Four weeks ago, I finally convinced myself to step onto a scale. I felt like I’d lost weight over the last few months, due to my lack of strength training activity while letting my back heal, and eliminating most foods that didn’t fit in the “anti-inflammatory” category, but I didn’t know for certain. I actually hadn’t weighed myself since August.
Honestly, the scale still scares me. I don’t fear the number on it anymore — I fear where my mind will go with it. My history is to obsess over that number, whatever it is, and subsequently fall into a dangerous habit of repeatedly checking it, which has always led to a relapse.
When Cody suggested (and I do mean suggested — he is amazing at letting me own my recovery, and providing his opinion and support, but not forcing it on me) that I weigh myself, I responded with “Ya that’s not going to happen.”
After a few different situations that reminded me of how important my recovery is though, I finally convinced myself that I needed to do it, and that I was strong enough to stay stable in my recovery afterwards.
So, I weighed myself — and I did not like the number that I saw. It wasn’t like I was anywhere near back to where I was at my sickest, but it was a weight that I know isn’t healthy for me, as I’ve never been able to have my period at that weight. I can’t use hormonal indicators as a sign of being at a healthy weight anymore because of birth control, so that didn’t clue me in.
Regardless, I saw the number and knew it wasn’t okay … which left me in a position of deciding what I was going to do about it.
I have to say, I was hesitant to push myself to gain weight because of still not being able to do any strength training (at this time). But I knew that was just leaving the door to a relapse slightly cracked — enough so that it could happen again, which is absolutely not something that I’m okay with.
So, I started tracking my food again. I started eating more and walking less. I loosened up on my paleo diet. I stopped comparing what I was eating to what others around me were eating, including Cody. It wasn’t easy, but it really wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. I’m feeling awesome right now — body, mind & spirit. My back is improving every day, and at my six week check-up on Thursday I was given the go-ahead to begin doing upper body strength training (pull movements only, no push), which feels incredibly liberating after six weeks of only being able to do light walking and minimal stretching.
Every time I’ve stepped on the scale since that day, I’ve been making progress, and yesterday I got back to where I know my healthy hormonal level is — so I know I’m out of the danger zone.
I stepped off the scale yesterday morning and I was proud.
Hindsight is 20/20 — now I’m able to see much more clearly the rabbit hole I was starting to go down. It was hard to see the direction I was headed at the time, because it was just a little bit by little bit. But that’s how it always is, isn’t it? Rarely do we compromise our beliefs, values or standards all at once. We slowly let things slide until realizing that what once was important isn’t a priority anymore.
Never before have I been able to catch and pick myself back up before getting to the point where someone else had to. I am so glad that I had this experience, because it helped me to truly realize how far I’ve come.
There are a few things I can point to that have substantially helped me over the past weeks, and that I’m continuing to make a priority to sustain my mental health.
I am being incredibly intentional with the thoughts that I allow to enter my head. I’ve been listening to a lot of music that lifts my mood and my confidence, podcasts that would probably be classified as “self-help” or “motivational,” books on Audible that encourage making yourself a priority (Girl, Wash Your Face, Girl, Stop Apologizing, and My Name is Hope), dressed in clothes that make me feel good, taken baths, given myself ample time to get ready in the morning so that I can do my hair and makeup, and intentionally taken extra good care of my skin, so that I’m not also fighting zits or clogged pores.
I also gave myself enough grace to try medication again. For those of you who are newer to my journey, I was on a combination of Prozac and Zyprexa for years, following my first hospital admission for anorexia when I was fifteen. That medication saved me. It really made my battle with anorexia and times in and out of treatment easier to handle, but it also had some side effects that I really wasn’t a huge fan of. Because of those, I attempted going off of it multiple times — which always led to a relapse within weeks, and me returning to the prescription.
With the guidance of my psychiatrist, I successfully took myself off of both drugs during winter term of my senior year of college. I was incredibly proud of the fact that without any psychiatric medication, I was able to stay in recovery from my eating disorder.
I don’t think that pride was unhealthy, necessarily, but I do think it kept me from considering using medication to aid my mental health for a little longer than I could have. I approached my doctor about this recently, to which he suggested we do a full spectrum psychiatric consult, just to see if there was something aside from Prozac that could help me. I began taking a medication that’s actually not for depression, but for ADHD (it is not a stimulant) a little less than a month ago, and I have to say, I’m feeling awesome. Also, none of the Prozac-induced side effects.
As I’m being cleared to do more and more activity with my back’s healing, I know I’ll get to put on some muscle, and that my body will slowly return to the composition that I prefer. But regardless, it is going to stay at a healthy weight, even if that means it’s mostly fat for right now.
That’s all for this post, but there will be more soon, largely because (spoiler alert!) yesterday was my last day working full-time for a while. I’ll be sharing more about that later, along with some other entries I’ve been working on.
I’m going to wrap this one up with the bible verse I have tattooed on my arm. You can read more about what it means to me here. It’s always served as a good reminder to me, but especially recently.
“It is better to be criticized by a wise man, than to be praised by a fool.” -Ecclesiastes 7:5
Onward and Upward,