It's amazing how variable my perceptions of myself can be. Some days, I realize that my stomach is empty and achy, my jeans are baggy, my head hurts, and I consider the possibility that I might be on the thin side of average. Other days, the rolls of fat on my gut and thighs jiggle and my double chin sags and everything seems squishy and disgusting. Compared to my high school years, I feel MUCH fatter now...but I know for a fact that my weight is lower. Compared to a year ago, I feel physically similar and my clothes seem to fit the same, but "mentally" I feel fatter because I'm eating more and exercising less...and my weight is higher. So obviously, something's off.
This week, both J and R harped on the lag time between bodily recovery and brain recovery - how you can restore weight, improve bone density, and undo all the physical damage while continuing to feel like a miserable, anxious, fearful ball of nerves throughout the entire process, and after. Lovely. If only I could reverse the process, this would be so much easier.
R keeps telling me that it takes achieving 90% of ideal body weight to significantly reduce the physical symptoms of malnutrition, but up to about 97% of IBW to break free of the food/counting obsessions, fat-phobia, and body distortion. The tricky part being, of course, that determining IBW is far from an exact science, so who's to say when you've reached 80%, 90%, or 97%? What if I make it to 95% - would just a couple more pounds transform my entire mindset? How will I know? I don't want to be gaining forever.
The idea that adequate weight gain heals the brain makes sense to me, but it's hard to believe. I hit my highest recovery weight last spring (in a healthy range and I got a period, although I was still below the goal set by my first treatment team) but I was no less obsessive or anxious about food, still counted calories compulsively, exercised too much and for the wrong reasons, and experienced the most intense body hatred of my life. Plus, I was isolated, depressed, and crying multiple times a day for weeks and weeks.
I've explained to R that I'm afraid of gaining the weight back and returning to that same awful place. Although he is understanding, his proposed solution is always the same: get to a healthy weight - MY healthy weight - and stay there.