I am free! No, not free of eating disorders. Wouldn’t that just be fabulous?
No, I am school free. I handed in my last assignment and did my exam and that’s me done with Stage 2 of my degree, Stage three to start in October. So yes, studying is part of the reason why I haven’t posted anything in a long time. The other part was something I desperately wanted to talk about but wasn’t able to because we hadn’t announced it yet at the time. It’s been 29 weeks now and we announced quite a while ago anyway, but here it goes: I am pregnant.
And is it pregnancy I was dying to speak about? Well, no, but something related that made me fall of the wagon. Almost. It was more like hanging of it, the train going at full speed, feet trailing on the ground, trying desperately to keep my head off the rails. Talk about imagery.
It all started with my first hospital check up. At 10 weeks, I went for a review with a man who was not the man named on the front of my green folder, as you do. In hospitals, except if your case is very specific or risky, you will never, ever, see you actual consultant. Either way, in the first pregnancy visit they always weigh you. This was not an issue, I’ve gone through it before. I didn’t intend to look at the weight, I am pregnant, I’ve never felt ‘fatter’ because of pregnancy, it’s just one of those things that happen when you grow a person inside you. I was put on the scale and, as expected, I didn’t care.
It all changed when I saw the doctor, though. This is not my first pregnancy, it is actually going to be my third child, so I knew what to expect. Or so I thought.
This time the doctor thought my weight was indeed of concern and decided I needed special supervision, including a dietitian and weighing myself every so often to make sure I didn’t put on too much weight. I tried to explain to him that I had and eating disorder, that I had BED. Blank look. Like staring into a mannequin’s face, or my husband’s when I talk to him about Tennis, or books, or movies… Either way, he had visibly no idea what I was talking about. I tried to explain, but at the same time, I felt compelled to accept the ‘extra support’. My husband and the kids were right there in the room as well. I felt that, if I said no, I don’t want to do that, it was going to sound like an excuse, like I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to watch what I was eating. So I said ye. They could arrange a callback and I would talk to the dietitian.
And it was that easy. Who knew that that’s all it would take? After a whole year of steady advance on the recovery path, it took one twenty minute conversation out of an hour longer discussion on other topics to thoroughly throw me off balance.
At that stage, it was more of a nervousness, a concern about how would this control affect my recovery and whether I would be able to push through or not, mingled with the frustration of encountering yet another medical professional who didn’t know anything about BED.
Then the call happened. The dietitian, a lovely woman I must say, called me and we discussed my issues for a while. She was extremely understanding, which made me feel at ease. She knew exactly what BED was about and understood that being weighed was a problem for me. And yet, even with all her understanding and professionalism, still felt compelled to continue with this ‘control’. She said she was calling to give me an appointment, something I didn’t expect. The way the doctor had put it, I thought it would only be a phone communication. Add to the weight part the anxiety of having to go to hospital additional times with the kids in tow. But I just couldn’t say no. And let me be clear, there was no pressure or insistence from the part of the dietitian, it was all me. I just felt if I said no, again, it would be like making excuses to not control my eating.
So I got the appointment and there I went. The dietitian and the midwives who saw me were all lovely and really understanding and there isn’t anything I can say about the way they dealt with the situation. Still my head (the voice that represents my mother, I believe) told me I had to continue with the dietitian and we agreed that they would weigh me but not tell me what the weight was. I did leave that visit encouraged, but I know now that it’s only because I had the opportunity to speak to somebody who understood about it.
I suppose, in hindsight, it wasn’t as dramatic a fall as one could imagine. I didn’t go all the way back to full binges and eating non-stop, but there were many moments of continuous preoccupation with food and many moments when eating a normal portion of food was simply impossible.
Add to that trying not to feel guilty about it and stop yourself from entering the BED cycle all over again. I was terrified. I absolutely didn’t want to fall back into it, but at the same time I wasn’t sure how to stop it. I tried to stick to the six meals a day, but pregnancy gives me so much heartburn that I find it difficult to eat regularly, which means that eventually I am very hungry, which in turn means it’s very hard to eat a normal portion.
So I started over. I got a new notebook and started a new food and feelings diary. I tried to manage my heartburn better so I could eat more often. I tried to stop worrying about what I ate or how much, like at the very beginning, and then trying to make better choices.
Did it work? Maybe on the surface, but not deep down. The internal fight was becoming exhausting. Far more tiring than the initial recovery steps or even when I was more stable into the process.
Unluckily, my children were sick when I got the next two appointments, so I couldn’t go and they take ages to give you a new one. By the time the dietitian called me for the next appointment, I had come to the realisation that the looming weigh-in was really the main stressing factor. Everything else I had learnt to manage, but I obviously don’t have the toolkit for new factors thrown at me by figures of semi-authority just yet.
I told her I simply couldn’t cope. I wasn’t well enough into my recovery to manage with the idea of somebody controlling my weight. And I said all this with a sense of guilt and selfishness that I can’t quite explain. It is, after all, my own body after all. Easy said, though.
How are things now, you ask. Better, thankfully. It is not as much of a struggle as it was before. I find it easier to get back to my most recently acquired eating habits and mental disposition now that I know there will be no outside control. I haven’t been hassled about it by anybody else, so I find it easier to relax about food. Heartburn is still a problem, but there is nothing for it, even water gives me heartburn. Worse, I get heartburn on an empty stomach. Still, I am glad that things are getting back to the new normal.
It would be easy to say, though, that this is the doctor’s fault or the pregnancy’s fault. The truth is, there is nobody to blame. It was a good indicator of how far I’ve come in my recovery. On the one hand, I am obviously very far from a ‘strong and stable’ recovery (I couldn’t help myself, sorry), but on the other, I was able to identify the triggering factors and pull myself back up, if not completely on the wagon, at least one foot on the step. At least the train is not leaving without me.