It’s interesting to read back what you wrote. I wrote this almost 2 years ago. July 15, 2015 when I was just discharged from a Day Hopsital Program in the eating disorder program in Ottawa. I’m brought back to this post today, as even though I’ve once again embarked on recovery, I’m afraid to be at the point the girl in this entry was. I’m afraid things will be the same.
“You’re BMI is 29.1”, my dietitian told me. She paused and hesitated to speak. I could see that she was at a loss for words.
I sighed inwardly as I had expected it. Of course I had expected it, as endless weight gain for the past 8 months had been the norm. Yet even though I had expected–and dreaded it mind you, there was a deep-sinking feeling of disappointment and despair.
And so I thanked my dietitian and walked back to the weekly Transition group–a group that was meant for former patients of the EDP program to check in weekly on our post-treatment progress. The session started and I listened as best as I could to each girl speak. But I could feel my mind slipping–slipping into a tidal wave of thoughts and emotions–a full on mental conversation with myself. I could feel the heartache set in, the lump in my throat begin to form. I could feel the stinging of fresh tears begin to well up behind my eyes. “Don’t cry, Wangui–don’t cry!!” I told myself. I was tired of crying, so tired of showing my vulnerability. But yet as I sat there and looked at everyone else in the room, I felt wave after waves of sadness and confusion, and dare I say resentment stir up within me. I began to think to myself–it had been 8 months since I began this journey of recovery from anorexia and now as of today I had gained a total of 94lbs. Never in a thousand years would I have thought I would have gained this much. Why had I gained this much? Why me? What was wrong with me?
“Wangui, it’s your turn–how have you been doing?” the nurse practinioner asked.
That snapped me out of my mental dialogue. I looked up and all eyes were on me. They had saved the best for last–the abnormal one for last I thought to myself. I stared at the nurse practinioner and then the psychiartirst and then the rest of the group. I took a deep breath and began speaking.
I was mainly directing my speech to the psychiatrist, as to be honest I often felt dismissed and brushed off by the nurse practinoner (God bless her either way).
And so even though I hated to tell the group what had been going on. I began. I told them how I had been following my meal plan and had reduced my exercise to only 30-45 min every two days. I mentioned how I was basically not engaging in any eating disorder behaviours. But with all that, even though I was proud of myself, I still couldn’t move on from my weight. My mind was still hard-pressed with the reality that I hadn’t stopped gaining weight. It wasn’t slowing down–it had NOT plateaued or stablised as the medical team had often termed it. I told them how with that reality I missed the eating disorder. I missed the purging, I missed the empty feeling in my stomach, I missed the restriction, I missed the low body weight which seemed to be the only true way of controlling my weight. And in my head, though I wish I had had the courage to say it out loud, I had thought to myself how food didn’t seem to go appropriately with my body. How food made me overweight, and not just slightly overweight, a lot overweight.
But I went on and mentioned how I had no clothes to wear, how I didn’t want to buy any because every week for the past 8 months my weight had been different. I paused and could feel a tension in the room. No one knew what to say. But I knew what they were thinking. It’snot hard to guess really. I know the way eating disorder patients think–I’m one myself. I was the girl that no one wanted to be. I was the girl that if this had happened to them, they would have relapsed. And heck yes at that moment, and even now relapse is very much on my mind.
As I paused, the nurse practitioner jumped. “But Wangui, you were at a very, very, low BMI so of course you’re going to gain weight! What do you expect?!”
At that moment I seriously wanted to yell at her, and dare I say slap her (I would never but…). Of course I knew I would gain weight, but it’s safe to say that I had gained the most weight out of all the girls and the doctors didn’t even know why. I stared back at her, seething inside. I hadn’t gained a mere 20 or 30lbs like everyone else, I’d gained almost 100lbs and it hadn’t stopped! I just wanted it to stop! And it made me feel abnormal–defective, as i had for so long believed and eventually indoctrinated upon myself.
The psychiatrist, I think sensing my distress at the NP’s crass comment, interjected, “Wangui what is your BMI at now?”
I paused for a second and thought to myself, “is he seriously asking me this in a room full of number obsessed women? women who campre themselves obsessively to each other because of the nature of this beastly illness? seriously?!” But at that point I didn’t care. I wanted to put to silence the NP and all my group peers comments of how I’m being so hard on myself and the cliche statements of how it will get better and blah and blah.
