Friday, February 12, 2010

Weighty Thoughts

First of all, if you haven’t yet read this post of mine, entitled The Treatment Plan, please do so now, so you understand what the H bomb Girlfriend is even trying to articulate, here.

I’ve debated a bit on and off of even bringing this up on Blogxygen, because this blog is a no numbers and no ED-behaviors blog, and I worried that this might be triggering (Peew! Peew!) But this blog is also, if nothing else, pretty damn brutally honest, and because I have so many amazing readers who actually help me in times like this, I think I’m going to share what’s going on, and would really love your opinions, input, and ideas. If you are trigger-happy, you may want to sit this one out. (Though rest assured no numbers will be shared – EVER.)

As referenced in my other post, I indicated that my treatment team was going to get me to the “bottom of my weight range,” and while I was still scared, I was relieved that they weren’t going to jack me way the hell up there. Well, confession: since I’ve been going to the gym more to either run or freakingyogacize, I have weighed myself a few times on the fruitful abundance of scales offered at el gymo. So, I saw my current weight, flipped a lid, popped open the laptop, googled a BMI calculator, and found out how much more weight I’d need to gain to be at the bottom of my weight range. Cue panic setting in.

I was panicked because I was really damn close, and while that made me happy, it also scared the hell out of me because that means I’m not skinny anymore so Brie what are you are you even any good at all? Blah blah blah yakkity schmakkity. And, according to that scale, I should be done…soon. Very soon. So I called E, the D, yesterday telling her all this and she suggested I come in before group the-rapey that afternoon and have a sesh with her to talk it out. So I did, and I think she was kind of stymied. She said that looking on paper how much weight I’ve gained surprises her because it seems like a lot, but when she looks at me, she can’t even tell I’ve gained any except that my face doesn’t look all as freaky Corpse Bride-ish. She gave me my pep talk, go fight win, told me to keep doing what I was doing – except stop weighing yourself don’t do that; said she was proud of me, la la la, and sent me on my way. Leaving her office, I was still under the oh so beautiful illusion that I was nearly done with weight gain.

And then group happens. And it was weird, but I’m not going to go into that because it’s not part of the story.
…So now group’s over, and Mama’s on the freeway, talking to Teffie. I can hear a beep, someone’s on my other line. I look, and it’s W, the T. I’m really surprised she’s calling me because I’d just spent an hour and a half with her in group, and besides she usually never calls unless I’ve called her first, which I hadn’t. I tell Teff I gotta bounce, and then pick up her line.

Girlfriend wishes she hadn’t. Girlfriend wishes she’d have let W’s call go to voicemail.

Damn, she talked to E, I think. That didn’t take long.
...So I told her I honestly wasn’t going to anymore because truthfully the number is just too damn depressing…I don’t even want to know; and I’m serious. No more scales for the Briester.
She then proceeded to tell me that she thinks I misunderstood her and E when they were saying that they were going to get me to the bottom of my range. She said my range and her range were different…cue the swear words in my head…she said that they were going to get me to the bottom of my range where they thought I’d be most healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. She said that I needed to stop weighing myself and freaking out and trying to take the control away from them, because then I was paying them an awful lot of money for nothing. She said that it boiled down to trust. Did I trust them? Would I allow myself to get higher than I was perhaps anticipating, and trust that they truly do have my well-being and best interest at heart?

I told her I was frustrated because this had happened to me before in IP treatment: my dietician tells me that I’ve reached my weight goal, only in treatment team everybody decides to checkmate that move and say I still look too skinny, so even though on paper I’m “healthy,” I don’t look it, so let’s make her keep gaining. And that freaking freaking PISSES ME OFF. The same BMI chart they use to diagnose me with anorexia, they completely disregard when it tells them that I am at a healthy and stable weight. I feel like a pawn in some sick and twisted game, or something.

In what world is that fair?
So, it boils down to trust. Do I trust them that they won’t get me fat; do I trust them when they tell me that I need to go above and beyond my minimum? The question is WHY do I need to get above my minimum?  W said I still looked “scary skinny” but how can I look that way when, on paper, I’m supposed to be nearly “normal?”

Man, maybe this is why so many take so long to recover: IT’S CONFUSING!!

Thoughts?  Consolation?


Will said...

