What No One Tells You About Weight Restoration in ED Recovery
Gaining weight doesn't mean I am "all better"
Content warning: Eating disorder, weight gain, body image, mental health.
This is my personal experience and by no means the experience of everyone healing from an eating disorder. Please click away if it triggers thoughts that are not conducive to recovery.
After over ten years of struggling with an eating disorder, I recently reached the point where one could consider me “weight restored.” Which is to say, in layman’s terms, I no longer look sick on the outside.
My inner thighs are well-acquainted with each other once again. My stomach rolls when I slouch. My back fat spills from the sides of my tank top. I fit into adult-sized clothes without folding the fabric to force it to stay on a famished frame.
Don’t get me wrong, as I list these quirks out, they aren’t shortcomings to me — these are the beautiful signs of wellbeing. In short, my body no longer reflects the turmoil I put it through at my most disordered moments.
For many people, these small signs that one’s body is nourished exist without an afterthought. They simply are. For me, the small changes in my shape are the budding leaves after a long winter.
They are signs of life following a barren season that seemed like it would never end. I both marvel at my fuller figure and fear that the perfect storm of triggers could knock me back at square one.
Recovery, I imagine, resembles arriving home with a newborn baby for the first time feels like. It’s equal parts exciting, rewarding, and terrifying.
Having a restored body is pretty magical. I look at myself in the mirror and I see a reflection of all the hard work I’ve been putting into the refeeding process.
Make no mistake, though: Putting on some pounds isn’t a cure-all.
Since the advent of my eating disorder, culture sold me the lie that a recovered body means a recovered mind. I’m finding that this is not entirely true.
No one informed me that restoring physical health is only part of the equation. I wasn’t told how afraid I would feel at the thought of losing this participation award for putting in the work.
Nobody gave me a timeline for how long it will take to trust myself to reliably eat and hydrate. This new ground is solid and blooming with life, but it’s still a tad shaky.
Although the nutritional end of recovery isn’t everything, I am finding that the mind tends to trail the body’s lead. Half the battle — if not 75% of the battle — is picking up the fork despite my disorder’s protests.
In my experience, ill behaviors and thoughts increase when I lack adequate nutrition. Once I stopped the cycle of restricting, the ED thoughts grew more manageable and quiet.
Over time, I have found that healing is not all-or-nothing. I don’t have to be 100% motivated towards gaining health, strength, and presence every day. All I’ve got to do is keep showing up.
It’s kind of like a paycheck. If I skip a few minutes on the clock here and there, I’ll notice a little change and try to make it up elsewhere. If I miss a whole shift, I’ll feel the difference more and may need extra support to get back on track.
Still, a lapse doesn’t have to precipitate a relapse. As the saddle slips, we don’t leap from the horse. We make the necessary adjustments and gallop on.
Weight restoration is a misnomer. I never weighed as much as I do right now. My disorder would see that as a negative. However, from a healthier point of view, I view it as a positive.
Rather than restoring weight, I acquired it. I like to think of it as leveling up. Navigating the world in a whole new body requires adapting. The process resembles going from riding a scooter through the streets to rocking a pick-up truck.
Was embodying the fullest version of myself is worth the learning curve?
This is an excerpt republished by the author. Read the full original story on Medium linked below to find out more!