No one in that room understood the anguish and dilemma I was in. The one which was to continue doing the thing you hated but needed to live–eat– and continue gaining weight to at this point god knows where; or to relapse and have some relief no matter how temporary. No one in that room understood, yet what I’m certain they did know, was that what was happening to me, was an anorexics worst nightmare. My case in point: the edp always reassures us that no one leaves the program continuing to gain weight or overweight. They pat us on our pretty little heads and reassure our deep rooted fear that food doesn’t make you fat. Well what say you to me then? I wanted them to in some ways edit their statement and have a sort of astrix as commercials often do. One that would say all this was true EXCEPT for Wangui. Because this was how I felt–no rather this seemed to be the reality and no one on that medical team could reassure me as I’ll explain below. I felt alone–no was alone in this predicament–this nightmare.
And so I answered with confidence, an almost defiance, “It’s 29.1”. Now mind you, I know that BMI is not a completely accurate measure of health, but 29.1 is concerning, considering 8 months ago I was at a BMI of 13. According to the BMI scale, a healthy BMI is 20-24.9, overweight is from 25-29.9 and obese is anything greater than 30. Now, as I mentioned before, I wasn’t just a BMI of 26 or 27–slightly overweight, I was and am basically bordering on obesity. Never wouid I have ever imagined being this and it’s by the grace of God truly, that I haven’t relapsed–though truthfully I’m begining to comtemplate it. I’m fantisizing over it and in some twisted way–planning for it.
Anyways back to my answer. I told the psychiatrist I was at BMI 29.1 and he looked shocked. I almost wanted to smirk at him as I flashed back to two months prior. Two months earlier shut me down when I had tearfully explained to him in his office that my weight wasn’t stopping. He had told me that based on only 1kg of weight gain in the two weeks that time previously that it was stabilsing and i was just obssessing. But I know my body better than anyone–but some doctors being doctors–refused to hear my ‘antics’. After all, I was just an eating disorder patient whose brain was overtaken by the illness.
Coming back to the present, I retained a straight face and waited for his response. He paused, as if to gather his thoughts and then said, “Wangui if someone can figure out why you are gaining this much, I’d give them the Nobel Prize”. I could see that even he, the director of the Ottawa Regional Centre for the Treatment of Eating Disorders was stiffled for an answer. No one could explain what was happening to me; and that was when I knew I was screwed. I could feel the tension in the room grow thicker. I could only imagine what peo ple were thinking, some of which were probably “phew I’m glad I’m not her”. And at that moment I think I went into myself and could hear my heart breaking. I asked God, why is this happening? Why are you doing this to me? I’m so dissapointed, so heart-broken!”
But I snapped back into the present as the psychiatrist then told me that he was going to refer me to a clinic called BMI , which was a clinic that specialized in obesity/overweight individiuals and how to induce healthy weight loss. He gave me the card and I started at for what seemed the longest time. The group ended and I held onto the card, stared at it, and hated it.
As I drove home, tears stung my cheeks and a sob escaped my mouth. I was alone to breakdown to myself, my very heart feeling torn up and unmendable. I felt like this was some part of sick joke. Some really clever but sick joke. I had gone from an eating disorder clinic and treatment for 6 months and now I was being refered to an obesity expert. I was so confused, angry, let-down, and dissapointed by God. I verbally whispered, “God I know you are in control, but this is my limit. This is all I can take. This doesn’t make sense! I don’t understand why you would send me such a clinic which is so triggering. God, I can’t do this!” My thoughts raced in every which direction, and I began to question the goodness of God, I began to question if He really had good plans for me as He has declared Jeremiah 29:11. And I paused and asked Him, “God is this some sick joke? Do you–God– make sick jokes?” And of course I was met with silence.
And as I broke down, tears streaming down my face, and my earlier headache now pounding like an anvil inside my head, the thoughts of relapse began bombarding my mind. Don’t get me wrong, they were always there, and were growing by the day, but with this new revelation–this reality that even my doctor didn’t know what to do– I thought that it probably wouldn’t be long before I relapsed. My weight gain was not slowing down, no mtter how much I cried out to God or prayed. And it scared me how much I would weigh next week or the week after, or by the end of August.
I know God doesn’t make sick jokes. But my heart is broken. My motivation is null and my desire and will-power to continue on this journey has faded. It’s by God’s mercy and grace and power that I made it through for 8 months and most likely 9 months since it’s round the corner but passed that I cannot say if I’ll make it. God is still great, He is still good, but this–is all just too much…It feels like some sick joke…
And with that part of me regrets ever setting foot in that hospital that November 6, 2014. Part of me regrets recovery. And part of me–as bad as it sounds can’t help but welcome relapse. That’s my honest feeling, my deepest thought and I know God knows this–because really this entry is mainly to Him. I don’t know what God is up to, I don’t know His plan but I know He knows how weary, bent and broken I am–how at the end of the road I am. How I feel like I’m slipping into the inevitable.
But one things for sure–this I know: God doesn’t make sick jokes. He sees me where I am–He sees my tears, my ambivalence, and I know in my heart that even if I relapse or recover–no matter what–He is still with me!