Giving someone control when it's something you have always had is so tough.
Although you've let yourself believe that a number or BMI makes you officially "skinny" it really doesn't.
You said,"...and while that made me happy, it also scared the hell out of me because that means I’m not skinny anymore.
You have GOT to change that way of thinking. You are VERY skinny but can't see that b/c you are attached to the numbers....even gaining weight you are still thinner than average or even thinner than average people.
Being healthy is realizing that weight has nothing to do with who you are. People who love you don't care if you have cottage cheese ass or if your arms jiggle.
Gaining x pounds and seeing a BMI number should NEVER make you think you are not thin anymore. Firstly, it doesn't matter but secondly, you are tall enough you'd have to gain 200+ pounds to really even look heavy to our world.
Magazines are NOT real and you've been there- those girls are unhappy. I'd prefer to live a life of food, HEALTH, and thinking about much more important things than BMI, scales, and so on.

brie said...

thanks, will, for deflecting some of my eating disorder brain - it really let loose for a minute. honestly, i appreciate your words. so thanks. :)

Lou Lou said...

I think you need to trust that they wont push you too far, and trust what your husband says to you. iv put my trust in everyone apart from myself, because im the only brain with the eating disorder who cannot be trusted.
trust that you are in good hands and are being taken care of, you are doing so well and i wont reccommend to anyone to stay away from scales as each to their own recovery, but in my experience it was the best decision, i havent been on scales for 2 months now, and i know the moment i step on one at the moment i will be spiralling downhill.... fast.
because those numbers are so damn un-inspirtaional, they have never made me happy, except sometimes i was secretly please when i was really unwell last year.... but boy i was soooooooo unhappy because of it, and i wouldnt give anything to be back there. hell no. you deserve it all. and just wanted to thank you for being such an open book in your blog, your honesty inspires me, your courage inspires me, your just fantastic.
go brie!

Stacy said...

Dietitians and Therapists I think are made to make us crazy. Which would make sense because they want to fix a world we don't see and broken. When I entered CFC I wasn't underweight even by all charts, but they put me on mild weight gain. I remember being so pissed then they were just going to make me "FAT"
BUT I also remember being told that even if they get you above where you should be to be healthy (set point) that if you really are treating yourself healthy, your body will go back down to that set point on it's own you just have to give it a chance.
Frustrating as all get out to just trust your body and the experts.

We have different bodies and different issues but I have realized that when I take the best care of my self I am a bit smaller than when I am all messed up in my head. (yet I still relapse and ruin a good thing).

Anyway, I hope you can trust your body and that it will not betray you because you have being doing kick a$$ at taking care of it and making it all better.

Have a happy V-day

t. said...

i don't know what to say, brie. i can see how it can be frustrating for you though. and i gotta say, you are good at other things than just being skinny. you are a loving mom, you are an amazing writer, you have a lot to offer the world other than a number on a scale.

Åsa said...

Recovery takes time. You need to trust them, or you will die.

When I went IP I surrendered and let my docs and therapists take care of all the numbers etc. It was really hard, but i stuck to it, and I consider myself pretty much recovered now. I had 2 kids before IP and I'm going to have another baby on Monday (if not sooner). Isn't that what you want to? To be a mother to the son you have and perhaps have more children?

Well all this stuff about weighing yourself and arguing with trained professionals, is holding you back and keeping you from recover and living a fulfilling life.

I'm not saying it has been easy but I know I have a heck of a lot to lose and it ain't worth it.

Keep doing the next right thing and have some faith in your treatment team and the people who love you.

Courtney said...

You have no idea just how much I can relate. I wish I could say "Just stay away from the scales and trust them and everything will be fine", but I also know how ridiculously hard that is. I think one thing to remind yourself is that a LOT of the weight you have gained is likely water (even if you don't see the water retention it's likely that your body is holding on to it, have you been bloated lately?) and muscle (not just skeletal but also cardiac and organ mass and all that). So I guess that's why it's helpful NOT to weigh ourselves when we're going through the process, because in this case the # on the scale really does lie (in that it doesn't accurately represent your body mass, if that makes any sense). I just know I'm going through similar stuff lately. I'm trying so hard to be consistent and stay the course but it sucks when I feel like I'm blowing up like a goodyear blimp. But I can assure you, from an outsiders perspective, that there's NO possible way your treatment team will let you gain too much. They just want to make sure you're not only gorgeous, but drop dead stinkin' hot gorgeous!

