when your weight does the opposite of what they say it will

It’s been a little hard lately. I discovered that I’d gained quite a bit of weight. I say discovered although I knew this was happening but I’d deliberately avoided stepping on the scale and bringing it up in therapy to have it confirmed. At first I thought it was my very warped view of myself but then my pants started to not fit and picture after picture seemed to be more unpleasant looking than it used to and well I knew it was bad. I languished in my misery but also the knowledge that knowing my weight wouldn’t help nor would restricting or using other behaviors until I couldn’t take it anymore and asked my therapist to weigh me. She confirmed my weight (which ironically was to the pound the number I anticipated and one I was NOT happy about) but knowing your weight and then knowing it are two very different things.

Where the hell had this weight come from? I was pissed, panicked, terrified, furious, ashamed, embarrassed and a thousand other emotions all at once. I had been doing what I had been SUPPOSED to do. I was following the rules. I was eating when I was hungry, stopping when I was full, eating what I wanted when I wanted in moderate quanities. No restricting. No overeating. Simple intuitive eating. And I still gained weight. WTF was going? This was not what they had told me was going to happen. When I left treatment the team had led me to believe that as long as I did all those things my weight would still in this nice little weight range. And I had learned to accept that weight range. Even like my body there. And now? Well, I had gained xxxxxx pounds. How could I ever trust any of my treatment professionals again? Again, why the hell had this happened?

Well as my therapist and I discussed (okay that’s probably too nice of a word) a lot of it probably came from a medication I have been on for quite awhile and the increases to my weight were probably related directly to increases in that medication (it increased my body’s tendency to retain water and also my hunger cues). Also, some of that weight gain was probably normal. I’m 25. I first developed an eating disorder most likely in my early teens, gained a ‘healthy’ weight for the first time at 21′, promptly lost that weight at 22, and then regained it at 23. So my body really did need some time to figure out where it’s new normal was.

But that didn’t really reassure me (besides tell me that I was getting off my medication pronto – I didn’t care what anyone thought) in fact it just made me madder. Why hadn’t anyone told me these things? Why hadn’t someone thought to mention to me that this five pound weight range might not stay there? Why hadn’t they told me I could gain? Why hadn’t they told me my pants size might not be a perfect size ____? No one had that I could remember. All I was told was that eat intuitively and your weight will take care of yourself. Well, yeah it had and it had f’ed me over. And in the process in my mind so had the treatment professionals.

So where to go from there? Well the place not to go is straight back into behaviors. That doesn’t really help with metabolism and loosing weight. Not really. In the short run – maybe but in the long term it really just teaches my body to hold onto fat and food while it can. It’s hard to believe that and yeah I struggled a bit with restricting my food intake at first but I’m back on track now. I’m off of the weight gain medication. I just couldn’t continue taking it. Maybe not the best or most rational choice but for me right now I just couldn’t do it. And I’ve seen the effects. My thinking is “looser” as my therapist likes to say, I’m having trouble sleeping and my anxiety is higher but I’m not retaining the water and I feel better physically. That’s nice. I’ve added more exercise into my routine. Both to make myself feel better and I suppose somewhat disorderedly as well. Not the amount – but the rigidity is probably a little too much. My hunger cues are a little different I think. I don’t know. I struggle with that right now because I’m struggling to “do the right thing”.

But mostly, I’m struggling with my anger towards my team. How I feel like they’ve betrayed me by “letting” me get fat, by not telling me that my weight will change and by making me believe that if I only followed intuitive eating I would stay at the same weight. Maybe they messed up, maybe I didn’t hear. I don’t know but whatever happened I didn’t understand the  fact that weight is not static and I thought for some bizarre reason that my not using behaviors I would be “rewarded” by having my weight stay the same. But recovery is not so linear and weight is not predictable. My challenge now is working through this period of time without resorting to behaviors and managing my anger at my treatment team. I’m doing okay but it’s a struggle but I’ll get there. How can I not? I have this girl taking care of me.

PS I still advocate intuitive eating, listening to your treatment team and following their advice. This is just a “bump”. A natural bump that in my phase of recovery it’s natural that I could experience. 

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5 Comments

Filed under body image, coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Recovery, survivor

