When I tell people that I dealt with some issues with anorexia when I was in my teens, one of the common reactions is for people look me up and down, while clearly thinking “Well, she sure got over that, didn’t she.” To be fair, no one has ever actually said that to me, but really who would actually say that, out loud, to someone?
Now, I never knew at the time that I was actually dealing with an eating disorder, that what I was doing to myself had a name. I never got to the point where I ended up needing to see a doctor about it. But that is probably only because I was put on a medication to try to deal with my Bi-polar Disorder that made me hungry all the time and caused me to gain weight. My eating disorder hid behind my much more apparent mental illnesses.
Then, once the pills made me start eating again, I started to go toward the opposite end of the spectrum toward eating way more than I needed to. But nobody really noticed this, because, hey at least she’s eating again. I love food, so I think that this period was me trying to make up for the time that I deprived myself for so long.
And then I got to the point a few years back where I stepped on the scale, was horrified by the number that I saw, and decided not to step on a scale again for at least a year because I didn’t want to know how much weight I had gained.
But during that year I changed my eating habits, mostly because we just couldn’t afford to buy as much food. Through physically not having enough food to eat the portion sizes that I used to eat, I found that I actually got full on much less food than what I thought I needed. In fact, when I would try to eat the portion sizes that I used to eat, I could not do it.
I probably started being a bit more active too. I have never been one for exercise for exercise’s sake, but I do like to walk. Which is good, because a few years after this time period my husband and I got rid of our car. We now either walk, use public transit, or both. And for the most part, I love it.
When I stepped on the scale again though, about a year later, after having stopped eating so much, I really expected to see that I had gained weight. Like a substantial amount of weight. Imagine my surprise when it told me I had lost weight. 30 lbs to be exact. I didn’t even realize how much I had lost until my husband pointed it out to me. Now, 30 lbs is just how much I actually know I lost though, based on the highest weight that I actually know. I don’t actually know what my highest weight was, because I stopped weighing myself. So I don’t really know exactly how much weight I lost total.
Then my big question was, how the hell did I lose 30 lbs (or more) and not know it? How the hell did I lose 30 lbs (or more) and seriously expect to see that I had gained weight? How do you miss something like that?
The answer: You explain away all the signs that you are losing weight in a negative way. I noticed that my pants were fitting more loosely, but I thought that I had gotten so big that I had stretched them out. (I know it, it doesn’t really make sense. But delusions don’t have to make sense.)
How did I not see it? Easy, the same way that I saw my “thin” self as “fat” during my time dealing with anorexia, a severely warped self view. I literally could not see that I was losing weight. I have come to realize that I can not trust what I see in the mirror. That what I see and what others see, are usually nowhere near the same thing.
And yet, even with the fact that I have lost as much weight as I have, when I tell people that I used to struggle with anorexia, I still get that look. Because I’m still technically “overweight”.
As far as what people think about me having “gotten over” that eating disorder, they are wrong. I may be “overweight”, but since the time that I realized that I had lost all that weight, I freaked out about gaining it back. I never thought I’d ever lose that amount of weight in my life, and I certainly never thought I’d do it without knowing that I was, and so I’d be damned if I was going to gain it back. Hello anorexic behaviors and thinking.
But this time around I think that it was even more dangerous, because since I am considered “overweight”, people (myself included for a while) don’t think that you can have that sort of eating disorder. But, even though it’s not to the extreme that it used to be when I was a teenager, I am still restricting my eating to a very rigid schedule. I have a hard time eating anything “extra” outside of that schedule even if I am clearly hungry, for fear of “overeating”. I also have a habit of going so long between eating, or not realizing that I am hungry, until I am literally dizzy, shaky, and close to passing out. That is not normal, or healthy.
But now that I’ve realized it, and recognized it for what it is I can do something about it. I claim that I don’t do diets, and yet have been living with a diet mentality for years. No more. It’s not going to be easy to get past that fear and guilt, but it will sure be worth it. And it will be easier to do, recognizing them for being irrational and unhealthy.
I should make it very clear, I am not trying to lose weight. I am actually okay with the weight that I am at now. I wouldn’t mind if I lost some weight, but I don’t really want to get down to the weight that should be my “healthy goal weight”. If I weighed that much, I would be decidedly unhealthy. So, no, I’m not actively trying to lose weight, I just want to be healthy.
And that is a much better goal.