On Fear, Weight, and Irrationality

This post talks about things like anxiety, disordered eating, hypothalamic amenorrhea and weight. Though I don’t think there’s anything especially triggering, sensitive readers might want to exercise caution.

* * *

“You’re so lucky you need to gain weight.” Envious eyes regard me, looking me up and down. “I’m so jealous.”

I half-shrug, feeling frankly awkward. Around us, fading daylight casts long shadows, the dark shapes of playground structures. “It’s not all that great,” I say finally, dragging the toe of my shoes in the gravelly sand.

Once upon a time, I would have likely said the same thing, after all. Lightly, to mask the bitterness that I was no longer one of those thin people. Losing weight is hard, no matter how you cut it. Physically, mentally, emotionally; there’s often a lot tied into it, including stuff that should have no business being there (but seems to be almost expected now, culturally).

When I lost weight (and part of my sanity, though perhaps not in that order), I also masked a lot of things I didn’t want to deal with; and here in the aftermath, I can now say that gaining weight is also hard. There’s a lot tied into it; physically, mentally, emotionally. Stuff that has no business being there, stuff I’ve somehow tangled into it.

I’ve spent a lot of energy on this concept of “weight”. Spent a lot of time analyzing numbers, turning food from something to be cherished and loved into something to be feared and despised. Neither attitude healthy, exactly; though the former is positive at least, there was definitely an element of escape – avoiding life though the oblivion of a sugar overdose, a stomach ache, some sensation more physical than the confused noise of my head.

When I was at my most disordered, I had a number in mind, for both weight and calories. I felt the first was unachievable, and the second far too easy to go over, and was deeply disappointed on all accounts.

Now, in this taking-action phase I’m in, I have a number in mind, for both weight (an estimate, as I refuse to weigh myself anymore) and calories. I feel the first is entirely too easily achievable, and the second entirely too hard to reach, and feel deeply disappointed on all accounts.


I’m filled with irrational fears. I’m afraid of gaining weight suddenly and rapidly and it never stopping, I’m afraid that others will judge me or make comments, I’m afraid of buying new clothes and losing this new and foreign identity as “the thin one”. I’m afraid of being incapable of liking or even accepting my body at a higher weight. Most of all, I’m afraid of confronting the feelings I associate with this higher, healthier weight. I’m afraid of the self-loathing, the feelings of inadequacy, of loneliness and confusion. Things that are entirely unrelated to my physical presence, but somehow deeply entangled.

It’s silly, because I can fully recognize the irrationality. It’s like I’m fighting with myself, constantly seeking to calm and reassure these anxious racing thoughts. There isn’t another option. Complacency can’t be an option anymore.

Because as irrationally afraid as I am, I also have more valid and concrete fears, things I can’t ignore anymore. There’s the fear that I’ll never have children, or that I’ll forever place my pride and vanity before my health. I’m afraid of the repercussions of not dealing with the remnants of this eating disorder fully and completely. I’m afraid of my bone density decreasing further, bringing me into an osteoporotic zone.

I’m writing about this today because it’s been a hard day, emotionally. Generally I feel alight and alive and very in-tune with myself. I guess I just woke this morning feeling completely off-centered, because, as someone close told me recently, “You know things will have to change sometime.” And I’m here again. Seriously contemplating change. Change I’ll put into action soon. I need to gain back my sense of self-respect. I lost that around the same time I lost my health. May they both return promptly.

I teared up during the conversation with the above person, and said, “I know that. I’m just not sure if I’m strong enough.” I felt extremely vulnerable. Today, I feel fragile still – but much more resilient. I’m a human being, not a glass figurine; I have problems and hangups, as we all do, but I’m capable of taking action towards fixing this.

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