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On being weighed

Posted May 28 2010 8:23pm
I hate being weighed. It makes me freaky anxious and I just don't like it. I worry that I might have gained, which will make me hate myself. I worry that I might have lost and then everyone will freak out on me. The ED part of my brain still sees maintenance as some sort of abject failure because I should be losing weight, not maintaining it.

It probably sounds pretty paradoxical that I find the concept of being weighed at my therapist's office to be reassuring and helpful. Not because I take comfort in being weighed--I most certainly don't--but because I find it helpful to know my weight and know that it is staying where it needs to be.

My first therapist never weighed me, although it didn't really matter all that much because I was weighing myself 80 bazillion times a day anyway. I ended up in the hospital soon enough because my physical deterioration was making my low weight almost a secondary issue. My second therapist used to weigh me, back to the scale, each week and then she slowly phased that out. Ditto for my dietitian. That left me to my own devices for quite some time, and it wasn't pretty.

Not being weighed felt nice at first, because I really do hate being weighed. It's kind of embarrassing, like someone knows all of your dirty little secrets. The problem was that the ED had a field day. I couldn't self-regulate around food. I would overeat, and then restrict and overexercise. Whether this would have showed up in my weight is unclear, but the lack of weighing added one more way for me to hide the seriousness of my ongoing eating disorder.

With my relapse last year, it was back to the weekly ritual of being weighed. I was weighed with my back to the scale so that the weight gain wouldn't freak me out. This was no doubt a wise move, as I'm reasonably confident that I really couldn't handle knowing the number at that point in time. However, TNT has a very different philosophy about weighing (namely that it's just a number and there's a time when you have to get over it) and so I started actually knowing my weight. After an initial freak-out, the actual number ceased to be such a huge deal. I still detest that number, think I'm a whale, etc, but the number itself doesn't provoke as much anxiety as it once did.

Now that I am in recovery and doing well, I'm still weighed by TNT, although only every other week. It works out well- I get a respite from the grueling scale-induced anxiety attacks but TNT is still monitoring my weight closely enough that the ED can't really get out of hand. My parents and treatment team are (not surprisingly) more worried that I will start losing weight again. Since I have the eating disorder and am therefore not that rational about my weight, I mostly worry that I will once again start gaining. Seeing my weight stay exactly the same week in and week out gives me the reassurance that my body isn't going to flip the hell out at an extra cupcake, and it reassures my parents that I really am taking this whole recovery thing seriously.

There's another interesting variable that my weight gives TNT: an insight to my psychological state. Bouts of the stomach flu aside, usually a drop in my weight means an increase in anxiety and ED symptoms. There's no clear cause and effect (did the drop in weight increase the ED thoughts or did the ED thoughts cause the drop in weight? I think both are true) but the fact that my last therapist pushed for a higher weight and then insisted I stay there (despite me calling her a meanie and much, much worse) has given me much greater psychological stability. The slightly higher weight (5-10 pounds) is the price I have to pay for a hint of peace of mind. But the opposite would have been a Faustian bargain: a weight I "preferred" but an ongoing, never ending, ultimately losing battle against the ED. Seeing my weight every other week is a reminder of that icky number, but it's also a reminder of my renewed peace of mind.

I like the fact that someone is monitoring my weight even though I really do hate getting onto that scale. Waiting for the little slide weights to settle themselves is like waiting to hear a verdict: it's long and agonizing but it probably really takes no more than 10 seconds. I'm getting used to my new weight although I still don't like it. I prefer knowing the number to not knowing it because at least if I know it, I'm not imagining having reached a four-digit weight overnight. Which makes the entire situation one massive paradox: hating getting weighed, liking the security of being weighed; hating what I weigh, liking to know that awful number rather than leave it to the imagination.

Since when did an eating disorder ever make sense?
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