitons later.


Katkinkate said...

Have you tried getting some perspective by watching people's reflections in shop windows and comparing them to yourself there? Or asking people you know to help you by standing next to you in the mirror so you can see the comparison?

Anonymous said...

carrie, THROW AWAY those jeans.

Crimson Wife said...

I agree with Anonymous. Get rid of any clothing in a size that is unhealthy for you. It is an excruciatingly difficult thing to do (BTDT) but so important for your recovery. Someday you WILL be glad you did!

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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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