Improved insight

My therapy sessions this week were unusually productive, yielding several important insights. I spoke with my dietitian at length to start integrating "enjoyable activity" into my life, and I got the go-ahead to begin yoga and walking, so that's good. Along with that came the dreaded meal plan increase, which irritated me (more food? Seriously?) but not as much as it might have.

The food-related insight has several different parts. My food was increased not only in preparation for my increased activity, but also because I wasn't sleeping well. Before my appointment, I was attributing my rise in insomnia with caffeine carelessness or anxiety or whatever. I never thought I might not be sleeping well because I was, you know, hungry or something. Case in point: last night I was up late reading and then I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't really feel hungry, just that my brain wouldn't shut off. I went downstairs and had some mommy time, and then she suggested I get something to eat. Despite my protests that I was fine (and I seriously thought I was), my mom cut me a slice of zucchini bread. And as soon as I started nibbling at it, I realized: Oh. I was hungry. After, I didn't fall asleep right away, but I eventually drifted off.

So the one insight is that even non-perceived hunger can keep me awake. It's a sign that my body really does know what it needs. The other insight is that I'm trying to look at the food increase not as just more to eat, but as a tool to help me sleep better. I'm still not thrilled about it, but I guess that's okay. I don't need to like it in order to eat more.

The other insight came during my therapy session, as my therapist and I discussed my ongoing body image woes. I can't not see myself as anything more than a jiggling ball of lard. And all I can think about when I'm in public is that people are staring at and disgusted by) my quivering thighs. I mean, aren't they giving off aftershocks that can be measured on the Richter scale? And I also brought up how I still have no clue (subjective or objective) what I really look like, especially when it seems I'm constantly watching the National Skinny Person's Convention while I'm waiting to be crowned Miss Blubber. I understand, on some level, that the evidence for this is pretty negligible. I know that the size of my shorts and jeans (Size X) is well below the population average and only contains one digit. Ergo, I'm far from fat. But looking at myself or looking in a mirror, and Elvis and rationality have just left the building.

So my therapist turned the question around a bit. "What would you say if I told you to guess the approximate size of someone who is five foot five and wears a Size X?" Well, I'm five foot five, and my shorts were Size X that day. Yet when I heard it coming from someone else, someone who I know isn't going to bother me with BS, I was able to realize this: "I'd say that person was pretty thin."

And my therapist, bless her red-headed, caffeine-loving heart, said: That person is you.

Although I still have several pounds to go in terms of weight restoration, I am currently about the same size I was before I relapsed. The Size X shorts are still kind of loose, but not freakishly so. So that is me, at my normal healthy weight, and that's just fine. Anyone else would call me on the thin side of average. I've told myself before, "I wear a Size X and people who wear Size X are not fat," and it never seemed o hold much weight (uh, har har) in my brain. But evaluating myself the same way I would evaluate other people, I can better understand that I really don't see myself accurately.

The point of this insight is not Holy Revelation, Batman: Carrie is Thin! It's not so much that I'm seeing myself as thin that makes me feel better. It's that I have a concrete clue to hold onto that just may help me perceive my body accurately. Not that it always works (it doesn't), but it's a way to remind myself that objects in the mirror are smaller than they appear.


Eating With Others said...

Those were realy great insights. I never thougth about the insomnia stuff before. As to adding to the meal plan when my D tell's me what a normal person - ON A DIET - would eat I see a table breaking under all that food. So I'm with on the increase irratating you. Well it would have freaked me out.

And I love the aftershock comment! I'm alway's worried that the people that live below me are going to come up and complain that my walking around is breaking their ceiling.

Crimson Wife said...

If you can afford it, have your mom go out and get you several outfits that will fit you but have her give them to you with the size tags removed. It sounds stupid but it really does help in breaking free from obsessing over the number.

Libby said...

Hooray for productive therapy. I think something must be in the water lately.

I find it so amazing that my mathematically-inclined brain can't grasp something as (seemingly) simple as weights and sizes and all that jazz... yet if you asked me to program a super computer... no problem. It truly is a brain disease.

Carrie Arnold said...

Eating Alone,

I hear you on the fear of what those living on the floor below might think. I've also lived below someone who walked like an elephant but was actually rather small and slight, and I did quite a double-take. He must have been stomping, or, more likely, the floors and ceilings were of dubious quality.

Crimson Wife,

That's not a bad idea, but I don't have too much of a hangup about clothes size (outside of the ED-related freakouts). I agree that no tags might be a good idea, and I cut a lot of them off my t-shirts because they itch. But I was using the size example less as a this-is-what-size-I-am-and-gee-it's-not-fat, but more as a tool to look at myself more rationally.


Shortly before I went into treatment the first time, I was doing smallpox research and yet I had a panic attack at the thought of pizza. Totally bizarre.

Unknown said...

It is scary how your story sounds so much like me. Sometimes reading your posts I think, could I be writing these while I'm sleeping! :) I am very happy that you are getting back on track, and that you are having such deep insights. Not only am I glad for you, but it gives me hope for my future.

hopeful mom said...

Holy Revelation, Batman: Carrie is an amazing woman whose words are a huge help to lots of other people!!

My boy is struggling with relative size. It's harder now that his group at the new place is all women except him and he has no one there with whom to really compare size or meal plans.

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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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