Conflicted thoughts

I got weighed yesterday, which is never a fun prospect.  And since I'm supposed to be gaining a few pounds, I have very conflicting feelings about what might happen.  Basically, there are three options: I gained, I lost, or I maintained. 

No, I don't want to have gained weight.  I do have an eating disorder, after all.  And yet a part of me does want to have gained because that means I won't have to shove even more food down my gullet.  The prospect does not entertain.  Of course, I would love to have lost weight (remember that bit where I mentioned having an eating disorder?), and I'd settle for maintaining.  But that would also mean that I'd have to eat even more.

See conundrums, definition of.

There's never a way to win when you have an eating disorder.  Never.  If you eat more to appease others, you'll feel guilty for eating something you "shouldn't."  If you stick to your guns, you'll feel guilty for making people worry.  What's a girl to do?  My MO was generally to avoid eating situations altogether and distance myself from friends and family.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Except now I've had an eating disorder for more than a decade and avoiding people and food is getting old.  Really old.  Now I have to deal with these very conflicting thoughts.

I guess the irony is that, with recovery, although it seems somehow that there's no way to win, there's also no real way to lose.  (Did I mean that pun?  I don't know if I did or not...)

Although I don't know my weight, no one has been harping on me to eat more, so I'm guessing my weight is going in the right direction.  I don't like it.  I feel like a barge.  And I just want all of this to be over and go back to normal. I'm exhausted and stressed and...I don't even know.


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Anonymous said...

I am going through the same exact thing. I can't win. I feel my weight now is fine (healthy BMI), but my nutritionist wants me to continue to gain since I still have not seen my period. If I gain, I am horrified, if I loose ED wins and then I want to loose more. Maintaining seems the only thing that keeps me calm, but then I am supposed to eat more. It all sucks.

Anonymous said...

Carrie and Anonymous - I know exactly what you're both feeling and Yes, it does suck. Very much.
I have gained to a minimum healthy BMI for my height (according to dietician/psych/Dr,team), yet they feel I need to gain a little more "just in case" just in case I become ill with a general sickness/bug going around, or just in case the eating disorder becomes stronger for a couple of days - see, they feel I need that bit extra as a security, as something inevitably happens in my brain when I go below a certain can almost hear the eating disorder kick into gear and before you know it, I'm teetering the edge of the slippery downward slope once again..
Part of me truly thinks that this is a GOOD thing, this extra security, this bit to fall back on..but the part that is still ed is fighting it tooth and nail, as,like you guys, I already feel bigger than big and like a beacon right now... have my complete understanding and support.

azhe'n said...

oh yeah. it sucks a rope. i agree with all of you. i had one of the most comically weird ed conversations with my doc two days ago. it's on my blog. band-aid treatment.

but i'm having some good moments, too. in spite of myself i know we are all beautiful, worthy of goodness and health and more.

so i fight. you all are in my heart. i will hold the hope for now because my struggles today were less.

Nobody Girl said...

I really relate to the feeling "There's never a way to win when you have an eating disorder. Never." It seems like it's always black and white, never a healthy in-between. But I guess the key is to remember that that's exactly what the ED wants us to think -- that we have no choice but to stick with disordered eating. It seems you've done well on this journey so far. You can pull through!

Anonymous said...

anon and other anon and carrie - wow, it's nice to know others are in this exact same position as I am in. It's hard and it's getting old. I also don't realize why I have to gain again.... if i'm at a healthy BMI (and not just minimally healthy). I, too, am told I need some "just in case" room - and I spend my day knowing I'm supposed to be gaining, but also afraid of gaining, but also judging myself for being someone who is afraid of gaining, and also wanting to gain so I can stop getting questions and comments from my parents and also wanting to gain so my mp stops being increased but also there's a sick twisted part of me that just doesn't want to gain the weight back (i somehow - i really don't know hwo - lost weight - and i've been supposed to gain that weight back for a few weeks now, but that hasn't been happening).

the weird thing is, the more i eat the increased meal plan (like even just as the day goes on), the more I'm totally fine with eating it and the more i'm like "ok, i'll gain the weight back." my T says that eating the increased meal plan is the remedy for such ED thoughts... and, often, i find that she's right.

sarah said...

Blah, I relate to all of this. You are all in my heart and thoughts.

The last few weeks have been awful for me. I'm actually currently not in any treatment plan. However, I know I need to be. I recently moved, and am trying to find a family doctor. In the mean time I'm bouncing from clinic to clinic. The other day I got up the nerve to ask the doctor for a referral to an eating disorder unit... and got NO for an answer. My BMI is low, but not "low enough" apparently. What, does he want me to lose more weight before he gives me the referral?? I'm headed straight down. Pray for me please.

