Thursday, 29 December 2016
Coping with weight gain in Anorexia Recovery
When you're recovering from an eating disorder such as anorexia, one of the most frightening things in the world is to know that you aren't the thinnest person in the room anymore. And for it to suddenly be true not just once, but most of the time. After spending months of regaining all that weight that you lost, there comes a time when you suddenly realise that your body doesn't look the way it used to. Maybe you loved your old body, or maybe you hated them but loved and needed what it represented: the illusions of control, strength and purity. Whatever happened, in the decision to recover, you decided to obliterate those things. And now, to yourself, and to other people, you are no longer 'the sick one'. You are just an ordinary person with other, more interesting qualities.
Now I don't know what this felt like to you, but to me, I know I felt less important, less cared for by others and overall just like a normal person again - which I didn't like. And having decided to make these changes happen, doesn't mean you'll find it easy, so I thought I'd write a blog about how to make it that little bit easier for you.
The first thing to be aware of is that everyone has days in their recovery where they feel absolutely disgusted by their new, bigger body and will do anything to have their old, sickly thin body back. It's to be expected with quite sudden change. What's important when you feel like this is to cling on to those thoughts about how awful your life was with your eating disorder. Remember how hard everything was for you, how little energy you had, and how intolerable your eating disorder made life for you. Remember all the reasons why you chose to recover, and wait for the horrible feeling to pass - which it will.
Remember that in the re-feeding process, fat will not immediately distribute itself evenly - it may start around your middle or even on your face to protect your organs. This is perfectly normal. Be as patient as you can, and if you give it time, you will fill out more evenly, as long as you continue to be strict and eat as planned. Remember that body dysmorphia also goes along with eating disorders, so it will take time for you to see your body as it really looks. This won't be instantly be cured, but if you keep going with consistent eating, your mind will become clearer and you'll be able to see yourself clearly and embrace your new body.
It sounds really cliché, but try not to fight against how your body is changing. Listen to your hunger cues. Throw out all your old clothes that you used to wear! Trying to put them on again will only upset you and make you want to turn back. Some of them may actually look better on you with your new, fuller body. Embrace that. Be kind to your body.
Remember that just as you have to construct a new character for yourself after anorexia, you also need to construct a new body for yourself too - one that will be physically fit enough for the adventure of you being fully alive in the years to come. Think about all the possibilities of what you can now do, now that you're no longer trapped in a state of being weak. Enjoy them, and always remember:
There's still time. Nothing needs to happen immediately. It can take time, but the most important thing is to keep going. It will be so worth it.