find a way

I’m going to chat about my body. Some of you may be sensitive to content about weight loss or gain. Please don’t hurt yourself this way. Go find pictures of kittens. It’s cool.

For everyone who’s still here, I am in… month ten of some pretty good weight gain and maintenance.

We had to do something. You can live your life at eighty to eighty-five pounds, if you are 4’11” and small-framed, but you’re still malnourished and you’ll feel it. I felt it, though I didn’t notice at the time because I’d adapted to a new normal. Spoiler alert: that new normal sucked.

After years of just not getting better from any of my problems, I took what would look like a radical step to someone whose brain functioned normally. See, your brain probably tells you when you’re hungry and pokes you until you do something about it. Your brain may also be a lot nicer about keeping you calm and content. Mine was none of these things. I’d been taking the “tweak individual neurotransmitters” approach for some time, so to me, Compazine, which acts on dopamine and conveniently treats nausea, seemed like a great idea. If dopamine was responsible for any of my anxiety, I could begin to control it. I could also approach refeeding with a tool in my back pocket to combat the indigestion that sometimes goes along with it.

That is more or less what happened.

I started eating more and fretting less in… December? Outgrowing my old jeans, slowly. There came a point when I felt myself getting a little depressed, a little too blasé about the world and my place in it, so I backed down on dose, but I’m still taking 2.5mg at night and up to 10mg a day as needed. Which is surprisingly not that often. As an adjunct to my med routine, finally, finally, I found a therapist who would help me sort through the mess that was my mind. I’m graduating to biweekly this month.

Gaining just to ninety-five or so has been strange. I’ll tell you that right away. It’s so little, but it’s a world of difference because suddenly I have fat where fat normally goes. I can no longer get by on one meal a day; I need at least two. I’m still frustrated around food, because it doesn’t bring me pleasure. Appetite, for me, is a bodily urge which I must satisfy, so I placate myself with things that taste better than they don’t. The part where tastes, textures, and smells can overwhelm me hasn’t gone away; there are many foods I won’t go near because they disgust me for some reason. If I could get all of my calories from some mild, pleasant shake mixture that isn’t dairy, some kind of adult formula, I would do it. Augment as desired with fun foods, but the mainstay would be a nutritionally complete slurry.

(I’m still not totally the same in my head as you are. I’m a lot happier with where I am, though, so that’s okay.)

I talk about clothes in relation to weight changes because I love fashion and style. I’ve been told, in the past, that focusing on clothing is somehow wrong, but if your mother raised you to appreciate fashion, if your clothes were never quite right and you fought long and hard to develop your own look, maybe you’d understand better why I care whether things fit and flatter.

This is why I am glad I saved some stuff from that time I was, briefly, on Remeron and eating like a bodybuilder. I’m glad I remember what changes I underwent and how to solve them. I am definitely pear-shaped: my weight settles in my thighs, my rear, and somewhat in my waist. More than before — disconcerting! — but less than an apple. Only marginally in my bust, but for some reason my shoulders widen. Practically speaking, I’ve left children’s jeans behind, and two of my chunky knit sweaters feel like they’ll split if I move the wrong way. Also, it’s a good thing I still have that blazer from Banana Republic. I did a closet cleanout a little while ago. There are two freaking trash bags waiting to go to Goodwill, things I’d been clinging to in the vain hope that I’d want them, things that had sentimental value until they didn’t, things that stopped fitting, things that stopped suiting me once I turned thirty. There’s a grocery sack for my friend’s daughters, one of whom is actually pretty near in size to me. Obviously the good stuff goes to them.

I’m settling into myself in ways that might not have been possible while I wasn’t eating. I’ve spent the last three years spiraling: finished a degree, but never felt well enough to contemplate employment, especially since I needed a bigger degree to move on in the field I thought I could handle. Then I found that the entry requirements were a bit much for me. I began to want, not so much a big-C Career, but a steady J.O.B. I could do until retirement. Independence on my terms: the means to leave home before leaving became necessary. That therapy? That has helped me to unwind a lot of the spinning I’ve done. Yes, I’m really thirty-one now. Yes, I lost a lot and kept losing and just. kept. losing. I’m learning the difference between losing and letting go. This time, this spring, when Adalyne died, I wasn’t a complete mess. I let her go. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You were my buddy through all that, and now I’m going to raise Ziva and be grateful you stuck around just long enough for me to find her.

I can face the sale of the house in Germany with hope that it will yield enough money to cover my family’s needs. I don’t break down under the knowledge that I’m never going to live there, like I once hoped. There was a time when I could go back and that time has passed. Maybe another window will open, when I’m more independent. Maybe I’ll always be an expat. I can live with it now. I can plan for here.

I did this my way. Whatever comes next, I can honestly say I was right about something. I figured out what my body and mind needed in order to cooperate in recovery. I didn’t ignore my emetophobia in the pursuit of refeeding. I didn’t buy anyone’s line about fear foods (namely, that I had them — I never damn well feared a food because it would fatten me up, I only feared it because I didn’t trust it to sit well!). I listened to my brain when it said “You know you.”

Now I’m going to eat brunch.

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