It’s been three months since I was discharged from a treatment center for eating disorders. I am so glad to be home with my family and I’m moving forward in my recovery with the help of a therapist and dietitian.
I still have a lot of work ahead of me. It’s not like you go away to treatment and come home all better. Treatment just kind of jump-starts your recovery so you can hopefully stay on track upon discharge.
Battle of my weight or mind?
When I was at treatment, I was certain I would lose weight. I would fantasize about going home and everyone would congratulate me on my weight loss. I was going to buy all these cute dresses and show off.
Isn’t that ridiculous? Eating disorders can really poison your mind.
About halfway through my stay at the treatment center, I was freaking out because I thought I had gained weight. There were no full-length mirrors but when I would take a shower I would do my version of “body checking”– I would poke and pinch certain parts of my belly. I was sure it was getting bigger.
Turns out I was wrong on both accounts. I lost a little weight when I first got to treatment, but nothing really that noticeable. However, I didn’t gain weight either. When I started eating regular meals, my weight stabilized.
My therapist here in Toledo takes my weight every week and it continues to be stable.
Fantasizing about losing weight is nothing new for me. I’m often embarrassed by my size and say when I lose weight I’ll do this or that – (enter social event here).
A Turning Point
The thing is, I was probably never meant to be thin. No one in my family is thin. With the psych meds I take, thin may even be impossible.
I’m learning that I don’t have to be thin to buy cute dresses. They actually make cute clothes in my current size. I recently bought a green knee-length dress and I actually like the way I look in it. That’s a new feeling for me. I usually don’t like the way I look in my clothes. I’m always pinching and pulling at them.
My dietitian recommended the book Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield and I’ve made it through the first three chapters so far. I look forward to reading more of it. The book really stresses the importance of accepting yourself as you are right now.
That’s definitely easier said than done but I’m working on it. I know I don’t have to be thin or change anything about my appearance to do the things I want to do. I’m trying to put that into practice.
As summer approaches, I’ll be put to the test.
Finding Neutral Ground
In treatment, we worked on making more neutral statements about our bodies. For example, “my body carried a baby”, “my legs get me where I need to go”, and “my arms hug my daughter”.
I hope in time I’ll even have positive things to say about my body.
How do you feel about self-acceptance? Is there anything you are working on? Do you have any tips or words of advice?
Keep in mind that you’re fighting social programming that has been in place longer than any of us reading your words has been alive. There was a time when the peasants were starving and the rounded, well-fed bodies of rich women were the look to go for, but once the peasants were eating starchy, low-nutrient foods and the rich could afford healthy foods, thin-thin-thin has been the look to have. And the programming is insidious. Additionally, the heroin-addict emaciated look keeps women too busy worrying about themselves and dizzy from malnutrition that they’re not a force in the world.
A couple of decades ago I was fighting a disease that left me fed by a port in my arm, but they couldn’t get that regulated and my weight veered into extremely-thin…shockingly so. Normally I’m in the doctor-approved range and nobody notices me for that. Complete strangers would stop me in the street and tell me how pretty I was. I was not pretty; I looked like the survivor of a concentration camp–but social programming says you can never be too rich or too thin, and strangers felt enthusiastic as to how I was following society’s rules. People were opening doors for me and smiling at me, while meanwhile I was hoping to make it through the hour without passing out or collapsing from exhaustion.
Kurt Cameron’s been in the news lately; his only rise to fame was on a tv program in the 1980s where he (and his character) bullied his normal-sized tv actress sister into an eating disorder that almost killed her. Society cheered her on as she got more and more unhealthy.
I guess this is a long way of saying to find the dresses that make you feel good about yourself and concentrate on the meals that feed your body healthfully. You’re right that not everyone is meant to be a walking skeleton, and genetically people can be more than a size 0 and be perfectly healthy.
John Morales says
“The thing is, I was probably never meant to be thin.”
I think that’s a key realization.
Being healthy is more important.
Also, what constitutes a fashionable body has changed by time and culture; fuller figures were once the most pulchritudinous.
Bear in mind that cultural standards of beauty affect men as well as women. When I was in my twenties, I’m afraid physical attractiveness counted more for me in terms of who I wanted to date than it probably should have.
In my thirties I met and married my wife. Since then she’s gained some weight, but now that I’m older, I expect her to look older as well, and I love her with exactly the body she’s got. If she suddenly transformed into the body of a 24-year-old fashion model I’d be turned off, because she wouldn’t look like the person I loved anymore.
So if your partner says he loves you at the size you are, believe him! It just shows he’s a grown-up now. And don’t care about what anyone else thinks!
Thank you all for your supportive and thoughtful comments. I’ve been feeling a little misunderstood lately so they really meant a lot to me. Thank you.
I admire your candor, and your courage.