Recovered. Although I have been out of treatment for a year now, I still hesitate to use that word in relation to my struggle with anorexia. It sounds so final. Like I have kicked the disease to the curb and can now look back at it as a thing that “was”. Nope. Not yet.
I have made progress, but there have been times in the past year I have taken my eye off the ball. Gotten complacent. I have, on several occasions, found myself falling back into old habits. Exercising when sore and tired because I “should” and not fueling my body sufficiently, avoiding the “full" feeling I dislike so much. Like trying to hula hoop on a paddle board, recovery requires balance. And doing what needs to be done even when I really don’t want to.
Five years ago, about eight months into Project Ten Pound, my weight gain plan had shown progress. Four pounds. Four exhilarating, terrifying, confusing pounds. Weight gain I obsessed about everyday as I approached the scale. Hoping, as I stepped on, I had gained a half pound and crying, lacing up for a long run when I did.
“Looks like you have gained a few pounds,” my dad said to me one day as we were headed into my son’s basketball game. I had shared my project with my parents, as I knew they were worried about me. I wanted them to know I was working on it. I knew in his “Rod way" his comment was meant to be supportive.
“Yep, I’m trying dad,” I said with feigned enthusiasm, cringing at the words and pulling my oversized sweater tighter around my body as if to cover it from scrutiny.
I should have been happy, he noticed. That was the goal, right? To gain weight. To stop people from staring. To be able to wear clothes that fit. To be flexible with food so I could eat out with my friends. To stop living in fear that my undernourished heart might stop beating at any moment.
To be normal.
The bottom line. Gaining weight scared me to death. I had spent the majority of my life trying to LOSE weight. The pathway in my brain that told me eating food and gaining weight was not only okay its was absolutely necessary did not exist. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Four pounds was one thing but another six? Oh hell.
I began to rationalize. My anorexic brain and my healthy Sherri brain once again began bickering in my head, like two siblings in the backseat of a car on a very looooong road trip.
AB: You have gained four pounds. See Sherri, you CAN gain weight.
SB: But I promised myself ten pounds or treatment. I think I better get help.
AB: Because of those four pounds, your weight is back into triple digits.
SB: But my BMI is still in the danger zone. I’m not healthy.
AB: Be careful. You don’t want to gain TOO much.
SB: Your right. Maybe four pounds is good enough for now.
God, my brain was tired. The hours of thinking and negotiating every bite, every mile, every pound. Obsessive thoughts that whirred through my brain on an endless loop that never shut off. It made me tense and anxious. I needed to find relief from it all.