Kerri said...

Brie- you need to realize that you cannot trust your own judgment in this. Being too fat is unhealthy too, so they are in no way going to let that happen either.

Will is right- you'd have to at least double your size (and probably more!) to be fat. And if I can be brutally honest: I think it isn't you are afraid to not be skinny (that just sounds better to the general public) - I think it's that you are afraid because then you aren't going to be considered 'sick'. But maybe that is just how it was for me. I just didn't know how to be anything but the 'sick me'.

But what fun is your life going to be if you continue identifying with 'sick Brie' and not the 'happy wife mother kick ass author Brie' that you can and should be?? You need to kick 'sick Brie' to the curb and you can start by letting your team do what they need to do and remembering how your judgment is not the one to count on right now. Anyway, I hope that you understand what I am trying to say and that didn't come off rude or anything. I am not the best with words after all.. I am usually the type to say things completely the wrong way from what i intended. :)

brie said...

court! your words, as always, calmed me down while simultaneously making me feel better, too. :)

thanks, from one friend who understands, to another... ;)

Anonymous said...

Totally relate. Recovery was so hard for me because every damn doctor/therapist/dietitian I had gave me a different weight range and it just go to be so f-ing frustrating every time they changed it up on me. My best advice- just don't look at the number, give up control and see what happens- it's difficult to determine what weight one is healthy at, but I'm positive that they won't try and get you to gain more than you need to to be healthy- chances are you'll still be pretty thin. And with your current weight gain-age, I'll tell you something hopefully consoling...I can still fit into the same size I was 20 lbs ago (and I'm shortttt), I prefer to wear a size up just for better ass frame-age in the jeans but for the most part a lot of that weight went into making me look more alive and adding on boobage, assage, and a lil bit of hips n thighs. Believe me, there's no way you'll be fat anytime soon :)...or even near to it.
Lotsa love Brie, I know it's hard but stay off those evil scales- they cause anxiety for no reason!

Courtney said...

P.S. I am going to do a blog post on this later, but if it makes you feel any better today when I was making my diet dp run the gas station clerk asked me when I was expecting! He tried so hard to cover it up by saying people as skinny as me don't usually have pooches, but I was not in a very resilient mood and was already in tears before I could snatch my change from him. Uh, awkward!

brie said...

court oh court!! i'm so sorry. people are so stupid!! i'll be looking for the post...

xo to you

Alexandra Rising said...

I hope I dont repeat anything because I only half read the comments in response to this [my brain is a bit melty at the moment].

When they say they can't believe you've gained weight because you still look so's so true. You keep saying that you weigh the most you have in 5 years...and in the pictures you post you are still this tiny little thing, which makes me scratch my head. 'She's so thin, and this is a higher weight for her?' *insert look of concern*

I completely agree with W and E that the weighing must go. I dont know how that will happen when you are the gym with it taunting you all, 'Oh haaay, gurl. C'mon, just step on, I promise it won't hurt'. I stopped weighing December? And I feel so much more at peace. When I used to weigh myself every hour, the reflection I saw in the mirror would change based on the number on the scale. I think that just goes to show how effed up our thinking is. It truly is 'just a number' but that concept is so hard to grasp when you let the numbers dictate your life. Without the scale, you rely on your true reflection, the way your clothes fit, your smile, your hair. You are not a number and it doesnt dictate your life quite so much. The anxiety of food and weight gain is still there...but it's not screaming in your ear. It's...whining.

I hate the idea of goal weights. I wish it could be 'When you are no longer emaciated, stable, and where ever your body naturally sits when eating and exercising normally. Not "You must gain xx lbs because that is the textbook healthy weight!' That's scary for someone with the disordered mindset to comprehend. Focusing on eating better should be the goal. Not a number.

I don't know, I'm sorry you had this little situation pop up. I feel bad that you are struggling with this :( [I also worry about the exercising, missy!]

Oh! You could earn your vandalism badge and destroy the scale at the gym!

I think you are beauuuutiful. Take care of yourself. Vandalize that scale. Erase numbers from your mind as if you are erasing a difficult math equation.