5 responses to “when your weight does the opposite of what they say it will

  1. Katie

    Kate. You have hit on a very difficult topic and discussed it with incredible honesty. I am so so proud of you for continuing to work your recovery even when it gets hard. Recovery isn’t easy when it’s not easy (forgive me for that sentence– it’s been a long week, but I think it makes sense if you read it twice) but that’s when it’s most meaningful. The minute we step into conditional recovery, that murky “I’ll do recovery IF” is when we start to poke holes in our recovery, and those holes let the eating disorder back into our lives. One of my biggest regrets from so many of my treatment experiences is taking the “my way or the highway” approach to recovery and saying, “I’ll recover but only on my terms.” That’s why the first three of the twelve steps are about surrendering… only when we break our willfulness and become willing to “trust the process” (thank you, Marsha and other recovery gurus) do we open ourselves up to experiencing the benefits of recovery. As long as we leave ourselves the “out” of doing things in the old, more comfortable way when we disagree with the way things are going (because we believe that the reason we are okay is not in fact because we are an okay person but because we are xxx pounds or that the reason we are able to function is because we exercise ? minutes per day/week/month/millennium and not because we spend even one instant changing ourselves and the world around us), then we will never dare to change. What is our motivation to challenge ourselves if we never let go of the crutches? You know how the only way to get over an eating disorder is simply to do it? Therapy helps, support helps, coping skills help, but in the end, you simply have to go through day after hard day and bite after bite and do or not do the hard stuff until its’ been days and months and years. Well, I think the only way to do recovery is to go all-in. I mean, we certainly set interim goals because Rome wasn’t built in a day, but “we are the United States and we DON’T negotiate with terrorists!” Give it an inch, and it’ll take a mile. Anyways, I’ve strayed from what you began with, but what I mean is that confronting the topic of weight is hard because we all want to say “I will recover, as long as I am always no more than X pounds.” But in the end, it comes down to whatever decision we made in the beginning of recovery, which for me anyways was, “At what cost?” I have decided that there is a certain point where the costs of my eating disorder outweigh the benefits or “benefits” i should say of being at a certain weight and I must remind myself that those costs are real and salient. I always see those pins on pinterest (and believe me, there are plenty of bad pins on pinterest that I remember the good ones) that say “When you think about quitting, remember why you started.” (I think they’re talking about exercising, but since that could easily encourage me to be compulsive, I would prefer to take the healthy route *bonus points for healthy choice making* and apply it to recovery… I started because I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

    Okay, ramble over. YOU ARE A FIGHTER. This is a war, not a battle, so don’t give up, sister!

  2. Pam

    Oh Kate… I don’t even know if there is a point in responding to this because you already know everything I am going to say.

    I will say this… I am extraordinarily grateful for your friendship. You inspire me every freakin day and have helped me get through many of my own weight related meltdowns.

    I want to hear more about today later. I know we started talking about it earlier but I was running around like crazy (I did actually end up falling asleep though). Call me soon! I work tomorrow but not til 1 your time ❤

  3. littlevoicetalks

    How much do you want your recovery? Are you prepared to go to any lengths? It’s a leap of faith, a jump into the dark. No bargaining “I’ll get better if I can remain xx lbs.” Not how it works. Recovery means eating, accepting that if you are eating enough for your body, that it will settle at the weight your are meant to be. What’s really going on for you? All these feelings that are erupting – are you fixating on your weight gain instead of the feelings?

    I certainly know when I put on weight, my levels of anger rise and I feel livid at everything and everyone but these are the emotions I am containing and squashing down by engaging in anorexic behaviour.

    It’s a toughie. And I so hear your pain. Let go, let go, let go. In the end after the body has stabilised, you weight will reduce. It just panics for a while and then after 3-6 months, it doesn’t need to worry about not being fed and the weight comes back into a range where you feel healthy but okay. Each day you eat in a normal way, each day it becomes less scary but you have to lean in to the pain. You can do it. You really can. You’ve been spared for a reason. You are eloquent, intelligent and obviously a deep thinker, or this disease would never have taken you captive.

    I think you’re doing a great job. Don’t let the ed-monster derail your progress; you are worth so much more than the life he offers x

  4. I’m in recovery, I’ve had a healthy weight now for nearly a year. I experienced the exact same problems you did. I went back on my medication though after initially stopping it because i freaked out. I take Quetiapine that causes weight gain and hunger cue problems and water retention. There are ways to manage what happens when you take meds like this without restricting. I immediately gained weight when I started taking them, but now I’ve been on them for 10 months and am on a higher dose, it settled down and actually went away and my weight stabilised, it stabilises around the same 3 kg and I still eat around 2500 cals a day (Estimated guess, I no longer count but I know for certain some days I eat even more than that)- so long as I drink enough water (They can make you dehydrated which causes your body to store more water), and eat more protein than it said to do on my meal plan. I don’t restrict anything, but I make an effort to eat more protein it helps with the fake hunger cues. I also eat meals around 6-7 times a day as I find my full signal does not work or last for very long and some days I don’t feel full at all.
    That’s the problem with meds like those and eating intuitively, sometimes I don’t feel hungry for a whole week, other times I want to eat fatty stuff and nothing else.
    To be honest, I now doubt that I’ll ever eat intuitively, if i left it to my hunger/full signals I’d probably end up with an EDNOS.

    My meds, seriously help me. I now know that I just can’t cope without them, I can’t be around people, I don’t want to go outside, I don’t sleep at all or I hate myself and don’t see the point in anything. They helped me a lot with after I had gained my weight back. It’s freaking hard work.
    I totally understand being mad at your treatment team, the same happened to me, but now I have a nurse and she told me that some people in recovery, and even some people on meds who haven’t had an eating disorder, just cannot eat intuitively.
    Also, I hate when they say things like, if you eat x amount of calories you’ll gain 1lb a week. It doesn’t work like that, and I don’t know why they say it. Every single person is different.
    Oh and when I mention my meal plan, well, it’s not a meal plan, it’s a guide. If I want to eat domino’s pizza one night, I eat domino’s pizza. But in times when I dont feel hungry at all, or don’t feel full at all, I need it.

    Anyway, maybe you could try meds again when you’re a bit more settled in your recovery – thats what I did, but I always hated medication for fear of weight gain, but these ones REALLY help me and I figure maybe they will help you too.

  5. Mary

    Kate,
    You have so many people who care about you. I went to comment and realized that these wonderful women before me have already shared so much. I just wanted you to know that I was reading and that I was thinking of you. xoxo!

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