My apologies for the rant. I guess its my very roundabout way of saying, I understand how difficult it is. Each day.

Anonymous said...

I think these are feelings that only other ED-ers can truly understand. I have also just reached the sort of "minimum that [the team] is comfortable with". I don't ABSOLUTELY have to gain more, but as sure-as-hell better not stop losing. I'm really trying to stay focused on ENJOYING food, nourishing my body, exercising within reason for health (rather than guilt), and just letting my body find it's happy place.

I DO NOT want to gain weight (my jeans are already MUCH more snug than I would like after a few weeks of vacation-eating), but I also don't want to go back to anorexia-land with no food, nonstop exercise, and no friends.

Carrie - I DEEPLY appreciate your truthfulness. I have tried to express these feelings to friends and family before and it's not really understandable until you've LIVED it. It is so reassuring to know that recovery is attainable and there are other people out there who can understand what I'm going through :)

hm said...

No way to win. Eating more makes me a disgusting pig. Eating less increases the wrinkles and strain on my sweet, old parents' faces and makes me a selfish asshole.

Maybe a way to think about it is giving OTHER people a chance to win. So we can't win. So we've got self-loathing foaming out of every orifice, no matter what we choose.

But my parents are relieved when I do what I'm told. My children get to keep their mom. My friends get to have my company and support. They win.

Sometimes I don't know why anyone gives a shit, and I think horrible thoughts about how my children would be better off w/out me. But the fact is, people who love me DO give a shit. And my kids need their mommy.

I KNOW everyone says, in voices dripping of perfume and flowers, "You have to recover for YOU!!!!" (insert large mouthed insanely happy anime figure with eyes squinched shut here) but FUCK THAT I can't. And it's always the fucking treatment professionals who've never had an ed that shove that message down my fucking throat, along with my fucking meal plan. Excuse the fricatives.

I don't think it's about feeling a "win." Maybe it's about GIVING a win. Maybe it's about choosing what's right and healthy b/c we have a job to do here on earth, and people to connect with.

And maybe someday we'll wake up and feel a "win" towards ourselves- "yes- this is what I wanted- I worked hard for this and I feel fucking better-" and THAT would be an incredible thing. Until then, just go through the motions, sweetheart. And if you doubt your steps, ask your mom or dad (or sister, or friend, or husband, or blog readers, or cat), "I'm gaining weight- Is this what you want me to be doing?" and watch them fall apart with gratitude towards you that you're on the right path.

I know that if you asked me that question, I'd tell you that as long as you're gaining weight and recovering, I win. Maybe you feel like shit, but I'm grateful for your efforts. I want you around.

Cathy (UK) said...

Sorry you're feeling so stressed Carrie :(

My attitude to being weighed has changed a lot over the last 5 years. When I first started recovery 'for real', in early 2006, I was frightened of seeing the number on the scale increase. This was in spite of me having non-fat-phobic-AN and no body dysmorphia. The fear related to the fact that if the scale moved, then this meant that something was CHANGING - and I fear change.

Gaining weight from a BMI of < 13 to approx. 17 is quite quick - because the body is so starved, and much of the weight gained is lean tissue. But from BMI 17 onwards it is more difficult. At present I have to eat far more than I want to provoke weight gain, so I am really pleased when I see my weight rise. I get weighed monthly, and I am now genuinely pleased when my weight has increased. If my weight falls between appointments with my psych I think "all too difficult; blah". I don't like shoving food down my gullet all day, but that seems to be what I need to do to even just maintain my weight.

PJ said...

Argh. It's such a tricky one! So much easier when you are still actively restricting - lose, lose, lose...easy, right?
But I went through this same thing just on wed - if I gain, I'm a step closer to being allowed to return to my training. If I lose, then yay (in my head) - but my dr gives me that look of concern and I feel all guilty. So what do I want - can't decide. Even worried I might have a melt down just getting on the scales. And then she decides not to weigh me until next week!!! All that stress for nothing. Except now I can't stand the suspence and I jsut wish she'd weighed me. Can't win...sigh :)

PJ said...

Oh hm I just read your comment - can't believe just how much I agree with everything you said...seriously.

Jessi said...

exactly what has happened to me this week.

i hate this. You would think that over a decade of this and I would know what I was in for, but relapsing always catches me by surprise!

Telstaar said...