-End Novel-

brie said...

oh alex, i could totally hetero kiss you for this comment!

you're right: the weighing does need to stop! i heart you and you are an inspiration to me.

Laur said...

I know I don't have a lot of experience in this arena, which now that I think about probably bugs you when I post comments. But at any rate I agree that you should stop weighing and trust family and friends and doctors when they tell you that you are still too thin. I can say from my personal opinion you look much more beautiful when you are not so skinny. But I know more goes into an eatin disorder than looking good. Anyways sorry if it bugs you that I post comments when I don't have personal experience with the recovery of anorexia but I care about you and anyways love ya.

brie said...

laur, OF COURSE IT DOESN'T BUG ME! i really value your opinion, and thanks so much for it. :)

Sarah said...

I honestly think the whole "BMI" thing needs to go away completely. It is not in anyway accurate of someones's "healthy" weight. There is tons of scientific research on ths. Its over a 200 year old system!! Two people can weigh the same, but one has more body fat, higher cholesterol, etc and be less healthy. Also I believe recovery is based more on mental, emotional and spiritual work, and BMI shouldnt be the main priority (not saying yours is) But like you said, you may test great in every category, but still look too thin, and have to gain weight just b/c of how you look, and I dont think thats right. It puts "appearance" on the main front which is what we wanna get our attention off. Thats added confusion as you said, and it mixes you up on what real recovery needs to be for you. I feel ya on this!!! Gaining weight is part of recovery for some, but BMI charts are not good numbers to use. Vitamin levels, mineral levels, hormone levels and other tests that tell you how well your body is functioning and its optimal overall health is key I believe over BMI numbers.

Cammy said...

OK, science comment first: it's totally possible that the weight you've gained really isn't showing up on your body externally. Remember that before your system even THINKS about depositing fat or building muscle, it is going to get to work repairing and nourishing your organs. Your heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, that precious precious brain. Remember that 25% of all the calories you eat are gobbled up just by your brain. That is one thing you do NOT want running on fumes, right? So maybe you have gained X. That doesn't mean you've put on X pounds of fat, not by the longest of long shots.

Also, I haven't said much because I know it would sound hypocritical coming from me, but I have been worried about your mentions of going to the gym. Not just because of the exertion, but due to the general sociological dynamics that happen when people go in and exercise together. It's like a big welcome mat for disordered thoughts.

Remember that your team are professionals. Your ED wants you to think that it is omniscient and can tell you the best way to do things, but it's really like letting the fox watch the henhouse. Your team does not want to make you fat. They want to make you healthy. It's crucial to remember that they really do have your best interests in mind. The-rapey may feel like it's being done TO you, but truly it's being done for you, it just takes a while to realize that.

Numbers are arbitrary. BMI is stupid. I had a friend in middle school, right before my ED started, that was the exact same height and weight as me, but our bodies were shaped COMPLETELY differently. People don't come from cookie cutters, and assigning a universal "ideal" number for someone of a given height/age/sex is just ridiculous.

Also, you have way, way more important things to be thinking about than what the scale said. If you were a recovering alcoholic, you wouldn't carry a bottle of vodka in your purse all day, would you? Of course not, it would play with your mind and totally distract you from other, more positive and meaningful things. For an ED, that number is like a the little bottle of vodka, taunting you all day. You don't deserve to put yourself through that.

Hang in there. It truly takes a while to settle into your body as you restore it, please give yourself the time and compassion that you have earned. <3

Eleanor said...

Hey, Brie.
I'm new to your blog, but your words instantly drew me in and I couldn't look away. I didn't want to look away!
It is definitely not my place to tell you what you "should" do, what you "could" do, what is "best" for you, because I honestly don't know myself - it would simply not be fair to tell YOU what to do when I don't know what I, MYSELF, am supposed to do.

I just wanted to say that, though you have your team telling you that you need to be at a minimum 'healthy range' before you're let off tube-feeding, it would and does really also depend where you are mentally, as well. Sure, weight is a very important part of recovering from Anorexia, but the mental/emotional/psychological side of it is such as important. You can't really have one without the other, so that really does have to be taken into consideration.

You're more than a number, but that number is also an indication of a position in 'health'. As I said, though, weight is not the only thing. What's important is that you feel strong enough mentally and that you feel sure of yourself.

