Why This Comment From My Doctor Triggered My Eating Disorder
Last week, I had an appointment with my primary care doctor about medication changes for my antidepressants. Toward the end, she asked me if I had weighed myself recently because she wanted to see if my weight had changed drastically because of the medication. I told her I hadn’t, but I didn’t think it had changed much and hoped she would leave it at that. I do telehealth appointments since my primary care doctor is rather far from where I live at school, so it wasn’t like I was in an office where she could just weigh me.
However, she didn’t leave it at that and looked in my file to see the last time I was physically at the office, since my weight was recorded then. I knew she was going to say the number out loud, and I wish I had the confidence to ask her not to.
Still in recovery from anorexia nervosa, I have to be very careful about my triggers. And stepping on a scale or hearing my weight are the biggest ones. It’s part of why I avoid physically going to doctor’s offices. I know I could just ask them not to say the number or ask to stand with my back to the number so I wouldn’t be able to see it, but I have too much anxiety to do either of those things. While I have been doing well with healthy and balanced eating, I know how little it takes for me to spiral back down into anorexic eating habits.
Eventually, my doctor found my chart and said the number of how much I weighed the last time I was there. She told me the medication could affect my eating habits and sometimes people lose weight on the medicine. She told me to just make sure I was eating enough because, in her words, “I didn’t have a lot left to lose.”
A wave of emotions and thoughts flooded over me when she said that. The eating disorder part of my brain lit up, so excited, telling me that’s what I wanted and I needed to go further. It told me the number needed to be even lower. It told me that’s what would finally make me happy. It told me I might not even need antidepressants anymore because I would finally be content with myself if I was just a little smaller. It told me that even though I may have gotten “off-track” for a bit, I could get right back on the old horse and make it up. It told me I could finally not hate myself when I look in the mirror.
However, thanks to a lot of therapy and learned self-control, the rational and recovering part of my brain kicked in. It reminded me no number would ever make me happy, no number would ever be enough and I could not afford to go back down that route. It told me to stop and not even entertain what my eating disorder was telling me. It told me to continue to move forward in the direction I had been going, and not to look back. It told me if I kept looking back, I’d be tempted. And if I was tempted enough, there would be no stopping me.
And as hard as it was, I knew which part of my brain was right. It’s been over a week since my doctor made that comment, but I’m still thinking about it. It still hurts. There’s still so much of me that is tempted to slip back, that wants to. But I know what I’ll choose. What I have to choose. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult.
Photo by Ilona Panych on Unsplash