I think I understand how you're feeling. I haven't been weighing myself because I can't stand to see the numbers, I know they'll trigger off far more anxiety then I can possibly handle right now. I don't get weighed regularly but I do get weighed. I have a reasonable idea of my weight but like you said, its hard because really you want to lose weight without having an eating disorder as a problem and all the problems that comes with it.... if only it were that easy.

It IS tiresome and overwhelming and downright frustrating. I just wonder what my universe would be like if I did not have an eating seems completely impossible now and I don't like that. To be honest, in some ways, I think I'm getting to the point of giving up....not trying to engage in ed behaviours or anything but not trying so hard at recovery, I'm just so tired and I don't know if I can keep going. I'm not meant to say that....I'm meant to want to be all pro recovery rah rah rah, but I can't, I'm worn out for years of trying and falling down or failing or relapsing or whatever.... I don't know I can take much more :(.

PS. In an unselfish side of me, I feel your pain and I'm glad that your weight is doing something "right" whether that is maintaining, not losing too much or gaining, whatever it is.... and I DO want you to get better.... but I read your post and it just reminds me of so many things I've been feeling lately. I hope things keep improving. xo

Katie said...

It is frustrating. I used to spend a good hour sitting on my bedroom flooring talking myself down after weigh ins sometimes. If I lost I was disappointed in myself for letting the anorexia control me and scared of how much I wanted to lose more, if I gained I was just plain terrified and if I maintained I felt both, equally! Ugh. I tried to remind myself that it wasn't recovery that was doing my head in, it was the eating disorder, if that makes sense. But I think the only real end to the problem was once I started maintaining - a lot of my weight woes disappeared once I learnt how to maintain my weight. I didn't need to weigh myself as often and I wasn't tormented by small fluctuations, because the number was the same on average. One day things will be more stable, Carrie. You already did an awesome job by catching the loss before it turned into a full on relapse - you've done yourself a huge favour there, because you have less to gain than you would have if you had waited. So yes, it sucks, horribly. But one day things will be more stable. I have every faith in you, because you rock :)

By the way, I hope I didn't horrify you with my FB message earlier - I imagined you reading it and thinking "oh no, not her! She's a big enough pain in the ass on my blog..." but I am hoping this is just my general paranoia about people not liking me ;)

KrisB said...

I am one of those sweet, old wrinkly parents. My daughter has been suffering from various EDs for a dozen years, binge eating/restricting for most of the last 5, but her default is anorexia. She's a good weight now, but may be dropping down further. I have observed her, talked with her, read, studied, consulted and done everything I can to help her get good treatment, and still she suffers.

It's true that I don't know how it feels to have brain wiring like my daughter, Carrie and all of you dear ones who commented. And I don't understand the "why" (other than messed-up wiring), but I do hear you all and believe that you are being honest here, that this is your true experience. I see that what comes naturally for us (non ED sufferers) is the opposite for you. Those of us who love you wish only that you can be healthy and at peace because it feels so good to us. Our hurt is that you are miserable most of the time, whether you are in the depths or clawing your way into recovery. Wish it didn't have to be that way. There are some who recover and find normalcy and joy. Wish it could be you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, KrisB. For me, it's SO empowering to be reminded just HOW much my loved appreciate my progress, even when it makes me grossly uncomfortable. Focus on the positive ...

wendy said...

Carrie, I too am so appreciative of your honesty. What a struggle it is each time you are weighed and the conflicted thoughts you have.

You have taught me so much that has helped me to help my 24 year old D - to understand her illness and that her twelve years of struggle were mostly because no clinician set her target weight range correctly all those years.

That kept her ED thoughts/feeling/behaviors and many years of torture and self-hatred alive.

Because of you - letting me know how critical it is to get to an accurate target weight range and maintain that for brain healing, my D is now staying within her range for over a year.

Because of you - we (family, clinician and my D) have all stuck to this understanding of how important it is to maintain that range and that even a few pounds below, triggers more ED thoughts and angst.

What I am hoping for you Carrie, is that all you have helped me with will bring you the strength to overcome these conflicted feelings and get yourself back into your healthy range.

I am so angry at all the clinicians who told my D she could be at a minimal BMI for so many years.

She needed to be much more for a healthy physiological state.

She is now realizing how much this illness fooled her and that it was never her (Identity) but a malfunctioning in her brain because she needed to be fully nourished.

Carrie, you are my hero and you have meant so much to my D's recovery. I am passing along all the strength you gave to me to help her.

So you will do the same for yourself and realize all the positives in your life and future.

Without ED's torture.
Hugs to you

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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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