Yes, you need to trust your treatment team. But you also need to trust yourself.

I wish you all the best, and my thoughts and wellwishes are with you.

Eleanor. xo said...

When I first started to make lasting progress, it was because I said to myself, "I'm taking my brain out of this. I don't understand the reason I have to eat x or weigh x, but I'm going to accept not understanding and just trust my RD, my T, and "the process." Trusting myself hadn't been working. I was sick of living with an ED, so I had no idea but to decide to do what I didn't understand....

Anonymous said...

I read some of the other peoples postings and while I do agree that scales and the anxiety surrounding seeing the number is not helpful in recovery. I feel that there was another part of your blog inquiry that was not addressed by many others. Being a person that is on both sides of the fence, having an eating disorder and being a nutritionist I can appreciate your frustrations.
I've also been to in-patient treatment, outpatient, IOP, and continue still with a team now to try to beat something that has been apart of my life for more years then not. Numbers, weight, food, and calories are apart of my education and career so when a treatment team tells me something, I am automatically programmed to analyze the information. Deciding whether or not they are telling me adjusted weights, how much they are trying to make me gain, and how much Im going to have to decrease from there original numbers since I know they are trying to get me to the mid-range of my weight range. All of this fear comes from having treatment teams that have done the same thing you are going thru now. They tell you one thing, and then the numbers on the charts that were the standard- all of the sudden change and don't apply anymore. You will be healthy when x amount is achieved-just kidding, It extremely frustrating.
I now have set parameters with my current tx team that were set in writing to avoid such a problem this time. After coming out of in-pt & being forced to gain unecessary extra weight they said I had to gain, it only made me more set on loosing that weight because I knew it was too much. If they had stopped where they had originally set the weight gain at, I would not have freaked out as much. I lost all of the weight and more which completely defeated the purpose.
I know I sound negative toward treatment, but that is really not my intention. I am just a person that has gone thru many years of fighting getting treatment for my eating disorder until it was almost too late and then was forced into it. Now I am embracing my recovery efforts but it took a long way to get here, kicking and screaming all the way.

CG said...

This sounds so hard (but you knew it would be). You know that saying..'this, too, will pass'...seems apt here. I love Cammy's reminder that initial weight gain is almost always cells, muscles, important internal mass that you have of course no one can see anything different externally. Perhaps look at your family's natural set points to get an idea of what a health BMI range will be for you (not what charts say). Rooting for you!!! xoxo

Em said...

I know it' hard to trust somebody else on something this personal and important. I have to do the same thing with my Brandon on my meds- he has to tell me if they're working or not because I can't always tell for myself. So part of it is, do you trust the person giving you the feedback? It seems you have built a lot of trust with your team.
As far as weight gain... honestly you are on the road to alive but not all the way there. One thing to consider with your team's BMI goals is that in the last 8 years, you've done tremendous damage to all your body systems. Pregnancy and breastfeeding also take a toll on the bones and internal organs of an undernourished person. It will take a really long time at a good BMI to help repair that damage. So being just barely at the lowest normal BMI may not be the best for you long term.You may need to be in the mid-range of normal to help your body to heal, replenish your iron stores and bone density, and build some muscle. All this takes time- like months to years. If you can trust them and keep going (you're doing so great) you have the chance to get your life back. You're still so young, you have lots of time to nurture yourself, finish school, publish your book, raise Cade, and have a great life with hubby. Trust your team to get your body where it needs to be so you can do that. Otherwise you'll lose all this wonderful progress you've made in the last few months. Keep going.

brie said...

cammy, em, all of you -

i appreciate your input - it really helped straighten out my brain and calm me down and put things more in perspective, and i really appreciate that. thanks so much. :)


Arielle Bair (Becker) said...

I think you need to trust them...or they're right - what are you paying them for? Take it from someone who's recovered - they are right. Unfortunately for the anorexic mindset, they actually are. ::hugs:: You are truly lovely woman both inside and out, and that cannot be debated, but no matter what it says on paper, you are too thin. I agree with them - and I lead a group myself and am a recovered anorexic.

Take care of yourself. Vent and rant and rave, 'cause it sure as hell does help. ;) But do your best to put the trust in them. You won't regret it later. I've been where you are - and you can totally do this!!!