I have finally been signed off by the eating disorders clinic. Abi, the specialist nurse, is satisfied that I’ve shown myself capable of gaining weight, although I’m below my high point of around 60+ kilos. (I’m currently 57, or so. My BMI is 17.-something). She thinks I’m more in control of what’s going on, and more aware than the bewildered, jittery, snarling little animal she first met. She says it’s up to me now.
I think we’d both felt the relationship was petering out, and this sort of medical intervention consists almost entirely of forming and maintaining a relationship – a difficult thing to do with people who keep themselves hidden behind habitual dishonesty. I was bouncing along around, or just under, 60 kilos, whatever advice or incentives Abi was giving me. Besides, Abi is retiring soon and works for a chronically overstretched and underfunded organisation. I’m sure they are very happy to get me off their books and marked down as a success.
And I’m happy to go. My initial response is a sense of liberation. Being supervised, regularly weighed and judged feels oppressive. The demand, or the obligation, to confront your problem, to force yourself to eat, to put on weight according to someone else’s, admittedly sane, judgement of what is reasonable and healthy, is stressful and odious. And you feel so guilty for wasting the NHS’s dwindling resources with your self-indulgent crap when there are so many much more deserving sufferers. So not having all that anymore feels like a weight off my shoulders.
The pun is appropriate. This does feel like a climactic moment. Up until now my motivation for gaining weight has been tied up with my relationship with Abi and with Jo and with Helen, the dietician I used to see. I felt the pressure of being exposed as a cheating exerciser and food-ignorer. I made extravagant promises I both intended to keep and knew I wouldn’t, or knew I would mitigate with exercise. Now, most of that is gone. I need to make my own decisions, to do this for myself and my family, if I’m going to do this at all. Abi has taken the stabilisers off and I’m wobbling down the road on my own.
And it is “Wobbling”: my weight has been dropping slightly since the summer, before Abi signed me off (although the summer was when I stopped seeing her so regularly, now that I think about it.) There are various warning signs that go with this dip. I’ve become a little exercise-y, doing a short 25-30-minute run after work every day, as well as my weekend runs, which have gone up to an hour each. I take my mobile everywhere because it’s got a fit-bit app that measures my steps and distance travelled. I weigh myself nearly every day and I suppose I may have a sneaking sense of satisfaction when I see a clear gap between the needle and the 9-stone mark on the dial. I’ve cut down on my daytime snacks; I’ve reduced the amount of milk I have in my coffee. I go to bed happily anticipating my breakfast and wake easily and very early from dreams so feverish they border on nightmares, but are not, quite. Today, I considered throwing away a quarter of my roll because, at 284 calories, it was around 50 calories more than the sushi I usually have.
Even more ominously, I feel good – dynamic, in control, like I’ve got my life back on the right lines and am forging ahead. Recognise this? I suppose, soon, if I don’t get a grip on this, I’ll use up the meagre fat reserves I’ve painfully built up and will, suddenly, collapse again.
Which is why I now need to show my mettle by turning myself around this time, without help, to show Abi and Jo and myself that I can do it. Wish me luck.