This surgery got me messed up.
I didn’t realize how hard it would be. I mean, Dr. Z (the evil psychiatrist) told me that because of my eating disorder history (specifically in regards to restricting) I might not be a good candidate for this surgery– for the first 6 months or so it’s basically a medically supervised starvation diet. It takes months to get up to 1200 calories a day. And to be honest, they really encourage eating disordered behavior. At my last preop class, they were talking about how much food we should take in per meal (by the way, snacks are not allowed in this program), and the dietitian said that in the beginning we can eat 1/4 a cup of food at each meal because our stomachs are still healing. After awhile you can eat a 1/2 a cup per meal, but “try to stay at 1/4 a cup for as long as possible so you maximize your weight loss”. Now, maybe it’s just me and my eating disordered brain, but that totally feels like encouragement to starve. In case you are wondering, eating a 1/4 a cup of chicken three times a day (which is what I’m mostly doing these days) is 255 calories. FOR THE WHOLE DAY. And you want me to do that “for as long as possible”? I know it’s probably well intentioned, and the whole point of this surgery is to eat less than you did before so you can lose weight and prevent/decrease your risk for chronic illness, but that is a little extreme, don’t you think? The body can’t handle that kind of diet for too long, I know from experience.
So basically this whole thing is incredibly triggering and I hate it. I hate eating so little, I hate losing weight (almost as much as I hate not losing weight or GAINING WEIGHT OH MY GOD JUST KILL ME), I hate eating meals in general, and this whole process has got me totally falling down the rabbit hole. I try to stay at about 400 calories a day, and when I go over that I get really freaked out and upset with myself for overeating (is 500 calories a day even considered overeating?). I’ve been daydreaming about being underweight and I’ve been listening to songs about eating disorders pretty much nonstop for the last two weeks. I’ve been really focused on eating disorder related things in general, not just music but also documentaries, articles, forums, and Instagram especially. I know this is not healthy behavior for me and so I’m trying really hard to focus on the health aspect of this journey that I believed in so much before surgery, and I still do believe that this journey will make me healthier in the long run so I want to have that goal at the front of my mind. However, there is a very vocal, strong part of me that says fuck health, just get skinny and be happy and do your best to reach that ridiculous goal weight. Don’t stop until you get there.
It feels like high school all over again, where logic and rationality didn’t matter, the only thing that mattered was my eating disorder. It was like I had tunnel vision, I had to keep my eye on the prize and it made me a monster, not just to myself but to my family and friends as well. I don’t want to be a monster again. But what can I do? I cut out my stomach, this is my new normal. I can’t really fix the physical eating part, I have to focus on the emotional and mental part but the eating part is so fucking triggering! I think the hardest part is that no one really understands what I’m going through. My family never really believed I had a disorder, so I don’t really talk about it with them, and although I have some friends who have at least suffered from disordered eating I don’t want to shake up their recovery journeys, if that makes sense. I don’t want to drag them down the rabbit hole with me.
There is this idea out there that fat people don’t have eating disorders, especially restrictive ones. Most people think that fat people are just lazy, and if they have an eating disorder it’s Binge Eating Disorder. But there are plenty of fat people out there who are bulimic or EDNOS (OSFED in the DSM 5) like I was/am. I restricted hardcore before I was diagnosed formally, but because I never became underweight based on my BMI– which, for the record, is a SHIT tool to use for anything involving “health”– I could not be diagnosed with anorexia. In fact it’s one of the reasons so many people suffer in silence, because that BMI indicator not only makes you feel like you’re not sick enough to get treatment (even though you are definitely sick because your body can’t even really function anymore), but when you see a doctor they don’t think you’re sick either, because all they look at is the FUCKING BMI. Which tells you absolutely nothing about someone’s mental state. BECAUSE EATING DISORDERS ARE MENTAL DISORDERS.
I started this post irritated, but now I’m full blown angry.
(If you wanna read more about how BMI is complete bullshit and a problem for people with eating disorders, feel free to read the following articles: 10 Reasons why BMI is Wrong, an article about a young woman being ineligible for treatment because of her BMI, another article about how BMI is a problem in the ED community. Obviously you can also just use google.)