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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Why I threw away my scale




I used to be in love with my scale. But then I divorced that mother fucker.

During the height of my anorexia, getting on a scale was an obsession. I weighed myself between 50-75 times per day. It started out in a normal "healthy" way, but slowly destroyed my brain like a flesh eating disease.
I weighed myself after waking up, after drinking water, after eating, after exercising and after peeing. If the number the scale was too high, sometimes I would work out an extra hour, or restrict my already 500 calorie a day diet to under 300. Sometimes I would go back to bed and cry for hours because the starvation and over exercising wasn't working anymore. If the number was too high, I felt like a worthless loser, and wanted to die. I felt like I wanted to apologize to everyone I met for my imperfect body.

This was my life for over two years. An endless, sick cycle of self torture and hunger. I was slowly drying up into a pile of skin and bones. But my size 0 dresses fit, and I could see my ribcage, so I was satisfied. But, even at my thinnest I wanted to be smaller, and still saw a chubby girl in every photo.
After a certain point, my body started fighting back. My metabolism had quit its job, and I was holding on to every single calorie I ate. I went from 5'7 and 109lbs to 114 in a week. To counter act this new issue, sometimes I had to settle for chewing and spitting my food, so that I could enjoy the taste, but not absorb the calories. Rarely, I would just binge and eat everything in sight, then throw it up. But I was never the bulimic I strived to be. Lucky for me, I was never able to throw up quietly like most secret bulimics are pros at. I also hated throwing up so much, I never got further into it.

I began having severe panic attacks when I had to be in public situations involving eating. Most restaurants didn't list calories counts, and I did not trust them not to add butter, salt and oil into my food even when I asked them not to. I tried to avoid eating at restaurants as much as possible. Seeking something to take the edge off having to eat in front of people, I started turning to something that had previously been off limits, the biggest empty calorie of all-alchohol. Not that I recommend this as a form of therapy for recovery, but drinking it on an empty stomach before dinner relaxed me enough that I was able to eat again. I'm sure if I had sought therapy, prescription Xanax could have done the same, but at the time I was not willing to admit I had an eating disorder.
The bad part about drinking however, was that I ate less healthy than I would have, and bigger portions. The good part, was that it broke a spiral that was out of control. My brain began fighting it's anorexic voice more than ever. I was exhausted mentally and physically and felt like the old me was screaming for help from inside this new skeletal body. I just wanted to feel normal again.
I just wanted eat bread or a slice of pizza, and some fucking ice cream without feeling three days of guilt. The foods I had formerly loved had become like a beloved deceased relative. They were always on my mind, but I could never be in the same room with them again.

I woke up one morning and began the daily routine of weighing myself, counting calories and beating myself up over how I had failed on my diet the day before. I don't know what changed in me that day, but I had a brief moment of feeling like a fog had lifted. My mind felt clearer than it had in years. I walked into the bathroom to weigh myself, but instead of getting on the scale, I threw it in a garbage. For the first time in years I felt free, and excited at the possibility of being able to enjoy life again.  

I haven't owned a scale since, and I no longer weigh myself. I now monitor my weight by my clothing. If something starts to get too small, I cut back. During my years of recovery, i've learned that weighing myself was a major trigger in my disorder.
Despite knowing this, I am still often shamed for refusing to be weighed at doctors appointments. The first thing a nurse usually says to me is "get on the scale." as if my weight is more important than how I feel. The first time I refused to be weighed, I wasn't brave enough to say why. The nurse looked annoyed but didn't argue. As a dress size 4, anyone can see my weight isn't going to give me high cholesterol or diabetes.

I eventually got so tired of struggling with nurses trying to force a weigh in, that I would flat out tell them "I used to be anorexic and the scale is a trigger." The first time I said those words out loud I almost started crying. I had hidden my disorder for so many years, that saying it out loud was emotional and empowering. Most times when saying this, the nurses have been understanding and backed off.
However, other times, the reception is not empowering. Recently a nurse rolled her eyes and said "Just get the scale backwards then, I don't understand what the big deal is. The doctor needs your weight". After refusing a second time, she harshly told me that I would need to 'explain myself' to the doctor for refusing to be weighed, then slammed the door.
Clearly, not every nurse is educated or compassionate about eating disorders, but it is so important that medical professionals are. Anyone has the right to refuse being weighed at the doctor without shame. I compare forcing someone with ED history to get on a scale, to putting a bottle of vodka in front of someone in an AA program.
The times I have been berated by nurses over a scale, have made me feel inadequate, and really crappy about my progress. What they don't understand is that the fear of seeing my new weight isn't just about a number. It's about being terrified of going back to the very dark place I was trapped in for so long, but next time not getting out alive.
Throwing away my scale was a monumental step in my recovery, and I am thankful I did it. Maybe someday i'll be in a good enough place to weigh myself and not care, but i'm not there yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank You for sharing this. You are so brave to do so in such a raw, honest way. More scales to the garbage! Bravo!