It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
I knew before I walked in the office that this was going to be the case for me. I knew before I made the initial phone call seeking help that I would not – no, could not – get better until I reached my goal weight first. I had yelled at myself for far too long to give it up so quickly.
And so, here I am. Deeply entrenched in the numbers game. How many calories did I eat? Check. Check again. How many calories did I burn? Check. Check again. How much space am I taking up? Step on the scale. Again. Again. Again. Again.
It’s only 10 pounds and 10 pounds is not enough to be sick. I’m not sick enough. Definitely not sick enough. Everybody wants to lose 10 pounds. And nobody else is spiraling down Eating Disorder Alley. I just need to lose 5 more pounds. Well 7. I just need to lose 7 more pounds. And then I’ll be done. Then, I will be fine.
Except I know I won’t.
But that is why I made the phone call. That is what made me walk through the door, sit on the couch in the lobby, and nervously and mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone waiting for the therapist to open her office door. I am so nervous at this point I can barely breathe. The room feels like it’s closing in on me and I am suddenly nauseous. This will be the third time in 6 weeks I admitted my problem to a professional (and basically a stranger). The first being my primary care doctor during my physical. The second being the in-office counselor the doctor referred me to. Finally, I find myself in the office of an eating disorder specialist.
She introduces herself to me and I think I manage to confirm my name with a quiet , “yup, hi.” I am worried I am fake. I want to run out the door, but instead I choose the middle chair, cross my legs and arms, and anxiously press my lips together as if it will stop me from talking. My hands squeeze my arms so tight, when I finally release them, my skin is imprinted with my fingerprints. I feel like a teenager. But I am decades older. Too old to be here.
I tell her about my family, my history with disordered eating, my height, my weight.
You meet the criteria for anorexia. You actually meet the criteria to be admitted to the hospital, though I am not recommending that by any means.
I am frozen. The words repeat in my head, I don’t feel like any of this is real. She cannot possibly see what I see. There is no way I am anywhere near the criteria for anorexia. And it’s obviously Anorexia-Atypical because I have not lost enough weight.
The room is getting darker and I can barely see. I am about to pass out but I try to stop it and focus. Deep breath. I am fine. I am fine. I am fine.
And then she tells me it might get worse before it gets better.