After two extended stays in an eating disorder unit that only served to reinforce my anorexia rather than alleviate it I finally re-fed myself. This was about three and a half years after my last forced incarceration. I was so painfully ill, weak and emaciated I knew that I needed to basically double my body weight.
I absolutely refused to weigh myself during re-feeding. I started to re-feed in February 2008 and finished in August the same year. My anorexia has ceased to have any influence over me by this time and my anorexic voice had died. I ate the most marvellous foods during that period. Things I had not eaten for years. Lovely cheeses like roquefort and cambozola. Real chocolate, pâtés. I ate very high quality foods. But I knew that I had to stop sometime.
In August I tried a pair of jeans on and I almost died with panic when they were many sizes too small. And for about a day I almost slipped back into starvation. But I managed to pull myself together. My weight has been stable since August 2008. I don’t have anxieties anymore about weight gain and I haven’t been weighed since November 2007.
Yes, I am scared of getting weighed, which I suspect is a remnant of the terrible treatment I was subjected to in the ED unit. We had to endure some shockingly humiliating rituals twice a week in there when we were made to get weighed in either our underwear or pyjamas in front of at least 3 nurses and a doctor (all female). So maybe the getting weighed is the last vestige left of my anorexia. It can be traumatic when you finally end re-feeding. But for me the anxiety was superseded by the fact that I felt so much better mentally and physically.
Gaining weight was just the start of my return to fitness. I hadn’t left my house for almost three years and when I did start to walk outside I was so weak that I could only walk for around 5 yards without getting completely breathless. I only stopped using a walking stick when I went out about a year ago.
It took me four years to rebuild my body. I had to pay for my own treatment as the NHS provision here was so dreadfully bad. I paid for my own counsellor and private doctor who helped me to rebuild my body. This took just about all of my savings but it was worth it. If I had relied on the NHS I sincerely believe that I would be dead now. This is just my experience and I am no way denigrating anybody else’s treatment in our health care system.
Good luck, and remember that the pain and anxiety of the re-feeding process is worth it in the end. Recovery is such a good thing.