“To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” ~Bertrand Russell
What many people living outside the eating disorder community don’t know is that anorexia nervosa is not homogenous disease. Though many characteristics of this illness remain constant over a population of sufferers, there are many qualities that are unique to each individual anorexic. For example, if you were to put just even 10 anorexics in a room and were to question them about their eating disorder behaviors, they would all be completely different. One anorexic may have an intense fear of dairy products while another is completely fine with consuming a yogurt. You may discover an anorexic who believes that even smelling food or drinking water will result in weight gain while another has never had that thought cross her mind.
But despite the wide range of differences in the world of anorexia sufferers, there are many similarities. All anorexics struggle with an intense fear of weight gain and they all restrict their intake in some way, shape, or form. These two things are quite obvious qualities, but if you think these are just the two main qualities anorexics have in common, then you are way off base. You are forgetting one of the most prominent fears in the anorexic community. A fear so severe that it makes the palm sweats, the heart pound, and the mind race a million miles a second. It is the fear of weigh-ins.
For those you who have been lucky enough to not be living with anorexia or any other eating disorder for that matter, weigh-ins are when you head over to the office of a member of your treatment team and step on a scale. Whatever number appears on that dreaded piece of machinery apparently can tell the treatment team member all about the current state of your eating disorder. If you have gained weight, it is a sign a progress and of eating disorder recovery. If you lose weight – even if it is a single ounce – the treatment team member obviously takes it as solid, undebatable evidence that you are involved in eating disorder activity.
Now there are of course many things that are flawed with this method of eating disorder severity measurement. A number on a scale is only a number on a scale. It does not say if you have been be following a healthful meal plan, have tried foods that your eating disorder forbid you from consuming, have made an effort to stop isolating yourself, or in my case – have been struggling with a physical ailment resulting in weight-loss. In my opinion, a scale is just giving a treatment team member a set of eyes but what it doesn’t give them is the ability to truly see.
Today at 2:20pm I will be in my psychiatrists office waiting impatiently for him to force me to step on a scale. I fear that I have lost weight despite my efforts to try to avoid this from occurring. My appetite has been minimal and I feel fluish a considerable amount of time during the day. Obviously these two things make it quite a challenge to keep the psychiatrist pleased with my weight. I know if I tell him the truth about me not feeling up to par, he won’t believe me. I have informed him before of these symptoms and he has passed my complaints off as nothing more than mere excuses for my weight-loss. I find this very frustrating and I am sure a lot of other ED sufferers are in the same boat I am with this whole weigh-in thing. I understand my psychiatrist just wants me to see me be free from my eating disorder, but just because I have an eating disorder doesn’t mean that is the only problem I have.
I guess I just pray that things will work out and that I haven’t lost weight. I have made so much progress eating disorder-wise and I plan to share with him that. If he refuses to believe me and justs looks at my numbers, well then there is nothing I can do. He can believe what he wants but I will keep moving forward. I will beat my eating disorder despite the fact that I have been feeling incredibly shitty AND I will prove him wrong.